Rol woke early, and went through his morning routine before stepping out into the lounge to cook breakfast by 7:50. As he worked, the retired Marine was surprised as Ms. Vik emerged around 8. She was dressed in a business suit and ready for her day. When Rol asked, she said she wanted to get to the port offices early, to discuss something with them. Her tone suggested she was less than pleased about the "something". Rol waited for more, and she told him about her visit to the Cursed Bastards of Sol and some of what happened as a result. Asking if she had time for breakfast, Inger checked her chrono and said she did, so Rol fixed her something quick.
In his stateroom, Zach's alarm had gone off and he did what he still could of his morning routine. Zimzod also woke early in his stateroom, and managed to get out into the lounge before Zach. He found Rol eating as breakfast had been cooked and Ms. Vik had left. As he grabbed chow, Zach made it out of his stateroom, dressed in a business casual outfit. When Zach said, "good morning", Rol looked up asking, "Good?" Then, after a pause, he flatly said, "Oh. OK", and went back to his food before joking about getting Zach back to training.
As they talked about plans for the day, Zimzod said he was looking forward to joining Mikah and Brian, and attending the Fifth Frontier Children's Relief Fund meetings. When Rol asked if Zimzod was going in uniform or civvies, Zimzod said he was waiting to see what Mikah wanted to do. Zach said he had meetings at Rhylanor University, to give them his data on the nomads. As he did, Zach called for a taxi and quickly finished eating. He was quickly out of the berth on his way, just greeting Aiden as the pilot emerged to eat. As Zimzod worked at gear maintenance, and Rol cleaned up, the rest of the crew began to wake.
In their stateroom, Emkir and Aali enjoyed the morning before emerging for the day. In the lounge, Brian emerged first, while reading a datapad and sporting a medi-patch covering a space just behind his right ear. Already seated, Aiden was surprised to see Sir Brian reading as the engineer appeared. Aiden was able to see the datapad showed something of a medical nature and figured it was related to his newly-implanted stent. Aiden made jokes, that Brian needed the med-patch to stop have the 'droid practice hickeys on him, Brian dryly answered that he'd set Wall-e up to do that with Aiden.
Aiden tried to jab back, asking if Brian wanted the 'droid to remain in one piece, but it was clear the engineer didn't see the pilot as a threat of any kind. Sadly for Aiden, the conversation went downhill for him steeply from there. Before grabbing some chow himself, Aiden had checked on the auction he'd set up to sell his High Passage ticket, and found the auction was getting some attention. After that, he thought about more nav-training, and decided to ask Zach to set up some tests for him. Zach had agreed to do that when he had the time, but had already left for the University. After that, and for the rest of the morning, Aiden studied his nav-work.
Eventually, Aali and Emkir emerged from their stateroom, around the same time Mikah stepped out of hers in a civilian outfit and armed with a snub pistol in shoulder holster. While the outfit was not a suit, nor formal, it was dark colored and fashionable. She was carrying a jacket, to wear over the outfit and weapon. Seeing how she was dressed, Zimzod decided to change to into a civilian suit. Emkir and Aali were giggled and snuggled as they came into the lounge. Emkir noticed Mikah's pistol, asking if she was headed for a rough neighborhood? Mikah just said it was self-protection, saying she was going to a charity event.
When Zimzod said he'd change into a suit, Mikah was pleased to hear he was coming too. Brian got up from his reading and said he'd change too. When Mikah taunted, asking "Really", as if she'd picked up something slimy, he smiled and stuck his tongue out at her as he passed to his stateroom. While the two were changing Mikah, Aali and Emkir ate and Mikah asked them what was new? Emkir told her about getting ready for Rol's interview in four days' time. He was also working on the Risek glyphs and considering putting all of his available data onto the Rhylanor network. After discussing that, they ate and talked about general plans until Brian and Zimzod were dressed.
Eventually, the three knights were assembled in business casual. Zimzod discretely wore a snub pistol and Brian was wearing his laser sword power pack as a "fanny pack" with the weapon grip casually hanging from a belt loop. Once the knights left, Emkir set up at a terminal and started reviewing his work on the glyphs and the contact's he'd made. Recognizing that teams of the best linguists in all space had worked on this, and admitting the very limited amount of examples available, Emkir had to admit to himself that he was not cracking this case. As a result, he published all of his data on the network, as knew almost everything he had was available from someone else or an on-line source in Rhylanor.
While some of it was filmed in restricted spaces in the stations, Emkir was not surprised when others had different pictures of the same stuff. Despite the common nature of the glyph data, he got many questions, as well as invitations to collaborate, both at his place or at theirs. He ended up exchanging data with easily over 100 people in the forums he was conversing over the day. And while he tried to sanitize any data he put out, Emkir eventually saw people putting together the fact that this was coming from the Hotel California. Soon enough, this hit the news along with everything else, adding to the mosaic of odd data flowing from their crew and drawing the attention of the curious to them as well.
Aali did a tour of the ship's engineering, just to check things out, and made sure no maintenance issues had come up. As she passed into the ship, she saw Wall-e finishing stripping the frame of the wrecked grav-Vehicle. The 'droid certainly had done a comprehensive job from what she could see. Aali took a bit of time to search through the recovered subsystems, to see if there was anything of interest present. In the end, the systems were all what one would be expected from a vehicle of that class.
After briefly touring the engineering section, she was satisfied there were no maintenance needs there and considered the morning. As she was deciding what to do, she remembered the stock of data tablets they had, and decided to work on that until lunch. In the room they chose for storage, Aali started with the first pad off a pile and checked on the Rhylanor-web for any possible "re-set" button she could use to blank each. She then sparked up some music and spent the rest of the morning working on the pads one by one in batches by model.Ms. Vik's Mixed Morning
Arriving at the port, Ms. Vik paid the Cr 20 cab fare and went into Central offices. While she was unexpected, she still had her credentials, even if she was "Retired". Very few people working a port were willing to hold up anyone who'd held the post of SPA Executive Director. So while her friends got word of her approach and apparent disposition, they braced themselves for whatever had happened rather than trying to take measures in advance of her arrival. Soon enough, Ms. Vik came to the core command and faced down her friend, Chyr Gokhman, who was leading the morning shift and scheduled to go off-shift real soon.
This was good for Inger, as it meant he'd want to cooperate, both as her friend and so he could resolve this without letting it splatter all over the main-day shift. Pointing to a glass enclosed conference room, she asked if they could speak privately as every spare set of eyes in the center followed them in. Once inside, Inger asked what the deal was with aiming her at Cursed Bastards of Sol? Not having been one of those who put together the list Inger had gotten from the port, Chyr got his own explanation of the list she received. He then guessed that she'd asked how she could help and they gave her all the problem children the port had?
The result was that, while they could have given her a "heads up", she did get what she asked for. They then talked about what happened at that ship and the others, including the visit from Rhylanor Intelligence. Over the course of an hour, they discussed her successes and failures as Chyr's relief arrived and joined them. After her experiences the day before, Inger asked for any information they could give her on the remaining ships? She also warned them about those ship crews who were going to come to their offices with her advice in their mouths. They went over the port's data on the Eadgar Lanzo, Rira Niru, Last Credit and Dragged Keel, but there was little more data they could offer.
She finally left to visit the Eadgar Lanzo, armed with reports from the ports digital systems. The reports she got from the offices contained certified comparison data from the D'Ganzio system for security analysis. The bad news, for the Lanzo's captain, was that the reports showed their inspection seals were most likely forged. This meant that, no matter what the crew said, their future held the payment of port fines and the costs to re-inspect systems after bringing them up to snuff. That meant paying to bring them up to snuff too. Inger was pretty sure she was not earning any money from them. Sure enough, what she delivered was cold hard shock. This was not due to her delivery, but due to the expectations the rumors had created. Expecting some miracle, thanks to the rumors, Ms. Vik deliberately delivered her credentials so there was no mistaking her qualifications.
She then laid down her judgment, enhanced by more time and explanation than the port agents had to present earlier. As a capper, she presented the forensic analysis on the inspection markings claimed to be from the D'Ganzio system. When the captain asked about legal assistance, or reducing the charges, Ms. Vik pointed out that they had already claimed to have had the proper inspections done. This meant they were racing the clock as an inquiry sent to D'Ganzio would only take so much time to return. Once the D'Ganzio port confirmed that no proper inspections were done there, the penalties would only get worse. With that, she sternly advised them to cut a deal, pay their fines, complete their repairs and get new inspections. And with that, she left the shocked crew to their future.
Next, it was on to the Rira Niru and her self-inflicted situation. The killing the ship's second officer was involved in was a tough case for all involved. While visiting with the port offices, Ms. Vik had the chance to review video records from the case. The "bar brawl" was actually part of a rather large melee which broke out in a club, and under very difficult filming conditions. While the club had vis-light and low-light cameras in addition to infrared systems, the crowded conditions and extreme activities made the camera feeds almost indiscernible. That was, until the moment the lights came on and a set of frames captured the officer holding one end of a shattered container who's other end had been thrust into the body of the victim. It didn't help that the officer's first statements to investigators was that she'd "felt the container moving toward her and grabbed it to protect herself just as the lights came up."
Worse yet, in subsequent questioning, the officer claimed to have been preventing the victim from withdrawing the container to prevent the injured man bleeding out before help could arrive. While investigations of those in the club showed the victim had created a number of issues over the evening, and there were more than a few who had reason to attack him, capturing the spacer's hands on the murder weapon, and her conflicting statements, were damning. And the ship captain's unreasoning belief in his officer was steadfast, according to investigator's reports. The man accused investigators of failing to do their jobs, with a convenient patsy to pin the crime on. Or the bias of a stationer against a merchanter.
Making things more "delicate" were possible reports the crew had a reputation for racking up fines and minor charges to start. Ultimately, the investigation and trial were not going to happen fast, so the port needed the captain to understand that his decision to stay in port was "his" decision, and so were the costs that created. Of course, Inger had no idea how she could convince him, if he were as unreasoning as he seemed. And the time spent in the short cab ride was not at all enlightening either. At the berth, the ship was entirely un-inviting, with the crew making use of their right to secure their own bay by posting armed members. The ship itself showed no signs of departure preparations.
Once Inger introduced herself, she was politely allowed to enter the berth and talk to the captain, but just so. Ms. Vik felt painted by the same blame the crew held for the port in each exchange they shared. The captain was steadfast in his view that his officer was not guilty. Inger got a good enough feel for the man that she'd bet he was not romantically involved with the woman, which would have explained the issue more. And that only made things worse, as it removed the only obvious motive. The only thing left was an unreasoning loyalty to his crew that was leading all aboard the ship to ruin. And the only answer they could get from the captain to the charges was, "prove it". Inger stood fast that she, and the port, didn't have to. The law was the law, and no fantasizing about the crew's beliefs in their fellow would change that.
Should it become necessary, the port would call on that force required to keep the peace, even if that meant arresting them all and billing the costs to the ship. Of course, the captain was all bluster to that, and so were a few of his crew as they sported a fairly interesting array of personal weapons in defiance. The one thread Inger could find to snag hold of and keep pulling was the crew's angry claims that their second officer had been railroaded from the start. She was surrounded by lies with no defenders and no sign of honesty. But even embracing that, Ms. Vik could not make them see they'd only make things worse if they ended up incarcerated alongside her. With their ship and cargo secured and eventually auctioned to pay their debts in the most extreme end. The only thing Ms. Vik could wish for was a sudden and comprehensive investigation the crew could accept as honest.
Eventually Inger left that berth with nothing but notes. Not even a friendly face to look to with hope. Paging a port-cab, Inger figured she might as well meet with the crew of the Last Credit next, before a late lunch. She was sure she had good news for that crew, and was glad that she'd waited after visiting the Rira Niru. She needed a win at this point. In her visit at Central Offices, Ms. Vik checked into the legality of having the crew's personal goods secured? Ultimately, she was able to find something to give the crew. Not that it would get her paid, but it appeared Hortalez et Cie had to document actual value for each item secured above Cr 50. So while the crew could eventually legally loose anything of real value, they could recover their cloths and other personal mementos and souvenirs.
The same set of rulings allowed the crew to raise what funds they could to get a "first crack" at their possessions, before they were liquidated. So while things were pretty bad, they were not losing everything if they acted fast enough. And while it was good news, this was what Inger felt would be her official "good deed for the day". They were certainly not gonna have anything to pay her with. She met with part of the crew, while others were out looking for day jobs and such. And what she had for them was short and grim. The captain, who was not the ship's owner, had spent the last ship's funds she had access to in order to send an x-message to the owners in hopes of getting proof of payment. But any response would be weeks away, if not months, and Hortalez was moving "now". After that meeting, Inger needed to veg a bit and left the dock concourse for the services sector to sit, eat and people watch.Zach's Visit To The University of Rhylanor
Zach paid the cab Cr 20 for the ride to the University, and found his way to the location he was given. When he chimed at the entrance, Doctor Thruald himself answered and invited Zach in happily. As he entered, Zach saw several people there with recording gear, data pads and other projectors for playback or research on points. They explained to Zach that, in addition to adding his own experiences, he might hopefully be able to help them with new questions they'd come up with now they'd had time to comb through some of the data.
To his relief, when Zach discussed falling asleep on guard duty, the researchers asked what might have induced him to sleep rather than taking him to task for any reason. Sadly for them, he explained that is was his lack of sleep beforehand, leading up to the events in the desert. Disappointed, the researchers moved on as Zach had to wonder what they hoped for? Knowing the nomad's special abilities with sensors, was it possible they had some kind of psionic abilities as well?
Despite this curiosity, Zach was kept fairly busy for the entire morning, and the session didn't end until just before lunch time. As the Doctor and his researchers thanked Zach for his help, the merchant asked about getting to tour of the artifact on Rhylanor himself, with a research team. He was told that special permission to join a team was a hard thing to set up, and having done so recently for the others in his crew made it almost impossible to do so soon again. Zach politely accepted that and took his leave.A Morning At The Conference
Once they arrived in the cab, Mikah paid the Cr 10 and they began exploring the conference. They learned that the conference had opened, and would close, with a large banquet. Beyond that, the entire assembly gathered each morning to discuss goals before dividing off into individual discussions on various subjects, much like the discussion groups at Dame Ashley's conference. At the end of the day, participants from the discussions could attend individual dinners or gather as preferred. As they looked over the various panels, Mikah decided that she'd look for panels she could sit and listen in on rather than those she could speak on. Both Zimzod and Brian felt they'd prefer to find panels they could speak on. When they agreed, Mikah figured she'd follow the others around and watch.
The panels Zimzod felt he could speak on were those panels where military resources could concentrate on evacuation, rescuing or treating child populations as well as spending on researching weapons and tactics which reduced innocent death and collateral damage. As an engineer, Brian found he could comment on a much wider list. Everything from use or development of tools to development of processes or strategies for system application. As such, Brian was pleased to find he had a much broader platform than the others. Because they chose different panels, Mikah followed Zimzod, for the increased entertainment value. Of course, when Zimzod did speak, his concerns were about evacuating civilians so Imperial forces could really unleash on enemy forces.
And he encountered everything from listeners who cautiously felt he brought a "unique perspective" to those who felt his views were well beyond anything civilized. While Zimzod was certainly not making any friendly connections, Mikah reacted to some of the comments made by the people sitting near her in their first panel, and did make connections. In the second panel, Mikah was looking forward to the same success when Dame Ashley arrived. All Mikah could think, as the other Knight sat with her, was "Oh Crap". Of course, Dame Ashley was very pleased to see Mikah there, and interested in what Zimzod had to say, if not agreeable.
In the end, they shared comments as a number of people spoke, until the panel ended and Ashley apologized that she had to attend a lunch with associates. Mikah understood completely, and even smiled as Ashley left and she and Zimzod decided to call Brian. Brian also didn't get invited to any lunches, though his comments found more agreement and interest. When Mikah called, he was glad to meet up with them and go somewhere to eat. Once together, they found a quick-cafè close by, where they could get cheap food. After splitting the Cr 60 bill, they ate and talked about the conference and decided to go back for the rest of the afternoon. Zimzod, especially, wanted to go back and heckle some speakers.Rol's Relaxing Afternoon
Once done cleaning, Rol checked the station directory, looking for a vid-theater where he could get lost in the crowd and see a current vid. Once he decided on a likely place, Rol considered the media still in the bay and decided to try hiring a cab and getting moving before they could track him. When the cab arrived, he asked for the theater, in a tourism section of the station, and saw they were being followed as he rode. The cab cost Cr 20, and Rol decided to try to lose the reporters in the crowds on the concourse. His attempts were partially successful, as the crowd grew or diminished, but he ultimately got into a theater, paying Cr 15 for the vid.
Once there, Rol relaxed and said, "screw it" to himself as he let the idiots watch him watching the movie. In the theater, the vid Rol was watching eventually ended and he decided to wander the neighborhood, seeing the sights as part of the crowd, despite the small entourage of media. Despite the trailing press, Rol wandered, saw the sights and people-watched. He was curious what would come of it. The press did their best to cut through local activities while not interfering with Rol's natural responses. Not to mention capturing on vid anything Rol might do in a momentary memory lapse.The Afternoon In The berth
Once her hunger made itself apparent, Aali stepped into the lounge to find Emkir saving his work and cutting off the last few die-hard conversations. As they talked, Aiden entered the lounge, having finished up with his nav-training for the morning. After chatting for a few beats, they came on the one inescapable topic that none of the regular cooks were home. A former scout among others, Aiden was happy to scrounge for whatever, and the others followed suit, searching the galley. Aali chose to scrounge some ingredients as she muttered about cooking something. Soon enough, Emkir snagged her in his arms and they did their best to sicken Aiden as he munched on snacks. Lucky for Aiden, this didn't last long, as they were are all hungry and Aali was the only one volunteering to cook.
Once they sat to eat, Aali brought up the datapads with Emkir as Aiden listened. As the pair decided to devote time to wiping the devices, Aiden agreed to help until Zach returned to the berth. At that point, he hoped to move on getting tested on his nav-knowledge. After finishing eating and cleaning up, the three went in to begin sorting the pads into types. The process they laid out was to set up terminals for each type of pad they could and create wireless daisy-chains to blank multiple devices at a time. This would continue all day, except for Aiden, who was looking for Zach's return so he could test his nav skills.Zach's Afternoon
After leaving the University, Zach floated over to one of the generic diners that dotted the area and grabbed lunch for Cr 10. As he ate, he looked around for anything interesting. After he finished, Zach wandered through the area and, thanks to the advanced tech of the system, few noticed the man in the floating chair. In fact, Zach saw other tech conveyances from those surfing hover-boards to various other personal small craft. As he glided along, Zach saw a hole in the wall 'Theoretical Theater'. Paying Cr 10 to get in, Zach found it was filled with advanced students from the University displaying either demonstrations of parts of experiments or visually interesting or theory stimulating data or results from experiments, art or craft work. Projects ran from the scientifically bizarre to interesting.
One even completely disabled Zach's hoverChair as the student worked his keyboard. When Zach asked him about his work, he learned about their experiments on harmonics. After, Zach agreed to take a survey on what he'd seen and learned. After almost an hour there, Zach decided to call a cab and head back to the berth. As he arrived, and the few scattered paparazzi filmed the activity, Zach saw the general areas of the berth were pretty empty. Only Wall-e was still moving, working at the nearly stripped vehicle frame. Not sure what everyone was up to, Zach remembered Aiden's request at breakfast.
Zach decided to call the former Scout to tell him know he was back and free. When Aiden answered, they agreed he'd meet Zach in the lounge. Aiden asked Zach to set enough nav exercises up to last next few days. Zach knew he could pull some from the computer right off, and considered which scenarios might be good to throw at a beginner? He pulled a number of what would be considered "Tier One" nav-plot assignments. Like using the 'live' active beacon data for the Rhylanor system to plot a jump to the Porozlo system. These used only the most fresh data and general departure and arrival designated points for those systems. Easy stuff from his point of view. Zach's plan was to do the calculations "side by side" to see how well Aiden did? He told the pilot this should take the rest of the day as well as the next day.Inger's Last Meeting
Having spent a bit of time at a cafè relaxing, Ms. Vik paid her Cr 35 bill and left with the clarity of thought a glass of wine provided. Her next target, and the last of the day, was the Dragged Keel. While this could be the best chance of the day for her to get paid, it could also be the most annoying. She had boned up on her knowledge of "the Geonee", who the Solomani referred to as dwarfs for some ancient and lost reason. Admittedly the sub-strain of Humanitii were on the seriously short side, but they didn't, as a race, suffer from dwarfism. The most likely cause of annoyance for her was that they, as a race, tended to claim direct descent from "The Ancients".
This had been long disproven by science but, like many sects of the Vargr race, there were just societies who had deluded themselves over the millennia with warped and re-written education programs. So she could look forward to an elitist ship owner, and likely his crew too. On the positive side of things, the port was using safety regulations to hold the ship, demanding they undergo a long over-due jump drive overhaul. The good news, for Ms. Vik as well as the ship's captain, was that such overhauls were legally voluntary unless mandated by a Imperial Naval Safety Inspection.
While the port "could" call in the Navy, that came with its own paperwork. And since the ship was operating as a cargo hauler, and not putting passengers at risk, that was not a likely scenario. The port could also put a note on their activity logs to be sent to other ports marking the issue, in case they did decide to offer passenger services in the future? So Inger could only do her best to diplomatically find out why the captain was so adverse to the overhaul, other than the cost in time and money. Beyond that, she could ultimately tell the captain about the documents he could fill out and submit to over-ride the port hold with SPA regulations.
Doing so would even force the port to refund any extra fees levied while the ship had been under hold! And while she would rather not do that to her friends in the port, they did send her to the Cursed Bastards of Sol without warning. She did send a text message to her friends in central offices on her intent as she rode the distance from the cafè to the docking concourse Dragged Keel was berthed at. The taxi fee was Cr 20, and the ship looked like just she expected. A captain who wouldn't overhaul his ship may keep up the hull and exterior fittings to impress possible shippers but just as well may not.
In this case, it was not, and even the person at the berth entrance could have been a crewwoman or hired gang member handling "security". The meeting went almost as expected, as what turned out to be a crewwoman called the captain to the berth entrance. When they let her into the berth, she was led into an office in the berth rather than into the ship. There, the captain was brusk, officious and very blunt as she probed his feelings on the overhaul. While adamant that their ship was based on the technology provided by the Ancients, the man provided no documentation on that claim. After about ten to fifteen minutes politely trying, Inger gave up and told him she could get him out of port.
At first, the man was startled by the absolute statement. He then asked how soon and she said that he could be free of the port hold in under five hours. Even sooner, she said, if he hired legal counsel to submit the paperwork! The man dismissed that thought right off and demanded she explain the paperwork. Inger tried to make a quick job of it, but he made an obvious play to get her to give him the data to enter into each field rather than fill the forms out himself. She made her stand there, saying she was there "to make him aware of the paperwork as a service" and hinting that he should be paying for the service. At this, he asked her for an estimate on the costs for hiring legal counsel to do the paperwork and submit it? When Inger estimated Cr 5,000, he offered her Cr 1,500 to help him complete the forms so he could submit them.
Lucky for Ms. Vik, he paid in advance. She spent the next two hours getting the proper answers from him and setting up the forms before a message arrived from the port. Another presumed crew member came out of the ship to tell the captain the port had lifted the hold on the ship just as Inger was reading a text from the port to her comms to that effect. They also thanked her for the head's up on her plans. Inger noted that the port didn't offer to refund any fees, and after the captain turned on her to try and get a refund of his Cr 1,500, she decided she wasn't gonna tell him about that result if he still filed the paperwork! After almost three hours in that berth, Inger left with a "screw him" attitude and a hope that he and all who chose to fly with him did get lost in a mis-jump. Leaving that berth, Ms. Vik went back to the ship as it was just after 4pm.A Low Rent Dinner
At the conference, it seemed Sir Brian was the only one of the three who had made contacts interested in continuing to deal with him due to participation. Mikah was making contacts of her own, talking in the seats, but this was more low key. As a result, Brian called the others saying he'd been invited to a group dinner after the conferences ended, and asked if they wanted to join him? Mikah was OK with the idea as Zimzod asked if there was anyone interesting involved? Brian said they were interesting to him, and planned to discuss some engineering projects brought up in the conference. When Mikah heard this, she was certain she did "not" want to join Brian. Zimzod still wanted to know if there were any hot looking ladies in the group?
When Brian said, "Not in my opinion", Zimzod figured he could be cock-blocking but decided to take Brian at his word. Once they cut the comms, Mikah and Zimzod went to a restaurant themselves and ended up spending Cr 70 on cheap meals and rock gut. Not used to the lack of quality alcohol in the low rent district, Mikah got a bit more than plastered so she also got to pay for dinner. Figuring that having two of them plastered was not good, Zimzod decided it was time to pour her into a cab and get back to the berth. Zimzod at least paid for the cab.Rol's Mistake
As the afternoon continued into evening, Zach and Aiden worked on test nav plots at terminals in the berth lounge as Aali and Emkir worked on the data pads. Ms. Vik returned before dinner just after Rol's return following an afternoon wandering and relaxing. Rol was very happy that, despite the media tail, the station didn't explode into pandemonium at his presence. As Inger sat and did her best to recover, Rol considered what he'd make for dinner?
Eventually, it was time to start cooking, while Aiden and Zach worked at their project on terminals in the lounge. Zach asked if Rol needed help and he said he didn't, and was going to try one of the special dishes they saw at the exhibition. As he cooked, Emkir and Aali eventually came out and Emkir said something smelled tasty. Zach did eventually help Rol prepare the food and Aiden decided to take a break, pulling out an e-book until chow was ready. Emkir watched the cooks, as the "show" took quite a bit longer then Rol planned.
Once the food was served, it certainly "looked" very tasty. As he handed out plates, folks very quickly dug in and just as quickly slowed down as their expressions changed. Even Rol was very disappointed at the taste of the meal, which didn't at all taste good. Quietly, Rol was glad Mikah was not there to try it and shoot him! When he said he wouldn't be trying this recipe ever again, Aali said, "not on Humans anyway..." That got a laugh as all agreed. As they pushed their plates away, Zach said wistfully, "If only this tasted as good as haggis..." Rol played at shoveling the eats into a trash bag as if it was a hazmat bag.Dinner And A Show
As they waited to decide what to eat next, someone saw a taxi pulling up outside the berth. With attention shifting to the new arrivals, they saw Zimzod climb out of the vehicle and half carry Mikah from it! Emkir grunted an "uh oh!" as anything that had taken down Mikah could not be good news. Especially if it was an attack of some kind. As Rol joked about taking a picture, Aali pulled out her comms and snapped a few shots, figuring the media flies in the berth shouldn't be the only ones. As they watched, Zimzod half dragged Mikah into her quarters and poured her into her bed to sleep it off as he went back into the lounge for a bit to join the others.
Soon Zimzod surprised everyone, going back into Mikah's quarters for a good five to ten minutes. As he was in the room, they decided to bet on how long it will take before she was awake enough to try to kill him? Once the bets were taken, the others ripped into self-heating foil-bag meals as they ate a more acceptable dinner and waited. Inside Mikah's quarters, Zimzod carefully heated up her mascara and gently coated each of her fingertips before grabbing something to tickle her nose with. After several instances where she dragged her fingers across her face swatting away the annoyance in her sleep, Zimzod was happy with the mess of streaks and stripes.
Outside, they ate and went about their work as Rol sat in the lounge timing the unknown events in Mikah's room. Emkir bet under an hour and Aali said between the first and second hour. Rol bet exactly one and a half hours and Aiden refused to get involved but sat and watched with Rol. Aali and Emkir went back to sorting datapads and Zach worked on the answers to some of the nav plots he would give Aiden. Eventually, forty five minutes passed and Zimzod came out, still chuckling, to find he had an audience.
As Zimzod took in Rol and Aiden, the pilot asked, "what's the time?" as Rol jokingly asked Zimzod, "Cleaning the pipes, huh?" and disappointedly told Aiden it had been forty five minutes. Even from her position, watching some vids, Ms. Vik looked up to ask if there'd been any damage? Zimzod just smirked saying, "No, not really. You'll see tomorrow." As he was saying that, Rol rose and went into where Aali and Emkir were working to pay Emkir his Cr 50. Emkir was pleased, and celebrated briefly at his good fortune by groping and fondling Aali.
Aiden returned to his Nav-training and worked on that, along with Zach, until the end of the evening. He managed to finish two exercises before racking out. Sadly, Aiden's numbers didn't come out very close to Zach's. The differences suggested Aiden still needed to work on things and Zach took him to task for spending more time watching practical jokes than working.Rol's Quiet Evening
After his practical joke, Zimzod decided to work out a bit before making an early night of it. Rol left Aali and Emkir and hit his quarters. He sparked up the entertainment console in his quarters and looked for some military vids, but ended up getting caught on the fairly stupid soap opera "Behind The Throne" before checking the news.
Regina (A788899-C A Ri Cp 703 F7 V M8 D M6 V) Date: 183-1112 At ceremonies today, the Oberlindes family, owners of the Oberlindes Lines Corp, have announced the opening of a Jump-3 travel route between the Regina and Arden systems. As this route is opening at the dawning of the Firm's third fiscal quarter, the initial numbers will be watched closely in three months' time. The Duke's Seneschal Branj Dilgaadin released a statement for Duke Norris in which the Duke praised the creation of new opportunities. He also welcomed the opening of travel, trade and communications with the new Federation. Following the ceremonies, the IMS Ivory Caravel left the Regina highport with her statrerooms fully booked by high end business customers and diplomatic passengers as well as a few well-placed nobility. It is rumored some of these passengers will be engaged in further increasing the diplomatic ties between the Imperium and the new Federation government.
Mora (AA99AC7-F A Hi In Cx 112 M4 V)   Date: 186-1112 The IISS has officially announced creation of a permanent base in the 567-908 system, to monitor a race being called "the Shriekers", but without official designation. The notice further stated that this presence would be backed up by the Imperial Navy and that the IISS had moved to re-name the system "Denuli". While there had been rumors such a race existed, this was the first official confirmation. The Navy announced their interest, given the proximity to the Sword Worlds Border in District 268.
Bevy (D4209CC-A S Hi Na In Po De 224 F4 V) Date: 273-1112 Protests have broken out in the Bevy system, five parsecs from Rhylanor. The protests stemming from apparent forced colonization of that system from the Kegena system, three parsecs from Rhylanor. Having been happy on their own, the people of the Bevy system have found themselves overwhelmed when representatives of Kegena used maneuvers in the Subsector Senate to force settlement of their excess population on Bevy. The crisis has led to riots, shootings and protests, which eventually brought down the Bevy government. The re-formed government which resulted was "helped into place" by Kegena, and granted the Kegena system government broad rights to further re-settle population. As a result, issues in the Bevy system have continued to mount, both from those forced to resettle and Bevy natives. Making matters worse, the Baron tasked with representing the affairs of the Bevy system is not only from the Sabine subsector in the Deneb sector, but spends much of his time on Capital, more than a half year's distance away for a complaint to travel. While Duke Leonard and Duke Norris are both said to be of a mind that the Sector Navy should step in to help resolve the issue, Duchess Delphine has not acted yet on the issue. Concern is rising as time to respond in any way before irreparable damage is done is running out.
As the news blathered on to a story on Ardella Mestler's clone and her legal issues, Rol was just glad Duke Leonard didn't suddenly "have a use" for them on Bevy or Kegena. Just in case, Rol decided to dig into the issue between Bevy and Kegena. In the end, Rol was able to document how Bevy had fallen to "Captive Government" status in public opinion if not officially. He was also happy and certain there was little a small band of people could do to resolve the situation.Finishing The Day
At the afternoon conferences, Brian was able to give a good amount of input on a number of issues. Since his comments were mostly based on the nuts and bolts rather than the philosophy of an issue, what he said was generally well received. So He was invited to join a group heading out to dinner and they even offered to cover his food! Brian thought about if he wanted Mikah and Zimzod to join him but figured he couldn't just pretend they were with him if asked. So he mentioned them to his party and called the other knights to ask if they wanted to join him? When Zimzod asked about the girls, Brian lied and failed to mention his free food so he didn't have to ask if that meant theirs would be too? In the end, Brian was happy to have the group to himself as they went to a nice restaurant and spent the evening discussing pre-planted supply caches in systems likely to be hit early in any new war.
Brian was able to contribute on everything, from the basic design and construction to the self-maintaining systems needed to preserve stored supplies. While the evening was interesting and fun enough, Brian quickly learned he had no chance with any of the ladies as they were "not there for that." Still, he got back to the berth late and enjoyed his time away from the crew. Once back at the berth, Brian checked in to see what people were doing before heading to the cargo bay to check on Wall-e. When he got there, he saw Wall-e had finished the job and had jacked himself into a power connection to recharge while waiting for new orders. Pleased, he planned to start taking pictures of stuff to sell on the network. Remembering he'd promised Zimzod the wrecked frame, to keep him from getting involved and damaging anything after they bought it, Brian went to Zimzod's quarters.
Zimzod, who'd been reading before sleep, came out to the bay to see what he could do with the frame. While an intact frame, it was so bent out of true that it was useless for anything except selling off for, or cutting up as scrap. Zimzod asked if the ship had stocks of spare metal and Brian said he could have Wall-e cut it down to spare metal to store in the engineering locker. As Zimzod went back to his room he heard Brian telling the 'droid it's next task. Brian wasn't far behind Zimzod as he went to bed. Aali and Emkir worked into the night on datapads until one of them decided to be the first to say "let's stop for the night." Ms. Vik knocked off after watching some vids, cleaning her work from her mind with the firm conviction she'd have fun the next day. Before he went to bed, Aiden checked on the auction for his High Passage ticket, at Cr 7,500. So it was certainly above the halfway mark. He closed the terminal, planning to check it again the next morning.    Monday 212-1112: Morning A Better Morning For Some Than For Others
Rol woke to his alarm clock, did his morning routine and went into the lounge to cook breakfast. As he was cooking, he heard an angry female voice and what sounded like a roar! What he didn't hear after was Mikah's lament, "Have...to stop....shouting" as she grabbed hold of her head and gave the hangover it's due. At 7:20, Mikah had noticed the decorations on her face and guessed that it was Zimzod's fault, based on what she remembered of the night before. Her chief concern was to see if she could clean it off, so she grabbed makeup remover and set to scrubbing. As she worked, Mikah thought to herself, "At least I'm not swirly pink."
Out in the lounge, Rol put on a pot of caff as Mikah grabbed a cup of water and some headache drugs in her quarters. In his bed, Zach woke and looked out a window in the berth to see the sun shining in on him from a wonderful day. He rose, stretching as he stepped toward the window and...woke from his dream. He was back in his quarters on the station and his wounds hurt, A lot! Zach gave himself his daily sponge bath and dealt with what he still could of his daily routine. Despite the delays in cleaning and dressing himself, given his wounds, Zach managed to get out of his quarters before Mikah.
As Rol started cleaning up after eating, and Zach had just begun eating after grabbing a helping, Brian emerged from his quarters. The two of them were eating, and Rol had almost finished cleaning the cookware when Aiden stepped out of his quarters and grabbed chow. Eventually, Mikah emerged in a ship's suit with a "very pale" complexion. She did not kick her door open, but certainly made an entrance with a smile plastered on a face very pink from scrubbing.
Doing her best to control the blood pressure-induced aches in her head, Mikah announced to all that she had a great night in a firm, if quiet, voice. Rol called out, "morning" in a full voice, continuing "How are you doing?" When she said she was fine, he offered her hot caffe in a more moderate tone. Zach took his food over to a terminal and opened up his emails. As expected, there was bleed over from the media storm the day before. So he started taking almost a half hour cleaning out his email.
As he did this, he found an email from Erum Dalunica, which he'd gotten at about two that morning! It was marked urgent and, when he read it, Zach found the merchant felt he'd found a deal for him and the ship on the machined parts. Zach shot him back an email asking for details and saying he just woke up. Zach finished eating and then called the merchant, who picked up right away. When he started talking, Erum was certain he'd found Zach the home run deal he wanted! Erum said he'd found a supply transport out-bound to the Gileden system. Having just gotten a development grant from the Subsector Senate, they were buying needed supplies and wanted the cargo Zach had to sell.
Erum said they were willing to pay MCr 1.3 for the cargo! This put Talan Salagon's offer to shame, but didn't address how they'd install the plant if they pulled the machined parts out from under him. From his point of view, Erum felt this deal had hit exactly where Zach wanted it. While Zach was excited, he could see the deal's parts starting to move, not including the added weight of Erum's broker fee. Zach knew the man would take KCr 200, and figured he could thank him with an additional KCr 10. Zach said he was fairly certain this was a deal he could accept, and asked Erum when he could stop by? Zach said the client was asleep but he could wake her, getting a raise eyebrow. When Erum asked how soon he should be at the berth, Zach asked for an hour and a half. They then cut the line and Zach went to Ms. Vik's quarters to wake her.
As he knocked and woke her up, Inger asked a few questions about the deal and the effect it would have on their deal for the plant? But she'd already said this stuff was going to the ship, and was not gonna get dragged into this any deeper than she was already. So she got the time frame and began doing her morning routine before dressing in a business suit. Zach went back to finish his breakfast. Once Ms. Vik came out for breakfast and information, Zach gave her the rundown on the deal. As they talked, Zach was very certain that the new deal wouldn't prevent them getting the purification plant. When his overly optimistic answers didn't seem to square up with the needs of the deal, Mikah growled over that she'd take care of it.
In their quarters, Aali woke to find herself entwined in an unconscious Emkir. Scraping the Emkir off, she hit the bathroom and worked through her morning routine. Once she got out into the lounge, she saw that Zach and Ms. Vik seemed to have some sort of meeting going on. At the galley table, Mikah was eating breakfast with a very pale expression, and appeared to be suffering from a hangover. Aiden was sitting in the lounge people-watching and Rol was watching news. Aali decided to grab chow while staying as far as possible from Mikah.
Still in their quarters, Emkir woke to find Aali had gotten going and he was alone. With no reason to stay in quarters, he got cleaned up, dressed and headed out into the lounge. Emkir saw much the same things Aali had when she stepped into the lounge, except that she was eating breakfast and Mikah appeared to be suffering over a cup of something she was holding onto for dear life. As he started cutting over to where Aali was, there was a buzz from the berth entrance and Zach said he'd take care of it, expecting Erum.Expected And Unexpected Arrivals
When Zach got out of the lounge into the berth proper, he saw two men at the console and he didn't recognize either of them. Both were in suits, and the lead man was holding some sort of box. The second man was standing behind the first and was, Big, Beefy, and Armed! Obviously armed, in a place where weapons were generally very illegal! As he glided to the entrance, Zach activated the console and asked, "Can I help you?" The man with the box leaned forward responding that he was there to see "...a Sir Zimzod Egosion." Zach could see the box was actually some sort of crafted case that was obviously of some value on its own. It even appeared to be natural wood! Not sure what was going on, Zach left them locked on the other side of the barrier as he said, "I'll be right back" and went back into the lounge.
Seeing that Zimzod didn't appear to be awake, Zach found himself, for the second time, knocking on someone's quarters door. Having woken earlier, Zimzod was in the middle of his morning routine when Zach knocked. Not having gotten any data from them, Zach had to describe them to Zimzod when the knight asked who the "visitors" were? Zimzod didn't recognize them at all, from the little detail Zach gave, and said he'd come and look at who they were before anyone was let into the berth. Throwing on a ship's suit and tucking his .45 under his belt in the small of his back, Zimzod went out to the berth. Heading to the panel, Zimzod didn't have a clue who they were or what they needed from him?
Hitting the comms stud on the panel, he asked who they were and the guy with the case explained he was there to deliver a custom set of rings created by his jewelry firm. As Zimzod realized who they were, and let them in the berth, another man entered the area and Zimzod asked if that person was with them? When they said "No", he directed the jeweler and his apparent body guard into the lounge as he waited for the new arrival.
Once the new guy got to the berth, Zimzod asked who he was and Erum introduced himself, saying he had a meeting with Zach Wood. He was respectful as he recognized the knight from press coverage of Zach's activities. Zimzod told him to hold there and he'd get Zach and he buzzed the lounge calling "Zach, you got a visitor." As Zach was gliding out of the lounge, he passed the two other men wandering alone and unescorted. But he just shrugged, figuring Zimzod let them in so it wasn't his issue.
Shortly after Zach left the lounge, the others were eating, relaxing or recovering when two men none of them had seen before entered the lounge from the berth. Both were in suits and one was both large and obviously armed! And they were not escorted, giving no hint why Zimzod was not with them after he comm'd the message to Zach? Rol cautiously stood up and evaluated the situation as Emkir looked up and asked if they could help the men? At the same time, Brian rose and quickly moved towards his quarters while not looking directly at the pair. No one else reacted immediately as the smaller of the two men asked if there was a table he could use for his display?
Aali reacted to that first, asking what it was the man was displaying? The man rather officiously said, "My delivery for Sir Zimzod." With that, Aali showed him which of the lounge tables he could use and stepped back as she asked if Mikah wanted to watch them while she got Zimzod? Aali then went back out of the lounge. As the man set the case down and Mikah asked what they were there for? The man held up his Ident with his credentials, which Mikah couldn't read from where she was and said he was there to show off what they'd created for Sir Zimzod.
With that, Mikah figured it out and gave a knowing "Ohhhh!" with a slight smile and asked, "Let's see", indicating he should bring the case to her. The others in the lounge had no idea what was going on as the man stepped forward and opened the case for her. The rings inside the case were exactly what she expected to see, and they were very pretty. Looking up, she said, "Where's Zimzod" in a very girly tone, continuing, "I have to go run and find him!" in the same tone.Rings, Cargo And Unemployment
After passing the men in suits, Zach glided out to the berth entrance. There he saw Erum and told Zimzod he knew the guy. As Zach let Erum into the berth, Zimzod started back into the lounge. The three of them were almost back into the lounge when a concerned Aali found them returning. Following the knight and others in, Aali was the only one who didn't hear Mikah talking about finding Zimzod. But she did see the confused looks on almost everyone else's faces. As soon as Mikah saw Zimzod, she called out, "Zimzod, there you are! Yes! Yes I will marry you!" to the complete surprise of everyone in the space.
The first person to react was Emkir, who started applauding as Zimzod said, "So you liked the ring, huh?" That comment floored almost all of the rest of the crew as it seemed to cement Mikah's words! Into this chaos, Aiden screamed out, "Everybody Pay up!", which no one understood. Ignoring Aiden, and again in a very girlish voice, Mikah said, "Yes, and I enjoyed our evening together too." Getting bold, Aali asked, "Can I have pick of the litter?" before Zimzod said he figured she was trying to play him as she was the drunk one, not him.
That said, Zimzod moved over to check the rings as Erum stood in a state of confusion, not knowing what was happening? He thought he was at ground zero of a major news story but still had no idea what was going on. Zach just leaned over and said, "They're like this all the time. Don't worry about it." Zach then led Erum to Ms. Vik as Zimzod checked the rings and the jeweler was relieved he was going get to finish his job. As Zach and Erum got to where Inger was sitting, Zimzod turned the open case so all could see the eight rings, each with a crystal mounted. While Aali didn't know the crystal or what was going on, she recognized the metal the rings were made of as lanthanum!
After inspecting the rings, Zimzod approved the work, having paid in advance to have them made. As he watched the proceedings, Erum was impressed and certain Zach had been holding out on him no matter how badly injured he seemed to have gotten himself. Taking Zach's statement 'They're like this all the time.' as truth, he was sure there had to be a lot more money here to profit from than Zach let on. As the men left, Mikah noticed Zimzod was checking out her newly pale complexion. She pointed, saying "no swirly paint. see?"
As they watched, and were not sure what was going on this time, Zimzod said, "I just figured I'd do that and just call it even. Ok? None of this silly childishness getting back at you. But just showing you I can." Into the silence, Zimzod added, "Oh, by the way. Here's your ring dear." as he picked up one of the eight and handed it to her while kneeling in front of her! The rest of the room went deathly quiet as this happened. Emkir, who had been lifting his cup to drink, set it down a bit hard in surprise. Trying to cover his surprise as they turned towards him, Emkir called out, "Don't let me interrupt the proceedings! Please go ahead." Zach followed, saying "Zimzod, don't even think about giving me my ring that way!"
Zimzod just fixed Zach with a glare and said, "Shut up stupid!", getting a laugh from the rest of the crew. Once the laughter died down, Mikah took the ring from Zimzod and said, "I accept your offer." before becoming matter of fact and continuing, "It's nice. It's small." Emkir busted out, "That's what women say to everything!" Zimzod just looked down and busted out laughing as he said, "I can't do this anymore." He then called the crew to gather around and gave out each of the rings to the person he'd had it sized for. He explained that he'd decided to have the rings made when the Tellona Diamond had been re-sculpted and there were left over shards.
While there was one for Countess Ursara, he apologized to Aali, explaining he'd ordered these before she joined the crew. After he explained the situation and handed out the rings, Zach returned to Erum, who was sitting with a confused look on his face having heard only what Zimzod said about the rings and diamond chips. Zach gave a thumbnail description of the events on Jae Tellona and Erum admitted he'd heard of the impending diamond sale. He was privately even more certain Zach had been holding out on him regarding possible deals. Zach just reminded him of their business as Ms. Vik rejoined the men.
Erum produced the paperwork and explained that the customer was outbound that day. As a result, they wanted the deal to go down fast and easy so they were knowingly overpaying for the parts. The papers were even signed and completed from the buyer's side! As they reviewed the agreement, Erum pointed out that it included a pickup crew from the customer's ship to receive and transport the cargo from the knight's bay. He also pointed out his fee of KCr 200, to which Zach told him he and Ms. Vik agreed to pay KCr 210. Erum was obviously pleased with that. Once they agreed to all the contract sections, Erum led Ms. Vik through the paperwork indicating where she needed to affix her thumbprint. When they were done, Erum explained that he needed to post it to the port, and that would lead to an hour's delay while they certified it. Once that was done, within an hour and a half, the crew of the purchasing ship would show up to take the cargo.
He then told Ms. Vik to check her accounts on her Ident, and she found she had just received MCr 1.1 and was wealthy. Erum confirmed his payment and then they all shook hands and he left as Inger said she was suddenly the richest person aboard and they didn't have a fuel purification plant anymore. Mikah called out, "Hear that? Anybody wants money, go to her!" Zach let the comment pass as he considered the steps he now needed to take to renegotiate the deal they had with Salagon. As he considered this, the questions Ms. Vik asked led to a more general discussion of the costs of the plant and tech work, and the job offers they had before them. No one was comfortable with the job Dame Ashley was offering because no one could see how they could find any information on the missing team.
The other job, which had not really been discussed since the offer was received, was a month's charter back to Jae Tellona at double standard rates. The people hiring them admitted they were interested because the crew had experience with the nomads. No one on the crew wanted to know more about that job. But either way, they needed one job or the other if they were going to buy the plant and have it installed. Even with the deal they'd just signed on the cargo. Especially due to the deal. At the same time, Mikah called for a decision on Dame Ashley's job. Ms. Vik pointed out that trying to do the job on Pavabid would mean Zach could not take part at all.
When Zimzod said he could if he used his chair to hover up into the sky and explode as a distraction, the former marine got good laughs. After the discussions, while there were some pro's, no one really liked or wanted to take the job. So they agreed that they would decline Dame Ashley's job and discussed the lack of options. At that time, Mikah announced cryptically that they had another option! Some in the crew thought she was referring to buying the plant and keeping it in their cargo bay until they could afford to have it installed. Mikah let them talk this out, not wanting to discuss the details of her plan and just letting it happen. Besides, it was 10pm so it was not late but getting there.
_________________________________________________________________________ Next: Closing Deals And Opening Wounds