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Last Updated    October 12 2017
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Rushing To Cover Unknown Bases

Excitement And An Unexpected Visitor

Station      Station security moved in and organized after the shooting, and medical services dealt with the wounded.  Aiden and Aali were held for questioning on the attack.  Investigators set stasis fields over the dead.  Each of the wounded were loaded into a medical support vehicles including the one thug taken alive.  Despite having been drugged into unconsciousness, the man was moved under the escort of a pair of officers and followed by a second security vehicle.  He'd survive but the paramedic had slapped a tourniquet on the leg.  So, the leg would be gone, just above the knee, but he wouldn't miss it for very long, given the crimes he was about to be convicted of.

In the lobby of the theater, Dame Inger didn't know what had happened, and only been told there had been an attack.  She was told all members of the Order were to be on alert and move to a safe place or an Order facility.  Making her excuses to the few friends who followed her out of the performance, Inger left the theater and hunted the first cab she could get, to get back to the ship.  There, she expected she'd meet up with the others but figured she'd call Mikah first.  Only, she called and got Mikah's voicemail, and disconnected before the beep for a message.  Next, she tried Rol, because whatever was keeping Mikah busy likely wouldn't tie him up.  But she got the same answer and decided to just sit tight and wait until she got back to the ship.

In the Order's facilities on-station, Zimzod had been offered a secure ride back to the ship and accepted.  The transit was quick and Zimzod noticed the Order must have reached out to a lot of contacts while he rode.  At every intersection, they had the right of way and the concourses they used were less crowded than they should have been.  That suggested traffic was being directed to other concourses.  When he commented on that, the driver said many members of the Order had high-level jobs in-system, with a half-nod shared by the two other armed Knights riding in the back seats.  Despite the level of authority, the mood still remained grim.

Getting to the berth, the two armed Knights left the vehicle with a heel-turn, bringing up their weapons to cover the berth entry "just in case".  Following their aim, and then scanning the rest of the berth, Zimzod saw there were no media in the berth at all.  Even when Rol had been shot at InstellArms, the last time they'd been in Rhylanor system, some media had stayed in case "something" happened.  Now, it seemed someone had cleared out all the gutter rats and Zimzod was happy about that.  Assuming it was someone in the Order, Zimzod just looked at the driver and said, "You guys are good." with a smile.  The other Knights didn't answer but each gave him a look saying, "We know".

Sure things were secure in the berth itself, Zimzod moved to check the ship and found it locked up just as they'd left it when the rest went to dinner.  Unsecuring the air-lock, Zimzod stepped in to make sure things were secure inside.  He started checking and things seemed secure until he entered the lounge.  There, a soft male voice calmly said, "Hello Sir Zimzod."  Realizing the speaker would have pulled the trigger rather than say something first if he were an assassin, Zimzod turned to look at the speaker.  The sitting man was fairly well-dressed and groomed, and appeared in his early 40's, sitting in the shadows at the lounge table.  Zimzod had to give the man props, since he'd selected the perfect place to watch the valve from the air-lock without being immediately visible to those entering.

Zimzod nodded to the man as he also sat at the table, and said, "I don't believe we've been introduced?"  The man nodded slightly and answered, "You're right, we haven't.  But you and your crew and we in IRIS should probably discuss this situation."  When Zimzod said, "Sounds like a plan." the agent asked, "How much do you know of the situation?"  Zimzod admitted he knew absolutely nothing, since he wasn't there.  When Zimzod suggested he probably knew as much as the agent did, the agent admitted he knew more, in a self-assured voice that wasn't bragging or even putting the Knight in his place.

After a brief pause, the agent asked Zimzod, "Do you remember a crime boss named Arcea?"  Caught by surprise, Zimzod answered, "Uh, Yeah."  The Agent continued, "And do you remember a crime boss named Tarulli?"  When Zimzod said he also remembered Tarulli, the agent asked if Zimzod recalled what happened to Arcea, and the Knight thought about the shooting and grenades.  When the agent asked if Zimzod remembered what happened to Tarulli, Zimzod remembered they'd not gone after him, and only tried to scare the crime boss off.  As the agent saw the look on Zimzod's face, he asked, "Do you now have an idea which direction this conversation is going?"

When Zimzod said he understood, the agent relaxed a bit more and said, "From what we can tell, Tarulli wanted revenge after that deal went bad.  Knowing what happened to Arcea, he went deep underground and sold off everything he could.  first, to buy a deep hole to hide in and then to offer up a large bounty on Sir Zachariah Wood's pelt."  Zimzod chuckled as he said, "Ok, I don't know if they got his pelt but they got his ass."  The agent said, "Exactly that."  When Zimzod said that, from what little information he got, Zach was dead, the agent confirmed that too.  Zimzod said he didn't get a lot of details, and from what he knew of his crew he assumed the attackers were dead too.  The agent admitted that they only had one of the attackers to question, and he was badly wounded too.

The agent told Zimzod Lady Mikah, Sir Rol and Sir Emkir had been wounded in the attack, and been moved to a hospital.  When Zimzod asked about the severity of the wounds, he said Mikah couldn't have been too bad because she'd called him.  The agent said Mikah's wound was moderate, but the doctors were concerned because it was a gut shot.  He also said Rol was also moderately wounded but there were issues due to blood loss that had to be dealt with.  He finished up saying Emkir was lightly wounded and would be returned to the ship that night.  He told Zimzod Aali and Aiden were being questioned about what happened and Zach's body was being held in stasis at the scene as part of the investigation, with the other dead.

The agent did say someone would need to claim Sir Wood's body once the investigation was done.  When Zimzod asked for more details, the agent made it clear IRIS wasn't actually involved in the investigation at all.  He said they'd been intercepting data from the investigations and piecing things together.  After learning Tarulli had pretty much liquefied every asset he could without flagging the system to his whereabouts, he told Zimzod they'd tracked Tarulli's finances.  Then, they found he'd put a huge wad of money into a hit on Zach.  Every low life on the station had been looking for a chance to kill Zach and claim the cash.  Zimzod was pissed that the crew didn't get a chance to kill Zach and claim the money themselves.  He was also pissed Zach didn't say anything about the emails earlier.

When Zimzod mentioned the delay Zach caused, the agent admitted that had made it impossible to put the puzzel together in time to stop the attack.  With a smile on his face, Zimzod asked what happened to Tarulli's cash, since the guys who killed Zach were dead?  The agent said he figured Tarulli was gonna keep it.  Zimzod suggested the crew could try to collect and the agent said that Tarulli likely knew exactly who they were, with their involvement in the death of Arcea.  Any attempt by the crew to find Tarulli would look like an attempt by the authorities to find him.  And it would likely be responded to with force, not friendship.  Dame Inger arrived as the agent settled this point.

A Word To The Wise

     Riding in the taxi, Inger listened to the urgent news feed and was not at all surprised to learn her crew were involved in a shooting incident.  What bothered her was that, at that time, there were no details other than the ominous statement there were "multiple dead".  No names had been released and no reports of the injured either.  And no one from the crew was calling her, which was most ominous of all.  When the taxi got to the ship's berth, the vehicle was flagged to stop by a pair of men in uniforms she recognized as Knights of her Order.  Not recognizing the uniforms specifically, the taxi driver came to a stop in a show of respect for the weapons the men were actively training on him and his vehicle!

Inger prepared her Ident to show who she was as the taxi stopped and she told the driver these were good guys, and not to worry.  Not too comforted by that, despite her assurances, the taxi driver released the security locks on all doors and held his hands up visible as they came to a stop.  The men advanced on the taxi and Inger told the driver, "I'll pay you once I have them put the guns away."  The driver nodded and was all in favor of that.  Inger stepped out of the taxi as the men held their weapons ready but showed they recognized her.  Identifying herself, Inger watched the weapons drop and she was able to pay the Cr 15 fare before the driver got the hell out of there.

Done with the cab, Inger asked the Knights for details, but they just directed her into the ship where Zimzod apparently had some word from Lady Mikah.  They also said they were posted 'early on' by the Order.  So, while those back at the Order house were working on getting data, they hadn't been updated other than escorting Zimzod back to the ship and playing security.  Thanking the men for their help, Inger moved into the ship.  Since Zimzod had unlocked the ship, there were lights on when she got past the air-lock.  Still, inside the lock as the interior door cycled open, Inger heard Zimzod talking to someone and it appeared to be a friendly conversation.

As she came into the conversation proper, she asked Zimzod, "Hi.  Who's your friend?"  Zimzod introduced her to "the man from IRIS".  Looking back at the agent, Zimzod said, "I'd introduce you but I'm sure you already know who she is."  The agent nodded and said, "Have a seat Dame Inger."  Inger sat while the agent said the one thing he wanted to make them clearly aware of was that IRIS wasn't involved in any part of this investigation.  Seeing how seriously he spoke, they could tell this was leading to something important and let him continue.  The agent then reminded them IRIS did not officially exist in Rhylanor.  He stressed that they were not connected to the police, the regular Rhylanor Intelligence organizations, the Imperial Navy or the Imperial Ministry of Justice.  They did not work with these organizations or liaison with them at all.  And it should never be assumed that any data any of these agencies had were shared with IRIS or each other.

He even pointed out that, while the crew were aware Duke Leonard knew of them, they were not connected to the Duke's intelligence organizations.  And he went as far as to say not many Imperial nobility knew IRIS existed, and IRIS liked it that way.  While they were using the shooting to follow the trails and try to find Tarulli, the agent said there was a "troubling incident" that morning.  They listened as the Agent talked about when Zach had started calling House Kirgashii.  The agent described when Zach connected with someone in the lowest levels of the Seneschalate and started discussing the events around killing Arcea.  The agent reminded them that asking "any" questions about the issue might lead to deeper investigations, which could expose the real reasons behind the deaths, or the real participants.

Making things worse, Zach started talking about these classified issues with very low-level members of the Duke's staff, supporting his household.  He had no idea if the person he was speaking to was even a member of the household, or a third party issue-resolution team.  And when challenged for confirmation, Zach happily told the persons he was speaking to that the Duke knew all about it!  If the Household did unknowingly use its substantial weight to open an investigation, they would likely not have told the Duke about it until they had real data.  So, a very likely outcome could have been a demand to the port to provide camera data showing the IRIS vehicle leaving the crew's berth, evidence of the battle and the trip to the IRIS facility after.  The dangers were made very clear to both Sir Zimzod and Dame Inger as she recalled snapping at Zach not to give out so much information.

Zach had brushed off the concerns saying, "They're the Duke's people."  She specifically remembered that she'd had many people who worked for her in the SPA as "her people", but would not want them knowing any of the real facts from so many incidents.  When Inger reached out of the darkness growing in the pit of her stomach to ask if that meant those people were "all dead now", the agent said they were under modified observation and hoped it would not go that far.  Both Zimzod and Inger had to wonder if the agent would know if it had?  Or if he'd tell them?  The agent drove the conversation to an end that impressed on the two that they couldn't assume anyone could be given information simply because they believed there was a connection.  They had to confirm both "security clearance" and "need to know" in every case.  And where they had been given reporting instructions, they could not assume they knew better and simply share data with those they thought should have it.

Listening to the man, Zimzod tried to lighten the tension by saying he assumed Zach's mishandling of classified data was likely why he was dead.  The agent fixed Zimzod with a matter of fact stare back and flatly said, "I'm inclined to agree with you."  Having made it clear the crew had to lock things down much more, the agent told Zimzod he had to communicate this to the crew, in the absence of Lady Mikah while she was in hospital.  Zimzod accepted the implied threat saying, "Yes Sir."  Satisfied his mission had been as accomplished as he could get it, the agent asked the two Knights if they had any questions for IRIS?  Zimzod confirmed that, according to IRIS, Tarulli was deep underground.  He then asked how much damage they estimated Zach had done in releasing data and they were told IRIS felt lucky they were made aware of his call to the Household.

That let them to move early, to partition those infected and deal with mitigating the issue from the start.  The opinion he was aware of was that IRIS didn't feel "anyone else had to die over it yet."  Of course, that "yet" stuck in the gut, as did the unspoken fact the agent may not be telling them anything nearly complete or honest.  Not sure how bad this was going to get, Ms. Vik asked, "So, does this mean we're under modified observation or anything?"  She was sure she wasn't going to get a straight answer anyway.  The agent just said, "I would just advise you to not do anything stupid since there is extra attention being paid at the moment."  To Inger, that was a very definite "YES".  When the two had no more questions, the man stood and said IRIS would be in contact if it were needed.  Zimzod stood and shook the man's hand Solomani style as he said goodbye to them.

After Zimzod saw the man out, Inger asked, "So, what do we do now?"  Zimzod said, "I guess you already know that Zach is dead?"  Having heard a lot that wasn't explained, Inger said "No" in surprise.  Zimzod finished, "Well, Zach is dead, and everybody else is at the hospital."  Having stood as the IRIS agent left, Inger sat down as she dealt with the surprise.  Not that she was sad, or even surprised, but it put a very fine point on things.  When Zimzod asked what she knew, Ms. Vik said "All I got was a message from the Order that said there had been a shooting.  And they didn't tell me what to do, so I decided to get back to the ship.  So why don't you tell me what happened?"  Zimzod nodded and said, "OK.  There was a shootout, Zach is dead and everybody else is at the hospital.  Bam!" smiling and raising a thumb's up fist for emphasis.

As she took in the information, Inger could only ask, "How bad are they all?  Do you know?"  Zimzod said, "Some are bad and some, not so much." though the expression on his face said he cared a bit more than his words suggested.  In the pause, as Inger digested this, Zimzod asked, "Would'ya like some coffee?" in an inviting tone.  From one shock to another, inspired by Zimzod's offer, Inger looked up with a half-smile and said, "You know?  I kinda would." in that half-hopeful fashion when you hope the rug's not about to be pulled out from under you.  To Inger's surprise, Zimzod said "Hold on" and went to the upper lock.  He called out to the members of the Order in the berth, asking if they wanted coffee too?  And with that, Inger wondered how wonderful a universe it would be if Zach died every day?  But then she admitted the effect would wear off soon enough.  Apparently, the men standing security outside said they were good and Zimzod came back in to cook up some real, honest to god and monstrously expensive coffee.

Settling Down For Treatment

     After the shootout, police and medical support quickly arrived and secured the site and wounded.  Medics hit Mikah with anesthetics as they advised her to relax and assured her they would take care of everything.  Despite taking over, they showed their skill by exploring her work without disturbing it while investigating her condition.  She relaxed and gave herself over to apparently competent medical care and her vision faded while the anesthetics knocked her out.  That happened while another team tended to Rol and knocked him out too.  A third team moved up to check on Emkir and hit him with local anesthetics rather than knocking him out.

They then took over what work he'd done with Aali's help and made sure he was stable, with no other hidden wounds.  Then they secured him to a gravBoard, like the others, and moved him into one of several medical support vans.  Each in their own van as even more support arrived, the vans moved off to the hospital.  Because he was awake, an investigator jumped into the van transporting Emkir before the doors had closed.  While he was propped up into a sitting position and the medTechs worked on him, Emkir started to report on the attack to the officer.  The officer first let Emkir go before slowing him down and then taking him through the event in steps.

When they got started, the investigator asked what had been the first thing Emkir had noticed?  He then started asking about Emkir's reactions, as opposed to the actions and reactions of the others?  Why some had remained standing, which Emkir couldn't explain other than pure surprise.  The questions and answers came as they rode, and Emkir's most salient point was that the guys who ambushed them looked like ordinary toughs.  They didn't seem to have any particular skill or training and certainly weren't skilled assassins.  The investigator involuntarily smiled and said Emkir should be thankful.  When Emkir looked for an answer, the officer said if they had been trained, he and his crew would all be dead now, and Emkir had to agree.

When Emkir asked for confirmation, the officer did say they took one surviving attacker into custody.  Emkir remembered Aiden standing over the man and stepping on his wound to cause even more pain.  But Emkir hadn't been sure the man survived.  He was glad when the officer said he did, since it would help with the investigation.  Outside that, Emkir wanted to know what the word was on the others from his crew.  The officer only reminded him they were all in response vehicles heading to the hospital, and there was no real report on conditions yet.  Emkir remembered Mikah was up and self-medicating, and had thrown what supplies she could to him and Rol.  Emkir also remembered Rol had collapsed at one point before waking up and beginning to treat himself.  So Emkir wasn't completely sure how bad the others were as he rode to the hospital.  He was sure Rol was the worst off.

During the trip, the investigator casually worked on Emkir to bring out more details.  And, as the Admiral relaxed, he did say he remembered Zach had been receiving death threats.  Right after saying that, he pointed out that the crew had no idea where from or why, though.  Despite his claim, the investigator probed him on the subject a bit before accepting that Emkir knew nothing more.  At the hospital, the officer thanked Emkir and said the reported death threats were an avenue of investigation.  When the medics moved Emkir out of the vehicle, he could see one of the other response vans had pulled up and its doors were left open.  So, either Mikah or Rol was there and Emkir couldn't tell which?

He guessed it wasn't the thug because there would have been some continued law enforcement presence looking for anything dropped or discarded by the wounded man during transport.  They rolled Emkir into a treatment area and allowed a much more robust diagnostic android scan him.  Emkir saw another partitioned area where he could tell they were working on someone else.  Trying to listen to what he could from that station, Emkir could only make out that they were preparing their patient for surgery.  That still told him nothing since Rol was bad off and Mikah was hit in the gut, and would need her wound cleaned up and sewn shut at the least.

Marking Grisly Territory

     Aiden and Aali were separated while the medics worked on the wounded and loaded them into the vans for the ride to the hospital.  Each were addressed by an investigator.  Aiden was first asked by security officers why he was found at the scene while holding a weapon on a wounded and obviously defenseless man?  Aiden responded by giving a concise explanation of the events that led from their crew dinner to being attacked by the thugs.  When hhe finished his summation, they asked Aiden how many of the thugs he'd personally targeted.  There was a brief pause while he figured back over the very quick events of the attack, then claimed to have targeted four including the last man, who he told the investigator had turned and was fleeing.  After that, the officer asked Aiden to lead him to each of the men he felt he killed.

Given that his ammunition left a distinct blast-pattern in an unarmored corpse, Aiden was sure he could easily show off his handiwork.  The first corpse Aiden showed off was a body with its chest blown out completely.  It appeared to the officer that the round must have penetrated the soft tissue of the target and encountered a dorsally located bone structure.  Likely the dorsal rib cage.  There, the exploding round acted like a shaped charge and literally blew the contents of the thug's thorax out the front of his chest.  Literally turning the man's chest inside out.  The only good thing about such a death was that the shock likely killed the target before they realized they'd been shot.

The next target Aiden brought the officer to had a less spectacular wound, having only had the left half of his chest blown open.  Aiden had been treated to the last ragged exhalation of this man as he tried to fight the pressure crushing what was left of his right lung thanks to the catastrophic wound.  As they toured the remaining bodies, Aiden realized he'd miscounted and had only fired three rounds.  In the speed of the action, the events combined the first fusillade of fire from the ambushers with the rest.  So, he'd only owned the two confirmed kills, and shared the last corpse, the fleeing thug, with the others.  This was made obvious by the mixture of wounds in the remains of the distorted corpse.  Most remarkable were the many needle penetrations that could still be made out as Lady Mikah had set her pistol to "10 shot".

After Aiden was allowed to gloat over his kills, the officer with him called the investigator with his weapon over.  As he reached for the weapon, Aiden was quick to tell him to not grab the grip, having told the officer who disarmed him the same thing.  When the officer gave him a querying look, Aiden explained the anti-theft feature.  Taking the weapon by a rod slid into its barrel, the officer asked Aiden to release the magazine for him.  After Aiden did that, the officer identified the tranq and high explosive rounds in the side by side files without a visible reaction.  Looking up, the man said, "Well, Sir Knight.  We do have an issue here." with a custodial expression on his face.  When Aiden asked, the man admitted Aiden had the right to bear arms, but explained that right only extended to weapons of a non-military nature.  While the tranq rounds were acceptable under the restrictions, the HE rounds were not.

He said Aiden should legally replace the HE rounds with ball ammo and also said they weren't going to worry over much about the "indiscretion" under the circumstances.  But he did ask Aiden to switch the ammunition out for the remainder of his time in-system.  Aiden very cooperatively agreed to comply even as he privately considered that it was likely the high explosive nature of his ammunition that saved his life as well as the lives of the others.  Still, he wasn't about to start a fight with an officer of the law who seemed to be about to hand him his weapon back with a wink and nod to removing some trash from the station.  Before the officer returned the weapon to Aiden, he took the time to remove each of the remaining HE rounds from the clip and slap it back into the pistol.  He then handed Aiden the rounds to put in a pocket.

Aiden quickly holstered the weapon and pocketed the rounds as the officer commented, "Nice shooting." with a slim but visible smile.  Looking at the bodies on the deck, Aiden saw Aali had been brought through the same tour of targets.  After that, the CSI techs had stepped in to establish stasis fields around each of the dead, to preserve the bodies for the rest of the investigation.  Also disarmed, Aali had only had ball ammunition in her weapon so there were no issues with the legality of her gear.  She took her own verbal journey through the ambush and eventually had to work a bit harder to reconstruct her weapons-fire.  The wounds from her weapon were similar enough to those from Emkir's weapon to create questions without Emkir being there.  The gauss wounds would have come from either Mikah or Rol, once he'd gotten hold of Zach's pistol.  Eventually, her count was one on her own and another round contributing to the fatality of a fleeing thug.

Unaware of the similarity, Aali shared Emkir's observation with the investigator working with her that these certainly were not 'first string' hitters.  But this officer only raised an eyebrow and asked, "And you've had experience with first string assassins?" in a leading tone as he borrowed Aali's term.  Hedging hard, Aali answered, "No.  But I know a first string assassin would have sniped us from someplace and we'd have never seen it coming.  The officer accepted that answer despite the obvious opening stutter.  He reminded her that her right to bear arms came with a requirement to be mindful of what she did with it, then handed Aali back her weapon as well.

Then the senior officer pointed out the ship and crew were not leaving the station soon with crew in medical treatment and they were free to go so long as they knew they should be available for follow-up questions.  Free to consider 'what next', Aiden asked if Aali would prefer to go back to the ship or to the hospital?  Aali chose the hospital with a certainty.  After they decided that, security said they could offer the two a ride in one of their vehicles and the Knights thanked them.

Settling In At The Ship

     Emkir heard another vehicle arrive while a doctor worked on his arm.  It was unloaded by medical personnel who began working on another person.  Emkir listened, and heard that person was also bound for an operating room.  Deciding to learn more as they worked on him, Emkir looked at one of the orderlies assisting with data retrieval and said, "I'm a bit worried about two of my crew and I was wondering if you could tell me if they survived?"  When he mentioned Mikah and Rol's names, the doctor said the orderly would check when he could, making it clear the tech had other work to do there.  Despite that, some minutes later the orderly stepped out and later briefly stepped back to tell Emkir both Knights were significantly injured, but their wounds were not considered life threatening.  Emkir thanked the orderly and relaxed as the doctor told him to just lay back and enjoy his medications.

Getting into the security vehicle, Aali comm'd Zimzod, confirmed Inger was with him and explained that Aiden and she were going to the hospital.  She went over the status as she knew it, confirming Zach was dead in case they didn't know, and the other three had been taken to the hospital.  Zimzod thanked her for the information and very bluntly warned Aiden and Aali not to give any information or answers about IRIS or any classified information.  He told them to do their best to tell any investigators this was an isolated incident and not suggest anything the shooting might be connected to.  Being clever, Aali asked, "So the floral organization has spoken to you?"  Zimzod said, "Yeah, you can say that.  They send their condolences."

While Zimzod was on the line with Aali, Inger comm'd station central offices to check in with them and found the station administration were also asking what happened?  While they'd had the full reports from their security people, Inger knew her friends were asking for more than the reports showed, and perhaps a full explanation.  Playing it dumb, Inger said that, to the best of her knowledge, it was a case of five thugs who'd spent their savings on some pistols and went out to make a bigger score than they could with their fists and knives.  Lucky for the station and other innocents, the clueless thugs didn't know a hard target when they decided to start shooting.  Lacking any other reasonable explanation, the answer was as good as any other and they accepted it.  Of course, they were also sympathetic to the loss of Sir Zachariah.

After Zimzod finished talking to Aali, he decided to make Zach's passing official.  So, he went into his stateroom and pulled out the Darrian gauss pistol he'd stolen from Zach back on Inthe.  Checking and slapping the one magazine that was in the weapon back in, Zimzod holstered that weapon to carry before returning to the lounge.  Having decided to wear the weapon openly, Zimzod remembered there was still a stateroom filled with Zach's gear.  They'd organized their gear into the new ship's staterooms while on the naval station, and hadn't felt the need to move anything out to the berth quarters once on the port.  While Zimzod wasn't going to take advantage of the situation to call dibs on any of Zach's gear, he did decide to step into the merchant's stateroom and see what the man had left for the crew to grab?

Zimzod figured he'd wait for everyone else to be there before dividing the gear up.  In the stateroom, and past the entrance to the small fresher, Zimzod checked out Zach's gun rack, on the wall to his left over a small in-wall set of shallow drawers.  There, he saw Zach's gauss rifle, which obviously had various after-market targeting electronics installed, and its weapon case, magazines and other accessories.  There were a selection of various accessories for three different gauss pistols, including the gear for the third pistol Zach had bought, currently in station security custody.  Along with the gear for that weapon, and leftovers for the second pistol Zach bought, there were the remaining five magazines for the Darrian pistol too.  Seeing those, and knowing no one else in the crew could use them, Zimzod took the Darrian magazines.

Zimzod scanned over Zach's snub pistol and the assorted accessories and ammunition magazines.  He noticed one magazine held glass tipped, Acid-filled rounds!  Zimzod knew those rounds were highly illegal, even in the Imperium.  Besides those, Zach had a dagger and its sheath and a plastic knife and a sheath which could evade a number of security measures.  They were next to a lockable transport case for the two blades.  Between the weapons and a built in armoire, Zimzod saw Zach's combat armor and vacc suit, along with his nomadic robes from Jae Tellona.  Next to those, Zach had two Oxygen tanks, magnetic soles and other vacc suit accessories along with a web harness.

While he was touring Zach's room, Aiden called to update them on what little he knew while waiting in the hospital's waiting area.  When Aiden made it clear he couldn't get much information, because he wasn't family, Zimzod said he'd take care of things as he was Second in Command.  After dumping the call with Aiden, Zimzod called the hospital and introduced himself as the acting Captain of the Hotel California.  He said he needed an update on his Captain and crew.  When his identity were confirmed, the tech on the line told Zimzod that all of the wounds were not life-threatening because they very quickly got medical attention.  He was told that while the wounds suffered by Lady Mikah and Sir Rol were serious, and they were in surgery, they would likely be released after a few days.  And, she continued, Sir Emkir was in the process of being treated and would be released soon.

Zimzod was told that the most serious concern with Rol was blood loss and they were just worried about infection with Mikah if she didn't turn out to have any surprise bleeders.  Zimzod confirmed Mikah should be awake the next day and that he'd be able to visit her then.  The call ended when Zimzod made sure the hospital administration had his contact data.  Off the call, he got back to exploring Zach's stateroom.  Zimzod dug deeper, and saw some sort of gas tester, some kind of binoculars.  Secured on the small working desk were an e-reader and some other consumer electronics.

About the room, Zach had a medical kit, personal jewelry, a glass lump with something inside it which had no apparent use as well as one of the coins Duke Leonard gave everyone when he Knighted Rol.  Looking at the jewelry, Zimzod was reminded Zach was probably still wearing the lanthanum ring Zimzod had given out to everyone on the crew.  He figured they'd get that back when they got Zach's possessions from security after they processed his body.  Not seeing anything more he felt he should immediately grab, Zimzod went back out to the lounge to see Inger had finished talking to the port and was drinking her coffee.

Rejoining Inger, Inger told Zimzod the port had offered to host Zach's funeral free of charge after the crew decided what they wanted to do.  They offered to also provide what services the crew thought proper too.  Zimzod was pleased, and said that was nice of them but they should see what the Duke had in mind?  When Zimzod suggested the Duke might want to launch Zach's casket into space, Inger could also imagine a line of people at the guns of many ships using the casket for target practice.  Being polite, and with her trademark half-smile, Inger said, "I'm sure the Duke would like to launch that casket somewhere."  Zimzod chuckled at that, and asked Ms. Vik if she'd like more coffee?  When she said she would, he started making another small pot.

Nerves Settled And Healing Started

     Aali and Aiden got a quick ride to the hospital.  Moving through the waiting staff to security, they ran into people waiting for more wounded to be delivered for care.  After showing they weren't injured, the two saw the hospital had mobilized for a mass-casualty event.  Asked why they came to the hospital, Aiden said they were there to check on their wounded crew.  Aali was more specific, saying she was there to see Emkir Meshrumiikiim as officials started checking Idents.  Realizing Aali was Emkir's wife, they led her to the emergency room, to where he was being treated.  Aiden was another story, since he was only ship's crew and not the ship's Captain.  Aiden was led to the waiting area, and asked for an update.  He was told everyone's wounds were survivable.  Two of the wounded were in surgery and the other was "being treated at the moment and should be released soon".

Aali was led into a curtained-off area where she found Emkir on a examination table.  The table had been raised so his torso was elevated, and a doctor was assisted in working on Emkir's arm and shoulder.  They had also cut away a part of his right pants leg and apparently sprayed a healing flesh-sealer over what must have been a graze wound.  Clearly, the shipsuit he'd been wearing was "done" and they'd have to get him a new one.  Seeing Aali, Emkir asked, "Hey gorgeous, you come here often?"  Aali answered "Not yet" in hopes saying it would mean they wouldn't have to open a frequent treatment account.  It seemed the doctor was just finishing up when she arrived, and told Aali they'd like to keep Emkir under observation for several hours, because shock was always a concern.

They recognized Emkir was a veteran and had some experience with wounds, so when Aali said she felt it was safe to sign him out, the doctor didn't argue at all.  Aali started on Emkir's paperwork while the doctor gave last instructions and the med-techs finished working on Emkir before covering over the wounds and giving him a package of pills, bandages and salves.  When Aali asked about the others, there wasn' much they could say since Aali wasn't family or the ship's captain.  They did tell her Sir Rol and Lady Mikah had been taken into surgery.  It was explained that the main concern for Lady Mikah were possible small bleeding wounds and infection, due to being shot in the abdomen.  Stuck in the waiting room for half an hour or more, Aiden decided to call Zimzod and share what little he knew.

The Beginnings of A Plan

     In the Order's rooms on-station, Sir Terin Yundis Geryen had been called up, with every other member of the Order on-station.  Like Dame Inger, the call came in a red flashing signal on the Knight's comms.  That was only used when all hell was breaking loose and the highest authorities had to reach everyone.  He responded as instructed after being warned a crew of the Order's Knights were under attack and was asked where he was?  Ironically, he was renting a room in the facility and Terin told the man he was likely right down the hall.  When asked if he was combat qualified, Terin hedged, "sort of".  Truthfully, Terin had and could, fight in a pinch but had minimal combat skills.  The caller speculated they could use him for security if needed, and was asked what gear Terin had?

Terin listed his combat armor and weapons and the caller said that would work, and they'd iron over the military nature of his gear with station security.  He then told Terin to gear up and muster at a common room, in case he'd be needed.  Saying he'd be there in minutes, Terin broke the line and snapped into his armor before slapping some magazines into weapons, grabbing spare magazines and moving out.  When he got to the common rooms, Terin saw various teams, and even watched as an assembled team left on a mission of some sort.  To Terin, it looked like they expected trouble, and he could hear them grimly being told to load a round into the chamber and be prepared for anything.  Terin reported and found himself organized into a "Ready pool" of people, to respond as needed based on the equipment each person carried.

"Sorted" into his group, they were told a known attack involved the crew of a yacht called the Hotel California, but they said it could be an attack on the Order itself, where they were only the first hit.  While details were scant, it was known some of the crew were shot and killed.  That meant possible assignments could be guarding the surviving crew in their hospitals, securing their ship or assets, or securing or responding to Order sites, assets and people.  They might also be called on by the station's security offices, as servants of the Imperium, to help secure station facilities or systems.  After that briefing, Terin realized this was just like the military.  "Hurry up and wait" as those gathered by the Order cooled their heels until told to do something.

While waiting, TAS Breaking news played large on display screens in the common rooms.  The reporting team on site could show, from a distance, the glow of obscured bodies under stasis fields, giving direct proof of the deaths.  Beyond that and the very visible station security and investigators, it didn't seem any of the surviving crew were still there, and no one specifically from the Order.  Station security and the hospitals were also not giving out any information.  Soon, those reports were augmented by data the Order was able to get from station security.  It confirmed one of the crew had been killed, and three others wounded and sent to the hospital.  A bit later, Terin learned the Order had sent two Knights out to secure the California's berth, along with a station car.  Those Knights had yet to call for backup, but Terin's group were warned they might be called on to bolster or replace them.

After more waiting, they were told the shooting was over, and station central offices felt the archology was secure.  So, they were not sure if the Order needed people beyond those needed to secure the ship.  It was also released that the known fatality had been Sir Zachariah Wood.  Terin had heard of Sir Zachariah, and even watched and listened to his speech at the funeral for the dead of the INS Khurmumshuuna Khangu.  He reflected on the death, and Terin heard someone saying the Order would likely hold a ceremony for Sir Zachariah at some point, Since he was a Knight of the Imperium.  When some conversations focused on Zach, it was said he was both the ship's trade expert and their navigator.  This last item was interesting to Terin as he was also a navigator, and he was looking for a job now that he was out of the Scouts.

After thinking about things, Terin decided the time honored service tradition of picking at the bones was in order as he reached out to one of the Knight Captains present and mentioned he was a pretty fair ship's navigator himself.  They first discussed Terin's qualifications before the Captain said he might not be a bad fit.  It solved two issues, since the Order tried to help its members find positions.  It also helped Knights find resources, and the Hotel California now appeared to need a navigator.  After a brief chat, the Knight Captain told Terin to let the dust settle and see how things worked out?  He also said the ship's captain, Lady Dame Mikah, was still in hospital, so things could take some time to work out.  But he did say he'd introduce the idea and Terin said he'd appreciate that.

Eventually, the Order decided to relieve the two guards they placed on the Hotel California's bay and also upgrade the numbers when it became apparent the attack was directed at the crew, and not members of the Order.  Glad he'd not wasted his entire day waiting for something that wasn't going to happen, Terin was one of the Knights selected to board a transport for the ride to the berth.  Riding over, Terin scanned the others and figured they were all selected because they had combat armor, and appeared to have significant combat weapons.  At the berth, the team replaced the two men there, who were armed but unarmored.  Despite that, they still looked to be ready for anything and Terin was not sure he'd go one on one against either even in his armor.

Choosing To Go Nowhere

     After Zimzod prepared and set out the coffee, he and Inger sat and relaxed into a cup each.  While the caffeine began to have its effect, Zimzod saw there wasn't much he could do until he talked to Mikah.  The crew had really not had any plans at all, except the stent operations.  So Zimzod didn't know what Mikah planned to do?  Sipping at her coffee, and glancing again at the holster on Zimzod's hip, Inger asked Zimzod if there was anything they should be doing.  And Zimzod couldn't give an answer.  She then asked if, since this guy was part of the underworld, they should be hitting him back somehow?  But Zimzod said that if IRIS couldn't find him, they weren't likely to either, which she had to admit to.  But Ms. Vik knew she "Felt" like they should be doing something, even if she had no idea what?  Zimzod also said that, if they put out too many feelers, things could go badly for them if the drew too much attention.

So Inger agreed when Zimzod said they sit back and do nothing unless someone tried to hit the crew again.  Zimzod also said he didn't think the whole crew were the targets anyway, given what the IRIS agent said.  After taking a sip of coffee, Inger snarked at just how incredibly comforting that was in a slightly sarcastic tone.  With a smile, Zimzod ignored her tone and said, "It is, isn't it?"  He then held up his cup and happily asked, "Isn't this coffee good?"  Inger said "Yeah" as she raised her cup to clink with Zimzod's and Zimzod happily came out with, "Here's to Zach."  After they finished their cups, Inger also got her 9mm and holster as Zimzod cleaned up.  She returned to the lounge and asked Zimzod if he wanted to try out a video game, pointing to the ship's entertainment unit as she spoke.  Figuring he was all hopped up on caffeine anyway, Zimzod said, "Yeah, that sounds like fun." and they sparked up a multi-player first-person shooter game.  So since they couldn't sleep, they settled in and played the game to burn off caffeen like Inger had been playing to burn off frustration earlier.

Returning, Relaxing And Recovering

     When Emkir was released, Aiden, Aali and he were given a ride back to the ship by station security.  Arriving in the berth, the couple saw the entrance guarded by eight combat armored figures holding a mix of fairly intense weapons Aali was sure the station wasn't pleased about, given the chat after the shootout.  Ready for anything, Aali refused to assume as she handed over her Ident and was welcomed back to the ship by a trooper she was sure had never seen her before.  From his position, as Terin watched the new activity, he saw the security car arrive and three figures step out of it.  One of the men had a medical-paper top in place of his clothes, and was obviously bandaged and paper pants too.  The female, in a shipsuit, was handing over their Idents to the team leader.

Recognizing her as Dame Aali, the unwounded man as Sir Aiden and the bandaged man as Sir Emkir, Terin figured they'd cut up Sir Emkir's shipsuit while treating him.  Though seeing their faces was enough for Sir Terin, he shook his head negatively as the tight-assed team leader checked the Idents completely.  All Terin could think was, "Must have been Imperial Navy."  Done with the crew outside, the three entered the ship to find Zimzod and Inger blasting away at each other's avatars in the midst of some kind of game, or very very sad video combat training.  The three took in the scene, and Emkir sniffed at the air and asked, "Do I smell coffee?"  Zimzod didn't bother looking up as he answered, "Yeah, over on the galley, help yourself."  Impressed Zimzod was sharing, Emkir moved over to grab a cup despite the hour and his condition.

Zimzod told Inger they should talk with the others and get updated as Emkir grabbed some coffee, and they agreed.  After crashing the game, Zimzod checked out Emkir's bandages and gave him the basic paramedic's checkup, just to be sure.  Having done that, and now Emkir and Aali had heated up a cup of coffee each, they all sat and Inger asked, "So what happened?"  After Emkir and Aali made a few random comments about how they felt and what they did, Emkir said he would have thought Zimzod and Inger would have heard it all already.  Zimzod said they had, but wanted to see if there was anything he or Aali had to add.  He also asked about what they each had said when station security questioned them about the event?  Emkir admitted he'd commented on the death threats Zach was getting but was sure he'd gotten out of that claiming he knew nothing about them.

After Zimzod made sure no one actually mentioned the origins of the threat, he decided to check on what was happening in the berth?  When he returned, Zimzod knew two members of the Order had taken up position as guards and he wanted to see what their orders were.  When he checked, Zimzod found the first two guys had been relieved by eight combat-armored figures.  So he checked how they were doing, and greeted them each.  When he got to Sir Terin, the Darrian greeted Zimzod and said he was sorry for their loss and was surprised when the Knight answered, "That's OK.  It wasn't much of a loss.  His getting shot was more like drugs for a headache."  When Zimzod asked if they were good for food, they all said they'd eaten.  But, when he offered them coffee a number of the Knights accepted, figuring they'd be there overnight.

After gaging their interest, Zimzod said he'd be right out and went back into the ship to get the coffee.  When Zimzod asked about anything else they needed, Terin pointed out they were there for the crew, not the other way around.  Zimzod said he was thankful but didn't think they were needed, and Terin said, "You've already been hit once, and we're here to make sure you don't get hit again."  After that, and for the rest of the night, Zimzod returned to the ship to do gear maintenance.  Inger kept in contact with the port for any new details or data.  The only new thing she got from them was that the port were increasing security on the entire section of the concourse their ship was docked on.  They also said they would be available in the morning, to work with the crew and make other plans for Zach.  After having their coffee, Emkir and Aali went to bed, given Emkir's recovery and Aali's expectations of a long day once they were up.

In the hospital, they briefly woke Lady Mikah after some time recovering from her surgery so they could do some tests.  Satisfied with her condition, they moved her to a monitored station for the rest of the night.  The plans for Mikah were to have her continue her recovery until after she woke from the drugs naturally, and passed through another battery of tests.  They also planned to observe implanted bio-dissolving devices to make sure there were no budding infection sites in her abdomen, due to the wounds or surgery.  Finished with Rol's surgery, they admitted him to a room and expected him to be under care for several days at least.

Starting Too Early And With Bad News

     Long before Emkir would have planned to wake if he'd set an alarm clock, he rolled in his sleep and pulled at his wounds.  This woke him right away as he checked his abandages and the chrono.  Seeing the hour, Emkir decided it was too damn early.  Checking Aali, he found her asleep and tried to relax and return to sleep himself.  After he realized that wasn't gonna happen without help, Emkir grabbed a sleep-inducing pain killer.  Recosnidering the medicine, Emkir worried it would keep him sleeping later than Aali expected, and he didn't want her freaking out.  So, he woke her briefly, to tell her he was taking some drugs and sleeping in before he downed the pill and returned to the land of the not quite dead.

Unfortunately for Aali, she wasn't able to just fade back to sleep after being woken without stealing one of Emkir's pills.  Giving up on sleep, and figuring there were gonna be a lot of issues to deal with anyway, Aali got up and did her morning routine before heading into the lounge.  Checking out in the berth, Aali figured the Order must have cycled the knights out and replaced them with another group in the early morning.  Shrugging, as the berth was still secure, she went to grab chow.  Done with his stint on duty, Terin rode back to the Order's layover housing with the other Knights when they were cycled out, and he crashed in his rental.  Because of the work being done, Terin was told the Order were covering the costs of the room for the whole stay.

After checking the berth, Aali went to the galley and grabbed herself a foil pack to cook for breakfast.  Settling to eat, Aali watched the news and wasn't surprised to see that the shooting was the lead story.  Over night, another dimension of the lead had grown as public reaction grew to shadowy figures appearing on a secure station to ambush even armed citizens!  This added to the growing list events such as mystery ships sneaking in to attack archologies and rogue fleets slipping through Imperial Navy defenses to attack the system.  Aali saw the morning news was even covering a growing number of protest points around the mainworld and even on the station.  Aali wasn't very comforted when she heard, more than once, comments asking why the Hotel California crew always seemed to be involved?

Details and reaction were covered, and there were no lack of commentary on von Kreden's fleet.  The crew involvement brought up commentary on Rol having been attacked at InstellArms and at the trade fair, Zach having been stabbed, Sir Brian's death in the archology attack as well as the shooting the night before.  The amount of time spent on this coverage was so great that Aali was glad when they finally gave some new information.  The names of the thugs were released, along with some details about their various low-level criminal records.  It appeared none of them were remarkable, even as criminals.  As the coverage moved on to other stories, if only briefly, and Zimzod woke and started making more coffee, Aali decided it might be good to write a letter home.

    Rhylanor (A434934-F  2  Hi Cp   810  Im  M2 VI)             Date: 299-1112
    Authorities and news agencies in-system are still officially in the dark regarding
    the arrival of Duchess Avaraja Astaarte Muktheswana in the Rhylanor system.
    In addition to a lack of explanation for Her Grace's arrival, there continues to be
    no word on her business in-system.  Inquiries to the office of Duke Leonard's
    Seneschal have been politely turned back with a continued statement they are
    officially unaware of Her Grace's business along with an offer to help Her Grace
    should she need any assistance while in the system.

    Despite the lack of data on her presence in-system, the Duchess of Glisten was
    seen at various times in various administrative facilities, presumably between
    meetings regarding her business.  Her Grace's offices in-system have not
    returned requests for data on her presence.  Duke Leonard's Office has
    reminded media outlets about their role in preventing rumors.  Despite this,
    many such rumors have been propagating in the lack of any real data.

As that story wrapped up, first Zimzod, and then Inger emerged from their staterooms, having woken at 8am and done their morning routines.  When Zimzod saw what Aali was watching, he asked her if there was anything good on the news?  Aali answered that it depended on his definition of 'good', and Zimzod said he was sure they were in the news somewhere.  Aali only laughed and said they were the news.

     Risek (A325579-A  N  Ni  401  Im  M5 V  M3 D)                 Date: 294-1112
    Reports from Imperial authorities managing the recovery of the Podesta nation
    in the Risek system have released reports on the continuing recovery of that
    archology.  As longer term agreements are being negotiated to resettle
    immigrants from the Corridor and Deneb sectors, short term work to cleanse
    the archology completely and prevent a reoccurrence of the outbreak have
    begun.  While this work continues, Imperial and local forces, along with local
    law enforcement, have largely restored law and order in the nation of Podesta.   

     Natoko (B582211-8  N  Lo Ni  801  Im  M2 VI M6 D)        Date: 300-1112
    Word has been received in the Rhylanor system that forces commanded by Fleet
    Admiral Uuela have entered the outer Natoko system, and established a zone of
    operations within the system.  Forward squadrons of the assembled expeditionary
    force arrived in orbit of the system's Large gas giant, Andrahoina, Supporting
    Senator Lord Kudilas' compliance investigation of Imperial edicts.  Andrahoina
    occupies the Natoko system's third orbital position in the solar system.

    Strategic analysts suggest this puts the inspection force in direct observation of the
    Natoko government's seven off-world facilities, orbiting Andrahoina.  They are also
    placed between the mainworld and four additional facilities orbiting Atokona, the
    system's inner most gas giant.  An additional off-world colony exists in orbit of the
    gas giant Anaran-kazo, which occupies the last orbital slot between the system's
    primary and the mainworld itself.  While these are a significant number of facilities,
    few are in fact believed to be controlled by the government of Natoko.  They are
    largely believed to be bases contractually leased to various corporations with trade
    and other agreements with the world.

    Initial word from Admiral Lord Evijn kiih Shijgiianal announced arrival of the forward
    expeditionary element, and expressed regret for destruction of the system defense
    boat NNS Relo Bitoon.  That vessel's commanding officer made the unwise decision to
    oppose arrival of the element's advanced squadron.  In a further statement, the Adm.
    stated Lt. Commander Mekuukii Niirkashnuk, commander of the INS Stellar Ray was
    to be commended for limiting the loss of life in the incident.

    In a brief release to TAS, the Imperial Navy described the incident had occurred
    as the first three-vessel flights arrived in-system.  Due to both miscommunication
    and questionable sensor data, given the position of the NNS Relo Bitoon, operating
    from within the upper atmosphere of the gas giant, the system defense boat's
    commanding officer chose to launch missiles at the arriving Imperial ships.  At
    the time, those vessels were securing from jump and preparing to release ship's
    boats for local operations.  Unable to verify the exact nature of the attackers, or
    confirm their numbers present to accurately gauge the relative danger, Lieutenant
    Commander Niirkashnuk ordered his weapons to engage the attacking ship with
    all bearing batteries not engaged in point defense.  As a result, the NNS Relo
was significantly damaged even as she was leaving the atmosphere
    apparently to better engage the arriving Imperial forces.

    Ordered to stand her weapons down and prepare to abandon the NNS Relo
for rescue, the system defense boat's commanding officer refused
    in vulgar terms.  He maintained offensive fire while also engaging in point
    defense.  However, damage to the SDB was significant enough that the ship
    could no longer fight the gas giant's gravity.  With insignificant damage,
    Lt. Commander Niirkashnuk ordered his group's boats to close with the
    estimated position of the SDB and execute survey operations under the
    protective guns of the three Imperial cruisers.  As these craft executed
    their orders, an additional three Natokan system defense boats announced
    their positions and requested permission to exit the atmosphere and dock
    for inspection.

    These crews are now listed as being "held for interrogation" by the Imperial
    Navy, which also announced their assumption of control of a support base for
    those system defense boats.  Authority to occupy the base was documented
    as this military station had been represented as a merchant venue, supporting
    trading vessels visiting that gas giant and not the main world.  These actions
    were taken despite strenuous objections and threats from the Natokan

    When word of these actions arrived in the Rhylanor system, the Natokan Embassy
    and Ambassador were said to be outraged.  Statements from the Embassy have
    been belligerent and self-serving to date, with dire suggestions of the reactions
    when free systems banded together to defend their rights as Imperial member
    states against the heavy handed and despotic actions taken by local Imperial
    Naval officers in violation of those rights.

    Early comments from Senator Kudila's, and the Offices of Duke Leonard, regret
    the loss of life.  Still, a statement from the Office of the Seneschal of Rhylanor
    made it clear these vessels, of a purely military nature, were present without
    authorization.  With no notification sent to the Imperial Navy, they represented
    a clear violation of edicts limiting the Natoko system.  As such, this event only
    reinforced the legitimate right of the Imperium to exercise this inspection.   

Having planned on staying with the ship and keeping in contact with port offices so she could update everyone on any new information, Inger had to admit to watching the reports from her home system with a bit of wide-eyed surprise.  Even having worked in the world's starport she, and to her knowledge most of the world, had no idea there was that much going on above the world's surface.  Despite constant advertisement for the "Space Corp" and "defending your world from aggression from the stars", the common understanding was that Natoko had few ships and many fewer stations in orbit of the gas giants.  And once she'd left the system, Inger hadn't really cared to look back.

     Rhylanor (A434934-F  2  Hi Cp   810  Im  M2 VI)               Date: 300-1112
    Having found in favor of Sir James Hendara, regarding the failure of robotic
    upgrades in Rhylanor's Ikhasha region, reports are becoming available as
    the Courts position themselves to issue judgments against the primary
    defendants.  Expectations are that the punitive damages will be in excess
    of several hundred million Imperial credits, not considering other damages
    to those who had joined the case.  This includes the family of the late Dame
    Khilurka, who died with her husband as a result of the failures.  That family
    was represented by lawyers from the 27th Inheritor of the family title,
    Dame Ligirsi Khilurka.   

     Mertactor (B262732-B  S  Cp  610  Im  G1 V)               Date: 240-1112
    Following the first successful performance of the "Heavenly Voices
    Choir" from the Pavabid system, system authorities are dealing with
    continued reaction to the performance and presence of the choir.
    Protesters interrupted the performance at least once while venue
    security and local law enforcement worked to keep the event as
    orderly as possible.  While the performance tour is hoping to help
    build a bridge between Pavabid and the outside universe, especially
    the Imperium, authorities do admit security and the reactions in each
    system visited will be interesting to manage.   

   Frenzie (A200436-A  N  Ni Va Cp  110  Im  M2 III M3 D)     Date: 254-1112
    Imperial Naval authorities in-system are keeping an increasingly close
    eye on the situations in both the Thanber and Dekalb systems, in the
    Querion subsector.  Large scale public unrest has grown in both systems
    as many natives of those worlds push for their governments to officially
    sue for re-admittance to the Third Imperium.  While protests are growing
    much faster in Dekalb, significant loss of life has been noted in the
    Thanber system.  Observers have also noted, with some concern, the
    lack of official response or investigation of those who have disappeared
    or turned up dead later.

    Admiral Amankekii khi-Shkhedi, senior commander of the 'Vilis
    Strategic Officer's Reserve', released a statement making it clear this
    would not be the correct time to step into the middle of a fight between
    a world government and its population.  The Admiral's statement seems
    a carefully worded response to those many Imperial patriots advocating
    the dispatch of a supporting fleet to each of the systems to "show support
    and offer protection" should the governments fear a Zhodani reprisal.
    Many new movements have grown in systems in the Vilis and Jewell
    subsectors supporting this new pro-Imperial rise just as other native
    movements in the Thanber and Dekalb systems have appeared fighting
    against Imperial membership.

    As these situations continue to heat up, Admiral khi-Shkhedi has so
    far been the most senior Imperial authority to even comment on the
    events.  There is no response at all from the Zhodani Consulate, either
    by word from the High Council of Chronor or from their Embassies in
    the Esalin, Rhylanor or Mora systems.   

    Mire (A665A95-C  M  Hi Cp  110  Da  M6 V)                    Date: 240-1112
    The Darrian Confederation government have released follow-on details
    regarding investigation of the damage believed caused by the forces of
    various Sword Worlds occupiers in the entropic worlds(The Entrope,
    Winston and Anselhome systems).  The Darrian government have stated
    they will be releasing a report at stages, as the committee works to
    determine the facts.  This report will hope not only to document that
    damage done to facilities in those systems, but also during the period
    of occupation and during the the reported 'Scorched earth' policies
    undertaken when they realized they'd have to abandon the systems.

    Some official responses to the accusations, from the Sacnoth system,
    suggest the Darrians are creating a case where there is none.  Others
    responding from behind the cover anonymous or off record statements
    have suggested that the worlds in question had belonged to both the
    Darrians and other governments over the past centuries.  It has been
    suggested the Darrians had long abandoned the worlds before early
    Sword Worlds colonies were established, and that the Darrians had
    come in to forcibly overtake those settlements.  As a result, it is clear
    that the ownership of these worlds can be made into a "debate for
    the ages".

    Despite claims and counter-claims, the Darrians hold status as a client
    state of the Third Imperium.  With the worlds now back under Darrian
    control, and with statements from the Imperial Admiralty supporting
    their claim, there appears to be little the remaining system governments
    of the Sword Worlds can hope to do other than present their case.
    Especially while Imperial influence appears to be growing in the sector.
    Speaking off the record, Imperial Senator Gashpasik Kikaak suggested,
    "It will be interesting to see if there was a court in the region which the
    Sword Worlds might accept as impartial."

    Seen as impartial or not, the Confederation has made it clear they
    intend to put their case before an Imperial court after the facts are in.
    Responding to this position, the world of Sacnoth's official statement
    was, "The Esteemed Darrian government has stated they will put their
    case before an Imperial court after determining the facts.  We would
    suggest they determine the facts before they say they will do anything.
    Having said what they have, it is clear they have shown their cards in
    advance and do not seem to care about the facts."

    On the additional complication of Darrian natives loyal to the former
    occupying governments, there were no further comments beyond the
    Confederation statement they were researching the issue as well as their
    interim security procedures.   

     Rhylanor (A434934-F  2  Hi Cp   810  Im  M2 VI)       Date: 300-1112
    Imperial authorities here in the Rhylanor system have still
    not commented on reports from the independent Nonym
    system about their sudden request to join the Darrian Confederation.
    The Lords of the Admiralty were even more quiet when asked
    if the Imperium would use its influence with the Confederation,
    as a client state, to moderate the events occurring in that system?
    A spokesman for the Admiralty, Lt. Commander Sir
    Akhergadegi has made a statement assuring the public the
    Darrians would not possibly consider using the star trigger
    weapons they apparently have stated they have moved into
    the system.

    The naval officer was very assured of his words, stating that the
    historic events of the Darrian Maghiz made it clear the effects of
    the weapon were not isolated to one solar system.  "Should the
    Darrians pull that trigger," the Commander said, "they know well
    that all of their worlds would also be devastated by it's effects,
    and billions more of their citizens would die."  Of course, there
   are those scientific authorities who suggest the Darrians may well
    have refined the technology they've had for centuries.

    When asked how concerned she was about that threat, one engineering
    sciences expert anonymously answered, "I would certainly not like to find

     Hammermium (A5525AB-B  Ni Po  535  Im  M3 III)          Date: 245-1112
    Imperial authorities here in the Rhylanor system still have not commented
    on a financial boom in the Hammermium system, which has become a
    significant issue for the system's government.  Since all citizens in the
    system are employees of the Hammermium Corp, a huge jump in orders and
    rise in income have increased demands from the workers for leisure goods
    and more free time to enjoy life.  What started as "local disharmony" has
    escalated to significant unrest.  This has the Corporation reaching out to the
    Count of Katarulu and Imperial government for advisors and help.  In the
    meantime, there has been little actual violence, but there have been many
    mass protests, some local production strikes and some vandalism.  The most
    notable actions include the destruction, through arson, of a logistics supply

     Rhylanor (A434934-F  2  Hi Cp   810  Im  M2 VI)       Date: 300-1112
    The Office of the Duke of Rhylanor has announced they are still working
    with the Offices of the Arch Duke and of Grand Duchess Delphine on a
    resolution to the alleged forced colonization of the Kegina system by
    excess population from the Bevey system.  Erupting into a regional issue
    over the past years, officials in the Bevey government have been accused
    of manipulating votes in the Rhylanor Subsector Senate for permission to
    relocate some part of their over-population.  Once it appeared they had
    achieved their political aims, the ships started landing.

    Soon after that, a crisis rose which crashed the existing government in
    the Kegina system.  Now, a shrinking and increasingly powerless group
    of native Kegina citizens have pled their case before Duke Leonard and
    Duchess Delphine.  Since that time, the case has been languishing.  Un-
    named sources suggest this is due to inaction by the Grand Duchess.  It
    is also rumored that Duke Leonard and then Duke Norris had been in
    agreement they would like to see the Imperial Navy sort things out.  This
    has been exacerbated because the Baron representing Kegina system is
    a native of the Sabine subsector(Deneb) and spends much of his time on
    Capital.  Concern is rising since time to respond in any way before
irreparable damage is done is running out.   

     Lanth (A879533-6  2  Ni Cp  710  Im  F5 IV M9 D)           Date: 271-1112
    Noted Author Enli Iddukagan has published his sensationalistic work, "Lost
    Treasure Ships of the Abyss Rift", in the Lanth system.  This work discusses
    a number of famous and infamous ships which have disappeared in the rift,
    between the main trade and commerce worlds in the Lanth subsector and
    the segment of the spinward main cutting through it.  The book covers such
    ships as the Frua Cesica, the TNS Navarino and others.  Initial comments on
    the book from critics point to the highly speculative nature of the case studies
    at best, and many other reviews were not as kind.    

Dealing With the Damage In The Morning

     Having listened to the news, Zimzod got ready to go to the hospital to check on Mikah and Rol.  Just before he left, Zimzod reminded the others to keep their mouths shut unless they knew 100% that the person they spoke to had both the clearance and need to know what was being discussed.  He also told them to keep an eye on the Knights the Order had deployed to guard their berth.  Doing that, Zimzod made up a small thermos of coffee to bring to Mikah.  Outside the ship, Zimzod checked in with the senior Knight on the crew to find they had cycled teams out in the very early morning, some hours after the ship buttoned up for the night.

When he asked their orders, Zimzod was told they were there because the Order wasn't certain if the ambush was an attack against the crew themselves or an attack on the Order, where they offered a convenient target.  If it was an attack against the Order, then the Order would pull together to respond.  And if it were an attack against the crew, then the Order would protect them as members.  Either way, the Order was there to protect them.  Zimzod thanked them and gave them the ship's comms so the Knights could call if they needed anything.  With that, the lead Knight asked Zimzod where he was headed?  When Zimzod said he was going to the hospital to check on the wounded, they offered him a safer ride in their vehicle.  Zimzod said, "Wow, really?  You guys are awesome!  Membership has its advantages."

They drove Zimzod to the hospital about the time Aiden left his stateroom.  Aali filled him in on the news.  When she again used her new signature line, "We are the news", Aiden wasn't surprised at all.  Having shared the morning news with Aali, Inger jumped on the comms to check the morning dispatches from the port offices.  Aali also told Aiden about the android lot they were bidding on while they talked, and Aiden asked about their condition?  Aali admitted they hadn't tested the 'droids to see if any of them had enough parts to assemble into even one working unit.  That made her realize she had to wait for the Admiral to call, and ask about getting another trip authorized to the warehouse to test them.

Done talking to Aiden, Aali thought about getting a report from Wall-e on its activities.  First thinking she had to go down to engineering, Aali figured it'd be easier to send a signal to the 'droid for a report.  That reminded Aali that, if she'd been working at it, she should be able to reach the computer through her stent.  Aali bundeled all this into a decision to spend some hours working to build the mental connections and reflexes and properly make use of the stent.  And, as she started planning the steps needed, Aali realized her commdots would help.  She could connect a dot to her comms, another to her stent and a third on her hand-computer.  The commdot multiplexer would then connect all the devices so she could direct voice commands and data-feed from her stent to her hand-computer and back.

Seeing Aali apparently decide to meditate, Aiden grabbed his snub pistol from his stateroom and did gear maintenance and reloaded the magazine swapping HE for ball ammunition.  While he worked, Aiden thought about the events of the night before and arrived at a very unhappy thought.  "He" was now the ship's navigator.  Aiden didn't like that thought at all, after what they'd been through.  Considering his options, Aiden decided to give Zimzod a call, whereever he was, and talk to him about the ship's need for a new navigator, who was a better one too.  As Zimzod chatted with the driver about events and they were getting close to the hospital, his comms started going off.

Answering the comms, Zimzod heard Aiden say, "Hey, it's me."  Zimzod wondered why he didn't have caller ID while he asked Aiden what was up, and Aiden explained his thoughts.  They both agreed the ship needed a better trained navigator and Zimzod said he was planning to discuss that with Mikah when he visited her.  Overhearing Zimzod's side of the conversation, the Knight driving him said he was certain the Order could find them a navigator.  Zimzod thanked him for the advice and asked if there might be news tablets at the hospital?  The Knight considered that and said they likely had a "borrow and return" service at the hospital's gift shop.  After the Knight dropped Zimzod at the hospital he made the calls to start a candidate search.

Security recognized him as Zimzod entered the hospital, and deferentially stepped up to ask if he wanted to visit Lady Mikah or Sir Rol first?  When he asked to see Mikah first, they brought him to a semi-room off the recovery area where the space around her had been "made private".  Her bed was propped so she was sitting up and she was watching the news on a wall screen.  The current stories were a blend of the shootout and the rising public discontent over the apparent breaches of security happening throughout the system.  While interviewed commoners were not speaking out against the Duke, they were speaking out against the ministries responsible for security, law and order in the system for the first time in some time outside open war.  Some were even demanding resignations.

Zimzod entered the area and the first thing Mikah noticed, and approved of, was that he was wearing a holstered weapon.  Then she looked a bit closer and realized it was the Darrian pistol they all thought had been stolen from Zach!  Caught in a spasm of uncontrolled laughter despite the pain it caused, Mikah also struggled to get out, "You had it all this time?  Awesome!" before trying to master the pain because she couldn't control the laughter.  Pointing at the screen, Zimzod said, "See?  You don't need me to make the news." in a tone Mikah could only think was chiding because he'd missed all the fun.  He complimented her for the mayhem they caused, and she thanked him while admitting she'd learned from "the best", with a nod back at him.

Getting control over herself, Mikah admitted she didn't remember much and asked in a hopeful tone if she'd killed Zach?  Zimzod answered, "Um, I wasn't really there.  So you remember even less than you thought you did."  He did tell her she called him after the shootout and she said she remembered that.  Zimzod told Mikah she didn't actually kill Zach, saying, "Life is full of disappointments and you're still young."  Mikah agreed with him and Zimzod suggested she start capturing news files so that, when they got old and possibly had kids and grandkids, she could show them the news stories from back when they were cool.  Mikah joked that they had to get married first.

Asking for more details on the gun fight, Mikah asked if Emkir shot Aiden again, saying Aiden needed to balance out his backside.  Zimzod said Aiden hadn't been shot at all.  That gave Mikah something to aspire to, and Zimzod suggested she could shoot him when she got out of the hospital.  Mikah admitted she needed a goal to work towards.  They then talked about Rol and the rest of the crew.  Zimzod told Mikah he'd told the rest of the crew to clamp down on talking about classified issues after a "visit from the florists."  While talking, Zimzod gave Mikah the thermos of coffee and Mikah told Zimzod to give Aali the lanthanum and diamond ring when he got Zach's personal effects back, instead of having it disposed of with his body.

That got Mikah asking if anyone had started planning Zach's funeral?  Zimzod said he'd started working on getting them a new navigator and Mikah admitted that was good.  Zimzod said he'd reached out to the Order, to see if they had anyone to recommend in-system?  Mikah also told Zimzod to check with the Order on an engineer, since Aali needed help too.  Zimzod agreed, and they shifted talk back to Rol.  Mikah asked and Zimzod said Rol was worse off than she was.  Mikah said it would teach him to carry a weapon, since he had the right to.  Zimzod said he'd reinforce that and asked Mikah if she wanted him to poke Rol's wounds a bit when he visited the man?  With a smile on her face, she said he should, to make sure Rol remembered the lesson.

Getting back to her condition, Mikah was told she wasn't in a room because they weren't admitting her.  They planned to release her later that day, since none of her organs were damaged.  After some observation to make sure there were no infections.  Her doctors had implanted several bio-degradable sensors to detect any warning signs.  These would work for the next few days, sending them telemetry before degrading and being excreted out.  So Mikah told Zimzod she'd be back at the ship later that day.  Zimzod told her he was going to steal a cup of coffee from the thermos for Rol.

After they finished up, Zimzod had an orderly lead him to Rol's room, and found the Knight quite a bit more pale than he'd been before.  Zimzod was impressed Rol rated a private room, but had to admit there were questions about security with the attack.  There were no medical personnel in the room at the moment and, as Rol looked up, Zimzod joked, "Wow dude.  I was just gonna ask who the cadaver was?"  When Rol said, "Yeah, they wheeled him out this morning", Zimzod said, "No, I was talking about you.  You look horrible."  Zimzod then offered Rol the cup of coffee and Rol accepted, sipping at it.  When Rol asked where it came from, Zimzod said he bought some from the Order.

Rol asked what was going on and Zimzod joked, "I don't know if you know this but, you got shot."  Rol admitted he remembered, and said he was working on his dodging.  When Zimzod said he had to get better at it, Rol agreed and Zimzod joked, "Get that dodge down even if it kills you."  When Rol asked about Zach, Zimzod first said, "Umm, A lot worse than you."  When Rol said he hoped Zach didn't mind him grabbing the man's gauss pistol, Zimzod said he didn't think Zach would mind and even said Rol could probably keep the weapon.  When Rol asked "Really?" in surprise, Zimzod told Rol Zach had been killed.

Rol asked about the rest of the crew and Zimzod told him about Emkir and Mikah, but pointed out he seemed to have been the bullet magnet this time.  Considering that, Rol admitted he'd learned his lesson.  He said that from then on, "Every time I go out now...grenades." which got a laugh from Zimzod.  Of course, Zimzod punctuated that by poking Rol's bandages and saying "Yeah.  Remember that."  With Rol reacting to the twinge, Zimzod delivered Mikah's reminders to carry a weapon, poking Rol a couple more times to drive home the message.  Zimzod told Rol Mikah had told him to poke Rol for "Em-pha-sis".  Then, Zimzod poked him again saying, "That one was for me.  Because it's just fun."

When talk turned more serious, Zimzod said Rol would be held for another day or more.  Zimzod found he had more information than Rol, since the doctors hadn't talked with Rol about releasing him.  While Zimzod explained what he'd been told, an orderly arrived followed by a robot electronically tied to a belt sensor she wore.  After she introduced herself, and confirmed Zimzod's ID, she entered a code into the robot's keyboard and opened a slide-out shelf on the unit.  From that, she pulled out a clear shrink-wrapped packet.  Rol could see the packet contained all of his belongings, since he had not had weapons with him.  A printed note on the packet told Rol the weapon he had been holding would be returned to his ship by station security as a restricted item.

After returning Rol's effects to him, she then entered another code and withdrew another packet.  She handed it to Zimzod saying, "These are the effects belonging to Sir Zachariah Wood.  Receiving the plastic-covered flat panel, Zimzod looked over the items making sure everything valuable he could remember Zach having was there.  Especially the lanthanum ring.  While he did that, the orderly respectfully told Zimzod Zach's body was in stasis in their morgue, and the hospital was waiting on their instructions.  On Zach's body, Zimzod said he had to wait and speak to the Duke, to see if His Grace or their Chivalric Order wanted to have a special ceremony?  After finishing his visit, Zimzod left Rol to wait for his next visit from the doctors.

A Brief Crew Meeting

     As Aali worked to commune with the stent, trying to sense the objects needed to connect to other systems, she also spared a thought on how important it was to get another engineer.  One factor she considered was the real possibility she could have ended up in the hospital.  If that had happened, there'd have been no one to run engineering or manage Wall-e.  Not to mention any other 'droids they bought.  So, she made it a point to bring that up when the crew were back together.  Ironically, Zimzod had found the Knight who'd driven him to the hospital had waited to provide him a return ride too.  Riding back to the berth, Zimzod asked the man to have the Order look into an assistant engineer too.

Arriving at the berth, the Knight got a buzz on his comms and, after a brief chat, told Zimzod the Order was sending someone over to interview as a navigator.  He described the man as looking to hire on as a navigator since his discharge from the IISS.  The Knight said they didn't have anyone in the Order in-system for the ship's engineering job, so they were widening their search to check the hiring halls.  They did bounce Zimzod a picture and short bio on the navigator, named "Sir Terin".  After being told Terin was a racial Darrian, Zimzod was surprised to see a shorter dark haired man with a dark and ruddy complexion.  Zimzod was more familiar with the tall thin fair-haired Darrians.

In his rented room in the Order's hostel, Sir Terin was newly awake and had checked his messages and the news before starting to work on his gear.  He was in the midst of gear maintenance when a brother Knight knocked on his door.  Terin answered and was told to put on his fancy clothes and get ready for a job interview.  Terin asked, "Oh really?" and was told he would be interviewing with the Hotel California.  Terin said he'd get ready as the older Knight Captain leaned in a bit and said, "Yes.  You want this gig."  Considering his wardrobe, Terin decided to wear his Cr 1,000 suit after cleaning up a bit.

In his quarters, former Scout Munarshu Sidigur was reviewing a number of help wanted sites when his comms buzzed.  Not recognizing the ID code the message had been sent by, he considered that it could be a job and opened the message.  Reading the header data, Munarshu saw it came from a representative from the "Order of the Knight Defenders of the Marches".  Never having heard of them, Munarshu checked the computer's library data and saw it was an Imperial Chivalric Order.  That was interesting, because he was sure he'd never worked with them officially.  But, as he read the message, they were asking him to present himself at a berth for an interview if he was interested in a position with a ship seeking an assistant engineer?  The ship's name, the IMS Hotel California, seemed familiar, and the message said it was the personal yacht for some nobility.  That sounded right to Munarshu, who figured it should pay well and be comfortable.  So, Munarshu send back and acknowledgement and arrogantly said he'd accept the job.

Aali was starting to make the first connections with the mental widgets connecting her to the stent's systems when Emkir started waking up and going through his morning routine.  He was a bit more careful, not to stretch the wounds.  Out in the lounge, realizing it was near 11am, Emkir found Aali apparently doing some kind of meditation thing.  He waved his hands before her "zoned out" expression saying, "Hi honey" with a concerned tone.  When Aali responded and Emkir asked what she was doing, Aali tried to both maintain her concentration and give him a basic explanation.  Realizing the wider applications for the stents, Emkir asked, "Oh!  You mean they're useful for more than one thing?"  He'd assumed they were specialized for cloning.  When she nodded, Emkir realized she had to concentrate and left her to her thoughts as he greeted Aiden and went to grab a foil-pack from the galley.

Aiden had eaten earlier and then settled down to watch the news.  Soon enough, Inger got off the comms with the port and joined him until Zimzod got back to the ship.  Aiden and Inger watched more of the news than the others and he was entertained more by the commenter's crazy theories and various interpretations than the others.  This led to his own doom-laden misinterpretations too, as time passed until Emkir emerged from his stateroom.  Zimzod returned while Emkir started cooking his meal and Emkir asked if he'd been to the hospital yet?

Zimzod said he had and Emkir asked how the others were?  Zimzod said they were good, and smiled evilly as he told Emkir he'd given Rol a few pokes at the bandages to make the point stick.  After a few jokes about Rol's apparent lack-luster weapon choices in the past, Emkir asked when they'd be coming back to the ship?  Zimzod said Mikah would be back later that day and Rol was recovering even if he did look a bit pale and cadaverous when he'd arrived.  Emkir was about to ask a few more questions when Zimzod decided it was time to call everyone together and have a crew meeting.

Calling for everyone's attention, Zimzod put an end to Aali's stent work when she'd just started making the first connections to the widgets she wanted to use.  When they were all settled, Zimzod went over the medical reports first.  He then told them they had a navigator coming to interview to replace Zach.  Zimzod also said they were looking for an engineer, which pleased Aali before she got her chance to ask for the same.  She did say she'd meant to bring that up when the time was right.  Zimzod suggested they could also look for a cook, and Emkir pointed out Zimzod would have to marry Mikah and move into her stateroom to make room.  While that was being said, Aali briefly thought of the personal services android they'd seen in the base consignment shop, which could be programmed to cook.

When Inger asked, "Why can't Rol cook?", Zimzod said "Because he's in the hospital, shot."  Aali and Inger both said he'd be getting out of the hospital soon.  But then, Inger continued the thought saying, "Although...  If you shoot him again, he will go back."  While the speculation went on for a few beats, Zimzod lifted a vacu-formed pack he'd been carrying, which had a number of personal items contained, in one hand and his kbar in the other.  Briefly cutting into the plastic cover, Zimzod freed the lanthanum ring and rubbed at a bit of the obvious blood before holding it out to Aali saying, "Here you go.  You get a crew ring by default."  Aali accepted the ring, knowing she could afford to have it sized properly to fit her.  Still, she looked for something to tie around her neck and hang it from, to not lose it "for now".

Done speaking his piece, Zimzod asked if anyone else had anything and Inger told them the port was enhancing security in the concourse they were berthed in.  She told them the port's security cameras had been instrumental in tracking the thugs back to their quarters.  So station security were working their way through the lives of the five men, along with other law enforcement.  But they didn't have much to report yet.  She also told Zimzod the port had volunteered to provide facilities and personnel for any services they planned to have for Zach.  And that brought her to her own questions as she asked, "So, um, what are we gonna do with Zach's body?"

Zimzod said that, at the moment, Zach's body was "on ice" in the hospital's morgue and the others waited to find out if there were plans?  Zimzod said that after Mikah was back, later in the day, they could all sit down and discuss it.  Zimzod admitted to not bringing that up purposefully even though..." as he raised the now cut-into packet of personal effects.  While he'd made his comments, the weapon on Zimzod's hip caught Emkir's eye and the Admiral said, "I think I've seen that somewhere before."  With attention now drawn to the Darrian pistol, Inger also realized what it was, and she said, "Oh yeah...  I wondered what happened with that?"  She left it unsaid that they'd all thought it stolen by the pick pockets who'd been "working the party" that night on Inthe.  "I'm sure Zach did too."

Zimzod laughed and said he was sure Zach did, while Aali had no idea what the others were talking about?  Emkir just leaned over and told Aali he'd explain after the meeting.  Aiden could only sit and laughed at all the comedic responses running through his head.  Holding his hands up defensively, Zimzod said, "I honestly was gonna give it back to him.  I was just waiting for the right time."  But the smile on his face as Emkir said, "Yeah, that's what they all say." didn't help.  The tiniest bit hurt, Zimzod protested, "I was!" but the point had been lost.  When Inger asked if he had planned to shoot Zach with it, Zimzod first said, "Let this be a lesson.  Don't fall asleep with a weapon."  Zimzod brightened up and said, "You know?  That could have worked!" and lamented she hadn't made the suggestion when Zach was alive.

On that note, Aiden suggested they have Zach's body taxidermied so Zimzod could shoot him from beyond the grave.  After the laughs that got, Zimzod got serious and started asking about Zach's homeworld, Gothe?  Not familiar with the system, Zimzod wanted to know if anyone else knew anything about the world?  Eventually, they consulted the ship's Library Data to find:

    Gothe/Five Sisters (E22159B-6  Ni Po  310  Im  F5 IV)
       With no assigned nobility, the system is under both the Imperial Naval
       administration of the Five Sisters Subsector and the Imperial Ministry of
       Colonization, which extended a bureaucracy in-system governing the new Colony.
       Periodic Imperial Naval and Scout patrols vs piracy and Sword Worlds activity as
       well as some Darrian observation

       Discovered between 70 & 100(3I), Gothe was a small diameter, barren
       world with a, technically, vacuum atmosphere(Very Thin, Tainted with Argon)
       in Orbit 5, just inside 3AU's from the primary.  It would be a Dry World
       with a northern polar ice cap covering 9% of the surface, if it were not
       so frozen.

       Despite oddities, and due to basic assumptions and very little to exploit,
       the world was forgotten until after the Third Frontier War.  The modern
       population use the polar ice cap for hydrogen, to power TL-A plants and unrefined
       fuel for the starport and the system's small population of belters.

       Today's Gothe was part of the Imperium's "frontier combined strategy" of
       "Fortification" and "Improved Intelligence".  The system, due to its
       proximity to the Sword Worlds Confederation, serves a strategic purpose.
       Though completely undefendable, the system could provide early warning
       in the event of invasion, as fleeing ships warn more important worlds
       before strike fleets reached further into the Subsector.  Economically,
       it's been suggested a potential starport upgrade could open trade between
       Five Sisters worlds and the rimward Darrian worlds, creating a J-2 route
       passing through Gothe.  This has remained speculation though the system
       has increased the recruitment of starport professionals in a drive to
       re-vitalize the system.

       The Imperial Ministry of Colonization(IMoC) has created a bureaucratic
       office on-world and left many expansion issues to the population to
       resolve, unless they led to violence.

       Unprotected outdoor exposure requires a pressure suit and compressor/
       filter breathing gear.  The filter to strain out the argon taint
       and the compressor to pressurize the very thin atmo.  Even so, it's
       not recommended humans stay exposed beyond several hours without fluid
       reclamation gear or a light vacc suit.

Disposing Of Zach

     Going over the data on the Gothe system, Zimzod saw the distance might be an issue if they wanted to return Zach's body to his family.  To get there, they'd have to cross nearly the entire sector from riftward to spinward.  And, they'd have to pass through or avoid some Border Worlds systems.  In the end, they'd end up just at the edge of the Imperial border with the Darrian Confederation.  They also would be in a backwater system not far from the remaining Sword Worlds border.  Still, they could take jobs as they went and make back some of the money they were spending if not make a profit.  Inger said it would also be a rare chance to see someplace where they might actually respect Zach.  That got a few laughs.

Talking about it, they knew they could put his body in a stasis tube.  The trip there would take just over two months on the most direct route.  Aiden said he could take them to the Caladbolg system, where his ship fought the invading Joyeusi Fleets at the start of the Fifth Frontier War.  Other routes might take an extra week or more, but would avoid a stop in the Border Worlds system of Biter.  Trying to avoid the Caladbolg system would require them to go further rimward and pass through some independent worlds in District 268.  of course, they were not at all respectful of Zach while talking, and made lots of jokes about stuffing the body, or even bronzing it and mounting it in various disrespectful poses on the ship's bow.

Still, Zimzod admitted he had wanted to wait until Mikah was back before desicing anything on the issue.  He said he'd been thinking about shipping Zach's body back to his family.  When he said that, Emkir, Aali and Aiden all mentioned the costs of their various recent xMail experiences.  Especially Aiden, who had to have his snub pistol shipped to him from Mora.  When they pointed out the significant costs involved, even of they had Zach cremated, they realized that "going there" would cost more but allow them to make some, if not all, of that back.  Also, there was no guarantee someone would be there on the far end to pick up Zach's remains if the situation in Gothe had changed.  That would mean they wasted the money spent.

Aiden also said the Gothe system wasn't even on a trade route.  So the package would wait until a certified carrier stopped in the Mirriam system to carry the package to Gothe for delivery.  Of course, there were more jokes about compacting Zach's body.  Aali even suggested that they could have Zach turned into an "Indifference" stone for shipping, where some corpses were turned into "Love" or "Hate" stones.  When she heard that, Inger asked, "Don't you mean an incompetence jewel?"  Talking about certified message carriers, it was said they could even become certified themselves.  If they had the required xMail safe installed in their cargo bay, they could get paid to carry mail off the trade routes.  That would increase what they could make back from their costs if they carried Zach's body to Gothe in the first place.

When they looked up regulations for becoming a certified message carrier, they saw that all ships were limited to a maximum of 5 tons of cargo space.  That prevented 'theft of the mail' from becoming a major crime.  It also prevented one ship from clearing out a station's bulk and parcel shipping to create a monopoly.  That meant more work for all the certified ships, keeping them funded.  Payment for carrying these shipments was paid at Cr 5,000 per ton carried.  So, if the Hotel California were fitted with a 5 ton safe, and carried a full load, she would earn Cr 25,000 for that jump.  When they compared that payment with the Cr 37,500 cost to fill their fuel tanks, this was starting to look like a very good deal.

Making Space For A Navigator

     The crew meeting came to a close with the definite understanding they were going to have to do "something" about Zach's body.  About then, there was a buzz at the berth entrance.  Zimzod checked the camera feed from the berth entrance, and he saw two men waiting.  One of them was Knight Commander Baron Sir Akamke Ubum Iikimkhirsa Trekera, Primary of their Order.  Despite his very busy schedule in his offices on Rhylanor Prime, Commander Trekera was at their berth entrance with the short dark haired Darrian whose picture he'd been sent as a possible navigator.  Zimzod hit the talk stud and welcomed the pair, while also hitting the entry stud to unlock the door.  Letting them board, Zimzod checked his comms to refresh himself on the guy.  Zimzod also saw there was another message, and that had the picture of a tall clean-cut type who was coming to interview as an engineer.

Zimzod met the two men at the air lock as they arrived from the berth, and welcomed them aboard.  He also noticed how dressed up they were.  Zimzod led them into the lounge and everyone formerly greeted the Baron.  He introduced them to "Sir Terin Yundis Geryen".  Despite the man's nice suit, his hair was just a bit disheveled and his "decent job" at shaving had not completely hit a few spots.  Zimzod asked for his qualifications and Sir Terin bumped Zimzod his resume before giving a basic description of his service in the IISS and generally discussing his skill certifications.  The questions went back and forth, and Sir Terin proved himself sometimes limited in communications skills when put on the spot.  Commander Trekera leaned in with a relaxed tone and said, "He's trained, combat experienced and combat decorated.  I figure he can handle what you need for a navigator."

Accepting the Baron's recommendation, Zimzod asked more specifically about his navigation experience?  Terin talked a bit about his skills and even discussed the ability to plot jumps to LaGrange points in systems.  This was something they'd heard Zach talking about when he was training Aiden.  But Zach had made it clear it had been beyond his skills.  So, this Sir Terin was obviously more able than Zach had been.  Impressed enough with his technical skills, Zimzod asked about Terin's combat weapons skills, meaning ship's gunner.  Terin misunderstood and answered, "I'm not up to your level of expertise but I was standing guard outside your ship last night.  You know, combat armor, gauss rifle, snub pistol.  When Zimzod corrected and asked about ship's weapons, Terin admitted he had no skill in those at all.

Trying to inject humor as he asked, Zimzod said, "What's your lead tolerance?  We sometimes get a lot of that around here."  Having heard of this crew's exploits, Terin admitted, "Hopefully I'll be back on the boat when lead starts flying."  Despite that, Zimzod decided the new guy would work out.  He sounded like he knew his job and wouldn't get in the way of things he didn't know.  So Zimzod said, "You sound like you'll work out.  I like you already, kid."  Terin said, "You can call me Geryen[ gear-yen ]."  When Lady Mikah would later be introduced to the new navigator, she would recall a food item from her childhood called a "gherkin", which was a pickled vegetable of some sort.  From then on, Her Ladyship's official name for Geryen would be "Gherkin Boy".  At least, until he proved of value or she changed her mind about nicknames.

When this caused a bit of confusion, the Knight said that was his "personal name", for crewmates, family and friends.  Past his names, Zimzod knew standard pay for a navigator was Cr 1,000 a month.  He knew he could offer that as a flat salary, but could offer anything from "no salary and a cut of any ship's profits" to any deal in between.  Of course, if he offered Sir Terin a percentage, he had to explain what the ship had earned in the last year plus, during which they'd been given the ship.  Getting down to it, Zimzod said, "OK, I know this job typically pays Cr 1,000 per month.  But we'd like to offer you Cr 500 a month plus a cut of what the ship brings in."  Zimzod then explained that the ship didn't often make money, but when it did it made "butt loads" of money.  Having heard of the ship's exploits, and knowing a bit more of the dangers involved, Terin counter-offered, "How about Cr 1,000 and a percentage?"

Inger couldn't help herself as she commented that he appeared to be getting a bit greedy.  Terin pointed out that they had said the ship didn't make money often.  Zimzod pointed out again that when it did, it made a lot of money as he showed off the income from the Tellona Diamond.  That impressed Terin, who knew those didn't come around very often.  At that, Aali jumped in saying, "I hired on for next to nothing, but I had other reasons for wanting to be on this ship."  When Terin asked, Aali explained that she had been trying to catch up to Emkir before they were married, and he was already crew aboard.  She also ignored the fact that her "next to nothing" was the Cr 1,000 a month Terin was asking for, but he didn't know that either.

Checking out Dame Inger's looks, Terin asked, in a joke, if marrying into the crew was considered a regular thing aboard?  Inger's tart response was cut off as Aali suddenly said, "I don' think that would work as you don't have a tail."  Riveted to the deck by the comment from the newest crew member, Inger both wondered if she'd ever live that down?  And, how she might show her displeasure to Aali in a way that would teach her some respect?  Ignoring that, Terin started negotiating based on his skills and experience.  Eventually, he and Zimzod settled on "Cr 650 a month and an equal share of any profits the ship earned."  With that done, they agreed and Terin signed on the Hotel California.

After that, as Terin said he needed to sign out of his rental and get his gear, Zimzod told everyone else they had to help clear out Zach's stateroom into the ship's locker.  Emkir was told to work on the light stuff only, due to his wounds.  And as the crew helped clean out Zach's belongings, they saw:
     a Gauss Rifle with some sort of electronic sights and sort of laser designator
     with 200 Rounds in 5 Magazines, Long Arms case and Long arm Cleaning Kit

     a TL E Gauss Pistol with 180 rounds in 12 magazines

     a TL 8 Snub Pistol with
        80 Rounds Ball Ammo(4 Magazines/20 rounds each)
        24 Rounds Tranq Ammo, (4 Magazines, 6 rounds each)
        20 Rounds HEAP, ( 1 Clip )
        20 Rounds HEAT, ( 1 Clip )
        20 Rounds Acid, ( 1 Clip Highly Illegal in the Imperium )
        Side arm Cleaning Kit

     a Dagger with sheath

     a TL 9 Plastic Knife with sheath

     a Blade storage case for 2 blades

     Sealed Combat armor with a HUD and other installed electronics

     Web Harness ( for off ship excursions )

     Backpack ( TL 4 )

     TL F Tailored Vacc Suit with PLSS, 2 OxyTanks, 5 Magnetic Grips,
        5 packs of Suit Patches[ 5 count 10cm sq ]

     TL D Survival Bubble( 2M Diameter )

     His Clothes ( including Nomadic Robes from Jae Tellona/Rhylanor )

     a TL B Multi-Channel Scramble capable Long range Comm Unit
     a 5,000 km range TL E Ear piece ComUnit( TL E )

     some kind of Atmospheric Tester

     a pair of Electronic Binoculars with built in functions

     a Hand Computer with integral services and an added Processor & Memory module
     an eReader Datachip storage binder

     a Holographic projector encyclopedia of known and theorized artifacts in the universe
        from the Spinward Marches Museum of Mysteries and Research Center, Mora

     Silver cuff links, stays, bootiner, Chronograph, Fob, Paper Money clip,
        credChip Holder and tie tack, Belt with silver buckle

     a MedKit (TL C, Darrian)

     a polished lump of Crystal with an embedded bushing suspended in it

     Duke Leonard of Rhylanor's Commemorative Coin from the Knighting of Sir
        Rol Kaihvos

While moving the gear, Zimzod grabbed the medical kit.  Emkir saw the flexible plastic blade and scabbard that had been Brian's in the ship's locker and decided he'd like to have that, in case he had to sneak a weapon into a situation?  Given how tall he was, the crew knew no one would be able to use Zach's old combat armor for anything other than to sell it, or cut it up for spare parts.  The same went for his vacc suit, though the PLSS could be kept as a spare.  Zach's TL B Multi-Channel Scramble capable Long range Comm Unit was set aside, to give to Sir Terin when he returned with his gear.  So he could connect to the team's comms frequencies.  Aali eyed the gauss rifle, which had had some after-market add ons.  She decided to put it in the ship's locker until she could investigate it further.  Dame Inger grabbed the dagger and sheath and carry case, since no one else was excited about them.

Yet Another New Guy

     After an hour of working, the crew had everything moved and agreed to wait to talk to Rol about the combat armor and vacc suit before deciding what to do with them.  During the end of the operation, they got a buzz from the berth entrance and Zimzod saw the guy the Order said was a possible engineer.  Zimzod also noticed he was pulling a set of tool boxes behind him.  Still, he was dressed for an interview so Zimzod let him in.  Escorting the guy, Zimzod eyed the three tool cases and wondered what the guy's deal was?  The man, whose name was Munarshu Sidigur, said, "I hear you need an engineer?"

Zimzod said they were currently interviewing.  Quickly after that, Munarshu said, "No more interviews.  I'm here." in a matter of fact tone that only made the words that much more arrogant.  Zimzod relaxed a bit and said, "Why don't we sit down with the chief engineer and discuss that?"  He then got Aali introduced as she started asking about Munarshu's experience?  Munarshu said, "I've flown in just about everything the Scout service would let me aboard." and Aali said, "Same here."  Aiden noticed that he'd said "flown in" but never said anything about landing successfully.  Of course, he wasn't interviewing for a pilot's seat as Aali checked out Munarshu's resume.

After nearly half an hour of questions, answers and impressions, Aali pronounced the guy worth hiring and turned to Zimzod as the acting Captain.  Zimzod offered the same initial deal he had with Terin, for either Cr 1,000 per month or Cr 500 per month and an equal share of the ship's profits.  When Munarshu asked about the ship's profit margin, Zimzod again began explaing when Emkir jumped in saying, "It could be anywhere from five million to zero."  When Munarshu asked, "Per jump?", Emkir started to say, "It depends on the mission..."  Munarshu cut him off asking, "Missions?  I thought this was a yacht?" with a hint of negative uncertainty in his voice.  Zimzod said, "You don't see us taking on passengers, do you MoFo?"  Munarshu said, "I thought I would be like one of four working on a yacht for a bunch of people well to do."

Trying to calm things down, Zimzod said, "Sometimes...  He actually put that out wrong." referring to Emkir.  Continuing, Zimzod said, "We take freelance jobs sometimes.  So some of these jobs pay, we'll get hired by somebody to locate somebody or as escort for something."  When Munarshu said he'd done a fair bit of scouting and was used to getting shot at Zimzod said he'd fit right in.  Munarshu considered the offer and said, "I can do five hundred." and was signed on for Cr 500 a month and a share of any profits.  After they hired him on, and before he went to get the rest of his gear, Munarshu asked for a tour and Aali offered to show him the ship's engineering section.

They passed Wall-e as Aali led him through the section, and she explained that was the rest of the engineering staff so far.  She also said they were bidding on some spare Naval android units.  When Munarshu guessed, from what she said, they might get one working and two that would have to be torn down completely to get anything working, Aali thought about getting to test the units on the pallet she wanted to buy.  She admitted his guess was slightly worse than her predictions though, but this didn't change her thoughts.  Munarshu recommended they perhaps spend some extra cash and buy a gen-3 astro'droid.  As they walked and talked about androids, Aali realized Munarshu's apparent specialized knowledge about androids might be useful.  So, she excused herself and pulled her comms to call Admiral Kiamman.

Of course, that set Munarshu back on his heels a bit as his new Chief Engineer casually pulled out a comms and called an extremely high ranking officer in the Imperial Navy!  As he listened, it even appeared Aali was asking the casually called Admiral for a personal favor!  On the line with the Admiral, Aali asked if it was possible they could take another swing through the android storage facility before the auction?  Admiral Kiamman comfortably said, "Sure", and asked Aali when she hoped to take this second visit?  Aali asked if it could happen that afternoon and Kiamman reminded her the orders had to be cut and sent.  Aali suggested the next morning and the Admiral agreed.  After the call was done, Aali said to Munarshu, "Tomorrow morning, you're coming with me."

Munarshu was so surprised, he simply asked, "could you free my planet?" and was further pushed back on his heels when, without asking any questions, Aali answered, "We'll get around to it."  Thinking better of it, as they continued the tour of engineering, Aali asked what system he was from and learned he was from the Mirriam system.  That brought two thoughts to Aali's mind.  First, she remembered it was the nearest system on a trade route to Zach's homeworld, if they were going to deliver the body.  Second, and of much less importance, Aali remembered that Mirriam was the system in which the singer Ardella Mestler died, setting off the most recent clone's rights issue.  Setting that aside, Aali decided to indulge in her biggest "non-Emkir" passion and invited Munarshu to talk politics.  She saved the evil laugh for later.

Touring the engineering spaces, Aali and Munarshu eventually got to the fuel purification plant.  When Munarshu plaintively asked why anyone would put the plant in the aft, far from the scoops, Aali told him they'd received the ship from Arch Duke Norris.  That tidbit begged more information about their relationship with the Arch Duke, and Aali said the Arch Duke also officiated at her marriage to Sir Emkir.  Hearing that, Munarshu began to realize he'd let them low ball him way too far on his monthly pay.  Added to that, she was part of a couple who had actually "gotten married".  Not a contract relationship.  This was a very strange relationship compared to the social contracts he was raised with.

Munarshu continued to learn just what kind of ship he was on, and how low he'd sold his soul to that ship, and asked about other benefits?  Especially medical coverage.  Aali happily told him their Captain was not only a doctor but a fully-rated surgeon.  Added to that, Aali doubled down on the benefits by saying they did manage to make very big scores from time to time.  To accentuate that point, Aali showed him the lanthanum ring and diamond chip.  At first, Munarshu's attention was only drawn to the lanthanum the ring was made from as any stone's value would pale in comparison.  But then, Aali explained the stone was a Tellona Diamond and changed the scale completely.  Aali said the ring had just been partial payment for one job they'd worked.  That put Munarshu's mind in the right frame.

When Munarshu got ready to go for the rest of his gear, Aali risked overselling it by explaining her chance to fire off nuclear missiles on her "honeymoon cruise", from Mora back to Rhylanor.  Where Aali heard herself talking fantasy experiences, Munarshu heard "stuck into a naval battle" and "taking ridiculous risks with their lives".  So, while he wasn't running for the hills yet, Aali had forgotten that money hadn't yet been exchanged and he could still flee for his life.  Still, by some strand of the bizarre, Munarshu actually decided he could handle the life offered.  He planned the transit, to get the rest of his gear while Aali updated the ship's access logs and crew manifest with the port.  Then she invited him to stay for lunch before getting his gear.

Resetting An Appointment

     In the hospital, Sir Rol was surviving his on-going care as he considered his situation.  Pulling over the bedside data terminal, Rol checked on where he was?  He decided this must have been the closest or best trauma and emergency hospital to where they'd been shot.  But it wasn't the hospital he'd scheduled his stent operation in, set for the next morning.  Given what the medical people and Zimzod had told him, he had to plan to still be under care for the gunshot wounds as an in-patient at that time.  So Rol thought about either getting transferred to that hospital or having the procedure done at this one.  Rol first tried to find a way to make the changes from the terminal he had, but soon found his options and access were limited.

When Rol realized he had to actually deal with someone, Rol called a nurse and explained his situation.  She said she'd call someone from hospital administration to help.  When that person got there, Rol said, "I realize you just patched a hole in me but I need another one put in me."  After Rol had the situation explained, the administrator admitted they had someone on-staff who could do the procedure but were not happy with the risk Rol would create, having another operation so soon after the shock his body had suffered from the gunshot wounds and surgery.  The administrator pointed out that a significant issue with his case had been blood loss.  But, if he was OK with having a full transfusion they could do it.

The administrator added that the risks of a full transfusion were a steep drop in antibodies and other healthy blood content his body had created.  But the blood supply was certified 100% clean, as it was produced on site using the hospital's marrow machines.  Considering that, Rol decided it might be best to put the stent operation off until after he was released.  Then, the Administrator made a play to steal the operation from the first hospital and get Rol to agree to have them do that as a follow on to his current treatment.  But all Rol would commit to at that point was to cancel the first procedure and consider rescheduling once he was ready to be released.

While the admin tech was still offering to daisy chain the procedure to his current care "when he was ready to be released", Rol and he connected to the original hospital and discussed the situation.  There was a transfer of records and discussion of the situation before Rol's stent procedure was canceled.  The tech at the other hospital did say they were required to notify Rol's insurance company, in order to let them know what was going on.  Rol was privately concerned about the increased risk he put himself in, as being shot might have an effect on his premium.  But he decided to take the chance because it was the safest route to go.

Following the advice of the hospitals, Rol next called his insurers to update them on the situation himself.  As he expected, they were less than pleased to find out they were insuring a client who was at the moment undergoing sudden treatment due to an attempted murder in a very secure system.  But papers had been signed and money taken.  Per the contract, they could only legally drop him for proven abuse, fraud or non-payment, and he'd paid a year in advance.  So they thanked him for the update and reminded him he still had the balance of his two-week grace period.  Failing to have the stent implanted during that window was also a cause to negate the policy.  After he completed that, Rol was served lunch as he relaxed and hoped for a recovery as predicted.

Settling In and Planning

     Aboard the Hotel California, and after the interviews ended, Aiden decided to spark up some comedy entertainment.  Zimzod called the port and added Sir Terin to the access lists as well as updating the ship's crew roster.  He then called Mikah to update her.  Mikah was Ok with the costs but had a hard time getting past "Terin the Darrian" before she settled on "Gherkin Boy".  Zimzod also told her about the topics raised at the crew meeting, like what to do with Zach's body and possibly becoming certified to carry xMail.  Zimzod did that, and Emkir thought he'd head back to bed and continue his recovery but found he couldn't sleep.  Not in real pain, and not wanting to take too many drugs, Emkir decided he was OK enough to stay up.  So he began preparing to cook lunch one-handed.  But When he volunteered to cook lunch, Inger volunteered to help him.

Finishing up their tour of the engineering spaces, Aali offered Munarshu a meal before he left to grab his gear.  Despite the offer of good food and getting to know the crew, Munarshu couldn't help but pay additional attention to Emkir's bandages.  They ate while Munarshu planned his move in his head.  The worst part would be calling for an armorer to move his weapons from their current on-station storage to the ship.  This would, sadly, cost some cash but it was the law in any high law level system.  Talking about jobs and work, Munarshu's non-noble status came up.  They realized he'd be the only person aboard the ship who was not a Knight.  When Munarshu asked about the actual nobility aboard, he was told Lady Mikah was in the hospital, but was reminded Knighthood was the lowest level of Nobility in the Imperium.  So, he was pointedly told the Knights were actual nobility.

After lunch, Munarshu moved off to recover his gear and Aali returned to working on using her stent.  Emkir and Inger cleaned up the galley and then Emkir decided to try to take a nap.  Aiden sparked up his eReader and did some recreational reading.  With time to relax, Zimzod considered the past few days and realized there might actually be something to this cloning stent thing.  Inger called the port to see if there was anything new on the investigation, but found there was nothing new to tell.  It was beginning to appear that Tarulli simply put the word out he had this wad of cash from his hiding place.

So, despite the complete job security had done ripping their lives apart, it appeared these five thugs pooled their resources, got some revolvers and figured they'd make the score with no definite method of finding Tarulli to collect.  The only positive results which might come from this in the short term were that the thugs might lead station security to an illegal weapons dealer or two.  But the hopes there had been a deeper plan seemed to have evaporated into the void.  Once done on the comms, Inger sparked up some K'kree - Hiver wars and relaxed with wanton naval destruction.  Not long after she got off the phone, Sir Terin arrived with his gear and began moving in to Zach's former stateroom.  Gear which wouldn't be appropriate in the stateroom, he put into the ship's locker.

After Cr 30 in bus rides from and to his rental unit, Munarshu called InstellArms to have his weapons moved to the Hotel California for a Cr 50 charge.  Getting his gear largely in his stateroom, Terin was looking for a tour of the ship about the time Emkir emerged again from his stateroom because he was unable to sleep.  With nothing better to do, Emkir took Terin around, showing him the ship's locker and other sights.  And while he knew what he was getting into, replacing a dead navigator and being given a tour by a wounded Admiral wasn't the most inspiring way to join a crew.  Still, the job promised a lot more freedom then even the Scouts allowed.

Of course, there were things even Terin wasn't ready for.  Hoisting his survival gear, in its pre-designed duffel bag, they went into the bridge to open the ship's locker.  In there, he saw a deflated sex toy as well as other stacked gear he assumed belonged to the late Sir Zachariah.  Not really prepared for that, Terin made sure to put his gear on the far side of the locker from the sex doll.  Finishing with that, Terin thanked Emkir when the Admiral offered him leftovers from the crew's lunch.  Grabbing a seat, Terin sat and he and Emkir talked.  In their stateroom, Aali was back at her stent exercises.  Zimzod figured he'd join Inger, sitting in the lounge and vegging out as she watched more Hiver - K'kree wars.  Aiden relaxed and read.

In her bed in the hospital, Mikah tried to relax and fight the impatience.  She also looked for entertaining vids on the hospital's system but couldn't find any variant of Hiver - K'kree wars.  Annoyed and wanting to leave, Mikah even considered checking herself out against advice but backed off because she did truly understand the risk.  In his room, Rol tried to nap and watched vids giving local color or covering the lives of those in different regions of Rhylanor.  He didn't fight things because he knew he wasn't getting out of the hospital until the next day at best.

Eventually, Zimzod made a decision about cloning, and he got up and comm'd TAS to begin the process of opening a cloning insurance policy.  When he got the tech on the line, they stepped him through the process and reminded him of those agencies and organizations others on his crew had used.  Like the others, Zimzod opened a policy with a Cr 2,400 payment for the coming year.  And like Rol, he was told his policy would begin on the first of the coming month so long as he got a stent implanted within the next two weeks.  He was reminded his premiums would be returned and his policy canceled if he failed to do so.  Zimzod said he'd get his stent implanted as soon as he could set things up with his ship's doctor.

After he was done with that call, Zimzod comm'd the Duke's Seneschal's office about dealing with Zach's death.  When the line was answered, Zimzod identified himself and was eventually transferred to a representative of the Duke's household.  They talked and Zimzod learned the Duke hadn't reached out to them because the investigations were really just starting.  So, the Duke would be speaking during whatever ceremony the crew planned for Zach's send off.  Throughout the conversation, Zimzod couldn't help but sense the relief of the man he was talking to because Zach was a problem he and his no longer had to deal with.

Still, Zimzod said the port had offered space for, and to perform whatever services the crew asked for.  When Zimzod asked, the representative assured him the Duke didn't want to dictate to the crew how they should treat the loss.  The staffer acknowledged the funeral would be a solemn occasion, as this was theater for the masses.  Zimzod still joked he'd have to cancel the bouncy-castle.  Done with that subject, the representative asked after their wounded crew, saying the Duke was interested but hadn't had a chance to investigate their condition.  Zimzod said Admiral Meshrumiikiim was healing back at the ship.  Lady Kirlim was due to be released later that evening and Sir Kaihvos was set to be released the next day or so.

Next: Recovery And Reorganization