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Last Updated    October 12 2017
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Finding The Quasar
       Viper


Deep Space One Parsec from the Porozlo system

Deep Space     In the first eight hours of searching for the hulk, Dame Mikah pulled Ryddoth into a stateroom and told him about the hand computer.  Whatever response he had to that, Ryddoth kept it muted.  Mikah said Emkir was the only one not yet aware of the device and the name of the hulk, because he was closest to the Councilor.  Ironically, as Ryddoth asked if they could bring the Admiral into the loop, Emkir was in the ship's lounge suggesting a poker game to Ms. Vik, the Councilor and Sir Zimzod.  Once she finished updating Ryddoth, Dame Mikah and Sir Brian joined the others in the lounge and joined in the game.  As they scanned through the first eight hours, those not working played cards or watched and hung out in the small lounge.

Once the games were done, Emkir raised Cr 20 while Ms. Vik, Sir Brian and Dame Mikah were each up Cr 5.  Sir Zimzod lost Cr 10.  While playing, the Admiral seemed to chatter aimlessly, managing to innocently ask what the Stepozhevaci planned to do with the drifting destroyer?  The crew were surprised when the Councilor said they actually had no interest in the ship itself.  When asked to explain, he said they were more interested in the potential cargo aboard hulks they found, but would say no more.  This was especially ironic, as Emkir was the only one not in the loop on exactly what "cargo" that might be.  The rest considered this news.  Meanwhile, Aiden was one of two not in the lounge while he worked above decks in the sensor suite.  As Aiden scanned and set or tuned the sensors, Ryddoth worked on the bridge.

Eventually, Ryddoth set the ship's computer to follow a programmed search grid and tied the sensors and alerts to the ship's comms.  This meant the crew would be warned about anything important and he could grab an eight-hour break.  After that, he'd relieve Aiden so he could sleep.  After the poker game, most hit the rack but Brian stayed up a bit longer looking for "fun".  He eventually re-worked the ship's entertainment system to play pre-recorded scenes backwards.  Then he re-wired the microwave cooker to scream "Ahhhh!!  stop cooking!!  open the door, I am inside, open the door, hellp!!" in loud tones whenever someone hit "start".  Pleased with his evil pranks, Sir Brian went to sleep.


A Rude Awakening To Start With

     Eventually, Ryddoth woke and cleaned up before relieving Aiden.  The pilot did little before hitting the rack.  But an hour later Ryddoth, who had tried to "improve" the sensor settings, realized he'd changed them and could not get them back to Aiden's settings.  So he had to wake Aiden to re-set them.  Muttering the whole time, Aiden dressed and reset the scanners before returning to his stateroom as Ryddoth worked through the first night shift.  As the first full day of the search began, the first to wake and go for breakfast were The Admiral and Councilor.  Emkir planned to eat with the Councilor, helping him learn how to cook.  But when they turned it on, the microwave suddenly started screaming, in Sir Brian's voice, "Ahhhh!!  Stop cooking!!  open the door, I'm inside, open the door, help!!"  That nearly scared the Councilor into a heart attack.

A full 10 hours sleep after being relieved, Aiden woke, dressed and quickly went to relieve Ryddoth.  Along the way he passed the Admiral and Councilor in the lounge but didn't chat.  As the morning progressed, Zimzod woke, then Mikah and then Ms. Vik.  Sir Brian had gone to sleep later, and slept in.  After he was relieved, Ryddoth passed through the lounge heading to his stateroom.  He found the Councilor and Admiral chatting over breakfast.  Aiden checked the scanner settings, readouts and logs and then headed for chow and a nav-study disk before returning to scan.  On seeing the Admiral and Councilor again he waved.  As Aiden went to start cooking, the Admiral called "Wait!" just a bit too late and the microwave started screaming again.  Aiden experimented and the microwave screamed again and again as he hoped specific times settings triggered it.  But the screams continued as they ran through test times and completely destroyed his food.  After that, Aiden discarded the remains of his first meal and cooked another meal ignoring the screams.

Zimzod woke to learn about the pranks.  Sharing a stateroom, he went through Brian's gear for something valuable, to hold hostage against his behaving.  As he dug, Zimzod was amazed to find a collection of antique "actual paper" books!  Some appearing centuries old!  He took the portable library into the lounge, where he looked through storage for another bag.  The Admiral and Councilor saw this and Emkir helped Zimzod find a trash liner.  As they started transferring the books, Emkir was both amazed and interested in the languages.  The Councilor was amazed at the artifacts the Knight owned and asked about the books?  He was roughly told, by Zimzod, "None of your business", and backed off as it had nothing to do with the mission.  Once the books were transferred, Zimzod moved to the captain's door and buzzed Ryddoth awake.  Ryddoth answered to see the Knight at his door with a bag of what looked like trash.  As Ryddoth greeted the knight, Zimzod said, "We need to talk."

Ryddoth shook some sleep from his eyes and asked, "Do we need to talk about this now?"  Zimzod bluntly answered "Yes."  Ryddoth let him into the stateroom, followed by Emkir while trying to keep the Councilor out.  After a discussion, the Councilor won entry, saying he needed to know where the books came from and...  He was interrupted by Ryddoth who demanded, "Books?"  The Councilor slipped in as Ryddoth closed the door and Zimzod placed the books down in front of Ryddoth saying, "These are insurance."  Not being able to read Zimzod's mind, Ryddoth asked, "Insurance?" and Zimzod explained his plan.  He said he took them from Brian's gear in the stateroom they shared.  When Ryddoth asked if Zimzod really thought this was necessary, the knight explained what had happened aboard the Singing Star with a crewmate named Quinn.  As Ryddoth's patience was tried, Zimzod told how setting a "pop-bang" in the former Army officer's clothing drawer led to their ship being swarmed by Imperial and Regina military forces in Credo-down starport.

Since they weren't in a starport, Ryddoth wasn't convinced Brian would pull pranks on a ship in deep space, until Emkir explained the screaming microwave.  Ryddoth asked if they were certain it was Brian and Emkir answered, "It's his voice".  Turing to the Councilor, Ryddoth asked what this had to do with the contract and the Councilor claimed he needed further information on Sir Brian to see if the work was in danger?  Ryddoth called Aiden, asking him to call Sir Montgomery to his quarters.  Aiden, at first, asked, "What did Zimzod do?"  He was firmly told it was Sir Brian.  Ryddoth then asked Aiden to keep an eye on ship's systems.  Aiden transferred the sensor feeds to the bridge and moved below to call Brian.  A groggy Brian answered, asking "What?" and was told to report to Ryddoth's stateroom.  After a pause, Brian moaned, "Tell him I'm dead".  Aiden dryly responded, "Wait ten minutes and that may happen."  Brian said, "Great!" in a seemingly truly happy voice and signed off.  Not backing off, Aiden pinged Brian again and the knight answered, snapping, "WHAT!!!??" in a demanding tone.  Aiden said to get to Ryddoth's stateroom 'or else'.  When Brian demanded "Or else what?" Aiden said they'd come get him.  Brian snapped back, "You and what army?" and Aiden simply replied "Zimzod".

Getting Sir Brian

     In his quarters, Ryddoth looked at the others, asking "Do you know what you've gotten me into?"  At that point, Aiden comm'd down, letting him know Brian was coming and asked if he should leave the ship's comms open?  Emkir pointed out that they were not at fault for reporting an act of sabotage.  He belatedly added they were all surprised at Brian's cache of very rare antique books.  Ryddoth was mostly concerned with the legalities of the books, having been stolen from Sir Brian.  The points were "illegal theft of items" vs "we did not steal them because we found them and brought them to the captain's attention."  In the meantime, Zimzod went back to his stateroom and found Sir Brian sleeping.  Taking action, Zimzod first detail checked his armor for booby traps.

Still waiting for Brian to show up for Ryddoth, Aiden played the Imperial Anthem ship-wide at max volume to wake everyone.  As he did this, Aiden found he was oddly not able to blast Brian and Zimzod's cabin.  Vaguely hearing this through the walls, Zimzod actually stood at attention as the anthem played.  Ryddoth called Aiden and ordered the anthem stopped before heading to buzz Brian's door.  He opened the portal to find Zimzod checking his armor and Brian sleeping.  Ryddoth also noticed Sir Brian had apparently re-wired the stateroom's comms, and asked Zimzod if he wanted a workout in his armor?  Zimzod said no, because he thought Ryddoth was going to accuse him of theft.  So Ryddoth went and prodded Brian on the shoulder, which got very little from Brian.  Ms. Vik and Dame Mikah had woken to the anthem, and dressed hurriedly before opening the door to demand what was happening?

The Councilor followed the others into Zimzod and Brian's stateroom before Zimzod ordered him out.  Emkir returned to Ryddoth's stateroom and started checking out Brian's books.  Mikah and Ms. Vik joined the Councilor in the hall and then explored the open door of Brian and Zimzod's stateroom.  As Ryddoth did, Mikah saw Brian had rewired the comms pad near the door, explaining why the comms didn't work in the stateroom.  With more deadly consequences, Ms. Vik saw the hand comp on Brian's end table and realized the danger if the Councilor saw it!  She made sure the Stepozhevaci was outside the stateroom and drew Ryddoth's attention by visually examining the device but saying nothing.

Pointing to Brian, Mikah asked Ryddoth, "Would you like me to wake him up?"  She then walked over to grab Brian's arm, inflicting heavy pressure and pain as she pulled.  Brian woke up screaming and Mikah continued pulling and twisting.  She didn't stop until Brian said "OK!  OK!" and stopped struggling.  Watching this performance, Ryddoth asked Mikah if they'd traveled together a bit, and she said they had.  Ryddoth then asked if Sir Brian understood the consequences of disobeying an order?  As this was happening, Ms. Vik noticed Zimzod readying his autopistol!  She decided to leave, to both get away from the possible shooting and warn those not in the compartment.  As she left, Ms. Vik whispered to Ryddoth, "Look at Zimzod", and made her way to Ryddoth's stateroom to warn Emkir.


The Light Of Burning Flame Or Fortune

     Still looking through Brian's book collection when Inger updated him, the Admiral buzzed the bridge, saying "Zimzod's got a gun!  Lock the bridge!"  On the bridge, Aiden needed no more urging.  Known as 'Mr. Paranoid' at the best of times, the former Scout had a real threat to consider this time.  He immediately began the process of putting the ship on full lock-down while cursing the fact he'd not put a hold out weapon on the bridge.  At the same time, Ryddoth asked Dame Mikah to continue getting Sir Brian up and out of his stateroom as he returned to his own stateroom.  There, he met Emkir and Ms. Vik, and she pointed out Ryddoth had himself to blame for the state of affairs.  When the former Scout asked her how so, she said he obviously had more data than she and the Admiral had.  And he was keeping that from all of them.

Given that, it was no wonder the knights didn't trust him, or those they saw as his crew?  Ryddoth realized the debate could become long and drawn out just when he knew he didn't need it.  So he first checked to see the Stepozhevaci Councilor was still in the passage and told the two everything he knew.  He told them about a contact he'd had who'd claimed to be a reporter.  He explained this person seemed to know their mission before he'd been told about it, and claimed the knights were a "troubleshooting team" for Duke Sir Norris of the Regina System.  He explained why he was ill at ease having the most powerful people in the Starport Authority and the local Imperial Interstellar Scout Service wake him up and saddle him with people who appeared to have no respect for his command.  With that, he'd eyed Emkir who knew he was referring to the computer security issue he'd caused in the Stepozhevaci base.

Still, the two of them were bought up to speed according to Ryddoth, who grabbed a stringed musical instrument they'd seen him playing at times while they were in jump.  They'd learned it was called a "guilar", and had been made by Ryddoth and his father during his childhood.  They watched as Ryddoth grabbed a chair and set it in the open passage between staterooms.  For reasons they couldn't define, Ryddoth then started practicing with the old stringed instrument, badly, as Dame Mikah finally forced Brian out of his stateroom along with Zimzod.  By then, Brian had been told his books had been taken and was angrily demanding them back.  As this circus washed out into the passage, Brian turned on Ryddoth to find out where his books were?  Zimzod also turned to Ryddoth expecting the former Scout to back him up as Brian got louder and angrier.  And as most of those aboard watched, Ryddoth ignored them all and played his guilar!  Without a hint of explanation...

This didn't last long, as Zimzod's patience ran out.  Having snapped into most of his battledress when he armed himself, the knight used the enhanced speed of the suit's skeleton to snatch the guilar from Ryddoth and angrily smash it on the deck before demanding Ryddoth's attention.  After a brief pause in which no one knew if conflict would break out, Ryddoth stood and addressed the knights.  He disgusted Zimzod by apologizing to Brian for the taking of his books, and told him they were in a bag in his stateroom.  But before he let Brian get them, Ryddoth demanded Brian's word he would end the string of annoying pranks.  Brian grudgingly gave his word and was allowed to take his books over Zimzod's complaints.

As Brian left the group, Dame Mikah took up Sir Zimzod's cause and it seemed the factions were about to come to a head.  Ms. Vik and Emkir did their best to talk the coming battle down, but weren't going to succeed.  Things would have gotten worse but they were interrupted by Aiden on the bridge.  Everyone paused as the former Scout announced that he was picking up something on the sensors at extreme range.  As Ryddoth moved to a comms panel and asked for data, Aiden could only say it appeared large and solid enough to be a vessel.  He couldn't rule out a drifting planetoid but he was certain it was no glitch. 

The best image from the sensors as the crew approached As Aiden said he'd direct the data to all screens aboard, they moved to the lounge where screens would show what Aiden was seeing.  Everyone's spirits were raised by the discovery.  While the Councilor moved to the bridge, to watch Aiden's work tuning the sensors, Ryddoth agreed to sit down with the others to all share what they knew.  With new hope, Aiden plotted a course and laid it in, giving them twenty hours before an intercept.  From then on, the crew met as they could in staterooms to share information while they watched for more sensor reports from the bridge.  Finally, almost twelve hours into the approach, Aiden could confirm the detected item was a vessel of some class.  Some hours later, he confirmed the vessel as an Imperial Fer d'Lance destroyer matching the class of the Quasar Viper.

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Next: Unexpected Visitors!