Welcome to the

Last Updated    October 12 2017
The Characters
The Ship
Campaign History Page
Granted Rights
The Frontier Wars
About Legends
The Spinward Marches
Artist's Credits
House Rules
Recent Updates
Email Me
Hurry Up, Wait, Deal
      And Investigate

Midnight to Morning

Station     Near midnight the previous night, Mikah hit the rack and set her clock for 7am after having given the Duke's Seneschalate their thoughts on securing the "Hero's Cruise".  Aiden also set his alarm for 7 and went to bed.  Before he went to bed, Zach realized he was the crew's cook with Rol in the hospital.  He thought about getting up early to cook, but decided to sleep as long as he could, to help his own recovery.  Before sleep, Zimzod tried to work out the best way to hunt rumors?  After that, he mentally reviewed his earlier gear checks to be sure they were done.  Zimzod then set his alarm for 9am.  Seeing the excitement was done for the night, Ms. Vik set her clock for 8:30.  On the Salvage platform, Brian had worked a twelve-hour day, helping crews rip into a recovered derelict ship's remaining systems.  In his hospital room, Rol was under continuous care as he passed through a night of Medical Slow Drug treatment.

Much earlier in the morning than he planned, Zach woke up.  Realizing what happened, and still being tired, he tried to get back to sleep but only wasted half an hour laying there.  Giving up, Zach allowed more time for his morning routine, certain no one else was awake, before heading into the berth lounge to cook breakfast.  Despite the extra time, there was no one in the lounge when he stepped out of his quarters.  As Zach cooked, Mikah eventually came into the lounge, saw the ham and cheese omelets he was cooking, and complimented Zach on finally getting back to work.  Next out, Aiden checked his high passage auction to see it was still hovering near Cr 7,500.  While at the terminal, Aiden checked Brian's auctions and saw some very respectable bids.  Of the 50 to 60 auctions, Brian had some with bids over Cr 1,000!

Aiden then grabbed an omelet to eat.  Aali and Emkir emerged while Aiden was checking auctions, and ate as they prepared for their day.  As Ms. Vik grabbed breakfast, she asked about the news overnight?  Turning on the news, they eventually saw that coverage of the shooting now included a picture of the shooter.  The coverage focused on reassuring the public, announcing the shooter was both killed and alone.  This gave the crew a start.  Watching more, they eventually saw the "second man" shown as part of a non-related news story.  He was said to be someone port authorities wanted to speak to, though the two stories were not linked.  None of the crew believed the man would think he was safe when he saw the separate announcements.

More disturbing, this told the crew that the ever-present security camera grid had not led the authorities to the wounded man.  While the crew each understood the technology at varying levels, they all knew this meant this guy had a method of avoiding the station's security grid!  Not just the cameras, but the entire system.  Ms. Vik's only comment was, "Well, Fuck!"  By 9am, those awake were done with food, and Mikah decided to hop on a terminal and dig into the various news sites, looking for anything that would suggest a target or hazard.  Zach finished cleaning up and then dug into his emails.  As he started working, Aiden checked in with Zach for more navigation exercises before working on the ones he hadn't finished.  Emkir and Aali went back to working on the pile of datapads.

As she worked through the news, Mikah found there was just not enough information yet to dig for anything specific.  Instell-Arms had put out a statement covering a frame for frame description of the action, but refused to release the footage.  They also said they had the shooter's body on ice, had scanned it completely and planned to turn it over to authorities if that was requested.  What followed was a fairly somber segment covering each of the victims and what was known about them.  Despite the tragic action, the crew couldn't help taking a bit of pleasure at each victim identified as a member of the media.  They also noted the "second man" was not included in the list of injured.  All the media outlets started coverage with what they knew and then embroidered onto that with experts and speculation.

The popular line was that this was an assassination attempt, which failed for reasons from unplanned issues to incompetence on the part of the assassin.  This led to speculation why the Duke would not want the general population knowing the truth?  Other theories suggested an Instell-Arms employee went rogue and the corporation didn't want anyone knowing that.  More radical theories suggested a building wave of Zhodani sleeper agent attacks where this one struck early.  The only good news was that no one was still trying to blame Rol.  As she dug and the crew watched, the growing chatter made it clear why most people didn't watch live news for any realistic information.  TAS managed to maintain a slight lead in credibility, simply because they could report data directly from the Hotel California on Rol's condition.  And they only had that because Zach and Emkir had to update TAS on Rol's condition due to the interview contract.  These free exclusives gave the news agency a valuable edge.

Trying To Deal Out Of Disaster

     As he cut through his emails, Zach had lots of people circling and looking for a slice of any deals the merchant had in play.  Others were hoping Zach could use his pull with the Duke's office to get approval for their various deals.  Because these offered a cash reward, Zach investigated them and found they all appeared to assume he had more pull than Zach actually did.  Still, Zach did find one deal he might be able to help with!  It involved completing a contract between a shipping line on the high port and factories, some of which turned out to be in the County held by Count Krenowl.

Zach decided to call the merchant up and check into the deal more before calling the Count's people.  When it answered, Zach found the trader was a Bwap!  The reptilian, Apa-aeawes [ Ap-ah ah-oo-Wee ] was attempting to negotiate what it felt was an improvement in shipping efficiency.  Electronic parts were being shipped to factories on various parts of Rhylanor-Prime, as parts to build finished units.  Apa-aeawes wanted to negotiate a 70%, or better, agreement to have those parts carried by the firm 'Csillag tüzér'.  While the entire deal affected factories in many parts of Rhylanor, one cluster was in Krenowl's County.  Zach hoped to be able to reach out to the Count and ease that cluster's delivery contracts as a "first step".  That could reduce costs for goods in that county and be seen as having done Count Krenowl a favor.

With this success, Zach hoped to be able to approach the other factories with an example of cost savings, while asking the Count to "repay" the favor by reaching out to the nobility in those other regions.  The "big lure" for Zach was an offered two percent share of all commerce done!  Once Zach had a handle on everything, he told the Bwap he'd look into the deal.  He planned to try making some contacts and hoped he could call back with progress later that day.  After that, Zach called Count Krenowl's office to start working with the Count himself.  He was surprised to get the Count almost immediately, and Krenowl said he was surprised to be hearing from the Hotel California again so soon.  Zach wasn't sure what the Count meant, but moved forward anyway.

Zach said he was calling about two things.  When he first said they were always looking for information on the shooting and what was going on, the Count told him Sir Zimzod called on that the day before.  This explained Krenowl's first comments.  Easing past that with the grace of a long-time merchant, Zach moved into the main course, explaining the basics of the deal he had gotten involved with.  The Count said he didn't deal with that directly, but through advisors.  He gave Zach an address to send his data to.  Zach thanked the Count for the information and promised to send his data for analysis.  The Count also told him to tell Zimzod they hadn't learned anything new but were listening.  Zach agreed it was too early to expect things to develop as he prepared to end the call.  But Krenowl asked Zach if he knew why the authorities were looking for "this man", adding a picture to the call?

Zach recognized the man as the one who'd helped the shooter get ammunition, and admitted he knew why they were looking for him.  When Krenowl asked if it was related to the shooting, Zach confirmed it was but said that was being kept out of the public's perview for now.  The Count said he had reached out to the authorities in his County and would update them on anything found.  Zach said he wasn't sure how much more he could tell in confidence, and promised to check on that and call back with any further information he could share.  The Count thanked him and they ended the call.  Once that was done, Zach organized the data on the deal and sent it on to the address the Count gave him.  As things got closer to lunch time, Zach needed to cook.  He looked to tell Zimzod he'd talked to the Count, but the Knight was no longer in the berth.  He then called back Apa-aeawes to update it on what had been done.

More Vectors Of Research

     As she finished her breakfast, Ms. Vik surprised everyone by connecting her datapads and a selected terminal directly to the port system!  It appeared she'd gotten an access point through the port's fire wall, to work directly on files remotely.  This showed how much extra work the port administration were under, and how grateful they were for her help.  But as they glanced at her screens, even Zach was mystified by much of the data and she appeared to be working very hard on the files she'd selected.

Soon, Zimzod woke and emerged from his quarters to eat breakfast.  As he watched the news and caught up with what had happened since going to sleep, Zimzod wondered what Lord William would say about the shooting?  He decided to call IRIS to see what he could do, as it was too early to hit the bars.  When a tech answered Zimzod's call, the knight asked to meet William.  He was pointedly asked what the purpose of the meeting would be, as his Lordship was busy.  When Zimzod explained his interest, they offered to let him meet with an intelligence specialist and asked when he wanted the meeting?  When Zimzod said, "As soon as possible", they said they could set things up for a meeting at 10:30 that morning.  Zimzod took the information down, thanked the tech and cut the call.

Zimzod dressed "Professional, Casual" with his executive armor under his clothes.  In order to not stand out, Zimzod decided to arm himself with weapons he could conceal.  He then spent the rest of his spare time watching the news before calling a port taxi.  The taxi cost him Cr 20, and Zimzod was quickly introduced to the specialist.  He first asked about getting data on the unit the shooter and his sidekick had been part of?  The specialist took some time to point out that IRIS was not Military or Naval Intelligence, and the agencies didn't work hand in hand or cooperate much at all.  He then admitted that every agency had a mandate to resolve this situation.  While IRIS had the data Zimzod wanted, and the biometric data for all the team members had been loaded into every security system on Rhylanor, that was still classified and couldn't be released.

When Zimzod asked, the man wouldn't even reveal the name, or role, of the unit they had been part of.  So Zimzod changed his tactics, asking about the video from the shooting?  The man said Instell-Arms still had control over that.  As Zimzod thanked the man for meeting him, he decided Instell-Arms would be his next stop.  Once he was out, it was a Cr 15 ride to their facility.  After passing the greeting scanners, Zimzod found a floor manager, identified himself and said he was deputized by the Duke to investigate before asking for the security manager.  They had him led to a conference room in the offices section of the facility where Zimzod was met by the on-shift security manager.  When Zimzod asked to see their video of the shooting incident, the manager said he could set that up.

The man left the room, and within fifteen minutes five others stepped into the room and set up the data on a view screen.  After that, they took Zimzod through the event, second by second, from the arrival of the shooter and his "assistant", to the arrival of Rol.  Zimzod could see the shooter buying a sub-machinegun, and the techs releasing all the locks and security on the weapon itself.  This was legitimate, as the buyer had the right to inspect and test the weapon and could even take it to their internal range and buy ammunition to test fire or have techs zero in the sights.  After that, weapons had to be turned back over to Instell-Arms for transport to the buyer's ship or authorized weapon club.  And there was no ammunition involved in the entire transaction to that point.  Outside of the positive control of the test range, Instell-Arms wouldn't directly handle ammunition on the facility floor.

Be it purchased or displayed.  All display or explaination of security was done on video or by hologram.  All ammunition had to be ordered, and be delivered to a buyer's ship or club.  While it couldn't yet be explained why their security missed it, they pointed out to Zimzod where the two men moved to the ammunition displays and, eventually, one of them bent over.  Then there was a brief "puff" of smoke that dissipated so quickly Zimzod had to have it pointed out to him by the techs.  This was when they believed the lock had been blown open using a micro-explosive.  They felt their security tech may have missed it as it happened so quickly.  After a number of very brief quick actions on-screen, those explaining to Zimzod broke the display into multiple screens where they could tie the shooting, as it started, to the victims as they began dropping.

The data feed then added video from anti-intruder devices which deployed, tracked the shooting and opened fire on the shooter.  This was then augmented by feed from battledressed security "responders", who quickly secured the area around the shooter.  Zimzod saw him being taken down by the anti-intruder systems.  As he watched, one of the responders actually stepped on the shooter's throat, suggesting he was not dead as they arrived.  Zimzod immediately asked about that responder and was told the trooper was a "Whilim Breamen".  A senior security trooper who'd been with the firm over thirty years.  Seeing that as a dead end, Zimzod asked about any missing or tampered with inventory and was told nothing else was touched outside the one weapon and ammunition bin.  They assured him nothing else was even "breathed on incorrectly".

Zimzod said it was odd, as the incident looked like a diversion and they agreed with him, saying that was why they investigated as in depth as they had.  They even said they'd launched a background re-investigation of all their people working at that facility as a whole.  Not just at that time.  Zimzod asked about the identification the two men presented when they bought the smg, and he was told the buyer offered a standard ship's crew Ident as he pulled that data up on a screen.  The ship they claimed to be crew from was called the IMS Daisy Chain, and a records check after the event showed no ship with that name in-system.  They also said they had provided all this information to the authorities.

Zimzod considered what little he'd learned, and they agreed that no one pulled a weapon in an Instell-Arms facility.  They stepped through the security system, from the first scanners to the anti-intruder systems to the armored responses.  When Zimzod asked about outside video, they admitted they only had limited video outside their walls, to assure there was no attempt to violate a bulkhead.  There was limited coverage of patrons entering camera range as they approached the entrances and the rest was controlled by the port.  A review of the pair's arrival showed what appeared to be any other ship's crew on port liberty.  Any other outside video would be held by the port.  So Zimzod thanked them and left as it got close to lunch time.  He never asked them why their sensors didn't pick up the explosives used to blow the lock on the ammo bin when the pair arrived?

Finding a Surprise Needle In The Rhylanor Haystack

     Eventually, as she was working and lunch was nearing, Ms. Vik surprised everyone in the berth with a cry of surprise.  When Mikah asked what was up, Inger asked if she remembered the black marketer from the Risek system?  When it was obvious they all did, Ms. Vik nerviously said, "His ship is here."  After confirming this, Mikah shouted out, "Call the Duke's office!" as she ordered everyone to action.  As Mikah grabbed the comms saying she'd call the Duke's office, she told Inger to call the port and had Emkir call Lord William.  The data Ms. Vik found showed the ship "IMS Rose o'The Marches" was listed as 'In System', meaning it was registered with the port but not docked there.

As a representative picked up in the Duke's office, Mikah identified herself, asking to speak to the Seneschal.  After confirming her identity and noting the urgency in her tone, the tech switched her through with a "Right away, My Lady!"  He appeared in a meeting as the Seneschal connected and turned to Mikah on the comms.  When he asked what she had, Mikah said they found the ship owned by the black marketer implicated in the Risek affair in-system.  The seneschal stopped everything else and confirmed, "In Rhylanor system?" with a note of concern in his voice.  When Mikah said, "Yes", he immediately dismissed those he was meeting with and asked her to hold as she told him the port was being notified too.  The man worked his keyboard and the screen split as Duke Leonard joined the conversation.  Mikah's greeting was stomped over by Leonard's demand, "What Happened?"  Despite being rough, the tone was concern hiding weary surprise.

After Mikah re-explained their discovery, there was a pause before the Duke asked her to explain the man's involvement in the Risek attack?  She explained that he was suspected of smuggling in those people who had the attack devices made, and could be involved in smuggling in special forces troopers.  As Leonard considered this, Mikah also reminded them there were seven Risek devices unaccounted for.  She let him consider those devices, be they carrying the now curable illness or the deadly acid spray.  The click was almost audible as even the need to cure an outbreak of "Risek plague" in the Rhylanor system would cause massive amounts of panic.  Addressing his Seneschal, the Duke simply said it sounded like they had enough to arrest and they needed the man in custody "Now".  He closed with the order, "Do it" and left the call with the command still ringing in their ears.

While Mikah called the Duke's office, Ms. Vik called the port and pushed the call right up to the Executive Director himself.  Having told her friends "everything" about Risek before the cover up became apparent, he was able to appreciate the gravity of the Rose o'The Marches being in-system.  That the Podesta archology was just a larger version of his station added 'just the right level' of concern.  He told her they would cooperate on locating all the data on the ship as she said the Duke's office and the Imperial Navy would soon be calling in on this.  As the call ended, he was already giving orders to station central, which she was sure was about to become a mad house.

Emkir called IRIS and asked for Lord William only to be told His Lordship was 'busy'.  When they asked what issue the Admiral would like to address, Emkir explained the black marketer implicated in the Risek attacks was now in the Rhylanor system and this might correlate with recent events.  The agent blinked once or twice as he digested this, then asked Emkir to hold for a few moments.  At the end of that, the call was switched and, to Emkir's satisfaction, Lord William picked up.  Once Emkir gave him a basic brief, William also looked up at others not visible to Emkir's comms and said, "We're done here", obviously dismissing a meeting.  Emkir explained they didn't have an exact location for the ship in-system, but were certain it arrived.  When Lord William asked how they knew, Emkir explained Ms. Vik had found the ship's arrival logged in port data while researching the shooter for the Duke.

Emkir explained the ship was flying under the name "Rose o'The Marches", and was logged on arrival in-system by the port.  As Emkir spoke, Mikah told the Seneschal again that the port had been notified.  As she was updating the Seneschal, Lord William had Emkir hold as he was organizing his team on that end, which took a few heart beats as "gathering his team" meant something different to William.  Soon Lord William had organized a number of people in his office and off Emkir's screen.  And as William organized his team and asked the basic questions of Emkir, Leonard's Seneschal asked Mikah to get Ms. Vik on the line.  By the time Lord William asked to have her on the line, Ms. Vik was answering to the Duke's Seneschal.  Accepting that, Lord William thanked Emkir and said they were done as the screen went black.

Finishing with her friends in the port, Inger's message was very basic.  The SPA was a civilian organization and the Duke owned the government while the Imperial Navy spoke for the Emperor.  With a hazard of this magnitude in-system, if the port couldn't rip through its data and identify where the ship was presently, and what ports it had made since arrival, they could get pretty ripped up too.  It was at this time the Seneschal asked for her and she let that be her sign off with the port.  The first thing the Seneschal needed were "times and dates" and Ms. Vik said her data showed the ship's arrival at three days earlier.  That implied that the pilot could be anywhere around Rhylanor Prime that he wanted to be.  They asked if Kishman might have a motive to 'be' near the crew?  Especially as he'd arrived where the crew were just before the shooting started?  As they discussed these implications, another person joined the conference call saying, "Sorry I'm late, Your Grace."

Neither Mikah nor Inger recognized him at all, but the Seneschal just nodded, accepting the presence.  Mikah did notice that some of the others on the call reacted as if they had no idea why he was on the call?  Once the threat to the system was established, they questioned Mikah and Ms. Vik on everything they could recall about Kishman?  This covered not only the data Mikah could provide from the Podesti attack, but the data Ms. Vik got from Baroness Wortman and the Risek SPA.  Mikah told them everything she could, omitting deals like the chardonnay and other valuables.  In the end, they agreed a potential team of assassins paled in comparison to the possibility of an unknown number of Risek devices being delivered.  After an hour of questions and discussions, the officers and advisors understood why she called the Duke and agreed on the urgency.

As they had been answering questions and providing information, both women were aware orders had been flowing out to Naval units, ports and other government assets.  Ironically at this point, a lower level administrator from the port called in, asking for Ms. Vik and hoping she would contract to help out as the port began to deal with even more demands from the government?  Inger took only the time from the call with the Seneschal to tell the tech that she was already working the issue for the Duke directly.  Despite the many questions this generated, she had to cut the line and get back to the Seneschal.  Once his team felt they had a handle on the situation, they asked that the crew remain available, and if everyone was in the berth?

Mikah said she could reach out to Sir Zimzod and get him back.  The Seneschal told her they wanted her crew to remain assembled and prepared for action.  As Aiden, listened in over her shoulder and muttered paranoia under his breath, Mikah comm'd Zimzod.  He was just finishing up at Instell-Arms and considering going to the port central offices to see their security scans.  When he picked up, Mikah told him they had learned the black marketer Kishman was in Rhylanor and he needed to get back to the berth.  After that, Mikah called Brian and said he needed to get back to the port on the Duke's orders.  Brian simply said, "No can do", and explained to Mikah that he was too far out to get back before they'd be doing whatever the Duke wanted.  It annoyed Mikah more that he was clearly pleased with the situation and out of the combat zone for once.  When Mikah insisted he needed to return, he simply smiled and said it would take too long.

Mikah finally said, "Fine, we'll have you picked up." implying they'd get some navy vessel to do it.  Brian said, "Cool!  I love a high-class ride!"  Mikah tartly said, "I'll make sure it's not."  With that she cut the line and told the others to gear up and be prepared for whatever the Duke's people asked.  As they started moving, Mikah asked Inger to call the port and see about security forces, to move the press out of their berth.  When Ms. Vik did, the tech who answered paused before asking if they had looked out into the berth recently?  The tone used was, 'If you haven't, you should.'

At the same time, Mikah was calling the Seneschal back to ask about Sir Brian, explaining he was isolated on an archology where their ship was undergoing modifications.  After a brief check, they said this was not a big deal so long as the rest of the capable crew were available.  Stressing the words "capable crew" made it clear they were aware of both Rol's and Zach's conditions.  He also told Mikah they were routing a ship to their berth, in the event they were actually needed.  But they did say that recovering Brian was not a priority.  Once she was done with that call, Mikah called Brian back and told him he was safe and should stay put.

Buckling Down As The Big Guns Rolled In

     When Ms. Vik looked out into the entry, the berth was empty!  Not only that, but there seemed to be a line of figures at the far entrance to the berth from the docking concourse, wearing some kind of uniform!  Not wanting to go out while half in and out of her armor when she heard this, Mikah sent Zach out to see what was going on?  As he drove his chair out to investigate, he saw the persons, who could only be described as guarding the berth entrance, were members of the Chivalric Order Rol had been inducted into.  Then he returned inside to report his findings.  Eventually Zimzod got back to find the line of knights, many old and grizzled, armed and guarding the entrance.  Zimzod decided to take the friendly approach and walked up to the line.  Despite the fact they showed no interest at all in letting anyone in, they had been educated on the members of Sir Rol's crew and stepped aside without comment, allowing Zimzod through.

Zimzod found the crew geared up and discussing tactics and formations when he returned.  With the division of armor and weapons after counting out the wounded, it was decided that Mikah, Zimzod and Aiden were the "front line".  Behind were Emkir and Ms. Vik who were "covered" by Aali.  In the far rear was Zach, handling communications.  Inger joked that Zach could use his chair and their grenades to be a "bomber" of sorts, which got laughs almost all around.  As they organized, a message arrived that the crew should remain clear of the berth docking collar, as a ship was being routed to the berth's seal.  Stepping out into the bay to watch, they saw a battleship grey hull emerge showing a prominent rear access hatch blistered with two visible triple weapons turrets.  They watched as the armored combat transport settled into place and the seals cycled before the access port opened and the ship's captain stepped out.

Stepping up to the crew, he asked for Dame Mikah and explained his ship was their ride in the event someone found the Rose.  The Captain said he was aware they hadn't gotten their orders from the Duke and asked them to step inside so he could explain their role.  Once seated, they found they were designated the "Access officers".  It was planned they would lead Imperial boarding forces aboard the ship once it was acquired.  Each of them would lead a squad of Marines, and had each been created a Brevet Lieutenant unless they held a grade higher than that in the service.  When Zach suggested he meet with their comms people, as the crew's communications liaison, to organize the comms settings, it was made clear they expected him to lead a squad when the time came.  Mikah angrily asked if they'd looked at Zach and they said he need not be "with" the troops to order them in action.  Ms. Vik pointed out her combat experience and was given the same answer.  But it was made clear, the crew best knew this "Kishman" and had the best chance of guessing what they might encounter aboard his ship.  So they were in charge.

From their ground combat structure in Jae Tellona, Mikah told Zimzod he was "in command" should they go into action.  After that, it became a waiting game as all the data possible on the ship was collected.  The port and Navy found the 'Rose o'The Marches' had stopped at an archology and a group of investigators were checking into that facility and the activity there.  Zimzod asked if it was anywhere near the graveyard fleet, and was told it was nowhere near the relics.  Mikah asked about the archology and learned it was a commercial manufacturing station that had received a regularly scheduled delivery they had contracted.  They also surrendered telemetry which didn't match what the port sensors saw.  Attempts to unify the two data sets suggested some kind of sensor shadowing was in play, that kept the port from seeing when the ship left the archology.

They guessed the pilot must have used a programmable transponder to "become" another ship, fading into the thousands of vessels transiting the system in the region of Rhylanor Prime.  So trackers needed to literally create a trace for every vessel acquired and tracked, to see where one "suddenly appeared".  And they couldn't assume that happened in the same space, as sensor shadowing might have allowed the ship to move quite a distance before re-emerging.  When Mikah asked about the sensor shadowing technology, she was told it could be gotten from any military power of tech level 13 or higher with more sophistication and miniaturization at increased levels of technology.  It was, of course, highly illegal to use, but not an answer to helping them find the vessel.  If the black marketer wanted, he could fly out to the jump limit to re-emerge using an new transponder code as if just arriving in-system and still be in the system.  But he fueled up at the one station, so he could have jumped out too.  So the Navy and the System Government were gathering telemetry from every archology and satellite, hoping the sensor shadowing was limited and letting them create a track to follow.

Playing The Waiting Game

     When Zach asked about the identified archology and the cargo delivery, he was told they were cooperating 100%.  The cargo had been isolated, broken down and scanned.  No passengers or crew had gotten off the ship or were taken aboard.  As they waited, Zach was told that, because they might have to lead troops into combat, the Duke had moved to clear his merchant and criminal record.  Duke Leonard released a statement through his Seneschal's office that Zach was working in a classified capacity for the Duke.  The Duke's office further stated that no further information would be given regarding the work done, but that the Duke was satisfied with the legality of all actions.  This answered all questions regarding his actions aboard the IMS Raining Coins.  As such, the Duke's office had ordered that all charges, questions and issues were to be expunged from the record and his license to be re-instated.

As Zach checked this, Mikah had asked the Captain to bring in the squad sergeants, so they could meet with the NCO's.  When the NCO's were brought in, it was clear none of them were happy being assigned to civilian commanders.  The crew handled it flat out, saying the assignment didn't make anyone happy, but it was what the Duke wanted, so it was what he was getting.  Or in Zimzod's words, "Suck it up and deal with it."  With that, Mikah asked them for their input on the mission and they asked for any information they had on the black marketer?  Things eased as the crew explained everything from the Zhodani warbot, encountered in Kishman's cargo bay, to his ship.  It was good that the ship was small, which likely meant a small crew and less space for 'droids and other munitions.

The 400 ton vessel was a converted merchanter, but didn't appear to have customized armor, which ate up internal space.  They then gave the NCO's a bit more of their background.  The fact three of them took part in taking down a Zho-bot also gained them some respect.  Especially when they didn't say they hadn't fought it at all.  There were some laughs as one, not up on the news, asked where Sir Rol was, and if they might get an autograph?  As dryly as she could, Mikah said Sir Rol was currently in hospital, in a coma after the Instell-Arms shooting.  Ms. Vik slipped in, "We ducked, he didn't." in a dead pan voice that she hoped conveyed even more reason to have confidence in the crew.  Once the crew spoke about themselves, each of the sergeants stepped up with a basic rundown of their team's experiences, which covered everything from customs ops to "kick in and take down" assaults.

One even had a number of ship icons on the right arm of his armor, indicating the pirate vessels he'd helped take apart.  While none of them were any happier being led by civilians, they'd come to an understanding.  This cleared the way for the only important question, when they would move?  Mikah answered, saying the Duke was still looking for the ship.  The senior sergeant announced it was a duck hunt, meaning the hunters needed to find the duck and put holes in it before they'd be called in to chew on it.  Explaining to the civilians, he said, "That means the fleet will find them and shoot holes in them and you folks will lead us in through the big nasty holes.  And hopefully, the internal defenses will be powered down 'cause the engineering section is a big pile of slag.  That'll leave us the crew and any androids.  And hopefully you folks will keep out of the way."

The rest of the day was spent waiting for word from the military, as they worked with the sergeants and further prepared their gear.  Zimzod planned to bring a combat drug injector and then go in with his gauss rifle in the right hand and .45 in the left.  His plan was to shatter needles inside any 'droid while blasting the exposed sensors with the .45, and do worse to any crew aboard.  Of course, he also planned to make use of his team to work together, swarm their targets and take them apart while keeping their side alive.  As the hours passed, they eventually fell to the old stand bys to kill time.  The troops broke out rations and Zach cooked for the crew as the news droned on about the various stories they were working on.

The media were still reporting their inability to get into their berth or get any data on the crew of the Hotel California.  They were even reporting rumors another ship had moved into the berth and the knights had left either the port or the system.  Side stories being reported on included rumors of the treatment Sir Rol was receiving and the sudden announcement from the Duke's Seneschal that Duke Leonard was clearing Mr. Zachariah Wood of all charges.  Of course, the pictures of Mr. Wood were the most recent, showing him near a low point in his hoverChair.  This enhanced speculation on the crew's involvement in the shooting incident on the station recently, in which a criminal organization was badly damaged, if not taken out.

Playing Merchant While Waiting

     After he cooked, and while he was eating, Zach checked the monstrous amounts of email from his "trader buddies".  All of them appeared to be interested in getting that first exclusive to sell to the media.  As he read through the emails and commented on how they tried to hide their interest in outing his location and activities, Mikah said they could use the merchants to their advantage.  When the others asked how, she said they only needed to find Kishman's ship and tell them all to meet Zach there, to have them swarm the berth.  She got a laugh for the joke.  Just after that, a call came in for Zach, from Count Krenowl.  When Zach answered, the Count told him his people had looked over the deal and it was, "rather interesting".  He said they recommended some negotiation was needed.  Considering his options, Zach decided to set up a conference call between the Count and the Bwap, to see if they could resolve the issues and get the deal moving?

When the Count was up for that, Zach had to explain that he was on standby for the Duke, and might have to abandon the conversation suddenly at any time if needed.  This got a raised eyebrow from the Count as Krenowl asked him to explain?  Zach could only say he was unable to explain what he was doing, and hoped the Count understood.  Krenowl simply nodded and said he'd get his trade team on the line.  Zach got Apa-aeawes on the call after explaining how getting a Count involved in a trade deal was efficient?  This was not as simple as it would seem because he was dealing with a Bwap.  Once Apa-aeawes was convinced, Zach connected it.  The Count's top four advisors were already waiting.  As they started, Zach saw problems rising from the lack of protections against rising costs over time.  The contract seemed good, if "a bit" high in costs, but there was no protection against rising costs being passed on to the factories.

If they had signed the contract, the shippers could raise prices in the future and still control the agreed trade route without providing the expected savings.  This was a big problem for the Count's people, who were against the current deal, but felt it could be saved.  Zach, and the team worked hard while Apa-aeawes worked to protect its profit margin.  It also didn't see how they were missing the self-evident benefits?  Apa-aeawes stressed that in creating this "trade pipeline" the costs would regulate themselves.  Consolidation of transport would reduce costs, giving the protections the Count's people wanted.  Zach could see they were not narrowing the gap at all.  Eventually, the Count's team said they were withdrawing negotiations, as the compromises didn't seem to be there.

Zach made a last-ditch attempt to ask if he could work with Apa-aeawes, to possibly make some concessions, and perhaps set up a call the next day?  But where the Count's people accepted this, Apa-aeawes was not pleased.  It did not understand how not having all parties at a meeting was efficient, and was resistant to separate party talks.  Zach did his best to explain, and it eventually agreed to consider those steps after Zach explained this was a Human failing.  So half an hour after the Count's people dropped off, Apa-aeawes agreed to re-work its deal and call back the next day.  Eventually, Zach was done with the Bwap and he returned to waiting with the rest of the crew.

As the hours passed, the crew watched vids or the news, talked with the sergeants, or, in Zach's case, napped.  During the time, there were periodic contacts from various publicly acknowledged intelligence agencies.  It became obvious a great deal of energy was being spent on this issue and working to determine if the special forces troopers were or were not related.  The working assumption was that they were, and were somehow related to the Risek attacks.  While the news publicly remained the same, all those who contacted the crew were well versed in the actual events.  In the end, the boffins working on telemetry could track Kishman's ship into the system, and to the local space of the manufacturing archology.

But, Once there, the port didn't heavily track vessels leaving local space.  Those in flight control on the archology did track the departure briefly, but didn't continue when it left their local space.  Shortly after that, their data showed the ship disappeared from their tracking too.  That would be the first point that sensor shadowing would have let the ship change its transponder data without being noticed.  The Navy and system authorities were building a database of all transponders in the region at that time and, widening out from that point in time with the data Dessie Wortman gave to Ms. Vik on the ship.  Eventually, as the evening proceed, Mikah got a call from the hospital telling her they were administering Rol's second dose of slow drug.  When she asked, she was told his condition was improving as expected and they'd send her the data.  Once she got that transmission, she spent some time going over it.  Finally, they were told to bunk down for the night and be ready to wake and act if the alarms were raised.

Hunting Rumors After Demobilization

     The crew were awakened at 6:30am by a call from the Seneschal's office telling them to stand down, and that the troop ship had been withdrawn.  They were told the manufacturing archology had been evacuated by the Navy and explored top to bottom by Marines, sensor teams and other organizations.  While the station only maintained a few hundred employees and their families, the task was still significant.  As they discussed it, Aiden said he'd have bet money something was put on the station and was reminded most of a smuggler's business was legitimate.  They eventually agreed this was likely just something Kishman was doing as a legitimate activity.  Blending in with regular merchant trade.  Ms. Vik was bothered with how the ship easily moved about, even with a registry that was flagged.  They all speculated that Kishman must have blocked sensors while he changed the registry data on his transponder.

Zach cooked breakfast and Zimzod decided to take a break and check out the "station morning" bar scene.  Maybe meet someone for some fun.  Emkir and Aali worked more on the datapads, and could see the "light of day", when it came to organizing them into types of devices.  They could figure it would take another week before they could start selling off the bulk items.  Mikah checked to make sure the berth was still secured by knights before calling the hospital to check on Rol.  She was told he should wake from the drugs in a few hours.  Once awake, they wanted to observe him a bit, but expected to be able to release him back to the ship later that day.  When she asked about his range of recovery, they said his wounds were largely non-critical soft tissue, so he should expect to recover in very good shape.  His earlier wounds should have healed and the new ones were on the way to healing with proper care.

After that, Mikah called Ursara, who greeted her warmly and said Lord William had told her to wait until Mikah called.  Confused, Mikah asked, "For what?" and was reminded they had planned to do dinner the day before.  Mikah recovered well, and apologized as Ursara waved it off.  When Mikah said they should set new plans, Ursara said she was free that evening if Mikah had a story to tell?  Mikah hedged, saying she'd talk about what she could.  At the same time, Mikah started to wonder to herself just what she could discuss?  Ursara fired off another broadside, happily asking, "So how is the Duke these days?" and Mikah happily fired back that he was fine, enjoying exposing circles she'd been busy in.  This also let Mikah ask about any rumors Ursara or her people had heard?  Ursara could only say the port had increased their harassing of merchant ships and crews.

When Mikah said she was sure the port was very busy, Ursara added that to the pile of subjects they'd have to discuss at dinner.  As they talked, the women agreed to meet at 6pm, unless something came up again.  Ursara said she was good with that, and joked she was sure Lord William would call again if Mikah became busy.  Mikah confirmed that William had called her in a surprised tone, and Ursara said he'd called the other evening to say 'Mikah was busy'.  Mikah started to ask how William knew about their plans before saying, "Never mind."  When Ursara said she assumed Mikah had told him, Mikah said she must have.  With that, they ended the call as Ursara reminded Mikah to dress up.

Aiden planned on some reading as the day began, trying to relax a bit before spending the rest of the day with nav-work.  Ms. Vik called the port, who were very hopeful she wanted to come in and help out.  When she agreed, they sent a car and she said she was going to spend the day in port ops if needed.  She added she might be there past dinner.  Once or twice throughout the day, Brian checked in from the salvage platform to find out what was happening?  Zimzod spent his entire day bar hopping, nursing drinks and listening for rumors.  Aali and Emkir worked on the datapads while taking breaks to check in with friends and contacts from time to time.

Once done cooking, eating and cleaning, Zach waited a bit, to not seem pushy, before he called Apa-aeawes.  The Bwap answered the line and presented Zach with a new proposal for the Count's people.  As Zach looked it over, Apa-aeawes explained twenty pages of schedules which described how and when pricing changes might happen.  Benefiting from the math background of his astrogation training, the formulas and open variables were not as daunting as they might be to others.  Zach guessed it would take him three hours or so to confirm the work.  Once he got Apa-aeawes' approval, Zach said he'd call the Bwap back once he'd examined the changes.  He then spent the rest of the day before dinner examining the offer.

Dinner And A Show

     Mikah returned to her digital rumor hunt, staying close to the berth in case anything happened with the search for Kishman.  Lunch passed, and eventually it was time to get ready for dinner.  She decided to wear her sparkling black gown along with a discretely holstered snub pistol.  For accessories, she chose her new lanthanum ring to go with the lanthanum wrist bracelet, Sylea braided bracelet and other jewelry before calling a port cab.  At Ursara's berth, she saw the liveried greeter, as expected, and was allowed entry into the berth.  Ursara welcomed her almost at the door, and asked if she minded that Ursara had invited a few people?

Holding her reaction well, Mikah was introduced to a young female Knight, a Count who appeared to be in his 60's or 70's, and a couple who appeared in their 50's and were introduced as 'Baron and Baroness'.  She greeted the others, who were all similarly dressed and blinged out as Ursara filled in small bits of detail.  Then they were off to the waiting vehicle and dinner.  Of course, as they emerged from the berth, the small trickle of media there had slowly grown as they went out to the center of the station's "high rent" district to dine at the stylish "Open Spaces".  And while they did enjoy their dinner, there was a growing media response to 'having found Dame Mikah in public'!  Some reporters even risked arrest, buzzing the open air restaurant on gravbikes, to get footage.  While She and Ursara said something discretely to the restaurant management, they could only call station security.

Eventually, a security presence stopped the buzzing and things settled down inside the restaurant.  Still, the diners all knew there were likely photographers with long range lenses taking advantage of the open-style eatery.  Mikah did manage to resist drawing her weapon as she didn't need the paperwork that came along with shooting down news mosquitos.  As they ate, Mikah learned the young Knight was daughter to an old Noble family whose title was inherited at birth, until improvement by further inheritance or personal actions.  Despite also having inherited their titles, the Baron and Baroness operated a number of marketing companies within the economy of the Rhylanor system. So...Old Money.

The Count had also inherited his title, as part of the "Working Aristocracy", and appeared to be a personal friend of Ursara's.  Despite his lack of wealth, the man did wear a number of gifts he'd received from the Countess over time.  As they dined, Mikah figured out that Ursara had no agenda in inviting the others, other than thinking they'd enjoy each other's company.  The young Knight showed her youth, from time to time, but was friendly.  The Baron and Baroness were the only ones who appeared to have any influence.  And the food was excellent.  Once the gnats were cleared away, they had a good time chatting.  As she was eating, Mikah got a text on her comms as did the rest of the crew.

Eventually the young Knight said she thought she'd seen Mikah's face before.  When Mikah answered, "Maybe", the Baron and Baroness chuckled while Ursara and the Count just smiled.  When Mikah admitted she was from the Hotel California, and got the obligatory reaction, Mikah asked what she'd heard?  The knight considered before saying the last she heard, someone from the ship was shooting people.  Mikah joked that they only shot at each other, which confused the young Knight.  Mikah also caught that look on the faces of the Baron and Baroness which told Mikah she was in the, 'Yes, these are the kind of nobility we are Not proud of' category.  In the pause, Mikah explained that she was just joking, and it was a member of her crew that was shot, stressing the word 'was'.  As the young Knight reacted to "how horrible" that was, Ursara asked how Sir Rol was doing and Mikah said he should be back in the berth soon and was not that bad off.

The Countess announced, "That's wonderful" and said they should have a party for him.  This was too much sugar for Mikah, who was only happy Rol survived because it meant she could shoot him herself someday.  Maybe soon.  As they chattered about parties, Mikah took the chance to ask if anyone was planning to be at the Tellona Diamond auction?  The Baroness said she was, and asked about the provenance of the stone?  As everyone turned to Mikah, she said she was sure the Countess had told the story before, but the Baroness said she wanted to hear it from Mikah.  So, being as diplomatic as possible to Ursara's feelings, Mikah explained that the Countess had invited them to join an expedition to trade with the nomads.  She admitted the expedition was not as successful as they'd hoped, but a member of her ship's crew did receive the diamond.

They were all a bit disappointed with the story, and the young knight said it was a bit ant-climactic.  She also seemed a little annoyed that "a member of her ship's crew" was the one to get the diamond and not someone of importance.  Almost dismissively, Mikah said he was a knight and the young woman asked if she'd heard of him?  Mikah said, "Sir Zimzod", and added his last name at the confused look on the young woman's face.  The knight brightened up saying, "I've heard of him." with a smile.  She then speculated, "He's not married, is he?"  Not expecting that at all, Mikah got an evil thought and said that he actually may have just gotten engaged.  With that, Ursara leaned in and excitedly asked, "Really?  Do tell!" in her best 'tell me more' tone.  Mikah smiled and told Ursara that she was only playing with the minds of the crew.

When Ursara asked for details anyway, Mikah asked if Ursara remembered the rings Zimzod had made, forgetting he had one made for and delivered to, Ursara too.  When the Countess nodded, she explained and showed her ring around the table, getting even more appreciation when she told them the stone was a Tellona Diamond chip.  As they mooned over the ring, especially the young knight, Mikah explained how she used the arrival of the rings to play a practical joke on the rest of the crew, convincing them all she and Zimzod had gotten engaged.  At the end of the story, Mikah confirmed with the young knight that Zimzod was still single.  Not taking her eyes off Mikah's ring, she almost sighed, "He sounds like a great guy."

Mikah was relieved when the Baroness asked where she came from, and where she felt she was headed?  Mikah kept it short, at first, saying she came from the Hammermium system and were headed to the Mora system.  When the Baroness asked about how she came to her title through the military, Mikah explained a bit about how she, Zimzod and another member of her crew were discharged in the Emerald system.  How they'd done work for the Duke of the Vilis Subsector, for which they were ennobled.  She then said they had met with Duke Norris of Regina and Duke Leonard, and had to continue on to Mora to complete the confirmation of their titles by meeting with the Grand Duchess Delphine.  When the Count asked how they found Duke Norris in comparison to Duke Leonard, Mikah just said they were both Dukes and remarkable men.

This got nods around the table, as people accepted her very diplomatic statement.  After that, they talked about their titles and Mikah learned the Baron and Baroness had inherited not only their titles but an aging, dying company which had propped up a sector of the Rhylanori economy.  More than the inheritance, their work to rejuvenate the company, and that whole economic sector, had confirmed their titles.  As for the young Knight, her ancestor received their title in the Second Frontier War.  Ever since, the eldest female child received the title on the death of the previous holder, as it passed down the generations.  She received the title at a young age because her mother and father were killed in an industrial accident.

When the Count said the loss was unfortunate, the Knight said it was one of those robotic failures over which there were law suits raging.  Mikah realized she'd heard quite a bit about this on the news, but not really paid much attention to it.  She remembered Aiden had, but he was not there.  The young woman said she was now the senior in her house, with three younger siblings.  Mikah said, "You have a great burden on you" in a consoling tone.  The girl said she was grateful to have the family lands and Mikah mentally added in, 'and the income derived from them'.  But she only said, "Then you don't want Zimzod." with a bit of a giggle.  Sticking up for the absent Knight, the young woman said, "He sounds like a great guy!" and Mikah admitted he had his moments.

Still, it seemed Zimzod had a fan, and Mikah had to wonder if and how this would play out once the evening was over?  Soon enough, the group were done with dinner and returned to Ursara's ship for some after dinner drinks.  But the conversation was more of the same, some talk about economic or policy issues interspersed with discussions of gemstones and even some gossip.  As the evening got longer, Mikah realized the Count was not as close a friend of Ursara's as her gifts led Mikah to assume.  She saw this when the Count was the first to make excuses and leave the group.  This soon triggered realizations from the others that it was time to go.

Relaxation, Exploration And Discoveries

     Having been working for the port all day, Ms. Vik was able to better explain to the crew what happened the day before, after sharing dinner with her friends.  While it had been kept out of the media, the Imperial Navy was boarding archologies throughout the system, looking for places Kishman could have gone to ground.  In each case, the internal justification was that incomplete data was provided on their request for tracking data the night before.  The official excuse used in each case was a "Health and Safety inspection", which was certainly under the authority of the Navy.  Having been told to stand down themselves, they learned the Imperial Navy was still busy kicking down doors and investigating.  This made everyone cringe as they thought of such an event happening to them on the California.

At the berth, those who'd been watching the news had seen some mention of increased Imperial Navy inspections, but that was all.  And the item was very minimal.  By dinnertime, Zach found himself cooking for himself, Aali, Emkir and Aiden.  As he started cooking, Emkir volunteered himself and Aali to cook given Zach's condition.  While they cooked, word came from the hospital that they were releasing Rol to return to the berth, so Emkir added more food to cook.  As they watched the news, there were bits on Mikah being spotted out with other nobility.

At the hospital, Rol was actually feeling better than he would have expected.  Once he was awake, he was given something solid to eat and kept hydrated as they monitored his status and updated him on events.  They explained his wounds and how he was injured, offering counseling if he needed?  They also tested his recovery and examined his healing wounds.  And Rol had to admit he felt better than he did before being shot!  As they tended to him, and after he was caught up by the medical staff, Rol was told he had a visitor who had been waiting to meet with him once he was awake.

The visitor was Count Sir Lisush-Amimkig Iduushin [ Lee-su-sh Am-ihm-kig Ih-doo-shin ], who was the primary of his Order.  Rol kept respectful as the Count dismissed the medical personnel and began explaining the true nature of events.  He told Rol about the second man involved in the shooting, their special forces past, the search for the survivor and three possible team mates.  He also told Rol about the securing of the Hotel California's berth.  While he also spoke of the troop ship and arming of the berth, the Count was not aware why those events occurred.  He did tell Rol the troop ship left that morning.  Eventually, he stayed with Rol until the hospital was ready to release him, and the Order transported him back to the berth.

As he cooked, Zach considered the changes Apa-aeawes made to the contract.  His opinion was that Apa-aeawes had improved the proposal with the schedule, but not moved on the price.  And he didn't think the schedule would provide enough security to the Count's people, since it did not prevent the price escalating inappropriately or have controls to force down temporary but correct escalations.  Despite being twenty pages limiting possible price rises, some of the language was also vague.  And one or two issues Zach could easily identify didn't seem covered at all.  So he wasn't sure how the Count's people would react.  He decided to spend the evening after dinner developing tweaks before sending it back to the Bwap for consideration, and then working on nav plots for Aiden.

Zach also took a break from the contract, to spend some time with Rol when the knight returned to the ship.  Rol was in surprisingly good order, with a bag of drugs and instructions for his further treatment, unlike Zach, who still had significant damage to heal.  Rol had been advised of all his continuing treatment and how to deal with his drugs.  Still, it was suggested someone aboard check in on him and, ironically, Zach was the only medically trained person in the berth when Rol returned.

As Zach greeted Rol, and they discussed his recovery, Rol noticed Zach wasn't walking yet.  When Zach said his recovery was going to take a bit longer, Rol just sighed and said some people were slackers.  After settling Rol, Zach sent the proposal back to Apa-aeawes with his suggested tweaks.  He also sent a message to the Count's trade team saying he was continuing to negotiate with Apa-aeawes and he'd get back to them when he had progress to report.  Zach then started working on complex variations of plots.  He figured he'd get them started that night and finish the next day.  As Zach did this, Rol spent the evening watching vids before turning in early.

During the evening, in addition to working on the datapads with Emkir, Aali continued reaching out to her friends and connections to see what was up?  The only thing Aali heard was that the Imperial Navy seemed to be on a bit of a tear for the last day, for some reason.  No one knew if it was just some pre-Military inspection activity or due to some event or change in policy?  But she heard a number of firms in-system were starting to talk about hiring mercenary security for the first time since the war.  Aali played uninformed, saying that, if the Navy was worried about something, it might not be bad to have some defenses against whatever it was too.

Zimzod stayed late looking for rumors and loose women.  He eventually found a spacer who'd been working hard and needed relief with someone outside her own crew.  He met her just after she decided her original "date" had stood her up, so she was an easy catch as she sipped on her drink.  She'd just decided to give some guy the "best night he'd had in his life" in hopes the universe would somehow let the looser who stood her up know it when Zimzod said hello.  He figured this out fast as she encouraged him to down his drink before heading to her berth.  Despite the very active night, Zimzod failed to learn any new information.  Before he went home, Zimzod got her comms, in case they could hook up later.  While she gave him the code, she also said her ship was waiting on a cargo before leaving soon.

Brian was happily working away the time and earning a few credits on the salvager station.  Every time he heard even a snippet of news about how crazy the rest of the system was getting, he was glad he was out there.  Even when a naval frigate and troopship showed up, he hadn't been too concerned until they stopped all work and forced everyone to board the transport.  Then, his only concern was that this still counted as 'on the clock' for getting paid.  When Salagon said it was, Brian happily grabbed a nap so he could work late and build up his hours once the military stopped screwing with them.

As he worked on the nav-plots, Zach remembered from his training that the complex interactions of the gravitational effects of orbiting bodies and archologies could affect sensor readouts.  With a start, he realized this could be an important factor in tracking the missing smuggler ship!  Realizing it was not something he'd thought about in quite some time, Zach was reaching for the comms even as he finished the thought.  As Zach considered the effects in his mind, he called up the Duke's offices and identified himself to someone who bounced the call to someone more senior.  The next representative greeted Zach respectfully, and by name, asking how they could help?

Zach explained his astrogation background and did his best to explain, in layman's terms, how the many gravity wells in-system could affect sensor detection.  When this didn't go as well as he'd hoped, Zach asked them to get someone more technical on the call.  When the tech asked which issue Zach was addressing, he said, "the missing smuggler ship".  He was gratified as a number of screen splits opened to include several Naval and civilian people joining in.  This included an Aslan in a Naval officer's uniform!  Zach greeted them and was very willing to bet the Aslan Male Naval officer was not technical at all.  But he proceeded anyway, and soon those who were trained in astrogation started getting excited too.  It seemed this was a common thing for astrogators to forget until something went wrong.  And as they admitted they hadn't considered the effect either, the others started asking for clarification on how this effected the search?

Once the techs started translating into something even an Aslan could understand, even he got excited.  When they started giving orders, the techs made it clear they wouldn't have enhanced results until the next day at the best.  Everyone was very pleased with the information and thanked Zach for his work.  Zach racked out soon after that, but not before receiving a final "check in call" from TAS.  He assured them that Rol would be perfectly able and prepared to handle the interview as it counted as "light duty."  TAS confirmed the Duke's Huscarles would arrive at 8:30am the next morning to establish and maintain security.

As they went over the details, TAS also told Zach the Huscarles had communicated with the knights securing the bay, to make sure there were no jurisdictional issues.  Eventually, the evening came to a close for the rest of the crew in the station, including Mikah, who got back before Zimzod.  One thing that had slipped through the cracks was the "Meet the Heroes" Cruise to the Graveyard fleet.  That excursion had left the day before, unmarked by any of the crew in the confusion regarding the smuggler ship.  But it also left with three gunships flying escort because of their concerns and warnings.

Next: Dicing With Details And Death