By this time, Mikah secretly had Councilor Helmic's hand computer for more than a week.  During the first eight hours searching for the hulk, Dame Mikah pulled Ryddoth into a stateroom and told him about it, and that she'd told most of the others.  Whatever response she expected to that, Ryddoth kept it muted.  Mikah said that Emkir was the only one not yet aware of the device.  And the name of the hulk.  She explained that was because he was closest to the Councilor.
Ironically, Ryddoth asked if they could bring the Admiral into the loop exactly while Emkir was in the ship's lounge, suggesting a poker game to Ms. Vik, the Councilor and Sir Zimzod.  Checking that, Mikah said they should wait on that.  Done updating Ryddoth, Dame Mikah and Sir Brian joined the others in the lounge and joined in the game.  With Aiden on the bridge working the sensors through the first eight hours, those not working played cards, watched or hung out and burned time in the small lounge.  By the time the games burned down, Emkir had raised Cr 20 while Ms. Vik, Sir Brian and Dame Mikah were each up Cr 5.  Sir Zimzod lost Cr 10.
The Admiral had also seemed to chatter aimlessly during the game, managing to innocently ask what the Stepozhevaci planned to do with the drifting destroyer?  And they were surprised when the Councilor said the Stepozhevaci were not actually interested in the ship itself.  When asked what he meant, he said they were more interested in the potential cargo aboard hulks they found, but would say no more.  This was especially ironic because Emkir was the only one not in the loop on exactly what "cargo" that might be.  The others considered the news.  Meanwhile, Aiden had been one of two not in the lounge while he worked above decks in the sensor suite.  He scanned and tuned the sensors while Ryddoth worked on the bridge.
Ryddoth eventually set the ship's computer to follow a programmed search grid and tied the sensors and alerts to the ship's comms.  That way, the crew would be warned about anything important so he could grab an eight-hour break.  After that, he'd relieve Aiden so Radetsky could sleep.  Most hit the rack after the poker game, but Brian stayed up a bit longer looking for "fun".  As a prank he re-worked the ship's entertainment system to play pre-recorded scenes backwards.  He also re-wired the wave-cooker to scream for help when used, instead of it's normal sounds.  It would now scream for help! in loud tones whenever someone tried to use it.  Pleased with his evil pranks, Sir Brian went to sleep.    Tuesday 073-1112: Search Plus 8 Hours A Rude Awakening To Start With
Seven and a half hours later, Ryddoth woke to his alarmand and cleaned up before relieving Aiden.  The pilot did little before hitting the rack.  Taking his post, Ryddoth soon used what little skill he had with the sensors to try to "improve" the sensor settings.  But he soon realized he'd messed up and couldn't get them back to Aiden's settings.  So,an hour after he'd gone to sleep, Ryddoth had to wake Aiden to re-set them.  Muttering the whole time, Aiden dressed and reset the scanners before returning to his stateroom.
After that, Ryddoth worked through the first night shift of their search.  The first full day of the search started when Emkir and the Councilor woke first, and went for breakfast.  Emkir figured he'd eat with the Councilor, helping him learn how to cook.  Of course, when they turned it on, the microwave suddenly started screaming, in Sir Brian's voice, "Ahhhh!!  Stop cooking!!  Open the door!  I'm inside!  Open the door!  Help!!"  The screaming nearly scared the Councilor into a heart attack.
After nine hours sleep, after fixing the sensors, Aiden woke, dressed and quickly went to relieve Ryddoth.  Along the way he passed the Admiral and Councilor in the lounge, but didn't stop to chat.  The morning progressed and Zimzod woke, then Mikah and then Ms. Vik.  Sir Brian had gone to sleep later and slept in.  After being relieved, Ryddoth went through the lounge heading to his stateroom.  There, he saw the Councilor and Admiral chatting over breakfast.  Settling in, Aiden checked the sensor settings, readouts and logs then went for chow and to grab a nav-study disk before coming back to the bridge.  Seeing the Admiral and Councilor again, he waved a greeting in passing.
Aiden went to start cooking and the Admiral called "Wait!" just a bit too late.  The microwave started screaming again.  Annoyed, Aiden experimented with different settings but the microwave screamed again and again.  He'd hoped specific times settings would trigger it and others not.  Sadly, the screams repeated as he ran through a number of test times and completely destroyed the food he'd put in the cooker.  After that, Aiden tossed the "remains" of his first meal and cooked another meal, ignoring the screams.
Zimzod learned about the pranks when he woke.  Sharing a stateroom with Brian, he went through the engineer's gear for something valuable to take hostage against his behaving.  Digging, Zimzod was suddenly surprised to find a collection of antique "actual paper" books!  Some looking like they were centuries old!  Zimzod took the portable library into the lounge, looking through their storage for another bag.  The Admiral and Councilor watched before Emkir helped Zimzod find a trash liner.  While they started transferring the books, Emkir was both amazed and interested in the languages he could see.
The Councilor was amazed at the artifacts the Knight owned, and asked about the books?  He was roughly told, by Zimzod, "None of your business", and backed off as it had nothing to do with the mission.  After the books were moved, Zimzod stepped over to the captain's door and buzzed Ryddoth awake.  Ryddoth answered to see the Knight at his door with a bag of what looked like trash.  When Ryddoth greeted the knight, Zimzod said, "We need to talk."
Ryddoth shook some sleep from his eyes and asked, "Do we need to talk about this now?"  Zimzod bluntly answered "Yes", so Ryddoth let him into the stateroom.  He was followed by Emkir, who also worked to keep the Councilor out.  After a discussion, the Councilor won entry, saying he needed to know where the books came from and...  Rydooth interrupted him and demanded, "Books?"  The Councilor slipped in as Ryddoth closed the door and Zimzod placed the books down in front of Ryddoth saying, "These are insurance."
Not being able to read Zimzod's mind, Ryddoth asked, "Insurance?" and Zimzod explained his plan.  He said he'd taken them from Brian's gear in the stateroom they shared.  When Ryddoth asked if Zimzod really thought this was necessary, the knight told them what had happened aboard the Singing Star, with a crewmate named Quinn.  As Ryddoth's patience was tried, Zimzod told how setting a "pop-bang" in the former Army officer's clothing drawer led to their ship being swarmed by Imperial and Regina military forces in Credo-down starport.
Since they weren't in a starport, Ryddoth stll wasn't convinced Brian would pull pranks on a ship in deep space.  But Emkir told him about the screaming microwave.  Ryddoth asked if they were certain it was Brian and Emkir answered, "It's his voice".  Turing to the Councilor, Ryddoth asked what this had to do with the contract?  The Councilor claimed he needed further information on Sir Brian to see if the work was in danger?  Nodding, Ryddoth called Aiden, asking him to call Sir Montgomery to his quarters.  Aiden first asked, "What did Zimzod do?"  He was firmly told it was Sir Brian.  Ryddoth then asked Aiden to keep an eye on ship's systems.
Aiden transferred the sensor feeds to the bridge and moved below to call Brian.  A groggy Brian answered, asking "What?" and was told to report to Ryddoth's stateroom.  After a pause, Brian moaned, "Tell him I'm dead".  Aiden dryly responded, "Wait ten minutes and that may happen."  Brian said, "Great!" in a seemingly truly happy voice and signed off.  Not backing off, Aiden pinged Brian again and the knight answered, snapping, "WHAT!!!??" in a demanding tone.  Aiden said to get to Ryddoth's stateroom 'or else'.  When Brian demanded "Or else what?" Aiden said they'd come get him.  Brian snapped back, "You and what army?" and Aiden simply replied "Zimzod".Getting Sir Brian
In his quarters, Ryddoth looked at the others, asking "Do you know what you've gotten me into?"  At that point, Aiden comm'd down, letting him know Brian was coming and asked if he should leave the ship's comms open?  Emkir sharply reminded Ryddoth that they were not at fault for reporting an act of sabotage.  He belatedly added they were all surprised at Brian's cache of very rare antique books.  Ryddoth was mostly concerned with the legalities of the books, having been stolen from Sir Brian.
His points of concern were "illegal theft of items" vs "we did not steal them because we found them and brought them to the captain's attention."  In the meantime, Zimzod went back to the stateroom they shared and found Sir Brian sleeping.  Taking action, Zimzod first detail checked his armor for booby traps.  Still waiting for Brian to show up for Ryddoth, Aiden decided to play the Imperial Anthem ship-wide, at max volume, to wake everyone.  Doing that, Aiden found he was oddly not able to blast Brian and Zimzod's stateroom.
Vaguely hearing this through the walls, Zimzod actually stood at attention as the anthem played.  Ryddoth called Aiden and ordered the anthem stopped before heading to buzz Brian's door.  He opened the portal to find Zimzod checking his armor and Brian sleeping.  Ryddoth also noticed Sir Brian had apparently re-wired the stateroom's comms.  Sighing, Ryddoth asked Zimzod if he wanted a workout in his armor?  Zimzod said no, because he thought Ryddoth was going to accuse him of theft.  So Ryddoth went and prodded Brian on the shoulder, which got very little from Brian.
Ms. Vik and Dame Mikah had woken to the anthem, and dressed hurriedly before opening the door to demand what was happening?  The Councilor followed the others into Zimzod and Brian's stateroom before Zimzod ordered him out.  Emkir returned to Ryddoth's stateroom and started checking out Brian's books.  Mikah and Ms. Vik joined the Councilor in the hall and then explored the open door of Brian and Zimzod's stateroom.  As Ryddoth did, Mikah saw Brian had rewired the comms pad near the door, explaining why the comms didn't work in the stateroom.  With more deadly consequences, Ms. Vik saw the hand comp on Brian's end table and realized the danger if the Councilor saw it!  She made sure the Stepozhevaci was outside the stateroom and drew Ryddoth's attention by visually examining the device but saying nothing.
Pointing to Brian, Mikah asked Ryddoth, "Would you like me to wake him up?"  She then walked over to grab Brian's arm, inflicting heavy pressure and pain as she pulled.  Brian woke up screaming while Mikah continued pulling and twisting.  She didn't stop until Brian said "OK!  OK!" and stopped struggling.  Watching this performance, Ryddoth asked Mikah if they'd traveled together a bit, and she said they had.  Ryddoth then asked if Sir Brian understood the consequences of disobeying an order?  As this was happening, Ms. Vik noticed Zimzod readying his autopistol!  She decided to leave, to both get away from the possible shooting and warn those not in the compartment.  As she left, Ms. Vik whispered to Ryddoth, "Look at Zimzod", and made her way to Ryddoth's stateroom to warn Emkir.    Tuesday 073-1112: Late Afternoon A Flash Of Conflict And Of Discovery
Still looking through Brian's book collection when Inger reached him, the Admiral buzzed the bridge, saying "Zimzod's got a gun!  Lock the bridge!"  On the bridge, Aiden needed no more urging.  Known as 'Mr. Paranoid' at the best of times, the former Scout now had a real threat to worry about.  He immediately began the process of putting the ship on full lock-down while cursing the fact he'd not put a hold out weapon on the bridge.  At the same time, Ryddoth asked Dame Mikah to continue getting Sir Brian up and out of his stateroom before returning to his own stateroom.  There, he met Emkir and Ms. Vik, and she pointed out Ryddoth had himself to blame for the state of affairs.  When the former Scout asked her how so, she said he obviously had more data than she and the Admiral had.  And he was keeping that from all of them.
Given that, it was no wonder the knights didn't trust him, or those they saw as his crew?  Ryddoth realized the debate could become long and drawn out just when he knew he didn't need it.  So he first checked to see if the Stepozhevaci Councilor was still in the passage?  Then, he told the two everything he knew.  He told them about a contact he'd had, who'd claimed to be a reporter.  He explained that person seemed to know their mission before he'd been told about it.  And had claimed the knights were a "troubleshooting team" for Duke Sir Norris of the Regina System.  He explained why he was uncomfortable having the most powerful people in the Starport Authority and the local Imperial Interstellar Scout Service wake him up and saddle him with people who appeared to have no respect for his command.  With that, he'd eyed Emkir, who knew he was referring to the computer security issue he'd caused in the Stepozhevaci base.
Still, the two of them were bought up to speed according to Ryddoth.  After that, Ryddoth grabbed a polished wooden stringed musical instrument they'd seen him playing at times while they were in jump.  They'd learned it was called a "guilar", and had been made by Ryddoth and his father in his childhood.  They watched as Ryddoth also grabbed a chair from his stateroom and set it in the open passage between staterooms.  For reasons they couldn't define and he didn't explain, Ryddoth then started practicing with the old stringed instrument, badly, as Dame Mikah finally forced Brian out of his stateroom along with Zimzod.
By then, Brian had been told his books had been taken and was angrily demanding them back.  This circus washed out into the passage as Brian turned on Ryddoth demanding to be told where his books were?  Zimzod also turned to Ryddoth expecting the former Scout to back him up as Brian got louder and angrier.  And as most of those aboard watched, Ryddoth ignored them all and played his guilar!  Without a hint of explanation...  That didn't last long, as Zimzod's patience ran out.  Having snapped into most of his battledress when he armed himself, the knight used the enhanced speed of the suit's skeleton to snatch the guilar from Ryddoth and angrily smash it on the deck before demanding Ryddoth's attention.
After a brief pause where no one knew if a fight would break out, Ryddoth stood and addressed the knights.  He disgusted Zimzod by apologizing to Brian for the taking of his books, and told him they were in a bag in his stateroom.  But before he let Brian get them, Ryddoth demanded Brian's word he would end the string of annoying pranks.  Brian grudgingly gave his word and was allowed to take back his books over Zimzod's complaints.  As Brian left the group, Dame Mikah took up Sir Zimzod's cause and it seemed the factions were about to come to a head.
Ms. Vik and Emkir did their best to talk the coming battle down, but weren't going to succeed.  Things would have gotten worse but they were interrupted by Aiden on the bridge.  Everyone paused as the former Scout announced that he'd picked up something on the sensors at extreme range.  Ryddoth moved to a comms panel and asked for data, and Aiden could only say it appeared large and solid enough to be a vessel.  He couldn't rule out a drifting planetoid, but he was certain it was no glitch.
Aiden said he'd send the data to all screens aboard and they moved to the lounge, where screens would show what Aiden was seeing.  Everyone's spirits were raised by the discovery.  While the Councilor moved to the bridge, to watch Aiden tuning the sensors, Ryddoth agreed to sit down with the others to all share what they knew.  With new hope, Aiden plotted a course to the object and laid it in.  He said it would take them twenty hours before to intercept.  From then on, the crew met in staterooms as they could to share information while they watched for more sensor reports from the bridge.  Finally, almost twelve hours into the approach, Aiden could confirm the detected item was a vessel of some class.  Even later, he confirmed the vessel as an Imperial Fer d'Lance destroyer matching the class of the Quasar Viper.
_________________________________________________________________________ Next: Unexpected Visitors!