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Last Updated    October 12 2017
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Closing Deals And
     Opening Wounds

Getting Ready For Salagon

     The morning had been active so far, thanks to Zimzod and the rings, Mikah's theatrics and the selling off of Ms. Vik's cargo.  That was followed by talks about how they were going to break the news to Talan Salagon that the deal had changed, and raise the funds for the fuel plant installation?  It sparked new thoughts about Dame Ashley's offered mission, because it would solve the installation issue.  Still, there was no real support and they agreed not to accept it.  Mikah knew she'd have to call the knight and deal with her reaction to the decision.  Setting the calls they had to make aside, they talked about their upcoming calendar.  The following day, Aali would be going under the knife, to have a neural stent installed.

Brian was a few days from being able to try to use his stent and had to take the recommended week long class.  In three days' time, Rol had his interview with TAS, and in 21 days, the auction for the Tellona Diamond would be held.  They hoped the profits would be turned over quickly, so they could buy some final items and leave the system.  As the crew considered their new found bling, Emkir decided that he'd buy Aali something nice after he'd been paid for Rol's interview, because she didn't get one.  Ms. Vik spent her morning relaxing and watching vids until she got bored.  Rol spent the morning doing vacc suit maintenance while Aiden checked his High passage auction, still hovering between KCr 7.5 and KCr 8.  After that, he returned to his nav plots.

Zach planned to finish working out the plot answers to the simulations he'd designed before plotting more difficult tests for Aiden.  Before that, Zach asked Brian his thoughts on how Salagon would react to the changes in the deal?  Brian reminded Zach that, while he found Salagon as a contact, Zach had driven the deal.  Despite his attempt to push it back on Brian, the knight said it was Zach's deal to manage from the moment he negotiated the price of the plant down.  Accepting that, Zach told Dame Mikah he wasn't sure how the pricing might change, and was hoping to do damage control.

Zach said he was hoping to make up some of Salagon's loss by offering more hard cash, and wanted to know what kind of budget they were working with?  He didn't mention he could only hope the deal with the machine parts wouldn't change other parts of the deal, since they were pulled out from under the customer.  Because of that, Salagon could as easily raise the cost on the plant itself, lower the offer on remains of their existing plant or just hammer them on the costs of working on the ship.  So Zach was stuck, planning for the one moving part he could see, and hoping the others wouldn't move, or not move far.

Zach hoped to up their cash offer on the plant to KCr 650, with Mikah's confirmation they had it in the budget.  After talking to Mikah, Zach finished a number of the nav simulations before calling Salagon.  As he worked, Zach decided to survey sales prices for machine parts, but found his credentials issue blocked him from the merchant-net.  Annoyed, Zach called Erum, to ask if the merchant could set up an account for him outside his credentials?  After paying Cr 300, Zach logged in, spent ten minutes setting up his preferences and finished up the basic nav plots before lunch.  After lunch, he planned to spend a few hours working the sales listings for more information leverage when he talked to Salagon.

Getting Course And Work Done

     After speaking with Zach, Mikah decided to bite the bullet and call Dame Ashley to give her the news.  At first, the knight was glad for the early morning call, assuming everyone was ready to get down to business.  When Mikah broke the news, she did so with all her personal tact and diplomacy.  Dame Ashley accepted the decision with a nod.  Both women knew that operating without support in a very limited, hostile and monitored environment was difficult to say the least.  Ashley did say she hoped Mikah's crew might consider helping out in the future, if asked, and Mikah said they'd consider any requests.  She also promised to send Ashley all the data they'd come up with in their research on Pavabid while investigating the job offer.  Ashley liked that, even though it was obvious she was disappointed.  Moving on to another subject, Ashley asked if Mikah and the other knights had decided to take any action following the conferences they'd attended?

Mikah didn't want to admit she'd only gone to the conferences to make contacts and already put them behind her.  So she told Dame Ashlee they'd seen a lot to take look at.  But, given their direction of travel for their confirmations, Mikah felt she was moving away from the centers of action, and not able to do anything direct.  Again, Mikah put all of her tact in play as she worked to not insult the knight.  Ashley asked about Mikah's use of the word "Mission", and Mikah briefly explained their relationship with Duke Norris.  Nodding in understanding, Ashley asked if there was anything her organization might be able to help with?  Mikah joked, "Money?".  Sadly, Ashley couldn't help with money, and Mikah never expected anything but a laugh from her comment.  So the knights finished off with pleasantries and wishes for luck in the future before signing off.

Once off the call, Mikah checked the list of events the Duke had given them.  While they didn't have to attend and make contacts, she was interested in seeing what was happening?  Mikah saw that the meetings for the Fifth Frontier War children's benefit were still going on for the next five days.  Seeing nothing else of interest, and not wanting to run into Ashley's crowd again, Mikah thought about taking a day of pilot classes.  When she said this to Zimzod, he decided to go too, to take more gunnery classes.  Mikah joked that they should spend more time together because they were getting married, still playing the joke she started when the rings arrived.  All day classes would cost Cr 1,000 each, and Mikah paid for the Cr 30 taxi ride.  The pair brought foil packs with them so they could eat lunch away from prying eyes, and not have to visit the lunch room.

After Wall-E finished chopping the grav wreck frame down and stored it, Brian shut the 'droid down to install the spare tentacle arm he got from the wrecked 'droid.  He then planned to spend the rest of his day setting up auctions for the sub-systems removed from the wrecked vehicle.  Aali and Emkir finish up their breakfast and went back to work on the datapads.  As they worked, the pair decided they could "bulk dump" the majority of the datapads for whatever offer they could get while separating out the higher end units.  Some, they planned to make available to the crew while the expensive ones were individually auctioned off for something closer to their value.  Aali also considered grabbing some to possibly use in the future, for distractions in combat.

Aali ended up grabbing two dozen or so higher-end devices, which could be triggered remotely or programmed to create distractions.  She did find at least one unit that had no screen and, instead, broadcast via holographic projection!  By lunch-time, Aiden had worked out more nav plots and, as Zach paused from his work to check, it appeared he was doing better than he had been.  Zach could see Aiden was now applying his learning rather than having just read and memorized formulas.  Some of Aiden's numbers nearly mirrored Zach's.  Once done with his vacc suit work, Rol cooked lunch for the group, and those there chatted about their plans.

Zach said he planned to research the sale of machine parts.  Aiden commented on his progress with the nav training and Rol decided to look for some training himself.  Ms. Vik said she was going museum hopping.  Brian said he was able to mount the new arm on Wall-E and had it almost working.  Brian planned to finish that up after eating and asked Zach about the best local auctions to sell the grav-wreck subsystems?  Unfortunately for Brian, scrounge-markets were something Zach was never involved with.  They did discuss what they'd recovered and Brian said they could have KCr 30 in parts.  While impressed, Zach suggested some placed he'd heard of despite being honest he was not familiar with the market.  Once done eating, Rol looked into training on sensor operations, to enhance what he'd already learned.  Ironically, thanks to Zimzod's reports on the place, Rol ended up at the same school the other Knights went to.  Despite that, they didn't run into each other while there.  In the end, the taxi and classes cost him Cr 560.

Soon, Rol and Ms. Vik had left to follow their interests and Brian returned to the cargo bay to work on the 'droid.  Zach did several hours of research on pricing for the machine parts as Aiden worked on the nav plots.  Eventually, Zach checked Aiden's results to see things were not too bad.  Aiden was again not off "too much", and was obviously coming along and making the transition from theory to application.  Once done checking Aiden's work, Zach prepared to call Salagon and called Brian to ask if he wanted to sit in on the call?  Brian said Zach was the negotiator so, once off the line with Brian, Zach settled in and made the call.  When Salagon took the line, Zach opened, saying the crew were excited to get the work going.  But then, he told the salvager some parts of the deal needed to change.

Salagon cautiously asked Zach to continue.  Zach's plan was to offer apologies and compensation for the loss of the machine parts, hoping to keep the rest of the deal from changing.  He tried to work his way through the possible mine-field of pissing off a business partner.  But Salagon cut him short, asking how much compensation they were talking about?  Zach floated an offer of KCr 675 and Salagon asked if that included accepting his installation fee without negotiation?  Zach back pedaled, saying he couldn't simply write a blank check without having something to verify the ship could afford it.  Salagon said he'd agree to the KCr 675 if they'll pay MCr 1.5 for the installation.

Zach was surprised Salagon's offer was as fair as it was!  He said the offer sounded fair, but also said he had to confirm it with his Captain.  They agreed on that, and then discussed the length of work.  Salagon said he could get the work done within four weeks after payment.  Reminded this was a "cash up front" deal, Zach added that to the topics he was going have to run past his captain, and get back to the salvager on.  Once they were in agreement, Zach promised to call Salagon the next morning, after he'd gotten approval from Dame Mikah.  After that, they cut the call and Zach then went back to work on the nav plots for Aiden.

Finishing The Day Out

     After a day's training, Mikah felt she'd gotten something good out of the class.  She pulled a few maneuvers off in the simulator she wouldn't have tried in a real vessel.  But when she met Zimzod, after his training ended and he showered off, the knight was even more pleased than she was.  His "hit ratio" and computed combat effectiveness were much higher than even the last time he took the training.  While this was simulated combat, Zimzod was very pleased.  As he gushed, Mikah joked, "So you found out where the nuke button is, huh?"  Continuing the thread of irony, Mikah and Zimzod didn't encounter Rol once the classes ended, and they took separate taxis back to the berth.  Despite leaving soon after the classes, none of the three returned before dinner time, nor did Ms. Vik, who had dinner on the concourse.

At the berth, Zach volunteered to cook for those in the berth but Emkir said he and Aali would cook because Zach was disabled.  As they cooked, the knights returned to the berth and called Brian in from the cargo bay.  Brian was taking pictures of all the sub-systems and had set up auctions for half of them already.  As they waited for food, Aiden checked his auction and found it unchanged with three days left.  After dinner, Aiden spent more hours working on the nav exercises before doing some reading and knocking off for the night.  Zach talked to Mikah and explained his offer to Salagon, laying out all the costs at MCr 2.175.  They had the MCr 1.1 from the machine parts deal, and KCr 50 from the Duke.  Zach inwardly cringed as he said they'd need to come up with MCr 1.025 on their own before work could start.  He was surprised when Mikah simply said, "No problem.  Can they start tomorrow?"

With no clue where these million credits were magically coming from, Zach said they could start as soon as the deal was signed and money handed over.  He confirmed the work time would be four weeks.  Mikah approved, but asked if they could cut a week off the work time?  Zach pointed out that Salagon was not really chummy with them after having lost the machine parts.  She told him to ask and, see what happened?  Zach said he'd ask when he called the next morning.  Before he returned to working on nav plots for Aiden, Mikah reminded Zach she'd be in surgery in the morning and wouldn't be available.  When Zach asked what time she should be available, Mikah estimated about noon.  Zach suggested he could try to set a meeting to close the deal for 2pm and Mikah agreed.

After the conversation, Mikah relaxed and, after dinner, She read up on medical journals before getting an early night before surgery the next morning.  She invited Emkir to watch the operation the next day, and he accepted, if only to make sure Mikah didn't carve her initials into Aali's brain.  Zimzod spent the evening reading the data he'd gotten from Duke Leonard's library.  Emkir and Aali hit the datapads again but made an early night of things.  Since they were planning to move the ship, Rol spent the evening moving all his possessions out of the ship and into his berth quarters.  He spent a little more time reading up on "personal modifications" for Battledress now that Zimzod would have his working again.  Eventually, Ms. Vik returned to the berth and got sleep, having enjoyed a relaxing day and evening out.

Slicing Another Crewmember

     At 6am, alarms rang in Aali and Emkir's quarters, as well as Mikah's.  After a brief morning's preparation, the trio boarded the called taxi and rode to the hospital.  Aali and Emkir split the costs as Mikah pointed out she was a guest on this ride.  Once at the hospital, Aali was led off to be prepared for the procedure as Emkir was led to a waiting area.  Mikah went to the surgeon's prep room where she was pleased to see some members of the team for Brian's surgery were on Aali's team.  The surgery was straight forward and, by noon, the work was done.  Aali was moved to the recovery room where Emkir, who'd watched from the gallery, sat with her as her system processed out the anesthetic.  Mikah moved into the staff room, to change and clean up, before checking in on Aali and Emkir and considering lunch.

She did confirm the Cr 1,500 payment from TAS in payment for Aali's surgery.  Emkir was told they would be holding Aali for observation until about 10pm that night.  After she was moved to a recovery area, a TAS representative visited the couple to check on how things went?  The paperwork the TAS representative delivered showed a nicely itemized and completed list of everything TAS expected from the scheduled treatment.  It also contained a "forward schedule", including a warning not to use the stent for the first week and a scheduled 'one day' class on using it.  TAS had also scheduled a "first scan", two days after the class.  These were items covered in the cost, thanks to TAS, which Brian had to set up and pay for on his own, as he was not a TAS member.

Closing The Morning Deals

     Back in the berth, Rol woke up after the three had left and cooked breakfast.  Once done with that, he did a brief set of exercises while being careful of his healing wounds from seven days before.  Once done, he cleaned up and headed out to spend some time wandering on the port.  By the time Zach left his quarters, Rol was eating and hadn't yet exercised.  Aiden was also awake and eating, having seen his auction bids hadn't moved since he last checked.  Aiden planned to work on his nav work until lunch at least.  Brian was also awake before Zach, and had checked his early auctions on the subsystems.  Pleased they were starting to receive bids, Brian decided to label each subsystem, or have Wall-E do that.  That would make shipping them much easier after the auctions were done.

As he ate, Zach checked his email to find Erum had been talking about the events of the morning before.  From his point of view, the lavish gifts and spending, and deals made Zach's portfolio appear much more robust than it really was.  So Zach got a wave of emails from well-wishers, advice seekers, offerers of 'assistance' and more.  And all were veiled offers to share in his dealings and rewards, with some of them only thinly so.  But tradition was served, as Erum invited him to drinks to celebrate his good fortune.  As Zach read, the invite was vague on details and referred to the likelihood Zach also made a good deal of cash too.  So, Zach feared Erum might be hoping for "two rounds of drinks", with Zach covering one.  After half an hour eating and reading, Zach finished breakfast and called the salvager to get that done.

When Salagon answered, they confirmed the details of the deal had been OK'd by Mikah and they talked about payment and moving the ship.  Zach told Salagon the Captain was unavailable until that afternoon so they'd make their payment at 2pm.  He also suggested they'd move the ship the next day to get work started.  When Zach asked about shaving four days from the work schedule, Salagon said it would cost them another KCr 750.  Zach tried to negotiate, but it all seemed about the same with the salvager estimating shaving a week off would cost MCr 1.  Eventually, Zach said he was sure that was outside their budget and Salagon suggested he call back when the captain was there.  Then, they could lock down the final details, get the money transfer done and schedule moving the ship.

Once done with Salagon, Zach called Erum, who was happy to take the call.  As they discussed their mornings, Zach mentioned the deal to get the plant installed and Erum joked it was yet another deal Zach had not looked for help on.  Zach let that pass as they agreed to drinks over lunch.  Erum slipped in that he'd pay for drinks while Zach covered for lunch and Zach promised himself he'd be drinking, a lot.  As they talked about where to eat, Zach did his best to moderate Erum's opinion of how much cash he was making.  Still, Erum promised not to rake him over the coals.  Eventually they planned to meet at noon, at a place Zach had been to and was comfortable with.  That done, they ended the call and Zach started getting ready.

Morning Gear Management

     After he ate, Zimzod made a task of moving all his gear off the ship and into his quarters.  As part of this, he took the time to go through every item and check it, make sure it was properly maintained and dump things that should be discarded.  The one item he was careful not to work on in public was Zach's Gauss pistol.  As he worked, Zimzod repacked items that could be better stored.  During this, there was a buzz at the berth and Zimzod answered it, batting Zach out of the way as the invalid came out to answer at the same time.  Zimzod found a delivery person looking for him from Instell-Arms!  In fact, Instell-Arms was delivering the combat armor order for Aiden, Brian and himself.  They were also delivering grenades for Emkir and Zimzod, and the replacement top for Zimzod's executive armor.

So Zimzod and Zach spent several minutes watching a team of porters off-loading the casings from a port-van as the reporters filmed the process.  Soon after this began, anyone watching the news noted the addition of "a weapons delivery" to the ship and knights.  Wide and varied speculation followed on what they were arming up for?  Of course, the Duke's office had no comment, and the fringe gave off other wild speculations including the possibility Major Sir Kaihvos might be 'going rogue'.  Zimzod called Aiden from his nav work and Brian from the cargo bay.  Once the delivery was done, they moved the cases out of view of the press and Zimzod quickly secured the rest of his gear before opening up his armor and grenades.  Aiden and Brian joined in as Zimzod worked to dial in the armor fitting settings to suit himself.

Having slept in, Ms. Vik was the last to have breakfast from the leftovers.  She then spent the morning watching vids until the Instell-Arms delivery.  As news from Risek came on the screen Inger scoffed as she watched the update:

    Risek (A325579-A N Ni 401 M5 V M3 D)                                           Date: 206-1112
    Naval Authorities in the Risek system have released another update on the work
    to resolve the recent crisis there, stating things were settling down.  As they have
    reported on the crisis, the Admiralty have stated investigations proved the incident
    was a "horrible but accidental release of bio-toxins".  Adamant this was not an
    intentional terror attack, Naval spokesperson Captain Mirjam Kristianson suggested
    these reports were due to mistakes in the data those releasing that suggestion had
    at the time.  When news releases by Dame Mikah Kirlim were questioned, the Captain
    said she had worked with the Knight and her team.

    Captain Kristianson was very deferential to Dame Mikah and showed great respect
    for choosing to put herself and her people in danger to find the cure.  The Captain
    was also very clear that Dame Mikah's team did discover the cure and save at least
    tens of thousands of lives.  However, the Captain was also certain the Knight and
    her team had not been given that newer data which resolved the mystery of the disease.   

As the brief coverage continued, the main thrust of the report was to assure the public to remain calm, as everything was safe and there were no lingering questions or dangers.  Inger watched idly as the men unpacked, until she saw the boxes of grenades.  Then, with her face a mask, her thoughts ran to a dead pan of, "Oh!  Great.  Wooonderful."  This was heightened as Zimzod took particular pleasure in cataloging and securing each type of grenade he bought.  At this, Inger decided to go out and spend some time at a museum or two, where it might just be safer.  The men were still playing with their toys as she freshened up a bit and headed out.

A Good Day Goes Very Bad

     No matter where he went, from the moment Rol left the berth and hired a ride, he was followed by a bulk of the media.  As he paid his Cr 20 taxi ride and went looking for some "more casual clothes", he was trailed.  Of course, this just made those aware of him who were not actually expecting a figure to walk out of media coverage and into their lives.  It also made Rol a target for every flavor of 'man on the street' opinion that could be expressed when those present realized who he was.  Of course, there was a level of nerves, as it had been made clear Rol had the support of the Duke, so some people moderated their attitudes.

Deciding to go somewhere that supported 'his type of customer' heartily, Rol led his media retinue to Instell-Arms to buy executive armor.  And this visit increased speculation based on the deliveries being made at the berth.  Rol ordered a suit for Cr 500, and decided to browse and waste the reporter's time and efforts.  And he did enjoy himself until he heard a sound he didn't realize was that of indiscriminate weapons fire!  While reflexively dodging something he didn't completely comprehend, Rol was slowed by his wounds of a week before.  Bad luck mixed with good as most of the gunfire cut down the media around him.  But a round caught Rol in the chest and he fell into darkness, to the soundtrack of gunfire, screaming and alarms.

At the berth, Zimzod and the others were working on their armor after Ms. Vik left when the ship's comms started going crazy!  As Aiden grabbed a line in, he found himself slammed with questions about the shooting at Instell-Arms and what Major Kaihvos was doing?  Caught flat footed, Aiden could only stutter, "What?!?" and the person on the comms asked if he bothered to keep track of the news, incredulous the crew were not yet aware of the incident.  All Aiden could say in the face of that was, "There is no comment at this time." as he killed the connection.

As the comms continued to buzz, Aiden turned on the news, which was all about a shooting incident at Instell-Arms, the belief Rol was involved and no real facts.  Wanting to cut to the heart of things, Aiden shunted all incoming calls to a buffer and comm'd Rol directly.  But the Knight didn't answer.  As Aiden looked up to call for Zimzod, he saw the knight had picked up another call as he watched the screen Aiden had activated.

Zach's Lunch Meeting

     At 11:30am in the berth, the taxi Zach called arrived and he rode out for lunch with Erum.  As he rode, Zach watched the displays broadcasting a number of different leading media outlets.  Some of the news covered the weapons delivery at the berth, at first, but very shortly after, the media began broadcasting the events at Instell-Arms.  And right after that, updates that Rol was involved in those events.  Some media outlets even pushed the envelope, suggesting Rol might be behind the shooting!  Hitting the comms to the driver, Zach asked to change the destination to the Instell-Arms facility.  The cabbie, now aware of events from the alarms on his computer, wondered what madness his passenger was under?  In obvious serious medical condition and requiring a hoverChair, he wondered why Zach thought going anywhere near a crisis was a good idea?

And since port security was sealing the area off, the driver was not risking his license, his vehicle or his life for a nut job.  When he said so, Zach demanded they get as close as possible!  Fighting stupid with stupid, the driver told Zach he'd have to pay an extra Cr 100 if he wanted to get close to the exclusion zone and Zach accused the driver of trying to rob him.  With no clue why the crazy human in his cab wanted to interfere with port security or get involved in a crises, the driver was only too happy to pull over when Zach demanded it and take his Cr 20 payment then and there.  So Zach found himself hovering on the edge of a traffic lane in a drive through passage on the station trying to flag another cab.

When one pulled over and the driver hopped out to help Zach in and ask his destination, Zach explained where he wanted to go.  That slowed the driver down as Zach tried to play the authority card, claiming he was on "Duke's Business".  Hearing that, the driver demanded Cr 70 and Zach sent him on his way, which the driver was only too happy to accept.  When Zach next tried to get a cab, he looked for one with an automated driver but electronic systems wouldn't allow their vehicle to move towards an area designated as hazardous.  Finally fed up with the fact that no one seemed to want to drive a mostly dead and potentially lunatic human with no authority into a zone secured by station security where there has been confirmed killings, Zach decided to call the IRIS agent under cover as a cab driver.

When he got the driver on the line and ID'd himself, the driver flatly asked him if he was looking to get shot again?  While Zach said he was planning on arriving after the shooting was done, the agent pointed out that there were an unknown number of shooters in Instell-Arms, which could supply a small army for a month on just spare rounds!  When the IRIS man said, "Nobody opens fire in Instell-Arms without a plan", Zach persisted, saying that Sir Rol was there and he needed to get there.  The Driver snapped back that they knew Rol was there, and that Mikah was there now too.

This was news to Zach, who continued to ask if the driver could at least get him close?  The man said, "I'm not supposed to, but I can if you're willing to wait a while."  Zach asked how long, and the driver estimated an hour as he asked where Zach was?  Zach checked his hand-comp and found he was about two hours away by hoverChair.  He did the math and decided to meet Erum, so he told the driver to meet him at the restaurant.  After they cut their call, and Zach caught yet another cab and got to the restaurant late.  Of course, Erum was not surprised and Zach said, "I wish I could" when he was asked if he could explain what was going on?

Zach said his ride was coming to get him to the knights in an hour, so he could have a quick lunch.  Erum said he'd ordered them a drink called a pan galactic gargle blaster each.  The drink was potent and, when Zach asked, Erum said he was sure Zach would need one "if" he showed up.  And if not, then Erum was certain he'd need two.  As the drinks arrived, Zach mourned not being able to run up Erum's tab and decided to nurse it.  Still, Zach raised his glass and toasted living in interesting times.  As he sipped at his, drink and they ordered food, Zach paid the Cr 100 tab in advance.  It was a bit high, but he was not raked over the coals.  So Zach enjoyed the food as he watched the news.

More Reactions As Word Spread

     On one of the many shopping concourses of the port, Inger had begun some window shopping after a Cr 25 taxi ride.  She had just settled at a cafè for lunch when she saw the breaking news.  As she noted Rol's name on a screen, she wondered to herself what kind of wine went with being a member of her crew in interesting times?  As she settled into her seat and considered the menu, she kept an eye on the news.  Unlike Zach, she didn't try to do anything else as she knew she couldn't help under the circumstances.  She was also certain she'd be called by someone in the crew soon enough.

At the hospital, Emkir was relaxing at Aali's bedside when several people entered the room with one wearing a suit.  The suit quickly asked Emkir to follow them.  As Emkir said he'd rather stay with Aali and asked what was going on he looked closer and saw the others were wearing security uniforms!  As they again requested Emkir follow them, he repeated that he wanted to remain with Aali and asked what was going on?  The suit told Emkir that Aali was safe where she was and recovering as expected.  But there had been an incident with one of his crew mates and...  When Emkir interrupted, asking 'who' in a concerned voice, the man simply and calmly asked Emkir to follow them.  As he looked from the suit to the security, Emkir realized he was getting nowhere trading words and followed them to what appeared to be both a very secure and very comfortable room in the facility's basement.

Emkir realized this must be the place the hospital's Board of Directors held up before and after announcing unpopular changes.  The Admiral ignored all the amenities, including food and drink, for the vid screen broadcasting the evolving situation as the commenter stated that Instell-Arms had sealed the facility and their security forces were acting to resolve the situation.  Without any details except those released by the facility, the media could only report Instell-Arms had confirmed that Major Sir Kaihvos was in the facility at the time of the incident.  And that there were, as yet unidentified, bodies on the deck.  The last was very obviously a reference to corpses, not wounded.  Once again, the crew were linked subconsciously as Emkir tried to reach Rol directly by comms.  Just as Aiden did, Emkir failed to get through and had too little data to reach any conclusion from the silence.

Reacting To The News

     In the surgeon's changing room Mikah's day had been fairly relaxing.  She had just finished changing, and was leaving the staff room after changing.  As she did, a man in a suit came to her saying, "My Lady, We've secured your engineer's room and moved the Admiral to a secure location in the hospital."  This, with a nerves-fraying tone obvious in the man's voice, did not bode well for the rest of Mikah's day.  She considered when to interrupt as the man continued, "We are curious if you would like to be part of the response team we're sending to Instell-Arms?  Apparently Major Sir Rol Kaihvos has been involved in a shooting there."  Of all the things Mikah thought were coming, this was the last thing she expected and she found herself echoing Aiden though not aware of it.

As Mikah asked, "What?" the man held up a datapad on which was playing out coverage of the events at Instell-Arms.  With the sound off, she had not realized some kind of event was playing live, and said she'd go with the team as she tried to sort out in her mind what the hell had happened?  As she wrestled with that, the man spoke into his comms saying she'd decided to ride along and asked her to follow him as he left the room.  As they went to the emergency unit, the suit explained that their hospital had been high-lined as a first response unit because someone knew Dame Mikah would be there.  While he had been sent to determine if she wanted to be involved, they had readied a med-unit and hover-rescue in a vehicle bay.  He also said that, after the first request had come a second, official request, from the Duke's Seneschal's office.  It asked them to advise Dame Mikah that they would prefer her to join the medical response team.

When Mikah asked for any details they had, she was told that "Unspecified persons" opened fire, according to the Instell-Arms facility controllers.  Major Sir Kaihvos' party was confirmed in the area, but their involvement was unknown.  There were both wounded and dead, though none had yet been identified.  They assured Port Security that Instell-Arms security were in the process of fully securing the facility so it would be 100% save for responding medical personnel.  They finished briefing her as they arrived at a response flyer authorized to use specialized official transport tubes built into the station structure.  Mikah was introduced to the comms, and her position in the craft, as well as the med-tech crew and doctor assigned, and then they were on their way.

En route to the site, Mikah got a comms from Aiden and said she was in an ambulance heading to the site. He told her the Instell-Arms shipment arrived and they were all in armor. When he asked where she wanted them, she told them to stay put. Zimzod jacked into the conversation and, when he'd heard her instructions, told Mikah he planned to keep everyone in armor and secure the berth, with which she agreed. When Aiden asked if she wanted him to call the others? Mikah told him to have all the crew return to the berth if they could. Once done with Mikah, Aiden asked Zimzod if they should all armor up and Zimzod said yes, pointing out they could stay on comms while getting kitted up. Aiden agreed, and his first call was to the port asking what was going to happen to their berth? This confused the representative who took the call, as she said in a confused voice, "Nothing. Do you want something to happen to your berth? We can hire out security personnel to you." The last part was said in that professionally inviting tone sales personnel use.

Aiden reassessed his thoughts as he thanked the tech but said, "No thanks to the troops." In the meantime, Zimzod had worked a few settings on the berth controls to make sure the entrances were all both locked and secured. He also set the screens to show the camera angle out beyond the entrance which, while very limited in view, should show anyone approaching the barrier. Zimzod finished this as Aiden cut his call to the port and the knight suggested Aiden call Ms. Vik while he called Zach. As things progressed, the two were joined by Brian, who had made some quick decisions including having Wall-E precede him carrying a steel plate as a shield! Seeing this, Aiden just shook his head in disbelief and called Ms. Vik. Inger answered, asking what Rol did?

When Aiden missed that and started saying, "In case you're not near a news outlet...", she cut him off asking again what Rol did? Aiden admitted they didn't know the details yet, but said Mikah was headed there with a rescue team and wanted everyone else back at the berth. Inger was less than impressed, but not willing to remain out in the open if something larger was happening. So she asked if anyone was in position to give her a safe pickup and ride back? Aiden considered that for a second before recalling the IRIS agent taxi driver. Aiden asked Inger where she was and told her to hold up there while he got her a safe ride back.

Aiden then called the IRIS agent, unaware Zach had done the same thing, and the agent picked up saying, "Funny you people should keep calling me" with a tongue in cheek tone. When Aiden asked, the driver said Zach Wood already called him a short time ago. After he told Aiden Zach had asked to be taken to Instell-Arms, in a less than impressed tone, Aiden said there'd been a change in plans and they needed both Zach and Ms. Vik picked up and returned to the berth. The agent told Aiden that, as he told Zach, it was going to take some time, and asked if Inger could shelter in place? Aiden said she could and accepted the delay as he gave the driver her location. He also suggested the agent act with caution as the agent jokingly pointed out his organization was well aware of the possibilities in play.

While Aiden was talking to Inger and the agent, Zimzod reached out to Zach, who had just finished toasting interesting times with Erum. When he saw the call, Zach answered, "Hey Zimzod" in a relaxed tone. When Zimzod said Mikah wanted him back at the ship Zach said he was working on that, but likely wouldn't be back for an hour or two. Zimzod heard this and asked, "An hour or two? What are you playing with yourself? I hope you're in a bathroom then" When Zach said he was in a restaurant, Zimzod said it figured with goobers like him. But he took it from the conversation that Zach said he was coming back. Zimzod cut the line with Zach as Aiden finished with the Agent. Zimzod told Aiden Zach was coming back to the berth. Aiden decided to call the agent back and update him, though when he picked up the line he sounded a bit busy and perhaps just an edge annoyed. As Aiden asked for an ETA, the driver guessed about forty to fifty minutes as he was busy doing his job.

After the agent hung up on him, Aiden called Ms. Vik to update her. As they geared up, Aiden grabbed his LAG, snub pistol and a few grenades, selecting one smoke and two high explosive. Zimzod arrived with half his weapons stores strapped to harnesses and carrying a case of grenades. Brian showed up with his laser carb and laser sword. Once they'd gathered together again, Zimzod said he wanted Brian to have Wall-E move some of the machine parts cargo containers into positions for cover if they had to defend the berth. Once they started strategizing about how to defend the berth, Aiden asked Brian where he planned to hole up? When Brian said he'd be in the cargo bay, Aiden said he didn't want the engineer behind him. Brian simply said, "I'm not Emkir so fuck off."

Mikah And The Medical Team

     When they arrived at the edge of the facility, Mikah and the medical team were met by a full squad of Instell-Arms security in top-of-the-line battledress and wielding significant weaponry. Each trooper's armor and gear were stamped with the unmistakable Instell-Arms logo. As the med-team and Mikah stepped out of their craft, they were all asked who was familiar with combat armor? When Mikah said she was, she found herself and those who raised their hands swarmed by tech teams strapping them into combat armor and having it expertly dialed in to fit them like a second skin. Mikah was impressed. As they put her in armor, a trooper explained, "someone" got into the ammo stores and opened up with automatic weapons on the sales floor. The facility controller confirmed there were customers and personnel down.

The man explained this automatically activated blast doors and battledressed-security forces. While they believed they'd secured the active shooters, they were still securing the facility. Once done, they'd move on the questioning and investigation, to confirm no one slipped through pretending to be a victim. As a result, all those entering the facility had to be armored, period. Before she could ask, the man continued his briefing, saying Rol had been located, had been shot and wasn't conscious but was being treated. While their cameras from the site showed he had no 'direct involvement' in the incident, there was no data yet on his indirect involvement. They certainly had no evidence yet if this was a targeted assassination attempt or not, and they could confirm some of the criminals would not be able to be questioned.

The plan was to move the medical team into a triage action, set up for the ten to twelve wounded. They were being treated in the space where Rol was being cared for as they had not needed to move him. Once Mikah got to Rol, she saw he was hit in the lower left quadrant of the chest, which penetrated his thorax and collapsed his lungs, causing his collapse. His medical status was uncertain based on the bullet damage, loss of blood and possible oxygen deprivation damage. Once she had a handle on Rol and the care he was getting, Mikah looked around and saw there are folks hurt worse than Rol was. And from what she could see, he was getting the best care he could hope for. So she moved to help with one of the more severe cases.

As she sorted in her mind, one victim seemed to have taken a round into the face, another had a pressure cuff above the knee after the leg was cut off below the joint. Once she'd gone over all the victims, she grabbed an Instell-Arms kit and started working on the face wound. As she worked, Mikah really enjoyed using the latest tech toys on a mental level as she did her professional best to help her patient. She asked if she could buy one on her way out and was told she could if she had the KCr 200...

As she worked, Mikah recognized the damage from dumb-dumb slugs.  She also knew the limits of her abilities, as the fragments had pretty much turned this victim's frontal lobe into jello.  So she could save him, and he'd heal up physically, but his personality and everything else that was "him" was likely gone.  As they brought in a "cooler bag" to slow the swelling and prevent other damage, she checked the victim's credentials and found he was a media tech.  After learning that, she wasn't as sorry as she had been about his wounds.  Getting ready to move Rol, they said they couldn't really guess how bad the damage was until he regained consciousness.  Then they could check for any intellectual damage.  Mikah kept her thoughts on that too herself and just kept treating the wounded and other injuries over her ninety minutes on-site.

The Pieces Begin Falling Into Place

     Eventually, the agent called Zach and said he was on his way.  As they talked, the agent asked if Zach still had ideas of going to Instell-Arms and the merchant admitted it had just been his emotions talking without thinking.  Relieved, the agent gave Zach a timeline when he'd be picked up as Zach sipped at his drink.  The agent then called Ms. Vik and let her know the timeline too.  In the hospital basement, Emkir was annoyed to find he couldn't call Mikah and could only sit and watch.

The site was obviously secured well and professionally, and the hospital appeared to have been told this was not an assassination.  While they didn't say how they got the data, they were certain it was correct.  Emkir did get a call from TAS, asking how this would affect the planned interview?  Emkir promised to update them as soon as there was more data on that.  Soon after that, Emkir was told he was safe to head back to Aali's room or to their ship's berth.  When he got to her room, Aali was awake, if groggy, watching something relaxing on the vid.  Emkir took her hand and kissed it as he joined her.

Emkir then spent the rest of visiting hours with Aali as the staff delivered meals and carried out regular care.  As Aali came out of the anesthetic, she noticed the difference in care from what she'd expected and started asking what happened?  When she did, Emkir just said it could wait and she accepted that for the moment.  Eventually, Aali's doctor came in and went over everything with Aali and gave her a clean bill of health.  When he asked if Aali had any questions, she explained that one of her crew had undergone this recently and she'd been able to observe and participate.  So she felt up to speed on the process.  Since nothing unusual occurred, Aali didn't have anything to do but relax.

Mikah was finally transported back to the hospital with a number of the wounded including Rol.  On the way, Mikah was able to take part in tests and scans that suggested no brain damage was likely, but that was not a guarantee.  By the time she had rejoined his treatment, Rol had been put in a medically induced coma and the plan was not to bring him out of that until at least the next morning.  As she checked over the treatment record and his condition, she agreed with the actions.  As they arrived, all the victims were moved to treatment or condition management based on their condition and needs.

As they moved the patients for treatment, the hospital staff appeared to have everything in hand.  Keeping her from potentially getting in the way as she was now a tourist, the hospital administration offered her a ride back to the berth.  Mikah said she'd take them up on that after she checked in on her patient.  That caused a bit of confusion until she clarified she meant Aali.  At that, the hospital administrator escorted Mikah into the room as Emkir sat with Aali.  As she arrived, Emkir asked what happened as Mikah asked how Aali was?  Aali and Emkir both said she was ok as Aali also asked what was happening?  When Mikah tried to sidestep the question, Aali pointed out that there had been enough odd things since she'd come out of anesthetic, and Emkir wouldn't tell her anything.

Mikah bit the bullet, saying there'd been a bit of an incident at Instell-Arms and Rol had been shot while others were dead.  Then, she pointed out that it was nothing Aali needed to worry about.  Aali asked how bad Rol was and Mikah admitted he was in a medically induced coma, but should be all right.  As they discussed the situation, Emkir said TAS had called, and wanted to know what he should tell them and what not to say?  Mikah told Emkir to direct TAS to the hospital, knowing the hospital wouldn't discuss patient conditions with someone who wasn't a family member.  When he persisted, looking for guidelines on what Mikah didn't want him to say, Mikah snapped that he could say whatever he wanted as far as she was concerned.

With that, Emkir called his contact at TAS and explained that Rol was one of the injured, was in an induced coma and was currently undergoing treatment.  Emkir suggested they leave everything in place for the interview and wait to see what happened when Rol woke up the next morning.  After that was done, the hospital administrator said that Mikah was being given a ride back to their berth.  He asked if Emkir wanted to accompany her?  Emkir said he wanted to stay with Aali though, so it was decided Mikah would leave and they'd return later, once Aali was released.  Mikah was taken back to the berth, and was surprised to see media still in the bay area despite the news happening elsewhere.  As her return was documented, she scanned the berth and realized why.

Closing Deals And Moving On Them

     Mikah saw the "secure side" of the berth had been "fortified" with cargo containers which were manned by at least three combat armored figures!  Wanting to be sure before testing her assumptions, she comm'd Zimzod and asked if they had a delivery that day?  He reminded her of the delivery of the rings, though that was the day before.  She said, "ha ha" and asked if they got the armor from Instell-Arms?  Zimzod joked that they had been having fun with paper machete.  As she watched, Mikah even saw Wall-E with a weapon mounted in its arms rolling a patrol pattern around the public parameter of the bay!  Entering the berth, Mikah didn't get even the hint of a reaction from Wall-E.  Reaching the others by the cargo containers, Mikah complained to Brian about how useless Wall-E was as a guard 'droid.  Brian said Wall-E was an engineering 'droid and couldn't fire a weapon.  He had it patrolling to freak out those seeing it.

While they waited for IRIS to deliver Zach and Ms. Vik, Mikah changed into her combat armor and armed up too, just in case.  The day had moved into mid-afternoon when Ms. Vik and Zach arrived and they talked about what to do next?  When Zach arrived, Mikah told him they'd might as well call Salagon.  As the two went back into the berth to call, Zach mentioned the cost to shorten the work.  Mikah decided they could wait the four weeks because extending the berth would cost less than rushing the work.  After reaching Salagon, Mikah confirmed they were good with the current pricing for four weeks work and he was satisfied with their decision.  With that settled, Salagon made his only comment about Mikah's armor when he asked if they were having an exciting day?  Zach said it was always an exciting day as Mikah asked when they could start the work?

Salagon asked when they could bring the ship to the platform and they decided to move the ship that night.  Mikah realized she'd have to remember to make sure the crew possessions and valuables were moved off ship before that.  Once they agreed, they signed over all the papers and Mikah ordered Zach to check on the crew members watching the media.  She wanted him to make sure no one was provoking a shooting incident.  Receiving the order just as they were coming to payment for the services, Zach wondered out loud why she was acting so weird?  When Mikah started getting blunt about her demands, Zach realized Mikah was hiding her secret source of cash and moved to another terminal with a shrug.  After he moved, Mikah turned her terminal away from him to be sure he couldn't see.  She then paid the bill from the funds Lord William gave them as well as those received from the cargo deal.

Now she just needed to contact Duke Norris' office to get back the KCr 50 they promised.  With the payment made and confirmed, Salagon still made a play at cutting off a week from the work time for MCr 1 but Mikah said "No thanks."  They signed off after Mikah said they'd deliver the vessel later that night.  Then Mikah called the entire crew and announced they needed to empty the ship of all possessions and valuables.  Sitting nearby, Zach considered not only his goods but the food stores aboard the ship too.  He realized this was gonna be a huge task.  But while he was considering that, Zimzod called in and said there might be an issue with that plan, asking Mikah to come out into the open berth.

When Mikah asked what was happening, Zimzod said there were a team of people entering the berth with heavy equipment, and they didn't appear to belong there, and his voice sounded deadly serious.  Mikah rushed out as those watching the entrance loaded their weapons and prepared for war.  But before things came to a flash point, and just before Mikah arrived, they realized the "heavy equipment" was cargo moving gear.  These were the crew picking up the machine parts.  Of course, this didn't happen without the arriving crew noticing the fortifications or missing the armored figures.  As Mikah arrived, they got a call from the captain of the Roving Star, the ship which had bought the machine parts.

When Mikah had it transferred to her comms, the captain was a bit cautious in asking what was happening?  Mikah apologized and explained that they'd had an incident that day and one of their crew had been shot.  At the same time, Zach hovered forward on his chair to open the access and calm the cargo team's nerves.  It didn't help as Zimzod pointed to Zach and yelled "Target Practice!"  When Brian realized what was going on, he asked Mikah if they couldn't delay the delivery because it would remove their combat cover?  Hearing this, Zach said, "And soon you won't be able to hide behind the ship.  This stopped Zimzod in his tracks as he asked, "What the fuck does that mean?" Before Mikah could, Zach said, "We're moving the ship in an hour to have the purification plant installed."  When Brian heard that, he said he wanted to go to the salvage platform with the ship so he could spend time working there and making money.

Eventually they managed to get the cargo team into the berth to do their work and they moved off with the machine parts, leaving the cargo bay mostly empty.  Then Mikah again ordered everyone to move into the ship and empty it out.  It was after she repeated the order that Emkir asked about the food they ordered to fill the galley?  Having thought of it before, Zach said they could leave it in the ship so long as they locked the galley to prevent theft.  As he answered this, Aiden was considering if he needed to remove anything from the ship to continue his nav studies?  But he realized he had what he needed.  Mikah talked to the others, as they spent the rest of the afternoon clearing out the ship.  They decided Aiden would fly the ship out to the salvage platform and return on the cutter.

Ms. Vik called the port and set everything up for the move, including keeping rental on the berth for the cutter.  When the ship flew out, Sir Brian was going with it, and working on the platform for the salvagers to earn money and watch the work on the ship.  Aiden wasn't happy for the company, but was pleased he'd be leaving the knight there for a month.  As dinner time came, Zach cooked for the crew and jokingly handed Aiden and Brian MRE's for the flight out.  After Aiden and Brian left, Mikah decided to relax and watch vids.  When Inger suggested "K'kree vs Hiver", Mikah agreed and the ladies sparked up one they'd not seen.  Zach dove into his emails, to start working things out from the massive backlog.

As he wiped out the mass of the media requests, Zach found a number of inquiries from TAS.  Some were about Rol's condition and possible changes to the interview deal, and some were offers for others in the crew to comment on the shooting and the aftermath.  Zach simply answered with a written statement that Sir Rol was under hospital care and they would share his status as evaluations were explained to them.  Done with TAS, Zach dug through the emails for merchant connections and found many of them wanted to know what deals he'd be cutting with media outlets to milk the situation?  Some even offered connections to their media representatives to help with the deals.  For a cut.  And while Zach could see how easily he could profit from the situation, he didn't want to end up so badly hurt by Mikah that Wall-E had to carry him around.

As for the news, TAS was leading with several fronts, including the exclusive statement from the Hotel California that "Sir Rol was in a medically induced coma and no further status had been released", suggesting the prognosis might be grim.  Instell-Arms had released a statement explaining that an intruder brought a hacker/cracker device onto their floor.  The attacker pretended to buy a sub-machinegun before the attack was executed.  But the person then cracked one of the SMG ammo displays to get access to rounds before going on a shooting spree for unknown reasons.  The final tally was 20 dead and 17 wounded including Sir Rol.  Victims had been corralled into the long thin allies formed by aisles in that area.  A number of former Marine and Army experts explained to the viewing public how that forced shoppers into tight and easily targeted clusters.  Even vulnerable to a hose down if the shooter could keep the muzzle level.

One thing the experts agreed on was that the shooter knew automatic weapons.  The report made it very clear, a number if times, that Sir Rol's involvement was simply a regrettable coincidence.  That he was very clearly an innocent victim in this.  There was a tasteful memorial to a number of the victims who were members of the media, and somehow the crew couldn't find it in their hearts to regret those deaths.  After he was done with his emails, Zach secured his account and joined the ladies watching vids.  Zimzod split his time between just hanging out with the crew and periodically patrolling the perimeter of the berth.  As he patrolled, Zimzod did his best to menace the media with glares.

A One Way Trip For Some

     Aboard the ship, as Aiden piloted, Brian sat in the co-pilot's chair commenting on how clean and lemon fresh the bridge was.  Ignoring Brian's taunts as best he could, they made the transit and began their approach to the platform.  Nothing new to either man, the salvage platform was a massive station with individual bays able to serve many craft larger than their ship's class at the same time.  As they approached and identified themselves, they were given guidance where to dock and even worked with a bay flight control team on final docking.  Having grabbed a bit of a nap on the trip over after poking Aiden, Brian announced he was going to find some work once they docked.  This left Aiden to deal with the bay crew and handle the final forms and formalities before launching the cutter and returning to the port and berth.

Before he left, Aiden's hopes were battered a bit as Brian said he was only going to work for a few days to build up some cash and then he hire a ride back to the port.  After Aiden left, Salagon gave Brian a rough description of the many projects they had on-going which needed hands.  Anything from cut-down work on wrecks to system salvage to work on their ship.  Of course, the last would only get the crew money back on their work rather than paying him cash.  Brian said he'd want to check on the work on the Hotel California, but he wanted to earn some creds.  Given his skills, they assigned him to helping with teams removing high-value electronics from wrecked craft.  Brian regretted not having brought Wall-E with him.

The work was not done in difficult conditions, as the wrecks were mostly either in internal bays or docked with the station and not depressurized.  The first wreck Brian found himself working on was an older tour liner which suffered a misfired drive while running near the graveyard fleet on a tour.  As the crew reacted to secure their passengers and recover from the thruster incident, the vessel collided with a drifting hulk and the viewing galleries were ripped open.  Due to the age of the vessel, questions about it's systems and the loss of life, the tour company chose to take the insurance to cover their losses and buy a newer vessel.

The wreck was docked in a sealed work bay so Brian could "swim" in zero gravity without a vacc suit as the bay was pressurized.  Extra care did have to be taken to avoid sharp and exposed edges of torn metal.  He spent some time working on his new project getting to know those he was working with.  Brian was also pleased with the assignment, because Salagon said he'd not only get Cr 500 per day working, but might also get a bonus if it was felt a system recovered was found to be very valuable for resale.  Especially if it could not have been recovered working without his skills.  But soon he hit the rack for an early morning the next day.

The Last To Return

     In the hospital, Aali's system slowly burned off all the anesthetic as she healed from the surgery.  As she became more and more clear headed, she and Emkir went over the data delivered by TAS and commented on how easy the service made the process.  Finally, after a few more checks, an attending doctor signed off on Aali and she was allowed to leave.  Finishing off the final forms, they were brought out to where TAS had a car waiting to take them back to the berth.  However, when the car got to the berth, they saw the ship was no longer there!  Nor was there any cargo.  And no people moving in the visible section of the berth.  Nothing they would expect to see!

As they entered the berth, Emkir buzzed the comms and Mikah answered, telling Emkir, "Nobody here.  We gave at the office."  At the same time, Zimzod came stomping out of the berth's lounge in full combat armor and armed, for one of his patrols.  Surprised, Emkir asked if they were under siege or something and Zimzod said, "Not yet but I'm hopin'."  As they went inside, the pair said hi and Mikah did a brief checkup of Aali's stent before Emkir said they were going to just hit the rack.  With an evil look on her face, Mikah told Emkir, "Be gentile with her."  The crew hung out, as no one had anything special they wanted to work on or get done.  Nearing 11pm, Aiden returned with the cutter and secured the boat before joining those still awake.  He eventually set an alarm for 8am and racked out.

Early To The Waking

     Mikah got up early to find they had a blinking message indicator on their comms.  When she listened to the message, it was from Countess Ursara.  The Countess explained that she had been out at functions, and a party most of the day before, and had only heard about Rol late that night.  She said she hoped he'd recover well and looked forward to talking with Mikah tomorrow.  She then corrected herself saying, "Well, I guess it's now today."  She offered to help with anything she could do.

Mikah decided to shower and dress before she called Ursara back, and once she did she was told the Countess was "indisposed".  So she left a brief message that Rol was stable and they'd speak later.  There was also a message from Brian saying he planned to stay on the station and work for some cash.  As Mikah listened, he said he'd check on his auctions from there.  If anyone called the ship about them, he asked her to have them bounce the message up to him on the platform to his private comms.

At the hospital, Rol's medical team began the process of bringing him out of the coma as they were certain they had him completely stabilized.  The work was slow going and very careful due to both medical procedure and the uncertainty of oxygen deprivation brain damage.  For Rol, the first sensations were intense pain.  So much so that he didn't feel the injections that brought some relief.  Of course, the relief was not complete.  As the doctors started testing his cognizance, memory and began working to determine if there had been any brain damage.  Eventually, they told Rol what had happened, both to manage his responses and to test his memory.

As he returned to awareness, the questions became more and more standard and the doctors were pleased it appeared he showed no neurological damage.  Soon, the team lead estimated he'd be under treatment for a few days, and they could sign him out earlier, to the doctor on his ship's crew.  When Rol asked Mikah's opinion, they said she was aware of his condition, but not involved in treatment.  Eventually, the team were satisfied with the results of their testing and explained that part of the testing to Rol.  They also said this was the only reason they woke him up so early in the treatment and they needed to sedate him again.  Rol relaxed as the drugs did their work, and faded to sleep.

Dealing With The Morning After

     In his quarters, Aiden's alarm went off and he threw some clothes on and went out to get some grub.  As he looked around, Aiden saw Zach wasn't up.  Checking his nav work, he saw he was almost caught up to what Zach prepared.  With a break, Aiden considered recent events and remembered the messages he'd been sending to buffer during the height of the insanity with the media after the shooting.  He decided, now that he had some time, to sort through them and clean out the backlog.  As he started filtering them, three items caught his attention right away, as they were bolded by the data system.  When he checked the full data, Aiden saw they were from the Duke's Seneschal's office!

When he told Mikah they had three calls "yesterday", she wasn't happy.  As she had him shunt them to her, Mikah considered that someone needed a class in not unilaterally sending all incoming calls to never never land.  The calls were in increasing urgency as the office requested they call in regarding the shooting and investigation.  Once having listened to them, Mikah called, and was told they'd been waiting for her call back before she was actually shunted to the Seneschal himself.  Mikah was surprised to see he was dressed and in his office that early in the morning.

Leaning forward with an "it's about time you called in" tone, he thanked Mikah for responding.  Mikah apologized, saying she only just got the message and he said they needed to work on receiving messages.  She agreed that she was going to get on that as soon as she could.  He then told her Duke Leonard wanted to see her.  He asked how soon she could be at his office on Rhylanor?  When she said she could fly down right away, they gave her the coordinates to land at and her clearances.  After that, she said she'd leave as soon as she notified the port.

After Mikah called the port and lifted out in the cutter, Aiden went back to managing the rest of the buffered calls.  In their quarters, Aali woke with a significant head ache, despite her intention to sleep in.  Of course, Emkir was still asleep beside her so she disentangled herself from him and dressed before heading into the lounge.  As she did, Aali considered maybe nibbling on something, but certainly getting a large glass of water.  She also considered a bowl of chicken soup if she could find one in the galley.  As she hunted the soup, she did grab crackers to nibble with the water.

After a snack, and drinking her water, Aali sat and watched the news, catching up on everything the rest of the crew didn't tell her the day before.  As she watched, Aali wondered if there'd been a change in the numbers of media in the berth and how they were acting?  Thinking about that, Aali realized they had no data on the numbers and behavior from before the shooting.  So there'd be nothing to compare it to in order to determine anything.  As a result, she shrugged the idea off and returned to catching up.  In their quarters, Emkir woke to find Aali gone.  His first thought was to grab his comms and call her.  But when he did, her comms began to alert there next to the bed.  When this suggested she'd not gone far, Emkir got up, threw water on his face, got into ship's coveralls and went into the lounge.

There he saw Aali watching as the media ground on and on, rehashing the shooting events of the day before.  Once he made sure she was OK, other than a headache, Emkir joined her watching.  Thanks to the memorial released by Instell-Arms, the identities the MegaCorp had were released the day before, including Rol's.  And most of the victims had been members of the media.  As they watched, and Aiden worked, Zach emerged from his quarters and considered food.  Then he wondered who'd eaten and who hadn't, so he could decide to cook for himself or everyone?  Looking around the room, Zach asked if everyone had eaten, or if he should cook breakfast.  He learned that the only ones who had not yet eaten were himself, Emkir, Ms. Vik and Zimzod, and the last two weren't yet awake.  So Zach decided to cook some omelets for those who wanted or would want some.

Eventually, Zimzod and Ms. Vik woke in their respective quarters and emerged into the lounge.  Ms. Vik was dressed business casual and Zimzod was in a ship's suit.  As they ate, Inger asked if they had a plan for the day?  Zach said his was to not get shot and she agreed that was a good plan.  Zimzod lifted his fork and agreed.  When Zach asked about Mikah, Aiden said she went down to Rhylanor to meet with the Duke and Inger asked if there was anything to worry about?  When Aiden admitted he didn't listen to the messages, Zimzod suggested they listen to them.  After they did, they found themselves no closer to an answer as Zach asked how long ago she'd left?

Aiden said it was about an hour and a half earlier and Zach guessed it would take 45 min to an hour to land.  As Zimzod joked, "Arn't you the flyboy" because Zach had completely forgotten he didn't know "where" Mikah went, except to the planet below.  So, the time needed to get where she was going once she landed wasn't added to his guess at her travel time.  As they discussed this, the comms buzzed in the berth.  When Zach answered, he found it was the hospital and they were looking for Mikah.

When Zach told them she was in a meeting with the Duke, they said they'd woken Rol and were doing tests.  Zach asked about his condition and they said he was awake and that was all that could be said at the moment.  Considering that, Zach told them to call once the tests were done and asked when they might be able to visit Rol?  He was told that was yet to be determined and they wouldn't know until the tests were done.  Zach thanked them and asked them for an update when they had one.

Realizing they couldn't do anything to help with either Mikah or Rol, Zach asked Aiden how he was coming with the nav plots?  With that, the pair went off to check Aiden's work so far.  As they checked, Aiden's numbers looked pretty good to Zach.  He felt it was time for Aiden to try some more difficult tests.  All this work took them through until it's lunch time.  Zach also checked the timing on his frozen Cr 32,000.  He saw it would take three more days before the soonest message could arrive that the ship delivered its cargo.

As they worked, Aiden checked his auction to find it was hovering at Cr 7,500.  Emkir and Aali decided to work on the datapads some more while Emkir doted on Aali.  Ms. Vik decided that going out of the berth was not a good idea after the events of the previous day.  As a result, she stayed to help with the datapads.  Zimzod relaxed in between patrolling in his combat armor.

Mikah's Meeting With The Seneschal

     Having completed re-entry and oriented on the provided coordinates, Mikah was getting close enough that her computer painted the landing zone as a military facility.  That meant there were no formalities or niceties as she was greeted by troopers.  They took her onto a cart and drove her directly to the Seneschal's office.  It was only mildly disturbing that she was meeting a civilian government official on a military base.  As she arrived, Mikah was treated to a one on one meeting with the Seneschal, who went over with Mikah all the details they had of the shooting.  They confirmed that she had been on-site with the rescue forces.  She explained the medical procedure she was involved in beforehand and how it evolved into her presence with the team.

After considering that, the Seneschal said, "Here's something you didn't learn" as he played his hands over a keyboard and a hologram appeared over the desk.  As it resolved, the Seneschal said, "This was the shooter.  And he's a former member of Imperial Special Forces."  As Mikah said, "OK" to both indicate he should continue dropping bombs and to give her time to digest the information.  The Seneschal continued, explaining that, according to all port records and intelligence, this man was "...not in the Rhylanor system."  Grasping at a meaning, Mikah asked if this had anything to do with Sir Jeremy's book, and was told they didn't believe so.  Focusing on the shooting itself, and ignoring the rest of the data for the second, Mikah asked if perhaps the shooting was a "PTSD snap", or if Rol was targeted?

The Seneschal said the shooter would have killed Rol if he'd wanted to, given his skills.  He was most disturbed by the fact that intelligence indicated the trooper shouldn't have been within ten parsecs of Rhylanor at the moment.  And, they should have known of his arrival, unless the retired trooper had "significant assistance".  Another problem was why he chose to open fire in an Instell-Arms facility, given their reputation and security?  This led Mikah to ask if he was still alive?  The Seneschal said they had confirmed he was killed in the action, by Instell-Arms security.  When he told her Instell-Arms had the body "on ice", she offered to do an autopsy and was told Instell-Arms had completely scanned the body with all sensors.  So he wasn't sure if an actual autopsy would reveal anything new?

When she asked, Mikah was told the trooper never served with Rol, but the Seneschal said it would be good for Rol to reach out to any friends he had in-system.  When Mikah asked why, the Seneschal said they'd be interested in any rumors anyone had heard about.  Rol's friends or the friends of any of the other former military among their crew might have heard interesting things.  When Mikah said they'd follow up on the request, he said that the Duke would appreciate if that were done discreetly.  He also told Mikah that, in the unlikely event Rol was targeted, the odds were they'd get very little in rumors.  Mikah promised that they'd do their best.

That done, the Seneschal confirmed they were finally getting their ship worked on, and asked how much longer they'd be in the system?  Mikah said four more weeks, mocking the delivery of good news.  As she did this, he slid a flimsy to her and said, "These are a few events you might want to look into."  Asking "really?", Mikah looked over the sheet to see five or six items.  The one that caught her eye was a "Travel with the Heroes" cruise of the graveyard fleet.  When Mikah asked, she was told there was a recommendation those in the crew who served during the Fifth Frontier War, except Rol, sign on as volunteers.  This greatly reduced Mikah's enthusiasm for the cruise.

The Seneschal suggested that, if the rest of the crew wanted to be involved, they could always buy a berth as attendees.  He made sure Mikah understood these were not mandatory, like the other list was.  Mikah said they'd do their best to attend as many as they could.  The Seneschal then asked if there was anything Mikah would like to ask of the Duke, and she considered.  She asked if, now that Rol had been elevated to Knighthood, his brother Knights would help with security?  But she was told that had been covered, without explaining how.  She was assured they'd be warned of any threats uncovered regarding their crew.  As Mikah considered this, he said how entertaining the videos were of things like her crew armoring up and fortifying their berth.  This made Mikah aware the berth was now under surveillance.

As Mikah digested this new data, the Seneschal asked if Sir Brian really did program their 'droid to act in combat?  Mikah said that was just for show.  Returning to the question of what she'd like to bring up with the Duke, Mikah got permission to reply to that at a later time.  When she asked about keeping them update on Rol's condition, he said they were plugged into the hospital, but would appreciate if anything the crew learned was passed along too.  He also updated her that, while she was in flight, they learned the doctors had woken Rol up and were proceeding with tests.  Mikah promised to personally check on things once she was back on the station.

Nodding, the Seneschal said the Duke was curious about how they raised the money for the work on the ship?  Hedging, Mikah said it was "nothing entirely illegal", and those words drew more of the Seneschal's attention.  When he asked her to clarify the phrase, Mikah said Lord William might be able to better clarify that for them, not sure how he'd take the answer.  When he asked if there was nothing more she'd like to say about it, Mikah said, "Let's say its payment for pain and suffering for a job we had done in the past."  Appreciating the thought that went into crafting that evasion, the Seneschal said he was sure the Duke would want to take that up with his brother and wished her a good trip back to the station.

As she left, a truly pitiful looking woman came up to Mikah, asking her to help as a Seneschal.  Mikah answered that she wasn't a Seneschal but the woman persisted, saying she must work for the Seneschal to have access to the building.  Mikah snapped that she was almost under arrest, and the woman begged Mikah to help her.  Mikah refused and walked out of the area, closing portals behind her until the woman's sobbing was cut off.  Once back at the cart, Mikah rode back to the cutter, which had been fueled up, and flew back to the port.

Getting The Afternoon On Track

     Once back at the berth, Mikah found the crew going about their selected tasks and some cold omelets left over.  Not having had breakfast, Mikah dug into it.  Ironically, as Mikah started to eat, the rest of the crew started gathering for lunch.  They sat as Zach cooked, and Zimzod asked what the meeting was about?  Mikah told them about the shooter and the mysteries about him, including his being in-system.  She also told them the Duke's office would like to know any rumors the crew could turn up.  When Ms. Vik asked if it was possible the Duke just wanted them to start shaking trees until something shot back, Mikah admitted that was possible.  When Inger said, "So we're targets now", Mikah asked, "Have you been on this ship?" wondering why Ms. Vik was surprised by the turn events?  Inger just sat back muttering, "Every fucking port..."

Mikah also stressed that they should be as discreet as possible, and got a good laugh over that.  Then Mikah said she was going to the hospital to check in on Rol and Inger began telling her they'd called the berth.  Mikah cut her off, saying she knew about the call and the update, so Inger accepted that and let the knight continue.  Ironically, the testing was done and one of the doctors called the ship just then to update Mikah and the crew on the results of the testing.  By the time they called, Mikah was ready and they discussed Rol's treatment.  Mikah said she was satisfied leaving him in their care.  Getting back to the news on the shooter, Aiden turned out to be the subject matter expert on sneaking people into systems and onto worlds.  But this was usually getting Scout teams into systems the Imperium was investigating.

This wasn't normally a place as built up and advanced as the Rhylanor system, so he was certain they didn't "sneak him in" but smuggled him in.  While his local contacts might be limited, Aiden considered hanging out in Scout bars and listening for rumors.  Considering the need for a shield, in case things went south, he invited Emkir along.  While it had been a number of years, Aiden spent a year of his service in the Rhylanor system almost a decade before.  So while he mapped out a plan of places to visit, Emkir discussed the idea with Aali and made sure she was OK.  For her part, Aali checked with Mikah, to make sure she could act under the circumstances, and Mikah confirmed she was good for light duty.

So, as she planned to call around to friends, Emkir offered to buy Aiden the first round once they found a bar.  He figured he owed the pilot that at least, after accidentally shooting him.  Zimzod changed into casual cloths and strapped his .45 into a shoulder holster and his snubbie in a "small of the back" holster.  Dressed for relaxation and action, Zimzod planned to hit a marine bar or two and see what he could listen in on?  When Aiden asked if they should head out together, Zimzod said, "Um, not no, but hell no.  You go your way and I go mine."  As Aiden and Emkir prepared to leave, Aali reminded Aiden that if Emkir didn't come back in one piece, it would be his ass.  It was Ms. Vik who pointed out, in the pause, that Emkir had already shot that off.

Beginning The Rumor Hunt

     Mikah laughed as she prepared to call Dame Ashley and see if she'd listen for anything interesting?  When the Dame asked if there was something more to the shooting incident, Mikah played it dumb, saying they still didn't have a name on the shooter.  She also played on Rol's infamous history, thanks to Sir Jeremy, and asked again for the knight's help, and that of her network.  Dame Ashley agreed to spread the word around and Mikah wondered if she was intrigued on her own behalf too?  That call took about 30 min of Mikah's time, and she followed it up with a call to Countess Ursara to ask the same.  Of course, Ursara was all about the dramatics, and Mikah had to explain that Rol would be up and about very soon.  And as Mikah moved on to the "Ask around and tell us what rumors you hear" part of the conversation, Ursara suggested Mikah should know the public had not been told the details of the shooting.

When Mikah claimed they were asking because the public didn't know anything, Ursara remained skeptical.  But Mikah kept playing innocent and concerned, and eventually Ursara agreed.  After that, Mikah asked about the auction and Ursara was completely confident things were going well.  She admitted nothing was absolute in the auction world but felt they had a good chance of hitting the target or passing it at the gavel.  With a winning smile and glint in her eyes, Ursara speculated on ships arriving from other systems with bids from remote buyers.  Mikah wondered how much of this was because she was a pilot fish feeding off the shark's kill?  But so long as the money rolled in, Mikah was happy.  Once they got over the glow of the coming profit, Ursara asked if Mikah was free for dinner?  When Mikah confirmed Ursara was talking about that night at Ursara's ship, she said she was free and they set to meet at seven.  Ursara was pleased, saying they'd go someplace nice and suggested Mikah dress up.

Ms. Vik figured the first place to start was with her friends, so she called Port Ops.  They were surprised to have her call and ask about rumors because the Duke's office had called, late the night before, demanding a report and brief investigation of every ship that had arrived in port in the last week!  Inger didn't have to comment on how monstrous a task that was in a port this busy.  And she wasn't surprised when they asked her if she'd like to come in and help out, as the port had pretty much called in everyone to get the work done.  Inger told them to hold a moment, and went over to Mikah, who was talking to Dame Ashley at the time.

When she got Mikah's attention, Inger said, "Ya know, If I were working at the port, I'd have direct access to their database."  Then she gave a very brief explanation of the offer.  Once Mikah was up on the deal, she told Inger to go for it.  Getting back to the port on the comms, with a smile, Inger said, "Sure!  I can come in and help out.  No problem." and her friends in the port said they'd send a car to get her.  So for the rest of that day, Inger spent her time combing through the port's registry pulling data on arriving ships.

Mikah barely got done talking to Countess Ursara when the hospital called about Rol.  The prognosis was very good, as the knight suffered only flesh and minor osteo damage,  He was most affected because of the chest puncture.  Because of that, they wanted to treat him more for possible infection and felt they could also administer medical slow drug, to help Sir Rol heal.  Especially given the attention from the Duke's office.  With everything Mikah knew about what had happened, she felt that was more secure and helpful than having to care for Rol herself.  So she OK'd the plan, but warned them to make sure Sir Rol's room was well secured.

Rol's Treatment And More Rumor Hunting

     As the day wore on, the sedative wore off and Rol woke up, still under significant anesthesia.  When they saw this, the doctors told him they had spoken with his ship's Captain and Doctor and they were going to be keeping him in the hospital for a few days.  As a result, they were allowing his system to clear so they could administer medical slow drug to help his healing process.

Catching Emkir before he and Aiden left, Mikah explained Rol's condition to the Admiral as well as the plans to administer two doses of slow drug.  As they worked things out, they realized that, while Rol was able to answer all the questions and had all his faculties, they would have to have TAS push the interview back a day.  Since it was Wednesday, the first dose would not play out until the middle of Thursday and the second dose the middle of Friday.  So the Thursday interview schedule had to be pushed back two days.  Glad he'd gotten good news for TAS, Emkir wondered if they could increase the drama by having Rol brought from the hospital to the studio in a medical transport?

As they discussed it, they floated having the interview done in the hospital but both Emkir and Mikah were certain the hospital would not allow it.  So before he and Aiden left, Emkir called TAS to speak to Mr. Morvello.  When he got the executive, Emkir explained that, as they knew, Rol was an incidental victim and they needed to treat him for infection.  And that might take an extra day, so they felt the interview should be pushed back to Saturday.  When Morvello offered to push it back to Sunday, Emkir was certain that wouldn't be needed and Zach agreed.  As they were talking, Mikah called Zimzod, who had already left, and asked him if he could contact Count Krenowl and ask his help in the rumor hunt too?  Zimzod said he'd do that.

Riding in the taxi that picked him up, Zimzod pulled up the Count's data and comm'd him.  As he answered, the Count was welcoming and asked how things played out, and about Rol's condition?  Zimzod said that some knights never learned to duck in a weapons free zone and said they were still not sure who the shooter was, or was involved with.  Zimzod said no one was talking, so he wondered if the Count, or his people, had heard anything?  When the Count said he hadn't heard anything outside the news broadcasts, Zimzod asked if he could put the word out that even rumors would be appreciated?  The Count agreed, and offered his help if there was anything more he could do?  Zimzod said they were really not sure what they needed, so he might call back and thanked the Count.

Over the entire afternoon, Aiden, Emkir and Zimzod spent their time drifting from bar to bar, to pick up anything they overheard.  Meanwhile, Zach started calling around to his merchant contacts, to see if anything popped as they tried to pump him for deal information.  Aali spent the afternoon looking up and calling those connections she had in system, who'd done support transport missions in the past.  As she made contacts, Aali did her best to cycle the conversation to 'missing those wild missions where you were slipping into a system covertly'.  She found ways to gently ask questions like if anyone was hiring for such a mission, etc.

After her calls, Mikah went to the hospital to check up on Rol.  She certainly approved of the security the room had been assigned, at the dead end of a ward hall.  By the time she arrived, they'd already put him under the first dose of slow drug, so she did a basic check of the work and the healing wounds.  She then asked about the brain-damaged patient who'd been shot in the face?  They said he was recovering physically, but would likely suffer intense personality and behavioral damage at the very least.

After that, the hospital administration admitted they could use the help if she wanted to do the visiting doctor thing, and Mikah accepted.  With that, they asked her to administer interns as the doctors usually doing that had been pulled into emergency surgery and they could use an extra administrative doctor on staff.  When Mikah accepted, she was not only looking forward to a bit of extra coin, but access to cases in the teaching hospital which might give her chances to observe procedures she'd only read about in journals.  She even discarded the idea of happening to wander out of the hospital with a few high tech scanners and toys.

Healing, Hunting And Striking Pay Dirt

     At the end of the day's adventures, Emkir and Aiden had found drinks and games.  Emkir joined a Cr 10 game while Aiden bar-fly watched and nursed a drink.  After an evening abusing his luck, Emkir ended up winning a Cr 100 bump.  As the games played out, they chatted about old times and difficult missions.  Everyone agreed there was always a friendly working passage berth for a war vet on all but the most hard up of scout owned ships, so there was no mystery how someone could get from one system to another without booking passage.  But it didn't explain the ability to get around without credentials on Rhylanor, where everything was tracked.

Especially on an archology where air and water were not renewable, and had to be cleaned and otherwise provided in space.  As he played, Emkir divided his thought between the strategy of the game and of dealing with forged papers with Aiden's help.  Did the shooter get papers before he arrived or have someone waiting to help him in-system?  Did that "someone" also get him through arrival or customs on the station?  Unfortunately, without being really specific, there was no way to ask any helpful questions and too many scenarios to weed anything out.

All Zach learned was that there had been a larger amount of traffic through the port in the last month.  Sadly, this not only didn't mean anything, but couldn't even be used to infer any path of investigation to develop data.  It might even be the background effects of the economic recovery after the war.  Similarly, Aali got a lot of willingness to help, but no real information.  Some of her friends were also recently out of the service, and liked the idea of being "of use" while looking for jobs and transitioning to civilian life.  But this was only a promise to help, and to keep an ear out with no real new information.

Zimzod hit a few bars, bought and nursed a few drinks, and heard a lot of talk which was just that.  He spread the word he might be available for any jobs that could provide excitement, and allowed a number of folks to assume he was a drifter who might take illegal work.  But besides making momentary contacts, he came up empty.

At first, the only related information Mikah seemed to find was an intern whose friend worked on a hand injury received while the victim was involved in the Instell-Arms shooting.  When she asked, the intern explained about the case, saying the victim was injured by flying debris shattered by fired rounds.  When Mikah asked if the wounds seemed defensive, the intern admitted he didn't know.  He did say he was surprised the wounds were shrapnel and burns instead of a gunshot wound, because it had been a shooting incident.

Curious, Mikah asked if the victim was still under care, and was told he had been treated and released.  She asked for the victim's name and the intern reminded her he had not worked on the case.  Once she let him go on his way, Mikah spent half an hour researching the records.  She worked to locate all the victims from the shooting, and identified the particular man.  What made singling him out easier was that he was the only victim with injuries not caused by a slug weapon.

Digging deeper into the mystery, Mikah pulled the contact data from the man's file and tried to comm him.  She wasn't really surprised when she found the data wasn't real.  As the stink of this case increased to a full stench, Mikah scanned the file and called the Seneschal's office.  Surprised to get any call back so quickly, they were very interested in what she had to tell them.  They worked with her to mine the hospital system, and Mikah sent them more complete data on the day's activities than she thought needed.  But she preferred to be complete.  As the data was flowing, the Seneschalate officer also got a number of other contacts on the line to process the data Mikah was sending.

Once they started receiving the data, the officer asked Mikah what led her to investigate this case?  She explained the unusual wounds the man had been treated for.  After she described the burns, he mentioned the data from Instell-Arms, saying whoever breached the ammo stores did it with a small explosive charge.  While they discussed the possible link, the officer got a buzz from one of his people.  There was a pause before he came back with a grim expression.  Before Mikah could ask, he delivered the news, matter of fact, that this "victim" had served in the same unit as the shooter!  When Mikah asked what unit, she was told that data was still reserved, but if the whole unit was compromised, it had been a 5-man team.

This wasn't the news Mikah wanted.  She confirmed that the officer was certain they never served with Rol.  She suggested they check each of the other victims to see if any might have been the target, since Rol wasn't, and get back to her.  The officer thanked her for the data as well as anything else her crew uncovered, saying they were already working on it and would let her know anything they found.  Not happy, Mikah checked in on Rol from time to time during the evening.  The team of nurses managing his nutrients and other support during the process had everything in hand as Rol's wounded body worked its way through what would be two month's activity in the hours under that dose.

Drawing Conclusions In The Closing Darkness

     Eventually everyone returned to the berth, and they began sharing what they'd found, if anything.  Ms. Vik returned with plenty of notes to try to organize, both from her own work with ships involved in port disputes and the tons of new data she had pulled from the port database.  She also got paid Cr 250 for stepping in to help the port out, and planned to return the next day unless they decided to go in a different direction.  Mikah was one of the last to return, after being paid Cr 75 for the shift, and her news electrified them all!  So they now knew they had two former special forces operatives, one of whom was still alive, involved in the shooting.  When they considered what the men were up to at Instell-Arms, it seemed obvious they were after weapons.

But Emkir was bothered and asked, "If they were after weapons, why did they open fire inside the facility?"  This was a problem because the men had obviously succeeded in getting both a weapon and ammunition before making everyone aware of that fact.  Zimzod, who had heard many rumors but nothing substantial, muttered, "It doesn't make sense, does it?"  Emkir answered, "No.  If you want weapons and you get them, you leave with them quietly and then use them for something else."  And that made it obvious that the weapons fire had to be a distraction.  Aiden then asked if anyone knew if Instell-Arms had done a complete inventory after the incident?  Aali chimed in on that, saying they needed to confirm nothing was sabotaged or tampered with.

When Aali suggested she call Instell-Arms, Aiden suggested they call the authorities and route the recommendation through them as the crew had no real authority.  Eventually, it was decided that she should call the Seneschalate, and work with the Duke's people to pass that along.  So Aali got the comms data from Mikah.  Once she called and identified herself, Aali was routed to the correct office.  Once she reached the correct Seneschalate Officer, he told her they'd considered that earlier and worked with Instell-Arms.  In the end, the facility staff had confirmed that only the submachine gun and specific ammo bin had been disturbed in any way.

Also, data from the Imperial Marines were fed into the biometric scanners, which tracked all going in and out, and this showed that the two already identified were the only team members who'd been in the building.  When Aali asked about tampering, she was told there were multiple redundant data checks.  None of the men involved would have the skills to deal with such devices outside destroying them.  It was pointed out they specialized in recovering or destroying, not hacking or technical operations.  The tech did agree they were also forced to suspect the incident was a diversion.

Overhearing this, Zach wondered about all the station security personnel they'd pulled off regular duties during the shooting incident.  He wondered about the things they hadn't been guarding during the event?  Emkir quickly agreed, and Aali asked about the events on the list provided by the Duke's Seneschal?  Mikah agreed, and pulled the list up on her notepad as they discussed how big the covered action might be.  If it was something big.  Or even small, where they only had to place a weapon, or group of them, to be ready to use at a future time?  Especially if they were putting them where some important person or group were going to be, and weapons might not be able to be smuggled in later?

Eventually, they went through the list which included:
       A ball being held on Rhylanor prime by Viscountess McQuillin to celebrate a recent business
          success for the firm her grandfather founded and she now led.  The firm was a starship
          refurbishment firm, processing used vessels and selling them at a discount to organizations
          exploring and involved in efforts to benefit the Imperium.

       A gathering of the Electorate of the Ularsham autonomous district on Rhylanor prime.
          This was a celebration of the granted self-rule as well as a chance for the Electorate to
          confer with landed and non-landed nobility on the challenges they face in their work.

       A three day "Meet the Hero's" Cruise out to the Graveyard fleet with a number of decorated
          veterans, many of whom were nobility, aboard to meet, greet and mix with those who
          paid to be on the cruise and to regal them with the exciting stories of Imperial
          military heroics and saving the universe from the Zho, Swordies and Vargr.
          This was scheduled in two days' time.

       A scheduled "Merchant Market Gathering" where trade groups were encouraged to bring in
          trade delegations and new and novelty goods from all over the Spinward Marches and
          Deneb sectors for display and to possibly create new trade links.  This five day exposition
          would be in a designated sector of the primary highport where they're berthed.

       A scheduled celebratory ball after the closing ceremonies of the Children of the Fifth Frontier
          War Charitable Society conferences in five days' time

       A three day science and technology collegium specifically discussing robotics.

       A birthday celebration for Lady Annaleah Dangur Kirgashii, Duke Leonard's youngest
          daughter a week out.

Mikah considered the items and the fact that Lady Kirgashii's birthday would be incredibly well secured.  So she felt the cruise might be the highest profile item on the list.  It provided the largest number of targets if the idea was just to take out a number of high profile targets.  When Aiden and Aali agreed it was a plum, Zimzod asked how that squared with someone breaking into an ammo bin to open up with a submachine gun in an Instell-Arms facility?  They speculated that the actual disruption to station security was minimal, both due to the impressive response and well prepared, armed and armored teams of Instell-Arms personnel on-site.  Instell-Arms had the incident in hand almost from the very start.  So most security forces pulled from their duties would only have been pulled in the time it took to quarantine the area and allow Instell-Arms to secure their own site.  When Mikah suggested it could have provided cover to get access to a craft, she was thinking about breaking security and placing supplies in advance.

Aali suggested that any vessels which might be involved in the cruise should be warned to check for intrusion, sabotage or work to pre-stage an action.  Zimzod suggested they might be using a cutter or small craft that was privately owned, and wouldn't be missed for some time.  He suggested the rest of the team may have used the distraction to steal a small craft to be used later.  When they started thinking about the number of things that had to be checked, Aali suggested they call the Duke's office and have an outrider craft.  Perhaps a gunship that would escort the cruise ship in case it was the actual target.  Aiden added that it would be interesting to find out where the explosives used to get into the ammo bin came from.  He also mentioned that Instell-Arms' security should have picked up anything like that brought into their site.

They all agreed this was a very good point.  Zimzod said this might be a chemical explosive of multiple parts which could be combined on site.  In the end, they organized their data and thoughts and made yet another call to the Seneschalate.  Despite the hour and unofficial origin of the call, it was taken and they were routed directly to a Seneschalate Officer who heard their concerns and theories.  He was not high enough on the food chain to dispute anything, so he asked permission to record the conversation for his superiors to review.  The crew were OK with that, and once the conversation was done, they were without direction for the moment as it drew closer to midnight, Wednesday 214-1112

Next: Hurry Up, Wait, Deal And Investigate