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A Good Day To Die

The Rest Of The Party

     At the SPA party, the crew enjoyed being celebrated in a "safe environment". While each of them had many admirers, the party was being held in a secure part of the facility. That meant no media. While Ms. Vik was less than pleased, having hoped for some time to just hang out with her friends, the rest of the crew could be a bit more relaxed. If only just a bit. Still, the topics that came up were thankfully more about recent history than things they couldn't discuss. And as they talked about the battle and the events since, they had much to celebrate with the elevation of their friend and her crew. Station

And after having been "detained" at the naval base, and moving their gear to their replacement ship, both Zach and Mikah insisted they needed to celebrate. Ms. Vik was relieved the crew and her friends had safe events and issues to talk about, with older events pushed out, preventing questions about uncomfortable subjects. As the crowd began toasting Inger's career, health and successes, the others in the crew considered the party and what they wanted to do moving forward? Emkir was more loaded than his weapon, and Aali could only give thanks Emkir was a "high functioning drunk".

Zimzod was scouting the female "talent", hoping to hook up. But he found the SPA ladies there were not looking for that kind of adventure. He did explore the many drinks available. Despite intending to stay sober, Zimzod and Zach were soon feeling no pain. Thankfully, the people at the party came to celebrate the crew, so they could set the tone and the tone was "having fun." Also lucky for Zimzod, the drink released his inner, "stumble and fall down" at the same time it let loose his inner letch.

Of more concern to Mikah, when she passed the table he was at, Zach was apparently beginning to regale a group of women with the "tale of the lost gauss pistols." Concerned how deep that could get into the events in the Inthe system, or how embarrassing his other revelations could be, Mikah heard Zach say, "So we're having this big party. And all these women are buying me drinks..." Getting Zach's attention, she said, "That's a really long story. You need to stop." with a hint of caution in her voice. When Zach was confused by Mikah's interruption, she said, "We need to talk. Come here..."

As she grabbed his ear lobe, Mikah led him away from his now very confused audience. As Zach protested that he was having a good time, Mikah just snapped "Stop talking!" Zach said he was only entertaining some of the people, ignoring they were all women, like those at the party on Inthe. Zach asked how he could be entertaining at the party without talking? Mikah suggested she could find ways to "make him" entertaining without having him talk. When Zach was about to protest more, Mikah said, "Stop talking. We're going back to the ship." When that still didn't shut Zach up, she reminded him that when he talked while drunk, he tended to talk about sensitive issues.

When Zach still protested, Mikah told him to grab some caff. Zach asked if she had any oxy-Hepatics on her. Checking her regular carry kit, Mikah saw she had some analgesics, but nothing to burn alcohol. Looking up, Mikah called one of the port admins at the party over and asked if they could have some delivered? While they waited, Mikah made sure Zach had some caff and spent some time taking deep breaths, to increase the oxygen in his blood stream. Once the drugs arrived, Zach also took a bit of time to allow the pills to have their desired affect before returning to the party for the rest of the evening. Though he made sure to drink non-alcoholic drinks. And eventually, the party ended and the crew returned to their berth to sleep.


Morning Of The Waking Drunk

     Early the next morning, Aali and Emkir found they were the first people up, as the others had decided to sleep in after the party. Aiden knew he had to deliver the air-raft to the dealership, but had no time requirement on that. And aside from the delivery of Emkir's combat armor and Aiden's package, the crew knew of nothing they had to do. So the others slept in. As they made their way into the unmanned galley, Emkir suggested to Aali that they surprise Rol and cook breakfast. As they cooked, Aali said she was sorry she didn't know which of the cookware were Rol's preferred ones, so they could make sure he saw them being used and abused. Emkir just laughed and said that they could make sure for the next time, and insure what they used was left with a nice lemon/vanilla scent.

As this was happening, because he was used to getting up early, Aiden finished his morning routine and stepped into the lounge to see the couple at work cooking. Their conversation had wound down as Aali pointed out they'd have to eat off anything they left with a scent, and Emkir admitted it was not a prank on Aiden so it wouldn't be as funny. Lucky for them, their chatter ended before the pilot left his room for the lounge. As he saw them cooking, Aiden was surprised the room was not fully engulfed in flame and decided to sit and watch until the inevitable disaster required his help to manage. To his amazement, everything worked out as the two experienced Scouts who've cooked for decades managed to ignore his paranoid fears.

Soon, having finished his own morning routine, Rol stepped out of his room to see the couple cooking and Aiden watching from a nearby seat at the counter. When Rol asked what they were cooking, Emkir said they were making bangers and mash for the crew, and asked if he wanted some? As Rol wandered closer, to inspect the cooking, he saw the mess they were making and asked, "How good are you at cleaning?" Emkir pointed to Aali as he said, "She's better at it, but I take orders." When Rol said, "OK. You're cleaning." Emkir agreed but said, "We have to go check out some 'droids at ten, but we'll do our best." Rol just turned to face the Admiral asking, "Your best?" in a challenging tone. When Emkir confirmed that, Rol said "OK, I may do my best with your armor next time." in an annoyed tone and Aali started regretting Emkir's joke.

Despite the byplay, the couple made space for him as Rol joined in on cooking the meal. By the time the food was ready to serve, Zimzod had emerged from his room into the berth lounge. As Zimzod bellied up to the counter with the others, Rol handed him a plate and said, "Here, eat." Zimzod thanked him as he took the plate. As Zimzod sniffed at and inspected the food, Aali noticed and commented, "Any breakfast you can walk away from..." That got a laugh from Emkir and Aiden. The pilot had grabbed a quick meal and then went aft to unsecure the air-raft and take it to the dealership for it to be worked on. He also had a crystal on which he'd loaded the best routes through the station from their berth to the dealership.

Eventually, it was 9am and Aali and Emkir called a taxi for their trip to the military section of the station. Before making the call, the couple decided if they wanted to try to call the IRIS driver. But they decided not to, and just called for a regular cab. As the arrangements were made, they were told the cost was going to be Cr 50 each way, because of the distance they had to travel. When Emkir asked, they were told the vehicle would have to exit the skin of the station, and do an exterior-transit to the military sections. While they prepared to leave, Zach came out of his room, in his exoskeleton. As he saw them leaving, Zach asked where they were going? Emkir said they were going to look at some 'droids. Zach asked "What kind?" and was told they'd be looking at engineering 'droids.

Zach's Personal Morning Missions

     As Zach moved up to grab chow and the couple left, Rol was cleaning the galley. Zach settled in to grab chow and ignore his headache as he noticed Zimzod looked no worse for the wear and tear. Starting to eat, Zach saw it was late enough and sparked up a comms to call and make an appointment to have his neural stent implanted. Once on the line with the hospital, Zach gave them his data from the insurance company and the hospital confirmed the requirements and finances. When they asked if Zach planned to bring his ship's medic, as Sir Brian and Aali had before, Zach paused to ask Rol if Lady Mikah was up? He was told she wasn't, but remembered Mikah was up for it, so he said he would.

The hospital tech told Zach they would need to hear from Mikah that she wanted to participate in the operation to confirm that. After they confirmed they had all of Mikah's medical certifications, Zach wanted to set up an appointment and they asked when was good for him? Realizing he didn't know if Mikah had plans for that day, and ignoring the fact she'd been drinking the previous night, Zach said he'd have to check and get back to them. Agreeing, the hospital tech gave Zach a code to give the next person he spoke to when he called back, so they could pull up the records for this procedure.

Once done with the hospital, Zach sparked up a terminal to check his email and turned on the news, to see what was happening. The first email Zach opened was from Erum, and he found the merchant very pleased and thankful for the invitation to the party the night before. Erum was both pleased and very excited to see what use he could put to all the new contacts he'd made at the party. Answering Erum, Zach said he was very happy he could help out. Zach then asked about the details of the expedition he remembered Erum was putting together, knowing this would suggest he was considering joining the effort.

What Erum didn't yet know was that Zach was hoping to get names from him. After Zimzod's most recent adventure at Instel-Arms, he'd started looking for permissions to buy an FGMP-15. Since Zach knew Erum's group were also trying to get permission from the Navy to buy starship weapons, he hoped that Erum could give him at least a few contacts which might help Zimzod move his search forward faster. Zach knew those names would only be a starting-point, because he was dealing with apples and oranges. If he got names and gave them to Zimzod, he risk the Knight calling someone involved in naval weapons asking for a personal weapon. Zach knew that some palms might need to be greased, if it helped the cause.

That could piss off a bluntly contacted agent, who could demand of Zimzod how he got the name, and possibly lead back to Erum. That would not only screw Zimzod and Zach but could also screw Erum and his team too. Something to be avoided. After Zach got finished with his email to Erum, he let Zimzod know he might have a way to find the Knight contacts that could help him in his quest. After that work, Zach kept an eye on the news as he continued burning through his emails. One thing he noted was the increasing frequency of the threat emails. Some were even saying they knew where he was and they were coming to kill him!

Inger and Mikah both came out for breakfast at about the same time. As they sat down for breakfast, Ms. Vik flashed Mikah a plastic smile and said, "Hey, Thanks for last night!" Aware Inger had wanted a 'less crew night', Mikah put her heart into it as she ground it in saying, "Oh! You're very welcome. Any time!" with a shining smile. After that, Mikah relaxed and enjoyed the remaining buzz from the party as she ate breakfast. As they listened to the news, Mikah noticed that Emkir, Aali and Aiden were not in the lounge, though she only knew what business Aiden had outside the berth. Eventually Mikah asked Zach how he was doing and the merchant said he wasn't feeling too bad. Zach then told Mikah he was setting up the appointment to have his stent implanted and asked when she was available to assist?

Knowing she didn't want to spend longer in the system than they had to, Mikah said he should have the surgery done the next day. She knew that meant a week's healing before he could take the week long-class to use the device but waiting longer would mean he'd finish later and give karma more time to catch up to them all. As Zach pulled the code he'd gotten from the tech earlier, he called the hospital to schedule his surgery while telling Mikah she had to call and confirm she'd participate. When the new tech asked when Zach wanted to schedule the procedure, he said he wanted it to be done at 9am. As the tech created the schedule item, he said that Zach would have to be at the hospital by 6am, in order to prepare for the procedure. Zach agreed, saying that was why he didn't ask for it to be earlier.

Zimzod's New Quest

     As Zimzod ate, he listened to Zach's desperate fight for immortality and considered how well that worked out for Brian. Once she and Zach were done, Zimzod asked Mikah what she thought his chances were of getting the Duke's approval to buy an FGMP? She thought about it before answering, "I would say, probably a hundred percent." When Zimzod asked, "Really?" she finished by saying "Against." which was more in line with Zimzod's thoughts. She followed that up saying, "But it won't hurt to ask." That also agreed with what Zimzod had been thinking, so now he had to figure how to get permission if the Duke wouldn't help? And after passing through a number of options in his mind, Zimzod decided to get to know some members of the Knight Defenders of the Marches and see if he could find someone with connections?

Once he decided on that, Zimzod sparked up his comms to pull up the contacts the Order had loaded into it two nights before. Using the general support number, Zimzod called to see if there were Order facilities on-station? The tech who answered confirmed they did have a facility on the port and sent the address and directions to Zimzod's comms. When the tech asked if they could help him with something specific, Zimzod asked if it were possible to meet with Baron Sir Akamke Ubum Iikimkhirsa Trekera? He was told the Knight Commander of the Order worked from his office on Rhylanor Prime. When they asked why he needed to meet with the Knight Commander, Zimzod explained his hopes to get permission to buy an FGMP-15.

When the tech heard this, he suggested the Knight Commander would not be the proper venue for that. Zimzod asked if the Knight Commander might be able to point him in the right direction, but the tech suggested the Order has many members and some of those members might have the kinds of connections Zimzod would be looking for. As Zimzod considered that, he realized it might be a question of helping out a member of the Order and getting some help in return. Once he had his plan set, Zimzod thanked the tech and cut the line before calling for a port taxi to get him to the orbital Order facilities. A trip that cost Cr 25.

Arriving at the correct compartment, Zimzod found the facility was a very comfortable combination of waiting rooms, meeting and conference spaces, function rooms and a layover hotel. But the hotel was more of a five star hotel than the standard "tube rooms sharing a bathroom" facility. There were private offices that could be rented out, a concierge and a services desk. While the facility was open to the public, those not of the Order were required to pay to use the facilities. Also, Order members had priority over the public and access to Order-exclusive spaces. While a non-member wouldn't be kicked out of a facility they were already using, a request made at the same time by would be granted to the Order member first.

Since Zimzod was interested in meeting members of the Order and making connections, he looked for the common and reading rooms where visiting members of the Order might be relaxing between appointments or while waiting for their ship to begin boarding. Once done with the tour, as this was his initial visit, Zimzod made a note of the integral store the Order maintained. During the tour, he saw they were in fact selling rare items like coffee! Asking, Zimzod was told that Order members could buy a pound at Cr 2,000, and the price for non-Order members was Cr 5,000. So he'd decided he'd be buying a pound of that before he left, no matter what connections he made.

Once looking to meet and greet, Zimzod took the tactic of introducing himself, where it seemed an Order member wasn't busy. As a new member of the Order., he wanted to meet and introduce himself to other members. As he met with members, Zimzod slowly became adept at identifying some Order members by specific jewelry. Like class rings, school ties or other jewelry or clothing items, there were items the Order sold that identified members. And Zimzod found some were not very obvious at all, such as clips in the Order's colors which held a comms ear-bud. Getting into his search, Zimzod decided to spend the entire day there.

Zimzod eventually spent Cr 45 on lunch and planned to do the same for dinner unless he found someone who could help him first. As time passed, a number of Order members started coming over to him to meet. While there were a lot of introductions, Zimzod didn't get in a lot of conversation, so he wasn't making the contacts he hoped early on. He hoped that, as the day passed, there would be chances for more and deeper conversations which might lead to the contacts he hoped for. As he collected names and numbers, Zimzod experienced the very broad spectrum of the Order's membership.

More Clones For The Circus

     After finishing her breakfast, Mikah called the hospital to confirm her part in Zach's operation. As part of this, they assured her they had her certifications and were prepared to pay Cr 3,000 for her role in the operation. Once the T's were crossed and I's dotted, Mikah cut the connection and considered what they were planning to do in the port? She knew that, because of Zach's stent operation, they'd be there for two more weeks at least. But she hadn't considered what to do once they were free of the Duke's commands? As she realized they needed to have a crew meeting, Mikah looked around and realized that half the crew was out of the berth. So she'd have to wait until everyone returned to have a meeting to decide what they wanted to do next.

As she was deciding to relax and wondering what she wanted to do that morning, Rol asked how long the ship would be in this port? Mikah told him she was just considering that and planned to have to have a crew meeting to discuss it. Hearing Rol's question, Zach chimed in saying, "At least two weeks." When Mikah agreed, Zach asked Rol if he'd been considering getting a stent, and Rol said that was why he was asking how long they'd be in the port? As Mikah and Zach both said that "now would be the time" Zach chimed in offering the numbers for the places he was using. Once Rol decided to take the plunge, he thanked Zach for his offer but called TAS, to see what they could offer.

As with Aali, Rol found the costs would be Cr 2,400 for the year's insurance and warned him about the two week rule, to have the stent implanted. The tech also covered the post-operative items TAS would provide, including scheduled follow up treatment and a "one day" class after the week of healing. Two days after the class, there would be an initial scan, which the Insured would be able to update up to four times a year. Rol remembered that Aali had been given a holographic version of the class when they were forced to leave for the Mora system. He asked about that and was told TAS would prefer to use the face to face class as a starting point.

They said they could provide the Holo-class to be used as a refresher. After that was done, Rol spoke to Mikah and found she recommended the 301st, as Zach had his surgery scheduled for the next day. With that, Rol called the hospital to set up his surgery. He was told the surgery would cost him Cr 10,000 and, when she got on the line to confirm she'd take part, Mikah was told she'd be paid Cr 1,500. So the surgery was scheduled for 1pm on the 301st. Because of the "date of purchase" and the time required to effectuate the policy, Rol was told he would be insured as of the first of the new year and it was recommended he not die before then. While the operator meant it as a joke, Rol could only consider what happened to Brian.

After finishing up with the insurance and hospital, Rol decided to dig into another item he'd been thinking of. He reached out to the resources of both Chivalric Orders he was a member of, and started asking questions about how to get the permissions required to purchase a suit of battledress? Like Zimzod's quest for the FGMP, Rol was told that Battledress was considered an outright military weapon. As a result, the usual method pf getting permission would be to fill out the needed applications and petition the Imperial Navy for permission to own such a weapons system.

The levels of petition were also different for an Imperial Citizen as opposed to a business forming a mercenary unit. Outside that standard path to a decision, it was suggested that Rol could seek out those he had access to, who might have connections or other influence they could use to affect the petition. Being a Knight of the two Orders, it was pointed out he could spend time meeting the members of his Orders and perhaps find someone who might find a reason to support his petition?

The Morning's Excursions

     Once out of the ship, Aiden piloted the air-raft the 20 minutes flight to the dealer's location. Once the paperwork and work authorizations were done, Aiden had to call a cab himself, to get back to the berth. Before he called the cab, Aiden took a look at one of the many bulkhead-mounted station map displays and saw the military sectors of the station was quite a distance away. Remembering that the cost to get there, one way, was Cr 40 to 50 and he'd only get Cr 100 for his Silver Asteroid, Aiden decided to just return to the berth for Cr 15.

Once back at the ship around 10am, Aiden saw Rol and Mikah working at a terminal, apparently on the comms with someone. Zach was also working at a terminal and it appeared Ms. Vik was playing a first-person-shooter game after having had breakfast. No one else was visible in the berth lounge. In the background, the news was providing a backdrop of sound as the ship's system was still tuned to the TAS Traveller News Service. Seeing that there was nothing pressing, and not wanting to know what dark cloud had Inger trying to shoot her way out from under, Aiden pulled out something to read and decided to relax until something came up.

As Aali and Emkir rode in the taxi, they enjoyed the complex but soundless dance of the many vessles of all classes, arriving, departing or transiting as they drifted between vehicle access portal points on the station's outer hull. As they rode, they also planned their trip out more. They decided Aali would stop at the Scout's paymaster office to pick up her payment for her Silver Asteroid. This would, they realized, ironically just pay the cost there and back of her cab round trip. Once at the address the Admiral gave them, the couple found the space was originally a standard set of warehouse compartments. But the Navy had obviously jury rigged the space with electronics racks and other fixtures to organize device storage.

Entering the space, they encountered a set of naval ratings who were obviously clerks who worked there. Looking around, the couple guessed the facility must have been established to prepare to auction off demobilized equipment which had been approved for sale. After they introduced themselves, Emkir and Aali were told the Admiral's orders were to let them examine and investigate all the 'droids in storage. They were not approved to remove any of the devices, but had complete freedom to investigate what the Navy had scheduled to be auctioned. Not wanting to waste a lot of time, Emkir said they were specifically looking for engineering androids. the ratings said they were organized into lots that were not identified by class.

So Aali and Emkir would have to hunt through the pallets and find what they wanted for themselves. And while polite, theclerks made it clear they had other work to do, but the Admiral's orders were their orders. As they tried to get any guidance from the clerks, Emkir realized the only way they'd get any help might be to grease some palms. And as they looked at the many open spaces filled with androids, they realized they had one hell of a task ahead of them. Realizing they had nothing else to do for the rest of the day, they decided to search until about 3pm in the afternoon. So they wandered through the facility, passing every manner of android including everything from security 'droids to automated transports.

Checking, they found all the devices and parts seemed very well used. The couple were delivered 'foil pack' lunches by the ratings as they worked, but realized they could spend another day or more searching. Aali also looked at the 'droid parts, because Wall-e had issues with its locking grav module. Eventually, Aali decided to search for lots of 'droids rather than individual units. That way she could get a set of units and perhaps have spares as well as working 'droids. After spending hours wading through the literal ocean of electronics and androids, Aali decided there had to be documentation somewhere. Even if the storage compartments weren't organized, the paperwork had to say what they had, and identify it by intended auction lot.

When Aali asked one of the men obviously moving lots around and assigned to do grunt work, he asked what kind of electronics they were looking for? Aali said they were needed a lot of starship engineering 'droids and would prefer the highest end units available. The man checked his notepad and said there were a lot of five LSP brand "engineering - 3" rated units. As the couple eventually found the lot number and location he gave them, they found the 'droids appeared in good condition and seemed to have all their obvious external parts. The lot was "combat rated", meaning they should function in a battle environment. And they were scheduled to be auctioned for a starting bid of Cr 500,000. Of course, when they saw that price, there was a moment of pain, given their only very recent wealth as they imagined it blowing out the door. But Aali knew she needed the help so she copied the lot number in order to ask the Admiral about it?

Once they were sure they wanted to pull that trigger, Aali sparked up her comms and called Admiral Kiamman. Aali identified herself and, after exchanging greetings, told the Admiral they had visited the storage facility and spent much of the day checking devices out. Then she said she'd found a lot she was sure her ship would be interested in and wondered what the Navy might consider parting with the lot for? The Admiral asked for the lot number and, after checking, confirmed they were scheduled for auction at the starting bid of Cr 500,000. Aali did her best not to flinch at the price, because she knew this was just the starting point. Once there, the Admiral said, "Let me see what I can do for you." as she took their comms data and they signed off. That done, and on the base, both Aali and Emkir could call a staff car for on-base trips. So they then left the storage facility and moved over to the pay office, to collect on Aali's Silver Asteroid. Once done collecting the Cr 100, they decide to browse at the on-base consignment shops.

Inger's Day Off

     By the time Aiden returned after dropping off the air-raft, Inger was getting bored of her game. She decided that, since the night before wasn't what she'd hoped, and since there was nothing to do that day, there was no reason to waste more free time. So she sparked up her comms and called a number of her friends a nd organized a number of them who were off shift and had free time during the day. Once they had a conference call going, the group agreed to gather for lunch and then see a play and hang out before having a dinner party of friends only. As Inger went to her room to change, they sent a car and, soon enough, she was on her way out to a day of fun with her friends.

They all gathered into a group of eight, including Inger, and decided where to eat. Ms. Vik was pleased when they told her she was be their guest. They had also pulled free tickets from Ops, so after lunch they took a port car to the station's central theater district in order to see several expositions before the play began in the late afternoon. After that they would hit a fairly expensive restaurant and have a really good meal before some of them had to get ready to go on-shift. The expositions available were many and varied, so they let Inger choose what she'd like to see as they burned time after lunch.

Ignoring the ubiquitous "Around The Marches In One Day" display of select Spinward Marches systems, Inger saw one of the museums had a display on the history of Arch Duke Norris. Honoring the man on his historic elevation, the exhibit covered the history of a man not born to inherit power. Selecting that, Ms. Vik and her friends wandered through the displayed history of Norris' life. How he'd been born the second oldest and had joined the Imperial Navy while his older brother was groomed to rule. How the then Lt. Commander had specialized in Naval Intelligence, which was a fact Inger was disappointed she was only really learning at this late date.

Many more public displays covered the Arch Duke's life from the time his brother died in an accident and Norris had to resign his commission, return to the Regina system as the Heir to the Duchy. From that point on, much of the exhibit's displays covered the much better known facts and information about the Arch Duke's life. These added detail and context to those achievements that were well known to the public. Specific detail was paid to the Arch Duke's mission, during the war, to recover the Imperial Warrant. Then, there was a 'mixed medias' presentation of his activities once he'd relieved Grand Admiral Santanocheev. Inger was very pleased that her friends respected her privacy and asked only the most general of questions about her experience with the man.

And after that, the group toured an exhibition of various art styles from a number of worlds in the Marches. This centered on art meeting functionality in pre-industrial societies. There were also side-commentarys and examinations on how that art and technology seemed to be developing, due to contact with visitors and trade with the interstellar community. Inger particularly liked a specific display of ceramic figurine pots and storage sculptures from the Penkwhar system(Lanth), a protected Bronze age society whose artifacts were displayed as an "unaffected control". The small collection had been recovered from abandoned sites by anthropologists and other researchers from the University of Rhylanor and the IISS.

Finally, it was time to hop a port car and head to the theater. The play they were planning to see, "Between the Blade's Cut" was advertised as an existential comedy and examination of the emotions and social issues experienced by families living on opposite sides of a border on a balkanized world. Despite her experiences in the Porozlo system, and even because of them according to some of her friends, Inger was assured she would enjoy the play. So, soon enough, they were seated and turning off their comms devices before the lights settled low and the play began.

Dealing With The Hate Mail

     As he was dealing with his emails, Zach noticed the threats he had been receiving ever since he'd returned to the system were not only increasing in number, but they were starting to get very pointed. They no longer just generically said, "We're going to kill you" but were now saying things like "We know where you are and we are coming to kill you." While he'd been largely ignoring them for almost a week, Zach was more bothered by the increasingly threatening tone. As with all the emails, the network addressing had been spoofed in a method that was well beyond his skill to understand or back-trace. Given what looked like a more direct threat, Zach decided to reach out for help to see what could be done?

Checking his comms, Zach sparked up a connection with House Kirgashii, not considering the fact that they might just help those hunting him if that meant Zach would be "cleaned up" without it becoming an issue for the Duke. As a tech answered the line, Zach got a generic, "How can we help you?" Once he identified himself, Zach was bounced to another person who got right to it, asking Zach what he needed? The merchant couldn't fail to notice the less than friendly tone. Zach explained that he'd been receiving email threats and felt that someone might have put a contract hit out on him. He asked if he could speak to someone who might be able to help him respond to the threats?

The tech had him hold as he brought others on the line and eventually they asked Zach to give him control of his terminal. They also sent him an email with a link embedded into it to let them to access his session. Once Zach gave his screen a once over, to be sure he didn't have anything open that might cause issues, he surrendered access to the terminal. As they started working on identifying and examining the details of the emails, the first tech on the call said, "Sir Zachariah, do you know of anybody who might have reason to kill you?" Assuming the tech had more information on him than perhaps he did, Zach casually answered, "I can think of one or two. Like...the mob." As he spoke, Zach drew out the pronunciation of the words "two", "Like" and "mob", as if the answers should be available to the tech.

All business, the tech asked, in a patient tone, "Which mob would that be, as the mob are rarely one group?" They all knew there was no "mob" but a great many crime bosses who's activities were covered under the term. So saying "the mob" without further details was saying almost nothing at all. Zach specified that he'd had some dealings with "a couple of organizations", and the tech again very patiently asked, "Can you give us names?" Now the tech drew out the pronunciation of the word "names", to make it clear Zach needed to give them information they could actually use to help him. Zach first identified the crime boss, Rurore Arcea, who the crew had been involved in killing. As he did this, he ignored the fact that this might draw investigator from House Kirgashii to connect the crew of the Hotel California with the events of Arcea's death.

As he continued stomping on the top secret orders issued by IRIS, Zach then identified the other crime boss, Tarulli Itium, who they hadn't been able to kill and just threatened. Hoping to skirt the events of Arcea's death, Zach claimed he had dealings with the man around the time he'd been killed, and was asked by the tech if he could describe the nature of the deals? Zach said he couldn't explain the deals he was involved in, ignoring the fact that this waved huge red flags in the face of people whose job it was to protect the Duke from his mistakes. This was only made worse when Zach continued, saying Duke Leonard already knew the details.

Ignoring that dead end for later investigation, the tech switched tracks and asked why it was Zach's assumption that they wanted to kill him? When Zach said, in an exasperated voice, "I don't know. Maybe all these emails saying "we want to kill you"?", the tech answered, "We're trying to help you Sir Zachariah, and we asked you if you thought there were people trying to kill you. You gave us these names. Now we are asking you why you gave us these names and why you think they would want to kill you? Since you gave us these names Sir, you can't say you don't know why. So, since you volunteered these names, why do you think they would want to kill you?" And at that point, the investigator's voice got very pointed and even a bit aggressive.

Scrambling for anything he thought he could say that would not make things worse, Zach claimed the deals went bad and they might be looking for revenge. Confirming Zach's statement, the investigator said, "So you had some deals that went bad with these people and that's why you think they're trying to kill you. OK, that's what we needed. Is there anybody else, that you can give us reasons behind, who you think might want to kill you?" Zach said those were the only names he would think were people whose organizations might want to have him killed. After that, the investigator confirmed the claim with Zach that Duke Leonard was completely aware of the details of his deals with the two crime bosses? When Zach confirmed that, they said they would investigate and get back to him with their findings, but they told him he couldn't use his accounts until they're done.

Once done on the comms with House Kirgashii, Zach decided it might be time to tell Mikah about what was happening. So Zach told her he was having an issue with "a little bit of hate mail". He also told Mikah he'd reached out to House Kirgashii and they were investigating. When he said the Household investigators would get back to him once they had answers, Mikah decided it might be best to call IRIS and make them aware of the issue. Especially when she asked a few questions and found Zach was getting death threats. So she picked up her comms and dialed in the emergency code they'd been given.

As expected, a neutral voice answered asking, "How can we help you?" Mikah explained that one of the ship's crew was receiving death threats. She then said her crew could not back-track the threats and Sir Zach had made House Kirgashii aware of the issue. So they were investigating. But she thought it might be something beyond the Household. As she was finishing that statement, her comms started buzzing with an incoming call. Asking the IRIS agent to hold, and privately hoping this was Lord William calling, Mikah answered the new call to find it was an insurance agent. He introduced himself as representing the Damziisi and Kesa Insurance agency and said he was looking for the beneficiary of Sir Brian Montgomery?

After a few blinks, Mikah realized what this call was about and said, "Oh, um. That would be me but, can I call you back?" The agent happily answered, "Sure" and bumped her his information before disconnecting. Once she was back with the IRIS agent, he asked, "Are we ready to continued?" in a tone that bordered on 'why are you wasting our time?' When the agent asked for the details, and then asked for access to the account, Mikah had Zach log into his account from another terminal and provide the IRIS agent access while also telling the man House Kirgashii was currently working on the account. Once the agent heard this, he said "OK, put Sir Zachariah on the line."

After Mikah happily handed the comms to Zach, he greeted the agent casually to have the man bluntly demand the credentials to his account. Stopped cold, Zach simply responded "OK" and sent the man his user ID's and passwords. After the agent got that, he said, "We're going to wait until the Household is done with their investigation and then we'll start ours using your credentials. We'll let you know when you can use your accounts again." When Zach asked if this was just his email account, they corrected him that it was everything. When Zach asked if the agent had an idea how long that would take, the agent said no more than a day in a tone which made it clear this was possibly Zach's life they were talking about.

When Zach asked if he would be able to access him money, they said "We pretty much recommend you sit and relax." After the connection was broken, Zach looked around him realizing he could do nothing that required any ID or money. He asked those in the lounge, "Want to play a game?" As no one took up his offer, Zach decided that he could read one of Brian's books and play game against the computer. At one point, he had an errant thought and considered having one or more of the books scanned, but realized he'd have to have ID and money. So before sitting and reading, Zach did his cardio workout, then relaxed until he got the call.

Settling Issues And Hoping For The best

     After she was done with Zach and IRIS, Mikah called the insurance agent back and identified herself. When asked her relationship to Sir Brian, she explained that she was the Captain of his ship and the presumed executor of his estate. Mikah also pointed out that he should know this, as he'd called her. The agent corrected her, that he called her as the Captain of the ship. He also explained that Brian had opened an insurance policy for cloning, for whom the only documented beneficiary was his clone. However, Sir Brian had never completed the steps needed to make cloning possible, and they needed to investigate another beneficiary.

Once Mikah went through the details with the agent, and confirmed her right to direct the funds, he asked her where they should refund the collected premiums? Mikah said they should pay the funds, in the amount of Cr 5,400 to the ship's account. After she confirmed the data to transfer the funds, the agent thanked her for her help and told her the funds would be transferred in the next eight hours, and the policy closed. They then thanked each other and ended the call. Done with that, Mikah decided to have a seat and have a little conversation with Zach.

As she sat, Mikah asked, "So how long were you getting these death threats?" Zach admitted, "I noticed them when we returned to the system, but just thought they were more hate mail. Like the Open Skies stuff... which I get all the time." Zach then continued, explaining that they were general first. But now, they were looking 'sort of serious', so he figured he should do something about them. As he explained things, the line had been crossed when they went from 'I'm going to kill you' to 'I know where you are and I'm coming to kill you." When Mikah asked why he didn't think to say something earlier, Zach pointed out that they had been a bit busy until that day.

Mikah asked why he hadn't told the rest of the crew about the threats and Zach challenged her, asking, "What would you have done? Call up the bosses!" Mikah pointedly said she'd have called IRIS first. She stressed that she wouldn't have gotten the Duke's household involved. When Zach said that Duke Leonard was fully aware of the situation, Mikah pointed out that IRIS was too. Neither of them mentioned that the rest of House Kirgashii was likely not aware. Nor did they comment on what the House Kirgashii investigation might turn up? And how the investigators might react to what they found out?

Zach shrugged, saying "Well, if one investigation misses something then the other one might catch it. So it doubles our chances." Zach also suggested the Household could act in the open, where IRIS couldn't. Mikah wasn't impressed and told Zach she'd bet on IRIS solving an issue covertly before anything could be done "in the open" by anyone. The others in the lounge agreed with her. As Zach protested, and came up with other fanciful excuses, Mikah just walked away because she realized logic was hopeless. Before this revelation, Mikah had considered calling a hospital to try and take on surgical shifts. But now that they had no idea what these threats were about, she considered it safer to stay with the ship and crew. When she said as much, Rol snraked that this increased the odds at least one hospital would need some extra surgeons.

As Mikah vented, Zach wondered out loud if there might be a reward for turning in the box of cybernetic parts? As he thought about the best ways to figure out the value before asking the Darrians, Zach realized he should spend a few days surfing the world-net. He planned to hit news and collector sites to get a feel of the values and legal issues that might be involved. He was most concerned with the possibility the Darrians would just declare the artifacts stolen, and request the Imperial government force the crew to turn them over. This was especially likely given how the parts came to be on their ship.

After relaxing for a bit, Mikah realized she could still sell her time to a hospital, as long as she made it clear she might need to drop her duties if an emergency came up. But when she called, those hospitals she checked with said they needed people to take full shifts in their wards, to free up staff when someone called out or a significant issue occurred. So they specifically needed people who would not be called away in emergencies. They did ask if they could keep her data on file, in case of mass casualty events? But Mikah was certain either her crew "would be" the mass casualties or the Duke would be calling her and her people for help. So she suggested she was on call to a higher authority on that and stopped making calls. After that, Mikah just decided to relax.

Moving On And Getting Something Done

     After having set up his cloning, Rol decided to watch the news more carefully, and specifically watch for more information on the Duchess's arrival and activities. He also remembered that Mikah had asked him to help connect her new laser pistol to her combat armor HUD. Of course, when he'd first heard of this new advanced tech laser pistol, he wanted to get a good chance to look it over anyway. He'd heard of a magazine-style battery-bearing pistol but not actually seen one before. He also recalled that others in the crew had some purchases delivered and Emkir bought an entire suit of combat armor with a HUD to tie weapons to.

So Rol realized that, outside Mikah's pistol, he was going to have to sit down with each member of the crew and determine which of their weapons needed to be tied to a HUD if they had one. He also knew that Zimzod's new gauss rifle would need to be tied in to his battledress. So killing two birds with one stone, Rol decided to ask Mikah if he could work on her pistol? When Mikah said he could, he also asked, "Are you gonna need your armor any time soon?" as he needed her HUD too. She answered, "I hope not" and went to her room to get the parts Rol needed.

In this case, the combat armor had been designed with link points at cuffs on the wrists, hips and shoulders so that cables could be "short-tied". But the pistol needed to be tied to a hip link, so it could be either hip or shoulder holstered. Then the feed cable would either play out to the link point or could be unjacked and moved to the wrist link point by the combatant, in this case, Mikah. From that point on, Rol needed to power up and connect the two systems to calibrate them in tandem, so they worked together without glitches or failures. As Rol worked, he listened to the news stories as the TAS reports cycled through the hour.
The News Of The Day:

    Rhylanor (A434934-F 2 Green Hi Cap 910 M2 V6)                                        Date: 298-1112
    The surprise arrival of Duchess Avaraja Astaarte Muktheswana from the Glisten system
    remains unexplained. Minister Lord Sir Madirkha Zisirlu of Duke Leonard's Court has
    stated His Grace has no statement on the arrival of Her Grace Glisten in-system except to
    greet Her Grace to his Duchy and assist her should Her Grace request aid of him.

    There has been no comment by either the Imperial Admiralty or Her Grace's Offices in
    the system. To this point, the only verified facts surrounding Her Grace's visit have been.
    her public appearances.

    As this state of affairs continues, the media have been having a field day with speculation.
    Rumors support everything from a final drive to push the Zhodani out of the Spinward
    Marches to the rumors of preparations to organize a fleet to depose the Emperor, or perhaps
    to ally with either the Grand Duchess Delphine or Arch Duke Norris to settle things with
    the other's opponent.  

As they listened to media comments on this story, Rol told the others he'd spent time while they were at Instel-Arms tracking the Arch Duke's appearances in the news from the Mora system. He admitted the news was five weeks old at best, and it only took them four weeks to get to Rhylanor from Mora in a jump-four ship. This put everyone in a cheery mood as they realized the Arch Duke and even Duchess Delphine could be in-system secretly. As if to hammer this home, some of the stories that followed covered the further details of Emkir and Aali's wedding. Details and pictures were just now starting to arrive in-system, guaranteeing the Admiral and engineer would be on the front of the social page. To what had to be the Arch Duke's satisfaction, they all saw that a large amount of the reporting on their wedding centered on the Arch Duke officiating. But it also hammered home the point Norris could have arrived well before any news he was coming.

In addition, there was more, and increased, coverage of the battle with von Kreden's forces and the various investigations into how those ships had been able to sneak through the naval and local system patrols to reach the Rhylanor system? This sparked a few thoughts in several aboard the ship who linked this to the still-missing Black Marketeer from the Risek system. Not to mention the still missing dispenser devices... If a whole fleet element could slip through space, one ship could certainly be almost invisible in the heavy traffic of major Imperial systems like Rhylanor.

Getting back to the mix of hard and soft news, there was a great deal of reporting on the ceremony in which the crew were either knighted or had their knighthoods augmented. This was followed up by the obligatory bio-pieces on each of the crew, which guaranteed anyone would be able to recognize them at a glance wherever they went in-system. On the whole, it promised to be a very "Peachy" day even if they all spent it hiding in the berth.

    Frenzie (A200436-A N Ni Va   110 M2 III M3 D)                                         Date: 250-1112
    The situation in the Thanber system has reportedly been quieting down as the system's
    government are getting a hold on its population. Despite this, there remain a significant
    push to join the Imperium officially.

    There remains no comment by either the Imperial Admiralty or the Zhodani Embassy on
    these growing movements. Unfortunately, neither has there been any official comment on
    those declared missing. The current administration have said those few inquiries
    lodged regarding the numerous murders believed to be related to the unrest, "under
    investigation".   

    Mire (A665A95-B M Hi Cp   110 M3 V)                                                          Date: 236-1112
    The Confederation government has reportedly begun setting up committees to determine if
    legal action should be taken against the various Sword Worlds Confederation governments
    due to the massive amounts of damage done in the Entropic worlds as they withdrew during
    the Fifth Frontier War.

    In an additional complication, the Darrian government have announced they were researching
    methods of dealing with biological Darrians who had been raised under the Sword Worlds
    occupation. Issues that have been identified center around Sword Worlds loyal racial Darrians
    carrying out acts of protest or even terrorism in the liberated systems as well as possibly in the
    Confederation itself.  

    Mire (A665A95-B M Hi Cp   110 M3 V)                                                          Date: 236-1112
    The Archeological Chair at the University of Zolth has announced that they have begun work
    on assembling a larger team of investigators in light of the discovery, in the Entrope system,
    of unidentified and unusual artifacts, dating from before any known settlements existed on
    that world!

    There is still no comment from University sources on the nature of the artifacts, or the sites
    in which they were found. The various Sword Worlds governments which had participated
    in occupation of the system have also remained silent on the announced discoveries.

    Imperial sources have stated that a number of Imperial Universities have offered assistance
    investigating the sites.  

    Heya (B687745-5 Ag Ri   734 K6 III M8 D)                                                    Date: 236-1112
    The Admiralty have announced that they have cleared the Captain and crew of the INS
    Adamar for the actions against the Ollong Dhugharr, flagship of the Utsak Pirates. In
    a short statement today, the investigation was stated to have found the Adamar
    acted well within the rules of engagement.

    While it was regretted that some of the Vargr vessels escaped capture or destruction,
    Naval authorities said the capture of the group's infamous leader will help de-escalate
    raiding in the region.   

    Nonym (C233898-A G Na Po   623 G0 V)                                                        Date: 229-1112
    In a terse report from this system, the Darrian Confederation has responded to protests
    against their naval presence in-system by moving in a six-ship fleet of TL 16 Darrian
    ships from The Special "Star Trigger" branch. It was stated that this fleet element was
    dispatched to aid in "negotiations" about the Darrian Naval base.

    The people of Nonym have reacted by overthrowing their government in panic, re-forming
    their bureaucracy and suing for membership in The Darrian Confederation.

    While TAS can confirm the Duke and Imperial Admiralty in the Rhylanor system have
    met with the Darrian Ambassador, there are, as yet, no comments from either
    Imperial or Darrian sources.  

     Iderati (A887798-C 201 M9V)                                                                          Date: 229 - 1112
    The Imperial Governor, Admiral Lord Gustav Elphinstone has weighed in on possible
    violations of Inheritance law where it respects the rights of clones in the case of singer
    Ardella Mestler and her family. Issuing orders to suspend the various laws restricting
    Ms. Mestler and her band from performing or booking acts in various systems in the
    Five Sisters Subsector. The Admiral was quoted as saying, "The rule of law will be
    obeyed. The status of the performer, who has been proclaimed to be Ardella Mestler
    will be verified in accordance with Imperial Law and all appropriate property rights
    will be defended by the Ministry of Justice.

    According to the papers filed, this action has been taken on behalf of an Imperial
    nobleperson whose name has not been released. The un-named nobility have acted
    in an attempt to protect the laws protecting clones in the Imperium.
    With a dark twist, the statements supporting clone's rights suggests at heavy legal
    consequences for those breaking the law, be it a fraud pretending to be a clone, or
    the singer's family if the singer proves to be a real and correct clone of Ms.
    Mestler.

    As expected, the Mestler family continue their efforts to secure their maneuvers to
    retain control of the singer's fortune and rights to the income from her music. This
    includes launching many law suits including a number of them against the Imperial
    government itself.  

     Skull (C2237C7-9 2 Green Po NA 601 M1 V M0 VI)                                      Date: 285 - 1112
    In follow up to Senator Lord Kudila's thanks to Duke Leonard, His Grace's grant
    of permission to use force has become more widely released. According to the
    Office of The Seneschal, the decision was kept "under wraps" until the Senator
    could be notified.

    The forces granted to Senator Lord Kudila have been given permission, by the Senate
    of Rhylanor, to take control of a number of the outer worlds in the Natoko system, to
    use as a base of operations in order to investigate that system's violation of a ban on
    owning and operating warships.

    Fleet Admiral Uuela, of the Imperial Navy, has been quoted as stating the Navy will
    be bringing in a mobile naval base, to support increased operations as the Senator's
    investigation prepares to get under way. When questioned, the Admiral admitted he
    had been given authority to put in place a complete blockade of the system, should it
    become necessary. The Admiral hastened to say that, while he confirmed the authority,
    being forced to take such an action would be regrettable.

    Senator Kudilas' staff emphasize those military forces supporting the investigation
    will only be operational in a protective role. The Senator himself has been quoted
    saying he hoped the Natoko authorities would work with his organization to resolve
    the investigation.

    Natoko system Diplomatic teams continue to reach out to any possible allies, to stall
    or stop the Senator's work now that the Duke's office has approved both the full
    investigation as well as the use of Imperial and Mercenary military force. It is even
    rumored the Natokan Government has sent an official plea to Capital for relief from
    this action from the Emperor. As some measure of sympathy, if not success,
    representatives from six systems have requested the right to appear in the Duke's
    Court to plea on behalf of the Natoko system. These are the Bevey, Nutema, and
    Paya(Aramis) systems as well as national envoys from three balkanized worlds.
    Each of these missions claimed to be supporting the rights of systems to govern
    themselves under Imperial law.

    In addition, TAS continues working to confirm unidentified leaks suggesting
    evidence exists that the Natoko government have bypassed some restrictions
    placed on them for operating warships. These claims have all been categorically
    denied by the Natokan authorities, stating such evidence are all be
    based on false claims and manufactured data.  

    Lewis (X427402-D Red Ni R 701 F8 V))                                                        Date: 257 - 1112
    In a breaking dispatch from the Lewis system, The Tukera family, who own the
    entire Lewis system, have announced that Sir Jeremy Lewis will be convalescing
    in-system and media are not welcome. Citizens will be familiar with Sir Jeremy
    Lewis, author of the book "Crossing the Line", which stirred up a great deal of
    controversy in Rhylanor and other systems.

    His suggestions that Imperial forces were involved in civilian atrocities during the
    Fifth Frontier War have stirred the passions of many patriotic Imperial citizens, not
    to mention the many veterans that fill out the population of the Spinward Marches.
    These passions sparked especially intense reactions in the Rhylanor system when
    the release of the book was very quickly followed by the arrival of the newly
    Knighted Major Rol Kaihvos, who's activates and orders filled a full chapter of the
    book.

    TAS have confirmed that Leonard, Duke of Rhylanor has sent an emissary to the
    Arch Duke in his Court in the Mora system requesting the Arch Duke grant Duke
    Leonard permission to have Sir Jeremy escorted back to the Rhylanor system
    to answer certain questions with regard to the suggestions and implications in
    his book. Key points of concern are likely to be Sir Jeremy having impugned the
    reputation of the Imperial Military.

    The request also created intense speculation about those charges that could be
    laid at the Knight's feet should he return to Rhylanor. TAS legal experts suggest
    the book's accusations created many sensational events which created security
    costs and concerns, and could possibly be blamed for many events of minor
    property damage. This as well as potential slander charges which could be filed
    by those whose actions were discussed in the book.

    In statements, Sir Jeremy has maintained that he had no intent to diminish the
    monstrosity of Zhodani, Sword World or Vargr acts in the recent war. But he has
    remained adamant that his work would be invalid if it did not investigate all the
    facts, including those claims made against Imperial forces. Despite his claims,
    there is a slowing but still growing backlash against the Knight and his book,
    which may only be accurately judged by future historians.  

As the story on Sir Jeremy played out, each of the crew in the lounge watched intently. There was also a rush to look up the Lewis system, to figure out how far it was from Rhylanor? As they checked the port's Library Data files, they found the system was located in the Aramis subsector and only three jumps from the Rhylanor system if they made four parsec jumps each time. However, the system was not only not on any trade routes, but it was entirely owned by the politically powerful Tukera family since the year 770 TI. The Library Data entry explained that the world was used by the family as a retreat. It also suggested that a small part of the world had been leased to some kind of mining company, but there were no further details on that.

    Rhylanor (A434934-F 2 Green Hi Cap 910 M2 V6)                                       Date: 299 - 1112
    Locally, Sir James Hendara is being congratulated and receiving high praise after
    winning his case against Master Gia Ubean. That case centered around the failures
    and deaths cause by failed robotic upgrades in Rhylanor's Ikhasha region. It was the
    findings of the court that the programming mistakes around which the case centered
    were indeed negligent.

    As such, the client represented by Master Ubean was liable for the damages, claimed
    at MCr 1.2, as well as any punitive judgment. Estimates of a likely punitive order,
    especially considering the deaths involved, are likely to range into the area of several
    hundred million Credits Imperial.  

    Regina (A788899-C 2 Ri Cp 703 F7 V M8 D M6 V)                                       Date: 263 - 1112
    In an announcement from their headquarters in the Regina system, Oberlindes Lines
    has announced some minor issues with their newly established J-3 trade line linking
    the Regina and Arden systems. While the issues were described as minor, the firm's
    spokesperson stated Oberlindes would be adding additional security measures to the
    run until the problem could be understood and resolved.

    Despite these minor issues, the Company has maintained that the line has been showing
    a healthy profit and that their fourth quarter reports should show a healthy growth as
    a result, once they are released in January of 1113.  

    Regina (A788899-C 2 Ri Cp 703 F7 V M8 D M6 V)                                       Date: 261 - 1112
    In an announcement from their Embassy in the Regina system, The Federation of
    Arden's Ambassador was happy to announce a treaty between the Federation and the
    Zenopit system. The Zenopit Government has agreed to join the Federation, and
    both systems welcomed this new alliance which would increase the barriers between
    the Imperial and Zhodani states.

    In his statement, the Ambassador said this was evidence of the common cause those
    independent systems held in finding a way to reduce tensions between the two regional
    powers and reduce the damage to their systems as war fleets repeatedly overran less
    powerful systems, damaging or "securing" assets belonging to the peoples of those
    independent worlds.

    While comments from both the Imperial Government and the Zhodani embassy were
    positive, it was obvious this new move by the Federation to expand its borders needed
    to be more fully studied.   

Food And Fishing

     As those in the lounge relaxed, listened to the news and did personal things, it eventually came round to lunch and Aiden asked Rol if he was going to cook or if he wanted the pilot to? Rol made it clear he hadn't finished organizing the galley on their new ship and he wanted to control things until then. So Rol said he'd cook lunch. Those in the lounge continued what they were doing until lunch was ready. At the same time, in the Order's common rooms, Zimzod shared lunch and chatted with brother and sister Knights as his comms started to buzz.

Answering the call, Zimzod was surprised to see it was Minister Baron Ondallah from Arch Duke Norris' offices on-station. Greeting the Baron informally, Zimzod's casual greeting was answered with a formal congratulations on the crew's recent successes as he was addressed as "Sir Knight". Zimzod thanked him in the same casual tone and ignored that he was increasing a trend of being impolite to the Baron. Ever the professional, the Baron continued, "You may recall we had some business together some months ago, yourself, I and your ship's Captain." As Zimzod admitted he did remember, the Baron continued, "It had turned out that, while I was not able to help you in a large way, I was able to provide you some help as you may recall."

Again, Zimzod said he did remember and told the Baron that every little bit was appreciated. The Baron then said, "Well, if you recall, at that time you had turned in a voucher for money to pay for damage to some of your equipment. A suit of battle armor, if I remember?" As Zimzod again agreed, the Baron said, "The Arch Duke's office has decided on your voucher request. So if you can come visit the office, or when we can settle this electronically, we have a voucher for Cr 50,000 in regards to that." Zimzod was very surprised, having written the Baron off as almost completely unable to help at all, based on the conversations at the time. Of course, he ignored the fact he had been repeatedly rude and unhelpful himself.

Very pleased, Zimzod said, "Oh! Thank you! I appreciate that very much!" After that, the Baron shifted things back to resolving the business, saying the office could send him the pay voucher, or he could pick it up or have it delivered to his account. When offered the options, Zimzod asked for the funds to be electronically delivered and the Baron said he could have that done. After those details were taken care of, the Baron wished Zimzod well and they ended the call. Zimzod prepared to return to his lunch as some of those around him overheard enough to realize that the Arch Duke's office was paying the Knight for something. This aroused a bit of interest beyond the recent augmentation of his knighthood.

So, when Zimzod returned to the conversation around him there was significant interest in what kind of work he did for the Arch Duke? At first, Zimzod tried to blow it off saying, "Stuff". But he knew that wasn't going to do the trick even as he said it. Trying the most generic of truths, Zimzod said he was a troubleshooter. Accepting that, one of the other Knights asked if this was why Zimzod was looking for permissions to buy an FGMP? Thinking about it for a second, Zimzod said, "Well, no. I always wanted one." in as childish a manner as he could while speaking in an adult voice. As he said this, a number of the knights in the group nodded and Zimzod remembered those had introduced themselves as veterans of the Imperial Army or Marines.

Of course, the Ex-Navy in the group just shook their heads or put a hand on their foreheads as they'd seen Zimzod's type before. Figuring he might be able to parley this sudden interest in his relationship with the Arch Duke, Zimzod managed to keep working the flames of interest with a few of the Knights over the next few hours. And during that time, one Knight bumpped him some data saying, "When you and your Captain have some time, come talk to me." Zimzod thanked the Knight and said he would, figuring he'd talk to Mikah later and see when they had the time? Despite the man's obvious interest in dealing with Zimzod, he left the room as Zimzod was still talking to several others. So Zimzod continued his conversations while hoping he'd made one real contact.

After lunch, Aiden looked at his chrono and wondered when they'd deliver his package? The pilot was very much looking forward to getting his new toy in his hands! He planned to check the weapon over and load the magazines once it had been delivered. He also spent some time looking up weapons ranges near the ship, so he could try it out. Especially since he had the right to bear arms and didn't have to have someone come pick it up and transport it for him. Beyond that, Aiden figured he'd eat dinner with the rest of the crew once the time came and perhaps watch a few vids.

Window Shopping for Fun And Comedy

     After getting done talking to the Admiral about the androids and getting Aali paid for her Silver Asteroid, Emkir and Aali picked up the next phase of their plan. They went window shopping at some of the consignment shops in the military section of the station. Doing this, the couple discussed asking if anyone was interested in the tons of datapads they had at the berth? Emkir really wanted to pull that trigger and get rid of the devices before more were damaged in move after move. The couple eventually agreed that the best they could do would be to call a bulk-buyer of used electronics. That way, they'd deal with one organization that would come pick the stuff up and pay them a single check with no back and forth or buyer's attitudes.

When they agreed on that, Emkir said they might make enough cash to possibly help buy the androids. So having decided that, and wanting some part of the evening to spend reaching out to bulk-buyers, they wanted to be back to the berth before dinner. So, hopping the base taxi, they hit the shops on-base and window shopped a bit. As they poked and searched, Emkir saw someone had left a small two-man enclosed boat behind, on consignment. Being the sort of thing he hadn't played with much since leaving his homeworld, he eyed the Cr 5,000 price tag. As Aali saw him checking the craft out, she reminded him it would take up cargo space on the ship if he bought it. When Emkir protested that it was tiny, Aali pointed out that tonnage was by displacement, and the craft would easily take up two tons of storage space if not more.

Eventually Emkir decided he would take her boating at some time in the future, but he had to leave this boat behind as they continued shopping. Wandering from place to place, Aali was surprised to see an android! It was obviously not an engineering 'droid, because it was built into a humanoid form, but she looked it over anyway. It turned out to be a "personal valet" model, able to handle basic tasks like cleaning, making drinks and storing and replaying entertainment music, vids, personal file information, etc. It could even operate as a DJ or deliver packages and messages.

When Aali checked on its price and software load out, she found the shop was only asking Cr 25,000, but it only had a personal services package. The arms were "light arms", able to carry 40 Kg or less. As she considered the cost, Aali realized it would almost cost as much to turn it into a low end engineering 'droid, and would have a very limited capability. They did talk about buying it as a cooking 'droid, but they weren't sure about even that. In addition to the 'droid, there were uniforms, 'setting outfits' and modules for specific support roles. But besides the jokes they could make based on the android, the couple didn't have an excuse for the space in their stateroom the device would take up. So they passed it by and grabbed the Cr 50-each cab ride back to the berth.

Getting Done With A New Datapad Plan

     When Aali and Emkir arrived at the berth, they found Zimzod and Inger were not there but everyone else was. Heading over to Mikah, Emkir whispered to her, "I'd like to have a little private word with you and the two of us if that's OK with you?" Uncertain what Emkir was up to, Mikah said, "Oh, now what? You're already married." But she agreed and the three went into one of the berth's side offices and closed the door. Once alone, Emkir reminded Mikah of the sensor ghost they'd seen while in jump from Mora to the Brodie system. When Mikah remembered that, Emkir said, "We were wondering, between that and the ship's log from Aali's old ship... That, these aberrations... Maybe we should report it to Lord William?"

Mikah considered that and said, "We already reported to Admiral Saigacrem, and that's what we were told to do." Mikah's point was obvious, that they had been told to report this to Admiral Saigacrem "and no one else." Emkir pushed, suggesting that they didn't include IRIS because they didn't know IRIS existed. As they talked about the decision, Mikah was uncertain if they should proceed. To her credit, she recalled that 'just because both organizations dealt in secrets' didn't mean they dealt in "the same secrets". So there was no reason she knew of to share this with IRIS. Still, she agreed to consider it and let Emkir know what she decided.

When the three of them stepped back into the lounge, Zach looked up from his research and asked Mikah if she was going to call the others back to the ship so the crew could discuss their future plans? Tartly, Mikah said no, because they were stuck in Rhylanor for the next two weeks due to Rol and Zach's stent surgeries. Doggedly, Zach pointed out that they could do things in-system and Mikah agreed that was true.

While Mikah and Zach talked, Emkir and Aali started looking up bulk electronics buyers. Ten minutes later, they'd found one with reviews they liked, and Emkir called up the file Wall-e created on the number and types of datapads they had to sell. with that, he called the buyer. The conversation was very short, largely because they surprised the tech on the line by having an organized and concise list of all the items being sold. They told the tech the crew of eight would likely snag one datapad each, which the man factored into the pricing. But in the end, they had roughly 5,000 units of varying types and quality which were worth Cr 200 each.

So the math said it all, the pile was worth Cr 1,000,000 and the buyer first offered Cr 11,000! To say the least, Emkir and Aali were underwhelmed after being told each of the units was worth Cr 200. Knowing what the lot were worth, they decided to push back and see where the haggling got them. Overhearing, Zach said they should start at Cr 750,000 and hope to end up at half a million credits. Once that happened, the dealing began with Aali accepting they may have to go as low as KCr 300. So with Emkir playing traffic cop, Zach advising and Aali on the phone, they eventually agreed on a sale price of KCr 650! They asked when they could pick up the electronics and Emkir suggested the next day. The rep on the comms said they could be there that night and asked if Emkir were dead set on scheduling the pick up for the next day?

Emkir OK'd the pick up and they set a time for the pick up and payment. Once the deal was done, Emkir loudly announced to the others, "If any of you want a datapad from the pile, grab one now before we dump them all." As he said that, Mikah was the first to say she'd take one and was followed by everyone in the lounge. Aali took one very nice pad to keep, and took twelve devices that were lower on the value scale but could be accessed and controlled remotely. She planned to potentially set them up to be used for audio or video diversions in the event such a thing was needed. In the end her "executive desktop" was worth as much as Cr 7,000. She went to the storage room they had the pads in and did this as Emkir was telling the others in the crew. The twelve more she took were more generic units from LSP or General Products, LIC. These were worth about Cr 500 new.

Of course, as Emkir made his announcement, he was on the move too, and got there ahead of everyone but Aali. He also knew the basic layout of what was where, so he grabbed a Naasirka unit worth Cr 5,000. The next person to grab for a valuable datapad was Zach, who turned to find Mikah's gauss pistol in his face as she suggested the crew could afford to lose the pad he was holding in order to establish a pecking order. Handing Mikah the Cr 3,000 Sharurshid device, the merchant just turned and grabbed another of the same model from the small pile he'd seen. Zach also grabbed one for Ms. Vik and Zimzod. Following the others, Aiden grabbed a generic unit that turned out to be a General Products, LIC pad worth Cr 1,500. The only member of the crew not to grab a datapad was Rol, who was happy with the one he had and suggested he still didn't trust the datapads to have been completely cleaned by Wall-e.

As the others were grabbing datapads, Emkir and Aali discussed their additional new wealth and paying Zach a commission as well as kicking 10% of the total into the ship's funds. After Aali agreed, they announced their plans only to have Zach say, "Buy your 'droids first." So they kicked Cr 65,000 into the ship's funds and held Zach's share until they could buy the 'droids. As they discussed holding the rest of the cash until they heard back from the Navy on the 'droids, the couple decided they could afford to take the crew out for dinner to celebrate. Of course, they had to wait until the buyers came, got the datapad and actually handed over the cash. In the meantime, Mikah called Zimzod and told him the crew was going out to celebrate and he should get back to the ship.

When Zimzod's comms went off, he was already heading to chow with some other knights and making what he felt were firm connections. So he chose to tell Mikah he was good where he was and wasn't coming back to the ship. After that call, they decided they'd all wait until the pick up, which would be in under an hour, then go have good food. When someone suggested they all get potted, Zach said he wouldn't be but Mikah said she would be. This was cheered by Emkir who chimed out, "Oh Captain! My Captain!" as he got a laugh from the others. As they relaxed and discussed how this turn of events rose from Emkir's media disaster, Zach's comms began to buzz.

Zach answered the call to found it was the investigator from House Kirgashii. He told Zach that, while their investigation was on-going and they had no news for him at that point, Zach could use his account again. After Zach thanked the man and signed off, he wasn't surprised as his comms started buzzing again. This time, it was IRIS telling him that their investigation was beginning and not to try using his accounts until they notified him. As Zach thanked them for the warning, Mikah said she had something to talk to IRIS about and Zach told the agent Mikah wanted to talk to him as he handed over his comms.

Distractions And Dressing For Dinner

     Once on the comms with them, Mikah said it had been suggested she tell them about something they had encountered in jump, and reported to Admiral Saigacrem. When she said they could give IRIS the information if they were interested in it, the agent asked Mikah to explain what kind of information it was? She had Zach give a quick but still technical explanation of the sensor ghost they'd detected and a basic description of the tests done on the data and systems afterwards. As Zach got into explaining the incident, the agent asked them to hold the line as he brought in two others. Once they were on the line, the agent asked Zach and Mikah to start from the beginning again.

As Zach started repeating what he'd said, and added more detail, Mikah brought Aali into the conversation too. Once Zach and Aali gave their best summations of the event and the testing afterwards, the agents on the line asked if the crew has copies of all the data on the encounter? When Zach happily said, "Of course." they told the Mikah they were sending someone to pick up the data. After the agent picked up the copies, IRIS wanted the crew to destroy all the copies they had. When she heard this, Mikah said, "Yeah, sure!" in a tone that sounded willing and cooperative while being certain, in her mind, that they would "not" destroy anything.

As the crew discussed this new wrinkle in the issue, and how to hide the data to save it for their own uses, time passed until the berth comms buzzed. Checking the berth entry, they saw a cargo cart and crew from the electronics dealer, who've arrived to pick up the datapads. The crew happily let them in and led them to the berth storage room where every space had been covered with piles of datapads as Emkir and Aali dealt with the paperwork. As with the food-delivery types, the vehicle was parked and the tech crew activated a small army of drones which established lines like a bucket brigade.

Then, over the space of a half hour, they emptied the room out completely as they loaded all the datapads into the cargo cart. Once the loading was done, the drones transmitted a report of all the devices received by type and condition and then compared that with the initial offer. The differences, based on what the crew took for themselves, wasn't significantly different and the promised money was deposited into Emkir and Aali's accounts. After they confirmed the funds, Emkir paid the planned share into the ship's funds. As this happened, Aiden happily surprised when an IISS courier finally arrived with his package. After signing for the parcel, Aiden ripped into it to find it was, indeed, the custom-made snub pistol, And the included magazines were all charged and ready to go.

After they finished with the datapads, they saw they only had to wait for the IRIS agent before getting dressed to going out for dinner. Dress was to be casual, as the meal was just a crew dinner, not something fancy. Rol chose to wear a ships suit and brought no weapons, figuring they couldn't get into too much trouble just going out for chow. Emkir did it fancy, dressing in his nice Vilani suit. But as Aali dressed, she told him she wasn't dressing up and didn't think the others would either. So Emkir decided to just wear a ship's suit. He did put on his executive armor and brought his 9mm. Emkir also made it a point to wear his high-tech sunglasses. Aali planned to wear a ship's suit, as that was what she figured the rest of the crew were doing.

As she started putting on her executive armor first, Emkir asked her to wear the faux Silver Lamé he'd bought her. After a brief back and forth, Aali agreed and then got dressed. She holstered her snub Pistol in "six-shooter" configuration, as they didn't expect trouble. Still, she loaded the weapon with ball ammo. Aiden dressed in s ship's suit and wore his new snub pistol, having spent some of the time waiting for IRIS loading the magazines. As he showed off the weapon, those who were annoyed by his overzealousness noted he'd loaded one file with HE rounds and the other with Tranq. Mikah pulled a ship's suit over executive armor and holstered her gauss pistol. Not having a ship's suit, Zach wore casual clothes, snapped into his exoskeleton and holstered his gauss pistol.

Doing Dinner And Getting Done

     When the IRIS agent came, she received and cataloged each of the items they handed over and then impressed on the crew that they absolutely needed to follow orders to destroy all their records on the issue. Once they assured her they would do as ordered, the agent left without an indication she believed their promises. Then, the crew were free to go out for a late dinner. As they scanned the many restaurants and menus, Emkir said they should look for middle to high-end food within walking distance. Zach joked, "Walking distance, so the media can follow us around." as they all reflected on the small cadre of reporters and paparazzi still in the public side of the berth.

They picked a place, roughly ten minute's walk away, and walked through an average level of foot traffic for a concourse in a docking section of the port. The others they encountered in the area were anything from ship's crew to technicians to port workers and shop staff. Along with the regular traffic, they were tailed and filmed by the media along the way, which got them some additional notice from the regulars. The crew chatted about plans happily as they walked and eventually got to the restaurant. When they entered the restaurant, the reaction was mixed. The staff were used to ship's crews showing up, but not those who were armed. ot those with their own media tail. It took them a few minutes to realize these customers were "that ship's crew."

the staff of the place made sure the crew got some of the best seats in the house and also made sure not to serve anything featuring land lobster. And they made the best of the sudden free advertising too. And while the place looked like a hole in the wall, it was obviously well attended by dock workers as well as ship's crew. The many locals meant they could relax. The meal was fairly good, despite the place's appearance, and they spent the time eating and talking about possible ideas for what to do next? Of course, they kept it low key as they were out in public, and Zimzod and Ms. Vik were not there either. The big topic of discussion was "androids". Emkir and Aali told the others about what they'd seen that afternoon. Aiden snarked Zimzod had been interested in a security android so, if they were lucky, they could buy something that would kill them all in their sleep.

Eventually, they finished eating and Emkir and Aali paid the Cr 180 bill as Mikah complained about how early she had to get up thanks to when Zach scheduled his procedure! The wander back to the berth started out the same as the trip to the restaurant. But, as they entered an intersection with very little foot traffic, Emkir thought he saw something odd at the edge of his vision, to the left, and his reflexes took over. Rol also caught a hint of the unexplained and dove for the floor too. Mikah followed the sudden moves with a dive of her own, barely avoiding the threat as five armed thugs stepped from the shadows opposite the direction she dove towards. Each had some sort of hand weapon.

While Aali was caught flat footed and standing, Zach had been chatting with Aiden as the pilot suddenly reached for a weapon. Because all his attention had been devoted to the conversation, he was standing wondering what the hell was going on as the thugs opened fire! As he dove, Emkir felt something hit his lower right leg and also felt something cross his chest. But there was no pain, so he didn't panic. Reaching for Aali to pull her down, Emkir realized something cut real close. he barely registered holes in the chest front of his ship suit! Aali was caught staring at the gunmen as they opened fire, but was very lucky not to be hit.

Caught wondering what the hell was going on as the gunmen opened fire, Zach felt sudden pain in his left leg and blacked out as he collapsed. Ironically, he'd been shot in his good leg, but, in his weakened state due to the last serious wound, Zach was down and out of the sudden battle. As he hit the floor, Rol flattened out and tried not to react as the first wave of fire cut loose. Wanting to act, he knew he had to at least ID the players and the field so he could do something constructive rather than causing more damage. So he took the time to gether some data before he acted.

From where Emkir was on the ground, he knew he'd been hit but was more concerned because Aali was still standing, plain as day, through the wave of fire. Rather than reaching for a weapon, Emkir's main concern was grabbing Aali's belt and pulling her down, out of the fire. Ironically, Aali decided to dive at the same instant, to get out of the field of fire. The opposite of Rol, Mikah grabbed her gauss pistol, set the selector to four rounds and tried to fire in the direction she thought she heard the shots coming from. Given the speed of all the actions, and echoing sound off the walls, Mikah ended up shooting one of the walls as she finally came around to see the actual attackers.

And as everyone else cowered or grabbed floor for cover, Aiden brought up his brand new snub pistol, setting the fire mode to HE rounds, and opened fire. As the first of the crew standing, and by some unknown luck un-hit, Aiden fired on one of the thugs. And as he pulled the trigger, Aiden put an HE round in the heart of a thug before it blasted flying gobbets of flesh and bone out of a new chest cavity and the dead man dropped. This happened as the still standing bad guys were firing a second round, and before they could correct for the sudden new threat. One targeted Zach, who was already wounded and down. Another hit Emkir in the left arm, but it wasn't a serious wound.

In her position, Mikah was hit in the gut as she came around with her weapon while another of the gunmen hit the floor and fired his round into a wall. The last gunman turned on Aiden and tried to take a shot, which missed by forces only the best mathematical genius could guess due to his momentum. As Rol attempted to reach Zach, Emkir grabbed a weapon to take a snap shot as did Aali. Mikah grunted past her wound as she thumbed her weapon to 10-shot and aimed at one of the gunmen. And playing vengeful statue, Aiden let his snub pistol speak again. But there were still bad guys standing, so Aiden didn't have time to celebrate as one of his rounds turned a new target's left thorax to storage space and his left lung to shredded debris.

Emkir's shot knee capped one of the bad guys as Aali pegged one of the thugs in the chest, creating a massive pulmonary issue as he went down. Mikah followed that up by adding perforated lungs to prior injuries. Unfortunately, this rain of defensive fire came as the soon to be down or dead fired. As Aiden stood firm and untouched in the wind, targeted but missed again, Rol bought a round to the gut after only just getting his hands on Zach's gauss pistol. Another round bounced off the floor next to Emkir as a final round "really" made sure Zach was dead, not just pretending. Despite the damage dealt, there was still one thug left standing as he saw the opposition was increasing. So he ran.

And as he ran, even Rol raised a weapon to join Emkir, Aali, Mikah and 'the angel of death known as Aiden' to fire into the fleeing man's back. That soon-to-be corpse didn't make it more than a few yards. After the final shots, Aiden moved up to check the other gunmen and found one still alive. He'd only been hit in the knee, and was likely to lose the leg below the femur if Aiden decided to let him survive to be treated. This wasn't Emkir at his feet, but he had aggression issues to work out. So, as suddenly as it had all started, the shootout was done.

Now it was time to access the damage, count the dead and call for help if they weren't already on the way. Rol wasn't so good, and needed first aid soon. Mikah was moderately wounded and started breaking out her first aid kit to treat herself before she bled out and was no use to anyone. Unwounded, Aiden remained on guard as he noticed one of the men who'd been shot in the lungs hadn't died yet. He realized this as the man finally did breath his last strained gurgle of breath. As Rol mumbled something about the entire incident being Zach's fault and saying, "I'm going to kill him." Mikah looked over to where the merchant's body lay and said, "Too late." Shortly after that, Rol slumped to the floor out cold.

While Emkir was hit, he was only mildly wounded and Aali wasn't hit at all. She stood over-watch, looking for threats from other directions. As the silence settled in, Mikah opened her comms to emergency services and said. "We're down, We're down, We need help!" As a technician responded, she was directed to locate the intersection ID and told responders were on the way. Emkir started applying pressure to the arm wound as he checked on Aali, asking if she was OK? She confirmed she wasn't hit at all. In the next half-minute, the team pulled together while Rol and Zach's body continued to bleed. After a brief period of unconsciousness, Rol woke again despite the lack of first aid.

As they started checking status, Emkir asked Mikah where she'd been hit, as he could see her working with bandages in her lap. Mikah said she'd been hit in the stomach and both Emkir and Aali winced. After Rol woke up, Aiden asked "Is everyone alive?" and got no answers. When he called out "Sound off", Rol answered, "Yo!" and Mikah said "I'm here". Emkir and Aali also answered before Aiden asked, "What about Zach?" As he asked this, Mikah took some seconds to throw pressure bandages to Emkir and Rol from her kit. But wasn't going to stand or move. When Aali finally moved to check, she found that Zach was, in fact, dead.

At that point, the first security units started to arrive and secure the scene. At first, they ordered Aiden and the others to drop their weapons, as they had no way of knowing who was a good guy or bad. As medics moved in to start treatment, Aiden was even briefly taken into custody, having first been seen standing over a disarmed and wounded man with a weapon in an extremely threatening manner. As back up and medical units were called in, and Idents were checked, Mikah called Zimzod to have him secure the ship.

In the middle of an evening which had been going fairly well for Zimzod, his comms started to buzz and he had to excuse himself to answer. When he got on the line, Mikah bluntly said, "We've all been shot, get back to the ship. We're going to the hospital. I think Zach is dead." Not missing a beat, Zimzod said, "OK. I'll bring some coffee home", showing he was not taking her seriously. As Mikah made it clear she wasn't joking, and told him to spread the word to the Order, Zimzod realized this was real and got moving. Though he still stopped and spent Cr 2,000 for a pound of coffee.

Once Zimzod did start spreading the word, he was quickly moved to another part of the facility which appeared much more secure. There, he could see as the members started making sure every member of the Order in the system was aware of the attack and getting answers or preparing to respond. As they asked Zimzod what he planned to do, he said Lady Mikah had ordered him back to their berth to secure the ship. Accepting that, they offered him secure transport and Zimzod gladly accepted.

In the theater, Inger's comms began to buzz. Certain she'd turned the thing off before the performance began, and getting some looks from the others, Inger pulled her comms out and saw it was flashing an alert red she had only seen a very few times. It was a warning that an extreme event was or had happened. Excusing herself, Inger made her way to the lobby as she answered the call and got the news from the Order. So, as Zimzod left to return to the ship, Inger had just been notified in the lobby of the theater and the rest of the Knights except Zach were on their way to the hospital. Zach's body was being secured and preserved for the investigation and would later be moved to a morgue until claimed.

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Next: Rushing To Cover Unknown Bases