Nightshade comes out of jump at midday in
stealth mode. It's been just 13 days since they left. They
do the same underwater thing again, that being the best place to hide
the ship. They now need to get the Duke of Rhylanor to the
Archduke without anyone seeing it.
Robert Morris will drive the gcarrier and try to
work them into the normal traffic. It shouldn't be too
hard. Getting into the Archducal palace should be no problem, as
Norris himself said that Roger Jolly and his group would be let in
without question when they turned up.
On board the gcarrier are the Duke, Sir Misha
Ravanos, Kalida Siena, Marchioness of Nakege, Mich Saginaw, and
Edward "Shark" Teeth.
The trip is uneventful. Robert seems to have
slipped in easily to his new role as the designated gcraft
driver. He pulls up at the gate, where Shark steps out to tell
the guards that he, Roger Jolly, is here to see the Archduke.
After being invited briefly into the guardhouse, they are given the
go-ahead to proceed. They are escorted again, but the air seems a
little more relaxed this time.
Pulling up in front of the palace, they leave the
gcarrier to be escorted to the Archduke, and are not surprised when
they are taken to the same place as before.
The Duke of Rhylanor has been disguised, not just in
an anonymous nice business suit, but with a makeover treatment by
Robert. He should not only be unrecognizable but totally
The Archduke is alone in the room when they
arrive. Shark is of course expecting snipers to be watching
again, but doesn't see any new ones. In fact, he's not sure the
old ones might be there either, and a closer look around reveals that
the Archduke really is alone. Even the escort steps out into the
elevator once the group steps in.
"Hello, sir," says Kalida, "We've brought you Duke
Norris gestures to Rhylanor that he need not remove
his disguise, and comments to Kalida that they were quick. Kalida
quietly mentions that he had indicated he was in a hurry.
Shark laughs that yes, they are the same people who
left here. At that, he has a sudden thought, and looks closely to
see if the Archduke himself is the same person. He believes he is.
The Archduke asks if everything went smoothly.
Kalida and Shark assure him that it did. Kalida adds that she
does not believe anyone saw anything.
Norris turns to Rhylanor and says that there will be
plenty of time to fill him in on the situation, although of course
Nakege may have done so already.
Nakege says that she's filled Rhylanor in with
everything she has already, and in response to Norris' question says
that she has no new information to add since last time they met.
Norris says that they still have a few matters to
discuss. "Here is your Letter of Marque," he says, handing Nakege
a sealed envelope which she passes immediately to her Captain, Sir
Misha. He then turns to Mich and says, "I believe you have
something for me?"
Mich hands over the informations he's prepared: the
data, the papers, the simulation.
The Archduke accepts it with his thanks. He
pauses for a moment, fingering the tape, and says, "I believe you have
some harrassing to do?"
Nakege says, "Have you come up with anything more
specific you would like us to do?"
"We need to delay Santanocheev as much as possible,
and let Rhylanor's fleets -- excuse me -- come in as smoothly as
possible. Delay him, harrass him, slow him down, cause him to
take extra precautions to cost him time. And of course if you can
make it back here in time to help us with our defense, that would also
be useful. Everything will help."
Sir Misha says, "Yes, we are looking forward to it."
Nakege then says, "I've been running the numbers
while we travelled, and I believe I have some approximate guesses for
dates. They are just guesses, but I believe that what will happen
at Tussinian will be occurring around 140, give or take a
couple of days. My best guess for what's hitting Mora is
perhaps around 180. They are approximations, but they may help
you in plans."
The Archduke thanks her, and asks her sources.
Nakege says it came from further analysis of
existing information, not from any new sources. She has no
intention of telling him they came to her in a drug haze.
There is no more information to pass to or from the
Archduke. Norris says he would throw a reception for Nakege, but
as they are not supposed to be here that will have to wait. He
adds that while this crisis continues, Roger Jolly's group will
continue to be let in if they have need to report in.
It is clearly a dismissal. There being no
escort in the room, so they have to key the elevator themselves.
Misha tests his new reading skills on finding the right button, while
Shark and Kalida look on in amusement. To the Archduke, it surely
looks as if the noble is waiting for one of his commoners to press the
button for him. He looks pointedly at Shark, who suppresses any
hint of laughter and triggers the elevator.
Inside, their escort is waiting. The crew
enter the elevator, are escorted to the gcarrier, and return to Nightshade.
Kalida has their route already planned, with two
quick jumps followed by a regular one so they can come out at Dawnworld
in stealth. Helia immediately lifts them out of the ocean and out
to 100d, proceeding as quickly as possible without going supersonic in
atmosphere. On the way to the jump point, Mich spends the time
checking the ship's jump systems to be sure they're exactly correct for
this jump sequence.
At about 18:00, Nightshade enters jump for 0106
It takes about 45 minutes for Helia and Callisto to
announce that they have stabilized. Sir Misha gives the word, and
Helia goes down to Engineering and does her thing. Mich observes
in sparkly pink, remaining conscious through the transition. Nightshade pops out of jump with a barely
noticeable dull whoomph.
Mich is pleased to see that everything indicates
red, with just one emitter out of perfect but within spec. He
sets that back into perfect alignment while Callisto verifies their
In another hour, Callisto confirms they are in the
correct location, and Sir Misha commands the next jump. This will
be to 0309 / Lunion.
At 19:45, they jump again.
This time it takes about an hour to stabilize, and
Helia brings them out again at 20:45.
This time Nightshade precipitates violently,
with a loud bang and a heavy shudder.
Mich reports that he has blue all over the
board. There are three emitters that will need to be
replaced, and all of the others will need alignment. Several
components even need the unspace power link to be reset. That
will require gravity to be off for twelve hours, with some sections in
complete vacuum. The total operation will probably take about 20
hours. He sets to work right away.
Mich has half a dozen spare emitters, so next time
they make a real jump he's going to need to make some more in the
Engineering Shop. One of them failed explosively, making rather a
mess, but he can clean it up and repair it without difficulty.
Outside the ship, space is visibly flickering.
Meanwhile, Kalida seeks out Shark with a favor to
ask. She says, "You've informed me, twice, that you've gotten
some sort of glimmer off me. Once I was in a klatrin trance, once
I was'nt. I want to try what I was doing before, by way of an
Shark says he has his three sensors set up for
triangulation, and it's all ready to go. "Go ahead," he says,
"I'll be recording."
Kalida returns to her stateroom and just does what
she's done before. She works on the Adabicci issue, trying to
figure out more about it, where it's coming from, what it might
be. She realizes that it's definitely a string that Santanocheev
is pulling, but she can't see where the other end of it might be.
It goes off in some direction she hasn't looked.
Shark sees a very slight blip, just a little above
background. He informs Kalida that whatever it is she does, just
Kalida's response is, "I was afraid that would
Shark says, "Put it this way, I get more of an
indication when Helia stretches her wings."
This does not reassure Kalida, although she does
feel a little better that it's Santanocheev and not something
else. At least there's not something completely unconnected going
It takes ten hours for space to stablize, seven
after Mich was done replacing the emitters. He has 17 hours of
work left that relies on space being stable, and gravity off, and
vacuum in some areas. So while waiting, he asks Helia what
Helia has written down a mathematical description of
exactly what went wrong. She's fascinated enough about it even to
talk down to Mich a little: "This fold intruded just a little here, and
threw this off, and that resonated through the wave... as you switched
the space, the wave resonated through it, and that propagated through
as you popped out, and fed back, and ... here!" She points to
some incomprehensible equation.
Mich returns to working on his new simulation of
jumpspace. Helia helps him with that, because she's really
interested right now. Robert pitches in with computer work to
It is now 06:45. Callisto starts her work
while Mich has breakfast and coffee, so that he won't have to wait for
her before he shuts down gravity.
Mich resumes his work at 08:00, and tells everyone
that gravity will be off for twelve hours.
Most of the crew find a safe place to be, but Shark
and Sir Misha practice their zack fighting in zero gravity.
Kalida lies back and runs some more thought
experiments. She looks for Geoff in all the threads. She's not
sure, but he's not hooked up with the threat thread. She thinks
he's probably fairly safe, aside from whatever he might be getting into
at Victoria. She's quite tired after that effort, and
rests until gravity comes back on.
Helia simply relaxes and drifts around the ship with
tiny flaps of her wings, from one end of the ship to the other.
She delights in taking on perfect twitch of her wings and floating
exactly from one end of the corridor to the other, which she seems to
find quite easy.
Mich works constantly for the whole time, carefully
turning gravity back on at 20:00. There's five hours of work left
at this point.
When Shark's exercises are over, he notices that
there was a slight increase in football readings in Kalida's staterooms.
Mich finally takes a break. He's been working
for a long time in awkward conditions, and the work has to be done
After an early breakfast, Mich starts work on the
final five hours, completing his work at noon. The ship is
red. He informs Sir Misha, who orders the jump.
Nightshade jumps for Dawnworld /
District 268. This is planned to be a normal jump, coming out in
stealth. They should arrive just after midnight on the morning of
This Kalida's first opportunity for quite some time
to drink some klatrin. She asks Captain Sir Misha for his
Baron Bridgehead of course points out that since
they'll be coming out in hostile territory, this would be a really bad
time for the crew to incapacitate themselves. He looks pointedly
Sir Misha agrees. "No," he says. "Don't
you think that would be a bad idea?"
"No?" says Kalida hopefully.
"What advantage would be gained by you taking a
klatrin trip at this point?"
"I may learn more than we already know, and we don't
know very much."
"Oh. That's different," laughs Sir
Misha. "I'd like the chance to learn more. Yes, you may
take a klatrin trip."
Baron Bridgehead blusters, "But we won't have a
Sir Misha retorts, "If you keep complaining, we
won't have a doctor either."
Shark objects. He can do first aid fairly
well, but he's not a real doctor.
Baron Bridgehead sighs, and says that he would like
it if Kalida at least came down to Sick Bay so he could monitor her
She enjoys her glass of klatrin, despite the disgust
of most of the rest of the crew at the oily foul-smelling liquid, and
accompanies the Baron to Sick Bay.
Shark asks Mich to make some spare football sensors
for him. He'll get to that between his work on jump simulations.
About five hours after Kalida went into her trance,
sensors suddenly show a solid spike from Sick Bay. It's coming
going, but it's definitely way above normal background. It's
higher than anything he's been getting from Helia's flying. It's
a solid positive reading, the like of which he has not seen for a long
Shark calls Bridgehead. "Hey, doc! You
might want to up her calorie input, I think she's working pretty hard
on this one."
Bridgehead snaps back hastily, "I'm working on
it! I'm working on it, all right?"
"I just thought you'd want to know. And no,
you don't want to know how I know."
"Well if you know anything, get down here and come
Shark rushes down to Sick Bay. Kalida's signs
are not looking good. She's in serious stress.
Bridgehead has clearly been working hard, his
movements as a doctor smooth and controlled in contrast to his tone of
voice. "She's starting to stabilize a bit, but goodness knows
what's going on with her head!"
"Exactly," says Shark. He reflects that, as
far as he knows, the Doc has never worked with psionics. It does
look like Kalida is stabilizing, just as the Baron said, not at a good
level but at least not getting any worse. He moves over to a
console and pulls in the feed from his football sensors, plotting it
out for the Doctor. He says, "This is the energy usage I predict
for our patient. We need to compensate accordingly."
Bridgehead sighs, "I told you this was a bad idea."
"Working hard always is. I'm just wondering
what language she'll speak." Shark tells Bridgehead to call him
if he needs him, and goes off to find the Captain.
Shark finds Sir Misha is in the lounge. He
says, "Captain. You're aware of the abilities of some of our crew
in extraordinary fashion, for example the fact that Helia's wings are
not enough to fly the way she does. She uses something called
telekinesis to lift and move herself around."
"I am aware of that," says Sir Misha.
Shark continues, "And that over the last two klatrin
trips, and a couple of times in between, our gunner has exhibited a
lower level of something going on in that same manner. Right at
the moment she's putting out a factor of two to three times as much
energy as I've ever seen Helia put out. The Doctor is fighting a
battle to keep her going physically. I just want to let you know
that's what's going on now. I have no idea what she's going to be
like when she wakes up."
Sir Misha nods. He calls the Doctor and asks
what's going on.
Bridgehead sighs, "Oh, well it's a typical -- you
know, like Shark had that problem. Kalida's picked it up much
quicker and it's some sort of problem. She's stable right now,
but I don't know how long this is going to last. I can't predict
it, it's doing strange things. I don't know how long she'll
"Is there anything anyone can do to help?"
"I'm doing everything I can. Other than
"I mean someone else."
"Shark's backup medical. He came down a little
while ago when we had a crisis. Right now there's nothing much we
can do except wait, I think. I'll keep you informed."
As he leaves the Captain to go back to work on his
robot while monitoring the footballs, Shark reflects that he really
needs whatever information she's getting.
The next day breaks with Bridgehead still monitoring
Kalida in Sick Bay, expecting breakfast and lunch to be brought to
him. Kalida remains mostly stable, drifting up and down but not
A little after noon, Baron Bridgehead's voice comes
over the ship's speakers. "Get down here!" he says sharply.
Shark and Misha rush to Sick Bay. On the way,
Shark checks the footballs. He was about to be alerted, because
there was a big spike.
Sick Bay is a mess. All sorts of stuff is
scattered over the floor. Bridgehead is over at a monitor
exclaiming "Look! Look! She can't keep it up at this
rate! We have a real problem here."
Shark says, "We can try and bring her out."
"Try and pick up some of this stuff. Get
someone else in here if you want. Here, come over here and watch
this monitor, keep an eye on it and make sure I don't miss anything."
Shark says, "Captain, didn't you guys pull me out of
my adventure with klatrin? It might be time to do something like
that." He asks Robert to come down and help out if he can.
The Captain has grabbed a broom and started sweeping
the floor out into the corridor. Robert looks quizzically at him
as he approaches, steps past him, and enters Sick Bay.
Bridgehead barely takes his eyes off the display to
acknowledge Robert's arrival. He's clearly very concerned.
The Captain, meanwhile, has walked up to the Bridge
to check sparkly pink to see if there's any new information about
Kalida there. Unfortunately there is not. He returns to
Robert has said that they could do nothing to bring
Shark out, and that they'd probably confused it with the communal
trance with Lap'da on Digitis.
The Captain looks at the Doctor, who shrugs.
There seems to be nothing to do but wait.
Suddenly everyone is thrown across the room amid all
sorts of items smashing across the room too. As Shark comes to a
stop in a corner, his puter alerts him of a big football spike.
Across the room, Kalida's monitor is flashing blue. Shark is the
only one who seems to be conscious in here, the others rammed up
against cabinets and walls.
He gets to his feet and tries to work on Kalida
first. She has to be stablized before he will have time to attend
to the Doctor. Pulling on whatever he can remember, he reacts
quickly and does exactly the right thing. Kalida is far from
stable, but she's no longer dead.
Shark turns from the patient and attends to her
doctor. A quick jab brings the Baron round.
"What the heck is going on?" mumbles the Baron.
"Telekinesis, I believe," says Shark.
"What?" exclaims the Baron loudly, "Are we being
attacked? In jump?"
"No," says Shark calmly, "I believe the klatrin is
exposing latent abilities in people, and in this case..."
"She's got worse," says the Baron, noticing the
monitor for the first time since recovering consciousness.
Shark keeps the same quiet calming tone. "She
actually breathing now," he says, "And we should go beyond what I
did. And by the way, I gave you 50cc of this."
"Good," says the Baron, "Thank you. Good
job." He returns to his job as Doctor, working with the monitor
to analyze Kalida's condition and start treating her. He looks
across the room to where Robert and Sir Misha are sprawled. "You
want to look at those guys?" he says.
Shark brings the Captain and Robert around.
They feel like they've been slammed into a wall, which in fact seems to
be the case, and the scene in Sick Bay is chaotic. Aside from
Bridgehead working with the monitor, the rest of the room is in
Shark privately points out to the Captain that they
can't tell the Imperium what happened here, or Kalida at least will be
arrested. Just as quietly, the Captain says he already knows that.
Bridgehead announces that he's going to put Kalida
under for a while. He's going to shut down as much as necessary,
and just keep her going so she can get through this.
With the instinct of a true field medic, Shark
finally tends to his own scrapes and bruises. He glances at the
football readings and is somewhat relieved to see nothing above normal
With Kalida in a stable low metabolism, the Doctor
relaxes a little and seems finally to notice the state of his Sick
Bay. He sounds like his old self again when he addresses Sir
Misha and Robert: "What are you people doing here?"
"We're cleaning for you," says the Captain.
"Oh. Well, there's some more over there."
Without a word, the Captain starts sweeping again.
Bridgehead takes a kindly tone. He tells the
Captain that Kalida is out of danger now. She's the most stable
she's been for a long time. She's not under stress, they just
have to get her back from wherever she is now.
Shark suddenly says, "Have you had too much
"Who?" says the Baron.
"That reminds me. I'd love to have some more
"Why don't you take a nap?"
"No. I'm going to stay here."
"Take a nap on that table."
"No! I will not take a nap! I am in
charge here and I am going to look after her!"
"As First Officer, I order you to get some sleep."
The Baron splutters, "As... as... as... Doctor, I
order you to get some coffee. I'll get some sleep later when I'm
sure she's in good shape."
Shark meekly leaves Sick Bay to fetch the Baron some
coffee. Of course it will have a couple of drops in it that he
can counteract if he needs him awake later.
The Baron sips his coffee, then sets it down and
starts to fold. Shark drags him over to another table and lays
him down, before returning to check on Kalida. The Doctor was
right. She is definitely stable. It looks like they'll be
able to bring her out in about two or three days.
Shark reports to the Captain. He tells him
about Kalida's condition, and when they can expect bring her back
up. She should wake up about a day before coming out of
jump. He mentions that he would be grateful if the Captain could
save him from the Doctor when he wakes up, since it was Shark who
spiked his coffee to knock him out.
Sir Misha smiles and promises only to forbid the
Doctor from killing him.