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Hobbing With The Nobs

Dark Chocolate In The Darker Hours

Station     Those who went to the concert got back to the ship, without Zimzod, and Inger saw she had nothing to do the next day, and could sleep in.  Before she racked out, she asked if there was anything anyone wanted her to do the next day?  Mikah said she could pick up the newly tricked-out air-raft.  Inger agreed and asked Aiden about where he'd dropped the vehicle off?  After getting that, and a digital map how to fly the raft back, she looked up the shop.  Inger saw she could hire a driver to get her and the air-raft back to the ship.  With that decided, Inger went to sleep without setting her alarm, because she could pretty much get the air raft at any time.  So she could sleep in.

While Inger spoke to Aiden, Terin asked if anyone wanted tea?  He especially recommended it for those recovering from wounds.  He reminded those who'd taken some that he was doing research, and would appreciate their continued data.  Inger was the only person who thought having caffeine would be a bad thing before bed, and got her work done before doing that.  While Terin prepared the tea, Mikah reached into her purse and pulled out the wrapped piece of chocolate she'd saved.  Holding it up towards Aiden, she said, "Skippy.  Would you like some chocolate?"  Aiden noticed, and eyed the lump of candy she held in its wrappings before saying, "No.  I'm good, thanks."

Those who'd gone to the concert recognized the lump of chocolate gold while the others looked on, to figure out what it was Mikah had?  Shrugging, Rol said, "I'll have it if no one else wants it?"  Returning on his own to the ship in time to see the exchange, Zimzod remembered the rest of the chocolates in a berth office.  Zimzod didn't interfere, letting Rol have the one piece.  Instead, he went to get a full sub-division of the box for himself.  Leaving the ship for the berth, Zimzod checked the delivery box to find there were actually nine smaller boxes of candies inside.  One was missing because Munarshu had taken it.  Figuring Mikah wouldn't likely get any for herself, Zimzod decided to take a box each for himself and her.  But first, he compared all of the boxes, to confirm there wasn't a "special" box.  There were seven boxes left behind when he returned into the ship.

In the ship's lounge, those not at the concert saw Mikah holding up an apparent piece of chocolate which Aiden refused.  Emkir and Aali both saw the interplay between Aiden, Rol and Mikah, and also saw Zimzod's reaction to the candy and sudden departure.  Asking where the candy came from, Mikah said "My purse." with an evil smile on her face.  After that, Munarshu said, "My box." because he'd taken one of the subdivisions to the concert.  Emkir asked, "Where did the chocolate come from before it was in your purse and your box?" as he pointed from one to the other.

When Mikah matter of factly said, "Open Skies", Emkir shook his head from side to side in wonder as he asked rhetorically, "They were that glad to see Zach gone?"  while no one answered, Terin and Munarshu had to wonder what political trap doors that represented in the past of the crew they now worked with?  Still, the box Munarshu had held up as he answered their earlier question looked expensive.  Emkir and Aali both decided to go out to where they remembered the Open Skies delivery being stored and grab some chocolate themselves.  Crossing paths with Zimzod returning to the ship, they could see he had taken two boxes!

Looking at Zimzod, Aali asked, "Greedy much?" in an obviously disapproving voice.  Zimzod waved that off along with the jokes Emkir was starting to spout and said, "I'm grabbing a box for Mikah because she won't have time to get one herself."  Nodding as they passed Zimzod by, both Emkir and Aali thought the excuse was just too convenient but didn't really care.  When the couple stepped into the room and saw the seven remaining boxes, they took one each and went back to the ship themselves.

Mikah planned on checking the news while sipping her tea, before going to bed herself.  Seeing Zimzod return, Mikah noticed he had two boxes of chocolates and joked he was living dangerously.  Zimzod surprised her, telling her he'd grabbed the extra box for her.  He handed it off and she joked, "awwww, you're so sweet."  Aali and Emkir came back, and were surprised to see Zimzod had been telling the truth about the second box of chocolates.  They relaxed while Zimzod decided to watch the news too.

In the ship, Aiden thanked Terin for the cup of tea and sat reading for a bit before going to bed.  Aali and Emkir stashed the chocolate boxes in their staterooms before returning to the lounge where Terin was just ready to serve cups of tea.  After the tea, the couple decided the only things they wanted to get done before sleeping were each other.  So they went into their stateroom for chocolates fun.  Soon after they left, Zimzod suggested he'd like to watch some vids in his stateroom and asked if Mikah wanted to join him?

Having finished her tea, Mikah said "Sure" and they moved into Zimzod's cabin with their chocolates.  While they were only starting to see it themselves, despite the prank relationship they were creating to play with the minds of the crew, both actually had a growing interest in the other.  So, as they watched more K’kree vs Hiver destruction, the pair cuddled a bit more and got a bit closer.  Still, Mikah's belly wound kept them from getting "too active".  While they relaxed, Zimzod was disappointed they had no wine, despite all the hard liquor aboard.  So he planned to buy some for the next night.  Despite his plans, Zimzod did leave the stateroom to fish up a bottle of rum and a brown carbonated "sweet drink" to mix with it as they relaxed.

After finishing the chocolate he'd gotten from Mikah and his tea, Rol and Aiden relaxed as Terin cleaned up.  Munarshu had already drank his tea and racked out, leaving the three alone until Zimzod came scampering out to grab the bottle of rum and other supplies before returning to Mikah in his stateroom.  The others snorted as Terin quipped, "Thank the stars he was still wearing clothes." and didn't comment further on the obvious relationship between the two.  Rol did the math in his head and kept his comments to himself as he went to grab a box of chocolates.  He also grabbed one for the galley, leaving three boxes after that.

Seeing Rol stowing one box of chocolates as he returned, Aiden was finally ready to ask what the candies were all about?  In an innocent voice, Rol answered, "Nothing." and shrugged as he had no idea what Aiden was on about.  When Aiden made it clear he was talking about the boxes of chocolates, Rol said "We're just consoling ourselves over the loss of a comrade."  He then asked if Aiden wanted one and opened the box he'd grabbed for himself.  Aiden took a piece since it wasn't coming out of Mikah's purse in questionable wrappings.  After eating the piece, Aiden had to admit it was some of the best chocolate he'd ever had.  Soon after that, the others racked out for the night.


A Shiny Morning

     Munarshu's alarm rang, and he went through his morning routine.  By 6am, as Rol's alarm was ringing, Munarshu was in the dark and empty lounge.  He scrounged up a foil pack to cook along with some caff.  It was only as he sat eating and reviewed the day before that he remembered the crew had a cook!  And he realized he'd been getting up too early to enjoy a cooked breakfast.  But he still finished the foil pack as he considered waiting to at least sample Sir Rol's breakfast later.  After Munarshu finished eating, he sparked up a terminal and hit the UAC site in-system, to check on firmware upgrades for his electronic sights.

On their site, Munarshu found there were free updates to download.  So if he knew how, or had the services of an armorer, Munarshu could patch a cable from any terminal to his sights and update them.  After that, he burned more time looking into buying UAC sight systems for his other weapons.  While he could buy the sights, they were considered a "premium fitting" for their weapons by UAC.  So they didn't sell mounting kits for non-UAC weapons and wouldn't guarantee the sights would work accurately.

Having woken to his alarm at 6 am, Rol came to the lounge at nearly 7, to find Munarshu exploring the Rhylanori world-net and station-net.  The engineer seemed to be looking up weapons components of some sort.  What unsettled Rol was that his arrival gained him the engineer's complete attention as he entered the lounge.  Looking around, Rol figured Munarshu's interest wasn't food because he saw Munarshu had cooked a foil pack.  Figuring the direct approach was best, Rol asked, "What happened?"  When Munarshu asked, "With what?", Rol said, "With you." Munarshu said, "I made a mistake."  Rol asked, "With what?" and Munarshu said, "With you."  Still confused at the man's interest in him and lack of explanation, Rol wondered to himself first before asking, "What have I done to offend you?" in a confused tone.

Munarshu answered, "Nothing.  It was a miscalculation on my part."  At first, Rol verbally reviewed his charges for the work he done for the crew, but was stopped by Munarshu.  When Rol asked, "What's this about?", Munarshu aggressively said, "Food!"  Now, Rol was even more confused because Munarshu had already eaten.  Despite the confusing fragments of conversation Rol and Munarshu exchanged, it soon became clear the engineer had forgotten Rol was the cook aboard.  Rol said he'd better get around to cooking and Munarshu planned to eat some of Rol's breakfast, despite the foil pack.  While starting, Rol asked if Munarshu had eaten any of his cooking?  The engineer said he'd enjoyed some food the day before, and Rol nodded approvingly.

While waiting, Munarshu asked what Rol did on the ship other than cook?  The former marine said, "I, ah, ask people questions when they don't wanna answer.  I fix a lot of the protective gear people have on their ship and I pretty much shoot things."  When Munarshu asked, "Shoot things?" Rol said he was pretty good at that, and fixing their protective gear.  When Munarshu asked, "Protective gear?" Rol clarified, "Yeah, Armor."  Finally, during the chatter, Munarshu realized Rol was saying he was an armorer, in a round about way.  With that bit of knowledge, the engineer asked if Rol could help upgrade the firmware on his weapons?  Rol said he'd do it after cooking and cleaning up.

While they talked in the lounge, Mikah had woken in Zimzod's stateroom and slipped into her stateroom to do her morning routine.  When she emerged, Rol and Munarshu were chatting and eating.  Looking around, Mikah said, "Morning Gladys, Morning Rol."  Rol answered, "Hey.  Breakfast is served."  Mikah smiled and said, "Excellent." She sat to get a plate of foodand Rol asked, "Work up an appetite last night?" in a leading tone.  Mikah innocently answered, "No.  Why?" and Rol answered, "No reason."  Mikah said she was just very hungry.  Picking up another plate, Rol asked if he should set up breakfast for two and Mikah told him Zimzod wasn't awake yet, as she de facto admitted spending the night with him.

She said that while Inger and Terin came to the lounge from their staterooms, having woken and done their morning routines.  Rol offered the two breakfast and Terin began grabbing some space in the galley to make folks tea.  Not happy with his assumption of space at first, Rol gave way enough to let the Scout make drinks for the others.  As they chatted, ate and watched Terin at the autoServ's drink unit, Aiden came into the lounge and made it clear he wasn't quite awake yet.  This led to jokes about the possible effects of the chocolates from night before as Mikah asked what box he'd eaten from?  She got a great round of laughs as Munarshu finished his "secondzees" and went to get his weapons for Rol to update.

Inger, who was dressed casually, grabbed some left over chow and noticed the vid screens were turned off.  So she asked what was in the news?  Realizing they'd not turned on a news feed, Emkir said, "Let's turn it on!" and did so as Aali agreed.  Once the news was playing, the same old stories droned on without any new information.  Most notable of these, to the crew, were stories centering on Duchess Muktheswara of Glisten and her mysterious arrival in-system.  The crew listened a bit more closely to any stories that suggested any information on her activities.

And while Her Grace did not seem to be hiding, there was still no information on what she was doing in-system or how she arrived as quickly as she had?  The media had made significant progress in figuring out how she'd made it to Rhylanor when she did, from those systems where other media Suggested she had been present and very far away so recently.  These more fact-based reports supplanted more speculative or even accusatory suggestions the government had hidden secret far-jumping vessels that could go further than known ships.  Of course, these details suggested the Imperial Navy or government might have strings of J-6 ships "in position" so someone could get across the sector very fast.

Soon, as they ate, Munarshu came back into the lounge carrying a large and smaller set of very shiny gauss weapons!  At the same time, Aali and Emkir entered the lounge to be surprised by Munarshu's odd show of force.  Aali asked, "OK, what's up with that?" as Emkir asked, "Who you shootin' this morning?"  They both wondered what caused this morning to turn into a three ringed circus so early?  From where he sat, Aiden nonsensically chimed in, "That would be you, Emkir!" stressing the word, 'you'.

Making another joke, Mikah pointed at Aiden and said, "We have a cheek that needs balancing out", joking about the wound Aiden got when Emkir'd misfired his rifle.  As Rol joked, "Which one's the pistol?" and Munarshu held up the handgun with a smile, the others noticed they were very fancy looking, shiny weapons guaranteed to glitter and reflect light in the dark.  When Rol asked where Munarshu picked them up, the engineer stuttered through an attempted joke about taking them from someone he'd killed.  Emkir said they were very shiny and Aiden joked, "He has a big gun and a small gun so I can't tell if he's over-compensating or under-compensating."  Everyone in the compartment ignored him and the attempted joke.

As Rol checked out the weapons, he intentionally over-estimated, saying he could do the upgrades in an hour's time as Emkir asked if they'd missed breakfast.  Rol just pointed at the food set out, which the Admiral had obviously missed while watching the weapons-play.  As Rol finished cleaning up and went to his stateroom with Munarshu's weapons, Zimzod met him as he came into the lounge.  Seeing the very shiny weapons, Zimzod asked, "So what's with the ego masters?"  Rol said, "I'm performing a service for a crew member."  Zimzod asked who's the weapons were and Rol said "Him", pointing to Munarshu.  Looking at the engineer, Zimzod said, "OK, you.  You're not going on night ops with me.  Ever!"  Rol asked if Munarshu wanted the weapons blacked up and Munarshu said they were sapphire-coated to resist scratches and some kinds of blacking.  That kicked off jokes from those in the lounge, who largely agreed he "would be" on point for any night operations.

After all the jokes, Munarshu asked Rol to see what he could do about blacking the weapons while he worked on them.  In the meantime, Emkir and Zimzod both said the engineer didn't have a right to carry weapons anyway.  It scared the crew that Emkir and Zimzod were thinking alike!  Despite that, Inger said that, when weapons were needed, she doubted they'd be worried about what they were 'allowed' to do.  When it came down to it, they'd all arm up to stay alive.  So that was moreor less settled.  With his weapons were taken care of, Munarshu went for engineering, to do regular maintenance and check what Wall-e had gotten done?  Seeing the systems in more or less optimal condition, Munarshu spent some time making sure they stayed that way.

When Zimzod sat down to eat, around 7:45 am, the ship's comms began to go off.  Everyone worried why anyone would be calling the ship that early?  Mikah answered to find out it was the hospital, and was told they were "double-confirming" that the morticians had authorization to take custody of Zach's body?  Mikah thought to herself that they'd certainly shown up bright and early to get the corpse.  Realizing why they were calling, Mikah checked the file the morticians sent the ship and confirmed the workers were who she expected.  The hospital thanked her and ended the call.

Done with breakfast and cleaning up after, Inger said to those in the lounge, "I'm heading out to get the air raft.  Anyone want to come with?"  When no one wanted to join her, Inger called for a cab and relaxed for a bit before hopping into the vehicle and heading to the dealership for Cr 15.  On the way, Inger called the dealership to confirm they could provide a driver to help her get the raft back to the ship.  This was a simple thing and would cost Cr 50, but was a regular service the dealership had when customers wanted to buy a vehicle and have it delivered.

While eating, Zimzod decided he wanted to return to the virtual school where he'd been taking ship's gunnery classes.  When he told the others what he had planned, Mikah said she wanted to pick up her ship's pilot classes too.  So the two called for a cab of their own and waited, watching vids until it arrived.  Aali ate and then went down to check on Munarshu and Wall-e before getting back to work on figuring which of Brian's 'droid parts might be of value?  Having the 'droid model numbers for those androids they'd been told they could buy and those they were waiting on, Aali worked on pulling their parts lists.

After some time doing that, Aali compared the data with Brian's parts and spent a short time figuring what parts were out-right replacements or could be jury rigged replacements?  She planned to have Wall-e separate and store those parts they should keep while spending the rest of the day working on the rest of the auctions.  And while the available parts storage was basic, it would do until she could get some more protective parts storage.  Any free time she had, during breaks and such, she spent working on accessing and using her stent.

During his breakfast, Emkir remembered working with Doctor Pimiliseho about the Risek glyphs as he considered the books, but knew he had to get the book scanning done.  With a short list of five facilities, Emkir knew he could get expert help by reaching out to trusted friends.  So he picked up the comms and called Doctor Thrauld, of the University of Rhylanor, who the crew had worked with on the nomad data.  When the Doctor answered, he was pleased to hear from almost anyone from the crew, despite the early hour.  When Emkir asked, "Almost?" the doctor commented on one crewmember he said was whiney and disagreeably annoying.  Taking the hint, Emkir said, "Well, Zach's dead."  Doctor Thrauld was surprised but said, "Oh, he's dead?  Even better!" in a very satisfied tone.

Passed that, Emkir explained why he called and asked if the Doctor could help him with the five facilities he'd narrowed down to?  While Thrauld was up-front that this didn't touch on his research, he knew exactly who to connect the Admiral to, and asked Emkir to hold a minute.  After waiting briefly, the screen came back and Emkir saw two others had joined the conversation.  While the man and woman Thrauld had added were eager to hear what he had to say, Emkir could see this was a bit early in the morning, or late in the night, for them.  It was also very apparent the Doctor had told them about the subject, and given them a hint on the crew as the two started asking for details right off.

Emkir started with a generic description of the books as "antiquities they'd like to sell", and said the crew wanted to scan the books first.  And while he said he was betting the University would be interested in buying the books, Emkir asked if they could help him narrow down his decision on who to have scan them?  After a very quick consult with each other, the two agreed that they wanted to come to the ship to see the "antiquities" before making such a recommendation.  Sure they just wanted an excuse to see the books, Emkir was OK with that.  He hoped this might lead to some level of appraisal as well as helping spread the word about the books.

As they talked, one of the two asked, "So when can we come over?  We can be there in an hour", without waiting for Emkir to even invite them.  Telling them to hold on while he checked with his captain, Emkir muted the line and asked Mikah, who was getting ready to head to the school, if she wanted to meet with the academics?  Mikah said, "No, you do it.  If they're brave enough to come here..." Aiden finished the comment, "If they're dumb enough to come here, we'll go through the pockets as we loot the corpses." which got a laugh.

Getting back to the professors, Emkir said they could meet in the offices attached to the ship's berth.  Emkir mentally planned to move the books as he spoke.  With an hour to get ready when they cut the line, Emkir announced the up-coming meeting on all ship.  He then changed into a business suit and carefully moved the books down into an office off the berth.  While preparing, Emkir figured this would carry his day up to lunch.  Terin stepped over to Mikah,as Emkir left, and said, "Captain Mikah, we have to talk."  She asked "What about?" but could tell the navigator was trying to figure out just how to say what needed saying.

Terin said, "About these cybernetic parts", and reviewed his search for a legal way to sell them before saying he'd come up with nothing.  He did say he could recommend any number of illegal ways they could try to turn the parts into money."  When the look on Mikah's face wasn't promising, he joked acerbically, "Or we could just announce we've found them, and contact the Darrian consulate to see if they give us a reward?"  Terin's tone suggested he didn't hold out a lot of hope, but Mikah suddenly brightened up and said, "That's a good idea!  I like that."  Then she emphatically said, "Do that!"

Off To Do Some Shooting

     Working in engineering, Munarshu found there was actually very little to do.  He still did the work he had to, and updated the schedule for repeditive work to be done or systems to be re-checked in the future.  After that, Munarshu called a cab and called InstellArms to pick up his weapons and went back for a day of shooting practice.  While the cab cost him Cr 20, the engineer found membership had its advantages as the staff of the location waved the normal charge to make a range available.  After arriving, Munarshu bought Cr 200 in ammunition for one of his fifty-caliber pistols, shotgun and ACR.

After Munarshu paid Cr 50, InstellArms sent a courier to retrieve the weapons as the engineer was asked what he'd like to see?  Right off, Munarshu said he'd like to see advanced shotguns and he and his concierge were on a cart and on their way to the correct section of the facility.  There, the base shotguns were displayed in various chassis types.  The chassis Munarshu was interested in was a single-barrel, anti-recoil weapon with two ammunition feeds, each holding seven rounds.  That way, he could load two different types of ammunition so long asthey were 3.5 inch rounds.  The ammunition feed system was capable of automatic alternating or selectable feed with snap open loading ports and retractable magazine followers.

The design also sported a polymer receiver with integrated spring-loaded shell-feeding device, spring-assisted pin ejector and a fiber-reinforced slip-up stock/shell funnel.  The fiber reinforced butt plate had a one-inch recoil pad.  The steel-bolt body was precision machined and secured by three locking lugs, which quickly detached the sling from swivel mounting points.  For maintenance, no tools were required and field stripping could be done in 60 seconds.  The only fly in the ointment came when Munarshu asked for the UAC PDW-1120 integrated via weapon-sight interface.  When they checked on that, it was determined Munarshu could only get that sighting system if he got the UAC variant of the shotgun.

He asked and Munarshu was told the location did stock UAC versions of the weapon.  When he asked, they did carry them in various finishes too.  As well as flat black, Munarshu asked about camouflage and was asked what pattern of the many possible?  In fact, for an extra Cr 500, they had chameleon coated casings, which were the newest technology from UAC, while still sapphire coated.  Eventually, what started as a Cr 150 standard shotgun had grown to a Cr 700 weapon where a part of the pricing was certainly only due to the manufacturer's name.  This included the matte blacked casing but not the Cr 750 PDW-1120 integrated Sighting system, which made the total Cr 1,450.  For ammunition, Munarshu bought 500 rounds of 4 gauge steel ball ammo for an additional Cr 500.  After that purchase, his weapons arrived and Munarshu went into the ranges for shooting practice.

Upgrading The Sights

     Rol got into his stateroom to work on Munarshu's upgrade, which would really take him fifteen minutes at worst, and he checked the UAC website.  Rol found there had been two updates to the firmware since the sights were last updated.  So he could update the weapons.  Checking, Rol found the process was fairly easy.  All he had to do was connect a cable from the computer to the weapon's dataport.  After that, and after the computer recognized the chips in the weapons, Rol could activate a process that would interrogate the on-weapon software and query the firmware before handling the upgrade process automatically.  When that was done, Rol only had to re-secure the outer casing over the dataport.

When it came to blacking the weapons casings, Rol was less pleased.  Given the sapphire coated scratch and damage resistant shell, the manufacturers recommended owners bring their weapons to a UAC outlet in order to have them blacked if not bought that way.  Considering his options and reading up on "why" UAC said their recommendation made sense, Rol was interrupted by a buzz from the berth on the 'all ship'.  Setting his work aside, Rol headed down to the berth to find an InstellArms courier waiting and not carrying any boxes to deliver.  At the same time, Emkir stepped away from setting up the books and hit a comms stud to respond to the buzz.

When Emkir answered, "Hello?" he was told the man was here to pick up weapons for a Munarshu Sidigur.  Misunderstanding, Emkir told the courier to wait and got on the ship's comms saying, "Hey, Munarshu!"  So as Rol stepped up to see the man without packages and asked what the courier's business was, the man repeated, "Yeah, I'm here to pick up weapons for a Munarshu Sidigur?" in a confused tone.  Saying "Oh, really?" Rol asked for the man's Ident.  Rol confirmed that and pulled out his comms to call the engineer.  At the same time, Emkir didn't get a response from Munarshu so he comm'd Aali.  When she answered, Emkir asked if she knew where the engineer was and Aali said she didn't.  So Emkir hit the stud to talk to the courier again.

When Emkir asked again what the issue was, and as Rol heard and watched, the courier again said "I'm here to pick up weapons for a Munarshu Sidigur" while giving Rol a confused look.  Rol just hit the stud on the berth comms and said, "Emkir, I've got this."  Emkir thanked him before cutting the comms.  Having his comms out, Rol knew Munarshu was connected to the group frequency, but didn't have his personal comms number.  So he dialed the entire group and the comms of everyone in the crew lit up.

Mikah and Zimzod were in classes, so they didn't notice it until later.  Emkir answered with his trademark, "Hello?  Can you be helped?"  Inger was on her way back with the driver in the air raft and Aali working on the auctions.  Aiden was in the cargo bay and Terin was commenting in a forum as Munarshu answered and Rol explained why he hit the "all crew".  Rol asked for Munarshu's direct number while the others dropped off and Rol ended the all-users call, which ended the recordings on Zimzod and Mikah's comms.  Calling Munarshu directly, Rol explained the courier and asked where the engineer's weapons were?  Munarshu told him they were in the ship's and confirmed he'd authorized the transfer.

Finishing the conversation, Munarshu asked Rol to send ammo for the weapons with the courior so he could fire the old stuff and replace it with more fresh rounds.  When the call ended, Rol told the courier he'd be back to the berth entrance with the right equipment.  The InstellArms man moved his vehicle into place and began setting up a secure carry case as Rol went into the ship.  In the locker, Rol was treated to a display of Munarshu's weapons as well as Sir Terin's and the weapons left behind by Zach.  And, he saw Munarshu's weapons were locked in by thumb-print reader locks.  Realizing he didn't have the code Munarshu set, he saw he couldn't pull the weapons and ammunition.  Rol was just glad the moron didn't ask them to move the weapons he was working on.

Calling Munarshu back, Rol said, "You didn't tell me you thumb locked the weapons in." in an aggravated tone.  Munarshu apologized, and started saying the obvious, that Rol would need the over-ride code.  Rol pointed out, "I don't have your thumb here do I?" in a tone that suggested that could be solved without moving the rest of Munarshu.  The engineer just gave Rol the override and they cut the line.  Rol grabbed the weapons requested and brought them down to the berth entrance, where the Courier waited.  Back at the berth, Rol let the man in and watched as the driver carefully packed them and secured the package.  After he was finished, Rol gave the man a Cr20 tip and secured the berth when the Courier headed back to the ranges and Munarshu.  Rol went back to working on researching blacking Munarshu's weapons and read up on the upgrade process, to make sure he understood it and what could go wrong.

Rol also checked the "back out" process and did some research on posts others had made after following the steps.  Finally, he exposed the dataports on the weapons and connected them to the computer terminal in his stateroom.  After that, Rol activated the process and was asked if he wanted to carry out the upgrade manually or automatically?  Selecting "Automatic", Rol saw a message that the process would take five minutes and read the updates to the screen as he watched the progress bar.  When the process completed and confirmed its success, Rol shut the connections down and then tested the now-updated sights.  Forty minutes in, everything seemed done and Rol took the weapons to store them in the ship's locker.  After that, Rol watched local programming until lunch.  Beyond cooking lunch, Rol figured he'd just spend the day recovering from his wounds.

Dealing With The Parts

     Having his orders, Terin swallowed protests that he thought the crew wanted to make some cash on the components.  He confirmed the captain was giving him the authority to deal with it and accepted the assignment.  That done, Terin asked for the details on how the crew found the artifacts, so he could explain when asked.  That way, they wouldn't get accused of stealing them from somewhere.  Of course, Mikah remembered they'd gotten the box of parts out of the smuggler's cargo bay in the Risek system after bribing Marine Captain Leedor before he disappeared.  Reaching the same conclusions Mikah was, Zimzod, who was also present, said, "All we have to say is that we found them on some derelict transport."

Doubting that answer, and realizing the crew didn't have a clue on the subject, Terin told them the Darrians were so committed to finding any pre-maghiz technology that they wouldn't just accept that.  At the very least, they'd demand to know what kind of vessel the derelict was and both where and when the crew had encountered the hulk?  Zimzod first thought about claiming the data was classified, but quickly realized the Darrian government would want to know "who" had the information classified and want to request a declassification.  And when the government they pointed to said they had no idea what the crew were talking about, things would only get worse.

Eventually, as Terin wondered what the issue was with just saying where they got the box, Zimzod ignored him and said "We found the parts in the debris after fighting the pirates in the Rech system.  As personal possessions, they weren't listed in any of the reports provided by now-Captain Gadagush of the INS Tamesha Kargaa."  Mikah quickly agreed that was where they'd found the parts and told Terin he could go with that.  The Darrian was intrigued, since he'd only read about that point in the Knight's history, and this touched on the end of that period.  Still, thinking the issue settled, Mikah and Zimzod left to go to their classes and Terin sparked up the ship's comms.

After connecting to the consulate, Terin introduced himself and said he was calling from the Hotel California.  He then said he had something to investigate and had no idea who he needed to talk to?  When asked what the issue was, Terin said, "Well, I'm new crew on the ship and they have some...debris...that they picked up after a battle with pirates in the Rech system.  And it turns out it may be pre-maghiz.  Of course, as soon as Terin made that claim, the operator had him hold the line.  Soon, the receptionist was back with another person also cut into the line.  This new presence was a more reserved and experienced representative who Terin could tell held more authority.

The new man, a middle aged Darrian who's expression suggested significant experience, seemed, if anything, a bit bored.  He said, "So, you say you may have found some pre-Maghiz artifacts?  Do you have any pictures or video of these?"  Terin simply said, "How about I show them to you?"  When the man nodded, Terin stepped over to where the box was waiting on the deck.  He then lifted it and placed it next to the terminal where he could orient the open top so the terminal's cam could see inside.  While the operator who'd answered the phone was mildly interested in a view he couldn't appreciate, the older man took a moment to properly examine the scene Terin presented him.  He then asked if Terin could hold the line again for a few minutes?

When the line came live again, Terin saw there were now six people conferenced in from the consulate.  The operator was no longer one of them.  All the new arrivals seemed a bit less prepared for the start of their day than the middle aged man, still on the line, who'd been brought in by the operator.  The mix of Darrian representatives included two officers from the Darrian Navy.  They were likely military liaisons between the Darrian Confederation and Imperium.  Ready for a barrage of questions, Terin found himself assailed by silence as the entire group simply stared at the displayed artifacts.

Mikah, who had been just ready to leave, called out, "If you want it, come and get it."  One of the Darrian officers asked, "Are you offering to give these to us free of charge?"  His tone suggested that he'd seen this vid before and knew how significantly greed and avarice played into the story.  Zimzod and Mikah both said they expected there would be some sort of finder's fee.  The expressions of several of the six on the comms changed, suggesting their comment meant their expectations would be confirmed.  Despite that, several of them had muted their comms and talked before coming back on line to say, "We can certainly offer you a finder's fee."

With skeptical looks on the faces of some of those in the meeting, they asked how large a finder's fee the crew expected?  Zimzod called out, "As large as possible" while Mikah considered the question before asking for one million Imperial credits.  A few of those who's expressions had been skeptical changed to looks of pleased surprise as the officer, apparently the senior Darrian officer on the call, said "Let me discuss it with our Ambassador and we'll return your call."  Mikah agreed, noting the expression on the officer's face was positive, and they cut the call.  The call ended and Terin said, "I guess that's settled." and Mikah said, "Ok.  We're going out so you're authorized to accept any offer.  Just don't give away the ship."

Nodding, Terin asked if this would be considered 'ship's profit?' with a satisfied look on his face.  With a sudden and evil look on her face, Mikah pointed out that the cybernetic parts were the result of work done in the Risek system.  Work, she added, which she and her people had performed at extreme risk to themselves.  So while this was profit, it was 'old profit' from work Terin hadn't been involved in.  Despite that, Zimzod said they would give the Knight a commission for helping sell the parts.  Terin happily accepted that promise.  After that, Terin went back to his herbal forums as Mikah and Zimzod left for the school, paying Cr 50 for the ride out.

Aiden decided to head back to the cargo bay and try some zero-g combat moves.  Without training, Aiden's work was slow and careful as he set the gravity in the bay and did what workouts he could think of for the next hour.  Done with that, Aiden hit his cabin to shower and clean up before settling in to watch some of his collected library of vids on his favorite class of hand weapons.  Aali had worked with Munarshu on the engineering work that had to be done, and updated the logs as ranking engineer.  She then worked to finish off the auctions she was setting up.  After that, she worked on accessing and using her stent.

Showing Off The Books

     In the berth office where he was all set up, Emkir was entertained by a few calls from Rol, looking for Munarshu, while he set the books up.  Soon enough, Emkir found the professors true to their word as a cab arrived carrying not only those academics but also a handful of grad students too.  Watching them step out of the vehicle, Emkir could only wonder if some of the professors had actually been sitting "on" some of the grad students?  When they were ready, Emkir led the seven to the room in which he'd laid out the books carefully, along with boxes of gloves he'd had been using to handle them.  Knowing very little about the other books, Emkir decided to start with the one book he'd been working to translate.

While Emkir was ready for the show, one of the professors asked if they could video-record that examination of the books?  The man made it clear the recording would not be a detailed investigation of any books but just a general recording of what the crew had to offer?  While Emkir felt that would help their advertising, he had to make sure Mikah had no issues with it and comm'd her.  Lady Mikah was still riding to the school as the comms came in and said she was OK with the idea.  With that, Emkir signed off and told them a recording was fine.  Told that, two of the grad students set up their gear.  After that, they went over the restrictions with moving, touching and examining the books before Emkir stepped back to let the process happen while he answered questions.

Stepping forward, the professors could see a number of the books were several thousand years old!  So, those very obviously pre-dated the Third Imperium.  In addition to the books, Emkir had prepared his work on the one book.  And as the conversation continued, the academics were more and more certain they could recommend only one place to have the books scanned.  The Reproduction Center of the University of Rhylanor.  This didn't surprise Emkir at all, though he had hoped to have some less partisan suggestions.  Still, he had to accept this was not only one of the five options he'd come up with but it also made sense.

When the conversation touched on the value of the books, there were no prices suggested but it was made clear that any sale price could be used to cover the cost of the scans the crew wanted to have made.  Especially because these would be expensive too.  Emkir pushed on the idea of a price, and asked if they were holding estimates because the university preferred an exclusive deal?  The professors said the University would obviously prefer an exclusive deal.  But they were holding back on offering a value because they needed to consult before they could come up with one.  They did say that, as far as actual value was concerned, some of the books were valuable based only on their age while others were old but of no interest.  So those would be of little value no matter what.

While talking, the professors made it clear they not only had to discuss the collection to find out what its value was, but to also find out what the University could afford to spend on the books?  They explained that Universities, even the University of Rhylanor, couldn't compete with many corporations or wealthy collectors as well as well-funded museums.  They also discussed the methods of scanning that would be used with Emkir.  First opting for security, Emkir asked if gear could be brought to the ship's berth to scan the books?

The apparent spokesperson for the academics pointed out that they couldn't move their "best equipment" to the berth, but also said they could prepare the books to be moved in a secure vehicle to the University's reproduction center safely.  So there would be no risks either way.  As they talked about the various issues, intrest in the books bubbled up.  It seemed clear some of the academics were most interested in the "Order of Battle of the Battle of Nulisud", despite the fact a large number of copies were known to have survived to present day.  This book chronicled the Vland Subsector battle, and was printed in -1776 TI, also referred to by historians as "Twilight".

This book not only covered the battle and its aftermath, but also discussed an era which was the point at which the fall of the Second Imperium had become unstoppable.  This battle, near the Vilani homeworld of Vland, marked the point where the fleets of the Empire had become local fleets and no longer Imperial.  What followed after was the final collapse of the Second Imperium and more than 1,100 years of the "Long Dark Night".  During that period, interstellar trade and industry collapsed.  Many thousands of colonies dependent on that trade died out or descended into barbarism.

During the conversation, Emkir noted the names of the professors, Ida Guakaka(male), Gugi Kharma(female) and Kiish Kiilasin(male).  While talking about Emkir's personal translation work, Dr. Kharma asked why this was the first they were hearing of Emkir's presence in-system and his language skills?  Not sure if this was just an attempt to pump his ego, Emkir deflected the question saying he'd been putting his skills to other uses and this was the first chance he'd had to put the books up front.  The three doctors clearly asked if they would get Emkir's notes and work, and be able to confer with Emkir, should the University buy the books?  When this was asked, Emkir made it clear that would be part of the deal.

When talk turned technical and the Doctors offered an account on their departmental forums, Emkir realized the meeting would go much further than just discussing copying the books.  So he decided he wanted to invite Doctor Pimiliseho, who'd been working with him on the Risek glyphs.  When Emkir introduced the idea, it was welcomed and he was told to send an email to Dr. Pimiliseho.  He also asked about including another person he'd collaborated with on translating the one book he'd worked on.  After he said he'd worked with someone, Emkir sent a message to Dr. Nalur Ushane to join them if possible.  They continued talking, and Emkir eventually got a message back that the man was aboard a completely different station in another part of the system.  It would take him a few days to get to the port station.  He mainly wanted to know if Emkir and the others would still be in-system at that point?  Emkir said the ship would be in-station for the next two weeks and invited the doctor to get involved via email and electronically.

With that decided, Emkir asked if the group from the University were OK with him setting up a video link and they agreed.  Dr. Ushane was a noted archeologist who had been working in-system on digs involving the early exploration and colonization of some of Rhylanor's outer orbits.  They talked about Emkir's relationship with the Doctor and Emkir lied, saying he'd been working with the Doctor for years.  Emkir soon had the video link set and they timed out the light-seconds of delay.  The Doctor remotely joined the meeting and it was obvious he'd worked with Dr. Guakakaat at times in the past.  Still, that wasn't explored enough to show those "times in the past" had only been the last time the crew had been in-system.

They also learned Dr. Ushane was finishing up his work in Rhylanor and preparing to head for a dig in the Mithril system.  This was due to the recently announced discovery of ruins from an apparent Pre-Darrian settlement on that system's mainworld.  When Dr. Ushane mentioned this, the others were very impressed.  Especially given that the so-called metal worlds were part of the newly occupied "Border Worlds".  The consortia of Border World and Imperial governments which hired him were most interested in remains which suggested a Human-based settlement with evidence of shared occupation by Aslan.

This was important since the oldest known cooperation between Humans and Aslan in the Spinward Marches were those Aslan who had become part of the Darrian Confederation, in pre-Maghiz years.  Talking about the Mithril investigation, Emkir was able to mention that the crew had just accepted a job which might let them visit that site.  While he admitted he couldn't discuss the job, he did say the crew would be considering two flight plans, and one could bring them close to the Mithril system.  His suggestion they "might" be able to visit the investigation improved the aceptance he got from the academics.

Gains, Both Positive and Negative

     Well before lunch, Inger had come back to the ship with, and locked up, the air-raft before paying off the driver and coming into the lounge.  There, she found Terin working at a screen on some sort of forum.  Aiden was also in the lounge, reading.  Inger asked them where everyone was and got a rundown of what those two knew.  That included Emkir's "meeting" in the berth but didn't include where Munarshu had gotten off to?  She sat and started watching vids and Rol soon joined them saying he was relaxing, given his wounds.  As if on cue, Terin asked Rol if he'd like a nicely caffeinated tea and the ship's cook said he would.  Around lunch time, Aiden, Aali, Inger and Rol were in the ship while Emkir was still presiding over the meeting in the berth.

Aali had come out of her stateroom while Rol started preparing lunch.  When the subject came up in the berth office, Emkir decided to be magnanmous and order food delievered for the academics.  Part of that was that he was sure, there were too many to ask Rol to cook for.  So, he called Rol and let him know what was up and Rol heartily approved of the plan.  Eventually, that came to Cr 60 total as they looked up a local carry-out menu.  The professors sent some of the grad students running to get the pickup.  This got food for Emkir and the professors while the grad students bought for themselves or grabbed left-over scraps.

At the school, Mikah and Zimzod dared the lunch room for their meal, to meet up and compare notes.  But they'd been in the news much too recently and much too much not to be recognized.  It wasn't long before others there stepped up to introduce themselves, ask for autographs, ask questions and try to tell stories about where they were during one of the Knight's exploits.  Or, how they were affected by the actions of Mikah's crew.  For his part, Zimzod did his best to remain polite but suggested he expected them to pay for his lunch if they wanted him to entertain them.  Unfortunately, one of the students answered him back saying, "I can do better than that if you're interested?  I can pay you to come to my office and do an interview."

They looked up into the man's smile and he said he worked for a news agency.  And, from his expression, they could tell he thought he had the scoop of the day.  Of course, when the man tried to confirm Mikah had been a crewmember aboard the Dawnstar Horizon, she said she wasn't crew, but a passenger.  When he asked, "Didn't you get involved in some of the situations the ship found itself in before it was destroyed?" Mikah said, "Unintentionally".  Leaning in, the man asked, "How did that come about then?"  Mikah shrugged and said, "It just happened." and continued working the 'vague angle' when more questions came.  Despite this, the reporter was pleased, having gotten more than any other news organization in the system.  Other than the TAS interview with Rol, but that hand't touched on the Dawnstar Horizon.

As a small benefit, the man tactics for butting the others in the room out of the conversation.  And since Mikah appeared to be talkative, her 'running cover' allowed Zimzod to keep his head down and his mouth shut.  Especially since nothing he was thinking of saying would have been polite, or good for their situation.  When the man urged Mikah to do an interview on her experiences on the Horizon, Mikah challenged, "Why?  Who would be interested?"  He assured her his network would care but she disagreed.  When he said they'd pay, she said, "You'll be bored out of your mind."  He pushed back, "They'll still pay", hoping to get the hook in.  But, as the meal break was ending and he asked if she were willing to come in for an interview, Mikah flatly said "No".  After that, they had to return to their classes.

A Shocking Deal While Shopping

     After lunch, Aiden went to InstellArms for a bit of target practice.  Spending Cr 15 for the cab ride, Aiden spent some time firing off Cr 100 worth of ammunition before grabbing his concierge and going off to drool over their collections some more.  As a treat to the concierge, who thought he knew what to expect, Aiden asked to see light assault guns and other long arms.  Of course, despite his more professional interest, Aiden was still more drawn to those weapons built of machined parts.  Showing that a well-trained core of personnel can find something for everyone, Aiden was shown an ACR which seemed to have been made up of pieces, which were each machined from a different metal.

When Aiden asked about it, the concierge said the datafile indicated it came from a battlefield, and there was no indication if that meant it had been picked up or purchased by one of InstellArms' "forward agents".  The weapon was at least 200 years old, based on their records.  The weaponsmith's report on it said that, other than its appearance, the weapon tested out as a standard ACR.  The price on the weapon was Cr 2,000.  Intrigued, Aiden asked if he could test fire it and was told he certainly could.  And with that, they were off back to the ranges with the rifle, to fire off a few rounds.

To his additional pleasure, they handed Aiden a 10-round magazine free of charge.  After a few rounds to zero in the sights, Aiden was surprised how normally the weapon operated.  He confirmed the magazine and ammo were all standard use and transferrable between other ACR's.  Of course, the weapon was a bit on the shiny side, and certainly made to stand out.  But Aiden very much liked it and wanted to think about it.  So, he asked if they could put the weapon on "Hold" for a day while he thought about it?  The Concierge agreed and said he'd do the paperwork as he had the ACR locked back in the display locker.

After more time on the range, Aiden's afternoon started coming to a close and he prepared to go back to the ship.  It was as he was leaving that he ran into Munarshu.  The engineer was waiting to resolve some sort of paperwork with regard to moving his weapons back to the ship.  Seeing the pilot, Munarshu enthusiastically said, "Oh!  Aiden!  Want to see my new toy?" as he proudly held out his new shotgun.  And Aiden asked, "Is this a trick question?"

With that, Munarshu showed off his "New" new shotgun, not to be confused with the "Old" new shotgun he'd bought the day before.  In a droll tone, Aiden asked, "You're 'new new shotgun'?  As opposed to your 'old new shotgun'?"  Munarshu happily said "yes".  Aiden began looking at the weapon and asked if Munarshu intended to sell the other shotgun back?  When Munarshu said he was keeping the other weapon, Aiden made a few jokes about double-fisted shotguns.  The jokes done, Aiden asked for the weapon's statistics and details.  Munarshu rattled off the added features and details.

Aiden listened while looking over what was largely a tricked-out shotgun.  Not highly impressed, Aiden handed back the shotgun before drawing his snub pistol and popping the magazine to show the dual ammo tracks built into the in-grip magazine.  He then slapped the magazine back in and grabbed the weapon by the barrel before holding it out, grip-first to the engineer, saying, "try it".  But, as soon as Munarshu's hand closed around the grip and the DNA-security system determined this wasn't the weapon's designated owner, it discharged the 20,000 volts from its batteries into Munarshu.  That put the engineer right down on the deck, to be quickly joined by a pool of his suddenly released urine.

As he went down, Aiden happily stood over Munarshu giggling and smiling while watching the first live field-test of the weapon's security system.  Of course, the reactions of all those in the area were completely different and they began to respond to a 'customer hitting the deck in sudden medical distress'.  With that, the alarms also started to sound.  The most completely caught up in the event were the two concierges, who knew the history of this crew and that location, and were charged with keeping another member of the Hotel California from being injured on their watch!  Despite every effort, another of them had come to grief in their facility.

The staff present leapt to action with one of the concierges kicking the weapon from Munarshu's grip, lest it be triggered during the engineer's apparent seziure.  Other forces began to move in while Aiden just stood in the middle of the storm laughing and trying to convince anyone Munarshu was fine.  When some of those not immediately involved in the response stared at Aiden as if he'd grown three heads, the pilot gently retrieved his pistol.  Lifting it with two fingers by the barrel, Aiden grabbed some cleaning cloths from the nearby counter to clean the weapon off before holstering it.

While Aiden did that, the first battledressed security responders arrived and the pilot realized there were both security and medical personnel in full armor.  The situation slowly organized and Aiden again started trying to tell those reacting to the situation that Munarshu was medically fine.  He said, "He's just had a little bit of a shock." and one of the security troopers asked Aiden to explain his comments?  Aiden said, "It's the security system on my snub pistol." and they asked for more details.  Finally having the full attention of some of the staff, Aiden explained the taser-grip keyed to his DNA.  The trooper asked, "And he tried to grab your weapon?" in an attempt to understand what happened?

Aiden proudly said, "Oh no!  He was showing off his new fangled weapon so I showed him mine." with a smile on his face and a tone that made it clear he'd put Munarshu in his place for bragging.  After a pause, the trooper confirmed more slowly, "So you, handed him the weapon, grip first." and Aiden happily said, "Yup!"  Reacting to that, the trooper said, "So you intentionally caused this." in a flat tone.  When Aiden back-peddled, saying "I didn't intentionally cause it", stressing the word intentionally, the trooper flatly responded, "You invited him to grab your weapon, grip first.  Knowing it had a security system.  That would be legally defined as you intentionally causing this."

This was perhaps the first point at which Aiden realized his practical joke might have more significant repercussions.  While they ahd talked, medics were dealing with the now urine-soaked engineer.  Aiden eventually said he wouldn't contest the trooper's view of events, and was subjected to the continued "blank screen stare" of the trooper's face mask.  That soon broke as the trooper turned away from the pilot.  Aiden heard the man beginning his report before he cut off the external broadcast.  Aiden assumed the sudden hand gestures accompanied colorful descriptions of idiot nobility like himself.

Looking down, Aiden saw the medics were starting to bring Munarshu around, so he stepped up to the engineer's assigned concierge.  Aiden asked if Munarshu had to pay for his weapons to be transported, or if he could carry them for his crewmate, since he had the right to bear arms.  The concierge made sure to keep a noticeable personal distance between them as Aiden was reminded that the "right to bear arms" didn't let him wander the station festooned with weapons.  Aiden was told, quite primly, that they would handle the transport of Munarshu's weapons with more than one uncomfortable glance at Aiden's sidearm.

Guessing they were none too happy with Aiden going about armed after that incident, Aiden asked if they preferred to transport his weapon too?  So, the Knight happy offered what decorum prevented the concierge from asking.  Aiden's offer was graciously accepted and a battledress-armored trooper was called over to take custody of Aiden's snub pistol.  While those involved would have liked to have reported Aiden to his ship's captain, and the local authorities, they set up the paperwork and charged him the Cr 50 fee.  At the same time, Munarshu was starting to come around as the medics continued to work on him.

To add a lump of irony to the situation, and before they finished the paperwork on his transport, Aiden told his concierge he'd decided to buy the ACR after all.  So, he was billed Cr 2,000 and the weapon was pulled from the display and packed with his pistol.  After the paperwork was done, the staff made it clear they would appreciate it if Aiden returned to his ship, or at least left the facility.  Aiden was happy to do that, having realized he wasn't going to be arrested for his prank.  He stepped into the taxi they had already called for him while the medics continued to work on Munarshu.  The engineer was finally cognizant enough to start asking what had happened to him?

They quickly moved Munarshu into a room in the back where they changed him into a clean white tunic and draw pants.  When he understood what was happening around and to him, they explained they were laundering his clothes and would return them to him properly cleaned.  Then, they explained, step by step, how Aiden had "pranked him".  Munarshu listened and could only think, "It is on!"  He recovered while they began handing him back his gear and he confirmed everything was still in working order.  When they asked if he planned to press charges, and reminded Munarshu he was within his rights, the engineer said he wouldn't, but was planning some future act of vengeance.  After he'd fully recovered and was ready to leave, they asked Munarshu if there was anything more they could offer him?

Considering events, Munarshu asked about tasers and, more specifically, taser rounds for shotguns?  They said they had those rounds, at Cr 4 each, and Munarshu bought 20 rounds for Cr 80.  He then split them half and half for the new shotgun and the one he'd bought the day before.  In way of a perk, under the circumstances, the staff offered Munarshu a "ride along" in the delivery vehicle they would use to transport the weapons to the Hotel California.  And, they even offered to let Munarshu carry his own weapons as he rode.  The engineer accepted the ride but didn't choose to carry his weapons.  He did admit that was because there would be too great a temptation to shoot Aiden when he got back to their berth.

Munarshu eventually got back to the ship, about half an hour after Aiden had, and found the pilot had been relaxing in the ship's lounge.  Handed the packages by the InstellArms driver, Munarshu delivered Aiden's weapons to him before stowing his weapons back in the ship's locker.  But he decided to wear his snub pistol in a holster rather than rack it.  Still, he confirmed it was loaded with tranq rounds only.  Aiden stowed his weapon in his stateroom, and returned to the lounge where he found Munarshu apparently still stewing over the events at InstellArms.  The only comment the engineer had for Aiden was, "That was not cool!"

Emkir's Big Deal

     When Aiden, then Munarshu, got back, Emkir was enjoying a very successful day himself.  The academics weren't just pleased to have been called, but called first.  They were talkative.  So, word started getting out and he was soon fielding so many calls he had to start screening his comms.  But, when the Rhylanor Museum, largely supported by Duke Leonard, called, Emkir stepped away from the academics and took the call.  Like a number of universities and museums, they wanted to see the books, and were wondering if they could send a vehicle to transport them to the museum's lab?  When Emkir tried to politely say no, on the basis of security concerns, the curator on the phone simply said he could call the Duke to request His Grace's personal security.

Not knowing how much saying "No" to them would be saying no to Duke Leonard, Emkir said he couldn't do it at that moment.  When they agreed they didn't want to see the books "now", Emkir suggested they do it the next day.  The curator said that was good for them and they would have a truck at the berth by 9am the next day.  Painted into a corner, Emkir considered the number of books and also said that whatever the results of their examination of the books, the crew felt they had to sell the items in an open auction.  The curator accepted that, and reminded the Admiral they only wanted to examine the small library.  Emkir did ask if they planned to scan the books, and if they could provide copies of the scans in that event?  The curator again said the museum only wanted to examine the collection.  When Emkir eventually agreed, they thanked him for his cooperation and the call ended.

Off the line, Emkir commented that the mounting interest in the library confirmed they'd have to sell all the books through an auction house.  The professors were instantly disappointed at the decision.  They discussed the widening awareness of the library for sale and Dr. Kiilasin regretted his earlier call to a friend at another university.  The others nodded, and it seemed he wasn't the only one to let the news fly.  And once lit, the fire was now spreading fast.  This made it clear it was not the fault of the grad students, as Emkir had been thinking.

In order to get things on track, Emkir decided to take a risk and offer the group one book to buy that day, if the University could get the funds together?  When they asked for details, Emkir said he thought he could cut a sale that day, though the crew wanted everything scanned.  But, a binding agreement to sell one of the books would give the University one book, at least, without competition.  When this offer got the doctors excited, Emkir asked them which book they'd want to make an offer on, if they could only choose one?  And despite large stocks of them having been found on Vland near the founding of the Third Imperium, the professors all said they'd select the "Order of Battle of the Battle of Nulisud".

That was presented with the caveat that they were concerned how much the crew wanted for the tome?  Emkir said the price would also have to include the scan costs, and a copy of the scan of that book.  With the ball back in their court, the doctors discussed their departmental budgets and what they knew of their donors?  They then suggested a payment of Cr 500,000 for the one book.  Nodding, Emkir said he had to call his captain and confirm the agreement with her.  But Mikah's comms rang while she was negotiating an interesting exercise.  Thinking she could manage it, Mikah answered her comms because that was what she might have to do in a real situation.  Unfortunately, the simulation was about to get "more interesting" just after she did.

A number of asteroids came slinging over the horizon of a nearby planetoid who's gravity she was already fighting.  So, as she greeted Emkir, her simulated ship was wrecked.  Mikah was told she was dead and had failed the exercise.  In an aggrieved voice, Mikah said, "Thank you Emkir", placing the blame on him.  After that, Emkir told Mikah that interest in the books were building significantly and they were looking at a significant auction.  Emkir also told her how things had gone with the team from the University, and felt he'd like to give them something for their help.  So, he explained the deal and the offer on the one book.  As soon as Mikah heard the offer, she interrupted Emkir and happily said "Sold!"

Off the comms with Mikah, Emkir said his captain had approved the deal as long as the University could raise the cash.  After Emkir said that, the professors said they wanted to add a condition of their own and Emkir asked what that was?  They said they wanted to make it part of the deal that the crew use the University of Rhylanor to scan all the books, with a guarantee of a competitive price on the work.  Emkir saw this gave the University a chance to instantly get back a chunk of the change they were spending on the book.  Despite that, Emkir thought the deal was a good one, since he trusted their security and the crew had dealt with the University before.

After they dealt with the University's caveat, Emkir had to let them in on the other restriction, and reminded the doctors of the call from the Rhylanor Museum.  He said the museum had said they wanted to examine all of the books the next day.  So, the deal couldn't be made official until after that.  Despite Emkir's concerns about exactly what the museum wanted to look at the books for, the academics had no concerns.  They were pleased with the deal, and even said they were certain they'd be able to get the University Treasurer and President to sign off on a straight check for the KCr 500.  After that was done, they spent the rest of the day enjoying the conversation until it neared dinner and the group had leave.  They also agreed to contact Emkir when the funds were ready.

Gathering For Dinner

     After Munarshu's complaint to Aiden, the pilot stood and tried to give Munarshu a big hug.  But, as Aiden started to spread his arms, Munarshu started backing away!  With the engineer backing off, Aiden chimed out, "Come to papa!" and Munarshu ran for his stateroom, and locked the door.  Aiden thought about following and further rattling his cage, but just let Munarshu go, and went back to relaxing himself.  Having sat through most of the performance and considered taking cover as Aiden first approached Munarshu, Inger asked, "What the Fuck happened?"  About that time, Rol started getting ready to cook dinner.  Putting on a dejected face, Aiden answered, "He didn't want a hug."

When Inger continued to look at him and said, "Explain?", Aiden considered it and said, "Nah!"  Rol responded, "I have ways of making you talk."  Terin simply sat and watched the show as Aiden plaintively asked, "Whaaat?"  At that point, Aali entered the lounge from her stateroom, where she'd been working on accessing her stent and using it to connect to other systems for the first real block of uninterrupted hours.  But, as she entered the lounge, just after Aiden's last words, she noticed the space had a polarized feel and everyone else's eyes were on the pilot.

In a guarded voice, Aali asked, "OK.  What's going on?" as she looked at those in the space.  After a pause, Aali said, "Somebody talk".  Inger pointed to Aiden saying, "Ask him" in a tone that confirmed she had no idea what was going on?  Turning to Rol instead of Aiden, Aali asked, "OK Rol, do you know what's going on?"  The Marine confidently said, "I soon will."  Looking around at the nervous laughs that got, Aali asked "Seriously, what's going on?  There's a lot of pissed off in this room, and I'd like to know..."  There, she was cut off by Aiden, who said, "No, I don't think there's any pissed off in the room.  I think it's mostly stupefaction."

The silence stretched on from that unti Terin muttered, "I guess they're not butt buddies anymore."  That comment got a good round of laughter from those in the room, except Aali.  Then, Rol just shook his head disapprovingly and said, "I guess there's just something in the air."  Aali said she'd decided she did not want to know what was happening.  Nodding her head, Aali dismissed the issue saying, "OK, whatever" and went looking to see what Emkir was doing since Rol was already cooking dinner.

In the berth offices, Emkir had closed a deal for the one book, and he and the doctors spent the afternoon chatting about and examining all the books.  Doctor Ushane had quit the video link some time earlier, since he had other work to get done, but made sure to leave his data in case anything important came up.  Dinner time was coming round and Emkir decided to shut things down and see what the rest of the crew were up to?  So, he shook hands all around, Solomani-style, and said he'd contact them as soon as he was done with the Rhylanor Museum the next day.  When he admitted he didn't know what time that would be, one of the Doctors said they'd have a grad student set up a comms contact point they could all use to get data from Emkir.

Emkir was pleased because this would let him to reach all three with one call when he had any data.  He said he was looking forward to getting the scanning process started, and taken care of quickly.  When finished chatting, one of the grad students had called for a cab and a vehicle slightly larger and more comfortable than the one they'd arrived in pulled up.  After Emkir said his goodbyes, he went for the berth office, to start preparing to move the books back into secure storage.  He was jsut starting that when he saw Aali, who'd apparently watched the end of the academic love-fest.

While Aali watched, she wondered just exactly what her husband had done, cloistered all day with the doctors, that made him look so pleased and happy with himself?  When Emkir called out "Hi Hun!" and waved, Aali asked, "Am I gonna have to have you clean up the nerdy bar?  Because you sure look like you swallowed one?"  Emkir told her how wonderful an afternoon he'd had talking about the books and discussing the research he'd been doing.  When he also told her he'd set up an agreement to hire the University to scan the books, Aali said "Ah!"  Emkir said the problem was that he had to let himself and the books be moved to the Rhylanor Museum at 9am the next morning.  He hoped they didn't "try to glom something" because he'd agreed to sell one book to the University.

Aali asked about that and Emkir said the doctors had been very helpful, so he felt it was the least he could do besides throwing them the business of scanning the books.  After talking about what he'd been doing for some time, Emkir asked Aali about her day while she helped him secure the books again.  Aali talked about setting up the auctions and having had the time to work with her stent.  She also said she'd walked in on something in the ship's lounge but wasn't sure what was going on?  When Emkir asked for details, she said all she knew was that there seemed to be a strange tension in the compartment.  They talked as they eventually made their way back up to the lounge to join the others for dinner.

Shortly after they arrived in the lounge, Zimzod and Mikah got back, to find everyone quiet except for Emkir and Aali.  The couple were quietly chatting and looking around at the others.  Inger had apparently given herself to the vid she was watching and Aiden was reading while Rol cooked.  When Zimzod asked what was for dinner, Mikah realized Munarshu wasn't in the compartment.  Rol said he was almost done cooking.  Then, Zimzod noticed Munarshu was missing too, and asked, "Where's Gladys?"  Terin said, "Check his stateroom." cryptically.  Feeling a bit of the unease in the compartment, Mikah asked, "What's going on here?"  At the same time Zimzod asked, "Anything we should know about?"

After a short pause, Inger said, "Well, you might wanna ask Aiden about that" as she glared at the scout.  Turning to the pilot, Zimzod put his XO voice into action as he asked, "OK, Aiden.  Anything we need to know about here?"  Aiden started to speak, saying, "Well...", Aali reminded him, "We said need, not want." and got a few chuckles.  Picking up things again, Aiden said, "Apparently, Munarshu didn't want a hug."  This confused everyone and, after a pause, Zimzod said, "OK.  Come up on what transpired before the hug?" as Aali added, "Why did you offer the hug?"

Aiden again started to explain, and Rol quipped, "you haven't gotten into the chocolates again have you?"  Aiden laughed as he said, "Yeah, blame it on the chocolate."  Still, at Zimzod's prompting, Aiden explained, "I ran into him at InstellArms and he had just bought his brand new shotgun.  And he showed me his and I showed him mine.  And he fell on the floor twitching."  When he finished, Mikah said, "Oh God" as the others in the compartment realized some of what was unsaid and reacted.  Wanting more details, Zimzod asked, "OK, what transpired prior to the twitching?"  Being a bit of a wiseass, Aiden answered, "Maybe 20,000 volts." with a smile on his face.

Nodding, Zimzod summed up, "OK, so what you're saying is you tazed his ass?"  Aiden's voice was suddenly high pitched and defensive as he claimed, "It was a bonding experience."  Mikah said, "Apparently not!" with an element of anger in her voice, and Rol asked, "And they didn't arrest you?"  Zimzod continued, "As, fucking High-larious as that is, I really need to..  I guess there's gonna have to be some diffusion here.  I guess I'm gonna have to talk to Gladys about this."  After a brief pause, Aiden asked, "So I guess I'm going to my stateroom without supper?" and Zimzod said, "No, I still think it was fuckin' funny.  Do tell.  Gimme the details on this?"

Official Reactions

     Mikah said they were going to "have to" get the video from InstellArms and Zimzod enthusiastically cheered the idea.  While Mikah picked up the comms and called InstellArms, Zimzod went to talk to Munarshu.  When the line was answered, Mikah said, "Yeah.  Two of our crew members were at your location today, and there seems to have been an, altercation?  And I was wondering if you could, send over the video?"  When the person on the other end asked, "Can you be more specific?" Mikah answered, "Well, it was regarding Munarshu Sidigur and Sir Aiden Radetsky.  It seems to have been a shocking incident?"  And how she got that out without busting out laughing Mikah couldn't say.

After a brief pause, Mikah realized she'd been speaking to an android when the machine asked her to stand by while it transferred her to the security department.  After that, she was transferred to a live worker who she greeted her and told her he was reading the transcript from the android.  After a pause, the man said there had been an incident earlier that day.  He also said management decided to be discreet and not call the authorities, and to let the crew to be dealt with by their ship captain.  Silently thanking the stars for someone with discretion, Mikah said, "Yes, well I'm the captain of that ship and I'd like to see if you have video of the incident?"  The man said, "We do.  What would you like, Your Ladyship?"  When Mikah asked for the video to be sent to her, the man asked if there would be civil charges or if the issue was going to be handled "in-ship"?

Mikah made it clear it would be handled privately, in-ship, and without the media as she realized InstellArms had to protect themselves too.  Nodding, the man told Mikah it would take roughly half an hour for them to segment and transmit that section of their security video to her.  Mikah accepted that and he said InstellArms would appreciate a warning in the event she decided to lodge civil charges in the incident, since there were "certain corporate liabilities to be dealt with."  Mikah assured the man it would not go public as they finished their conversation, and Mikah looked forward to a vid-show during after-dinner dessert.

While Mikah talked to InstellArms, Zimzod made his way to Munarshu's stateroom door and buzzed the comms panel there.  When Munarshu answered with an elongated, "Yeeees?" the Marine said, "Zimzod here.  Can I talk to you?"  Munarshu just grunted, "Enter" and Zimzod opened the door and stepped in as he said, "OK, I understand you had an incident at InstellArms."  Munarshu said, "Yes I did."  Nodding, Zimzod said, "Well, I guess you've been through your initiation." and continued happily, "Welcome aboard!" in a congratulatory voice.  Zimzod started to laugh and Munarshu pointed to himself and flatly asked, "Do you see me in white draw pants and a tunic?"

Zimzod said he did, and also noted a small bit of anger in Munarshu's voice but kept his attitude light.  Munarshu continued, "Not what I left wearing?"  Zimzod nodded and said, "Yeah."  Munarshu said he was waiting for his clothing to come back."  Zimzod smiled as he said, "Pissed yourself, didn't you?" hoping he could get Munarshu to laugh about the incident despite himself.  Munarshu let Zimzod have his next bout of giggles before saying, "These things have a habit of escalating."  Zimzod said, "Yeah, well.  If you're going to escalate it, let's not escalate it to death..."  Munarshu simply said, "His other ass cheek is mine", apparently referring to having heard Aiden had been shot in the ass before.

Nodding and laughing at the sentiment, Zimzod said, "Fair enough.  But, just put the differences aside for now?"  Munarshu said, "All right.  But I am not giving him a hug."  Munarshu stressed the word 'not' and Zimzod shrugged, saying, "I don't blame you.  I wouldn't want to hug him either.  That's just straight up gay."  Zimzod then continued, saying, "I understand how you're upset and everything.  But it kinda was an initiation.  And I think it's pretty fuckin' funny, but that's just me.  I got a warped sense of humor."  Nodding, Munarshu said, "Well that's fine, amongst the crew."  Continuing with a bit of the anger again, Munarshu demanded, "But did it have to be in public?  On camera?"

Leaning back and relaxing, Zimzod answered, "Yeah, we're getting a copy of that."  Munarshu just started spouting obscenities.  Zimzod joked that they'd watch it with dessert and Munarshu said that not only was Aiden's ass-cheek his, but that he'd tattoo or carve his initials into it.  Leaning forward, Zimzod said, "Or...  Just a suggestion.  You could ask Mikah, 'cause he is going in for a stent, to tattoo 'Property of Gladys' on his right ass cheek."  Zimzod enjoyed the look of consideration on Munarshu's face.  The silence stretched out until Zimzod said, "And if you want to taze his ass at some point..." sparking Munarshu to enjoy the thought of that too.

Munarshu started to enjoy the thoughts of non-lethal reaction and Zimzod just pushed the idea that there should be no gun fights aboard the ship.  And, that he should keep the fight out of engineering, to not damage any of the ship's systems.  When Munarshu said he could fix that, Zimzod said he'd still prefer it off the ship, but considered it a bonding experience between the crew.  So long as no systems got damaged.  Zimzod said he couldn't wait to see the video and Munarshu said he was looking forward to it too, since he didn't remember any of the experience.  Saying, "OK, good.  So long as you can laugh at yourself", Zimzod stood to leave.  Turning at the stateroom door, Zimzod said, "I still think that was fuckin' funny" as he let the laughs out and returned to the lounge.

Rol heard Zimzod come out of the stateroom laughing, and shrugged figuring things must be all good.  Aali asked, "You're laughing.  What'd you find him swinging from the ceiling tiles?"  Zimzod said, "No, I'm still laughing about the tazing incident."  Emkir asked if Munarshu was coming out of his stateroom before really hearing what Zimzod said, and then asked, "What tazing incident?"  Looking at Aiden, Zimzod said, "you didn't tell me he pissed himself!" and broke out in a fresh bout of laughing.  Of course, for all the others, this was all fresh news.

Dinner And A Show

     While these bombshells were being dropped, Rol announced dinner was served and Munarshu came back to the lounge.  Leaving his stateroom, Munarshu did pause to see if Aiden was waiting outside the door with his hand on his pistol as he looked.  Eventually, Munarshu saw Aiden getting a plateful of dinner in the lounge.  At the same time, the rest of the crew saw him emerge in his white draw pants, tunic and gun belt with his snub pistol in its holster.  Munarshu spared a few extra seconds glaring in Aiden's direction and the pilot only smiled and waved at him with a cheery expression.  Of course, the wave started more as a guilty smile, wave and shrug before shifting to the cheery expression.

Pulling Munarshu's leg a bit more, Rol saw him approach the counter said, "You're a little late.  I'm afraid I'm gonna have to serve this too you cold." in a reference to revenge.  That got another round of laughs from the crew as Munarshu cracked a bit of a smile and said, "I understand."  Rol continued, "Would you like some help with that?" and then pointed to the actual food saying, "I have seconds over here."  Munarshu thanked him and took some food, and they all sat down while Emkir decided it was time to report on his meeting.

Emkir started by telling them what had already happened with selling the books.  Then, he said they would have to hire an auction house, given the interest.  Hearing that, Zimzod happily said, "It's a beautiful thing!"  Emkir then said he'd set up with the University of Rhylanor to do the scanning and he'd set up an 'under the table' sale of one book for Cr 500,000.  Zimzod asked, "What's the chance that, since that book is worth more than that, the University will scan the rest of the books for us for the discount?"  Emkir said it was included in the deal that the University would scan all the books, but admitted they had not given him a price for that service yet.

Emkir also told them there was a fly in the ointment and explained the demand-like request from the Rhylanor Museum to see the entire library.  When Emkir said he was concerned they might put pressure on the crew to sell the books, Zimzod reminded him the books were ship's property.  They had the right to control the sale.  Mikah even suggested Emkir tell them up front that an agreement was already set to sell the one book.  Munarshu asked if, during the process, he could do research on the other books, and was told they were having the books scanned so they could all continue to do research on them.

They ate while Emkir gushed about the day-long meeting with the doctors, and suggested they could even copy the scans for the university Munarshu's mother worked for if they visited.  While talking about Sir Brian, Munarshu asked about any spare datapads from him or Zach.  Aali said Zach had a Cr 3,000 Sharurshid datapad from "the collection" before it was sold off.  She agreed to clear it off before handing it over to Munarshu.  Soon, Mikah got a chime from her comms and saw she'd gotten the message from InstellArms!  Seeing that, she told the others, "Ah Ha!  We have video!"  Mikah said to get dessert ready and told Terin to brew up tea for everyone as she checked her comms.  While she did that, Zimzod got the others involved in resetting the lounge so they could watch as a crew.

While that happened, they discussed what to have as a viewing snack?  Zimzod remembered he'd been thinking about buying some bottles of wine.  When he said he'd forgotten, and they'd have no wine to drink, Mikah said he could always order some delivered and Zimzod grabbed his comms.  Looking at some sites for stores in their concourse which delivered, Zimzod ordered four bottles each of Port and Moscato to be delivered for Cr 425 with delivery.  When the deal was made, the store said they were scheduling the delivery for later that evening.

After that was done, the tea was brewed and Terin even found small cake-like snacks to serve, it was time for the show.  While they watched, the crew were treated to multiple views and multiple light-bands while Aiden first inspected a shotgun that was presumably Munarshu's.  And that was confirmed in the chatter in the compartment.  In the vis-light video, they could see Munarshu was noticeably proud about his purchase.  Soon, Aiden drew his snub pistol from its holster and turned it around to hold it by the barrel, letting Munarshu to take it by the grip.  And that's when the 'real' show began.

From multiple angles, the crew were treated to various views of Munarshu's body responding to the 20,000 volt release of the in-built taser security system.  Each view showed better angles on some specific detail of the performance of the system and Munarshu's reaction.  The others burst out laughing at the comedy and Rol could only say, "Wow man." as he shook his head.  The infra-red views showed the sudden and widening pool of urine especially well.  Zimzod almost squeaked, "Dude!  You pissed yourself!" before dissolving again into laughter.  Mikah's reaction was more restrained, as she said, "Oh Aiden.  Aiden, Aiden, Aiden, you are in so much deep shit."

And as Munarshu glared at those enjoying and even nearly celebrating his humiliation, Zimzod got control of himself again and said, "Aiden.  Look at the bright side of this whole thing.  You've managed to amuse me!"  This brought on another wall of laughter as the executive officer made it clear he agreed with Mikah, and the pilot was not at all in the clear.  Thinking more clearly than most of the others, Aali said to Aiden, "But seriously dude, someday he's gonna come after you and I don't think any of us is gonna lift a finger."  Terin just quipped in, "Sure we will.  We'll lift two hands to clap." in hopes this might drive a stake in the pranks he'd already suffered from.

They replayed the clip, and various views, a number of times and Rol said, "Get a grip" to more laughs before saying, "Welcome to the ship."  When the viewing party ended, Mikah remembered she was standing in on the implant surgery for Zimzod and Terin the next day.  She reminded them, and those who wanted to come watch the procedure, and Munarshu asked if she planned to get tanked?  Mikah joked, "Absolutely!"  Aali recommended Rol and Aiden watch the surgery, saying she'd watched Sir Brian's.  There were some laughs when Zimzod jumped in saying, "Yeah.  And look at how that turned out."  Still, Aali said that wasn't the fault of the surgery, and her surgery worked out well.  When Rol and Aiden decided to watch the surgery, that meant most of the crew were getting up early the next morning.

That chatter faded and Zimzod asked Mikah if she wanted to watch vids in his stateroom again?  She decided to join him as the eyes of those in the lounge followed the departing and increasingly close couple.  When they talked about what to watch, Zimzod said he wanted to wait until the wine arrived.  So, they relaxed while the rest of the crew went about their evenings.  Eventually, the wine was delivered and Aali, Rol and Munarshu watched how quickly Zimzod, Mikah and the wine disappeared into his stateroom.  Rol wondered aloud, "What's going on there?"

Inside Zimzod's stateroom, Mikah made sure to set the alarm, and made it clear she planned to stay the night.  At the same time, Zimzod set up some gruesome, gory footage for them to enjoy.  With that, they watched a replay of Munarshu's shocking shopping trip in the gaps, before Mikah decided her wounds were feeling good enough she let Zimzod pull her close.  Shortly after Zimzod and Mikah left, Aali and Emkir followed suit, and went to their own stateroom.  And, as Aali agreed to go with Emkir to the museum the next day and set their alarm, Emkir sent a message to Lord William about the planned book auction.  Since he wanted to get up early to watch the surgeries, Aiden went into his stateroom to watch a vid before racking out.

Terin considered it smart to bounce his research to his stateroom terminal and do what little work he wanted to finish out of the public free-fire zone.  Despite the actions of the others, Inger considered the dual facts that it was still early in the evening and she could get free tickets.  So, she called the port and decided to grab a ticket and meet her friends to see a play.  Elsewhere.  Where she could relax and enjoy her evening.  That way, if she returned to find a big gaping hole open to space where the ship used to be, she'd just shrug, call the station's insurance company to be made whole for her losses and accept it.  To be friendly, Inger did invite the others to come with her and Rol decided to join in.

Having the lounge to himself, Munarshu watched vids "on the big screen".  Scanning through the entertainment library, he selected action/adventure flicks with lots of death, destruction and revenge.  Skimming through the filtered titles, he further targeted vigilante films before making a selection and settling in.  The crew enjoyed their various past times, and either returned to the ship for bed or faded off to sleep, most had set alarms for around 6am, including Munarshu.  Not going to the surgery, Aali and Emkir set their alarm for 7, to be ready for the Museum field trip.


Another Day, Another Chance Of Disaster

     Much to her disgust, Inger woke very early in the morning.  Especially since she hadn't set her alarm clock.  She'd planned to relax and recover after the tension of the day before.  Having nothing better to do, and not being able to get back to sleep, Inger did her morning routine and went into the lounge to watch the news and wait for the others to join her.  When the others started emerging, one of the first was Rol, who asked, "Anything good?" as he got set to cook breakfast.  The one thing Inger had noticed was a news story swirling about unconfirmed reports that a large library of antiquities was about to hit an auction block in-system.  Despite what little they had being fairly accurate, the media had apparently failed to get any real details including anyone coming out and admitted they could even confirm the planned sale was real.

When alarms started ringing and most of the crew began their morning routines, Zimzod and Mikah untangled their limbs from each other and returned to ship's business.  This included Zimzod telling Mikah about his talk with Munarshu about Aiden's little prank.  Mikah wondered where this was going and Zimzod said Munarshu would perhaps enjoy it if Mikah were, during his operation, to tattoo 'Property of Munarshu' on Aiden's unwounded backside.  Hearing that, Mikah's first reaction was to laugh before she said she might be able to do that, given where she felt Aiden's brain was located...

Pausing, Mikah said they'd have to find a way to show it off and Zimzod said she could take a picture while he was unconscious.  With a laugh, Zimzod remembered that most of the crew would be watching in the gallery too.  Mikah suggested they put the word out, to make sure the whole crew were there to watch.  Zimzod said they should wait until the next day, at least, to keep it from getting out.  That decided, they did their morning routines before Mikah crossed to her stateroom to dress and prepare for the day's surgeries.  Munarshu decided to stay with the ship, working on his engineering tasks.  Inger tried to decide what she was going to do during the day off?

When everyone going to the hospital was ready, the call was made for a van to move the five crew.  When it came to who was paying, Rol said he would, and covered the Cr 60 cost.  Arriving at the hospital, Mikah was sent to the doctor's prep area while Zimzod was taken in to be prepared for his operation.  Everyone else was held in a waiting room until the time they could move to the gallery to watch the procedure.  They sat in the same waiting room where the few other people were numbed to silence both by the early hour, reaction to their loved one's procedure and the sudden appearance of a large group of, "to them", heavily armed celebrities.  Rol asked if the others had seen it before and Aiden said he hadn't seen it.  Terin said he had also not seen it done except on instructional vids on the computer.

At the ship, Emkir and Aali talked about the meeting with the Rhylanor Museum as they ate.  They then dressed in business garb and prepared the books for the arrival of the vehicle the Museum was sending.  Both made sure to wear executive armor, just in case.  Inger contacted port central, to start looking for side jobs and make some cash.  While Emkir and Aali finished up in the berth, Emkir noticed a large museum transport which looked very business-like and appeared to even be armored to an extent.  It looked to be sitting just beyond the berth entry, as if the driver was waiting for the exact stroke of 9 am, as agreed.  And sure enough, at 9am, it moved up to the berth and the driver signaled for entry.

After the museum team were let into the berth, the couple found they had a fully trained crew who'd brought vacu-sealing protective shells for the books.  Then, they watched the technicians start their work and realized each one had the skills of a museum conservator!  While the group of twenty conservators got to work, each individual took roughly an hour per book!  So, the loading wasn't done until roughly 11am.  Watching and chatting with the lead conservators, Emkir and Aali learned that only the lead five were employees of the Rhylanor Museum.

The rest had been "borrowed" from other major museums in-system.  And, some had come up-well from the surface for the project.  If nothing else, that impressed both Emkir and Aali.  They also learned that those present were there because the museum called the other facilities and said, "Send us your people."  That had not been a request but an order.  On the other hand, the disturbing issue was that they appeared to have arrived with no security.  Of course, the traffic passing the berth seemed to have died off too, so moving the books wouldn't start out with any difficulties.

When Aali finally decided she didn't want to just hope for the best, she buttonholed the lead conservator and asked about security?  The man just shrugged and said he felt they wouldn't need security, and that it was someone else's department.  Not happy with that answer, Emkir told Aali he'd discussed that with them and she backed off.  Watching the on-going work, and seeing the lack of apparent security, Munarshu jumped into his combat armor, loaded his gauss weapons and decided to play security himself.  And when he emerged in his 'Sunday-go-to-the-killing" gear, he was soundly ignored by the museum people.

Soon, the loading was done and they got moving from the berth to the museum.  As the vehicle left the berth, Munarshu secured it behind them before unloading, clearing and securing his weapons.  But, he stayed in his armor 'just in case'.  With the gauss weapons stowed, Munarshu snapped in his snub pistol and back-strapped his snub rifle.  With those weapons, Munarshu took up a position in the cargo bay and kept a security watch while watching and listening to an entertainment play-list on the vid built into his glasses.  He also took the time, periodically, to keep up on the news.

After lunch time came around, Munarshu realized Rol wasn't there to cook.  Disappointed, the engineer looked to see if there were leftovers from breakfast?  He only saw the meals Aiden had wrapped after Sir Terin cooked.  And that was, to all but Aiden, a fate worse than foil packs.  So, he cooked up a foil pack and grabbed a drink before returning to his post, watching vids and listening to music while securing the berth.  Watching, Munarshu saw an announcement with the noon news broadcast that station operations had been affected by a security action.

The action, undertaken by the government of Rhylanor was not explained to the media, and centered around several sectors of the station's docking bays and the Museum of Rhylanor.  Knowing that was where the books were taken, Munarshu could only think, "Damn!  When they say secure, they mean secure!"  It did bother Munarshu a bit that the report specified heavier than usual government space traffic between the station and the planet below.  From what he knew, the books should not have been taken off-station.

Off To The Museum

     Emkir and Aali rode and talked to the conservators, but periodically noticed out the windows that there was no traffic at all.  Realizing this was a pattern, they figured out what that meant.  Both Emkir and Aali were much more comfortable about security.  They also felt more comfortable not thinking too deeply about the ramifications of security cordoning off whole concourses of the station!  Finally, the vehicle rolled into a lower concourse which moved under the museum-level and entered a secure bay that was a loading dock.  There, the twenty conservators were joined by a veritable army of staff who brought out many grav-tables to move the boxes on.

In an environment-secure room, the unloading of the boxes was accomplished fairly quickly, and the senior conservators and curators began their investigation.  For the first half-hour, Emkir and Aali found themselves ignored while accepting that the books were the stars of the show.  But, as they watched, the couple heard the air-lock cycle.  Turning to look, they saw Duke Leonard enter leading a small group.  The couple were then riveted to the deck when they recognized the next persons through the lock were Arch Duke Norris, Lord William, Grand Duchess Delphine and another woman they had not yet personally met.  They certainly recognized her from media coverage as Duchess Muktheswara of Glisten!

Emkir bowed and Aali curtsied as the four most powerful people in the local sector of space entered the room.  This happened almost automatically on Emkir's part, and both knew they were part of a vey select few who knew Norris and Delphine were even in-system!  The combined nobility greeted the couple, and Arch Duke Norris was friendly with Aali and Emkir.  He asked how things were going now that the honeymoon was over?  Emkir happily answered, "Very well, thank you!  I think my lady is one of the few new brides who got to throw nukes on her honeymoon."

Asking "Really?" as he shot a glance at Lord William, there was a pause.  Before anything could become uncomfortable, Lord William answered, "It's in the report, Your Grace" in an all-business tone.  Moving on as Emkir and Aali kept out of that short exchange, Duchess Delphine greeted the couple and said she was sorry they were not able to take her up on her hospitality.  She did say she looked forward to visiting with the couple during her stay in-system.  Saying they were under orders at the time, Aali got a gracious apology out before she had to risk anything Emkir might try to make a joke of.  Delphine graciously accepted Aali's description of the situation since she also knew it was the truth.

After Delphine followed Norris to talk to the curators, Duke Leonard stepped up and said, "May I introduce you to Duchess Muktheswara?"  He took a half-step to the side as the Duchess stepped up, looking them over with what might have been a critical eye.  Aali curtseyed as she said, "Your Grace.  Pleased to meet you."  Emkir bowed saying, "I'm pleased to make your acquaintance."  The Duchess held her hand out to Aali, taking hers and saying, "We've heard, interesting things, about your crew, and look forward to an entertaining future."  Aali admitted, "Interesting is the word I'd use to describe us" in a humble tone.

After their Graces had all past the "reception line" and were looking at the books, Lord William stepped up and gave them each a look.  He said, "It goes without stating that no one will know about this meeting?"  Emkir and Aali both agreed enthusiastically and Lord William said, "Good.  I'd hate to have to redact this."  Emkir simply answered, "We look forward to a long life in your collective services, Your Lordship."  Locking eyes with Emkir, Lord William said, "By the way.  Thank you very much for letting me know about the sale." referring to a small number of messages Emkir left William as he could the day before.

Happy to see his efforts recognized, Emkir said they knew he was interested, based on his having been shown them by Sir Brian.  But Emkir was caught up when William said, "So, you chose to give me a chance to buy all but one?" referring to the pre-sale of the one book.  And showing William pretty much knew everything about the day before.  Emkir started trying to explain it away and William waved the issue off with a smile that said he was pulling Emkir's leg.  Especially since William was not only a professor at that university, but was a professor in the Literature department.

An extra factor of comfort came when Lord William told them quietly that he could testify the books were the property of Sir Brian Montgomery.  And that, as a result of his death, the crew could not be expected to know where or how the books were acquired?  In addition to that, Emkir was also pleased at the improved board of snacks made available in a connected room, thanks to the arrival of their combined Graces.  After that, and with other exchanges, the couple spent the morning with the crew of investigators, and some more time with Their Graces.  But that was no preparation for the invitation to join their Graces and the senior curators for lunch!

The Operations Of The Day

     In the surgical gallery, Aiden, Terin and Rol found the room empty and looked around.  The curve of the ten foot deep gallery ran completely around the operating room and was secured by plexiglas so nothing could interrupt any procedure by mistake.  There were speakers which let those viewing a procedure hear everything that was going on in the operating room.  But, they couldn't find any controls which let them toggle the comms, so they could speak to the medical team.  Terin guessed that would be controlled somewhere else, to allow it if the guests were important enough to let them talk to the doctors.  Looking around, they could see there were three rows of seats that also stretched around the room with aisles to get in and out by.

In the surgeon's prep room, Mikah met the rest of the first surgical team, and scrubbed in as they discussed the operation and her role in it.  They wheeled Zimzod into the theater, and the medical team and their androids entered so things could begin.  Getting to the point where they opened the skull and actually bared grey matter, Mikah casually wondered if any of the observers had lost a bet on, seeing Zimzod actually had a brain?  But the operation went smoothly, and a second surgeon stepped in to close the patient while the primary surgeon stepped out to clean up.

Mikah wasn't asked to close since they knew she would be standing in on another operation in the afternoon.  In fact, she was excused early, even before Zimzod was rolled into the recovery room.  After she cleaned up, Mikah spent some time with Zimzod while he slept off the anesthetic.  Soon enough, she had lunch with Aiden and Rol while Terin was taken in to prepare him for his operation.  In the recovery room, Zimzod woke and was being treated with light analgesics and other post-operative standards while being held for observation.

After Mikah had scrubbed in, and Rol and Aiden returned to the gallery, they watched as Terin was wheeled in on a gurney.  The operation went more or less exactly the same as Zimzod's had except that Mikah was asked to close the patient this time.  And the closing took a bit longer, when Mikah decided to suture a small star shape into the skin while closing the wound.  Of course, the location of the scar, behind the right ear and Terin's medium length hair, made sure it wasn't likely to be noticed at all.  Then, Terin was also taken into the recovery room while Mikah cleaned up, prepared to check on her patients and meet with Rol and Aiden.

Epilogue:

As this session ended:
    Mikah was in the recovery room with an awake Zimzod and newly rolled in Terin.
    Rol and Aiden were just about to leave the gallery after Terin's operation ended.
    Emkir and Aali were at the Rhylanor Museum and had been invited to lunch with Their
       Collective Graces and the Senior Curators.
    Munarshu was securing the ship, sitting in the cargo bay in combat armor
    Inger had gone to the port in search of side jobs
            It is morning for Inger, Lunch for Emkir and Aali and near Dinner for the others.

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Next: Plans And Potentates