(21) The Sleeper Wakes
The Misha Campaign (122-1121 to 123-1121)
122-1121 : Ferle
/ Lirian / Foreven
Everything has been moved from the
H.M.S. Third Eye
to the black ship
. That includes all personal gear, the contents of the armory, and
and two air/rafts
Grand Admiral Baron Bridgehead reports that Ed "Shark"
Teeth has woken up from his coma. His klatrin experience was clearly
not as pleasant as the others'. The Doc tells him to lie back and
rest. Shark needs no convincing -- he's extremely weak and tired.
The Baron then asks him if he has everything he needs
off the Third Eye. Shark wonders why, and when Bridgehead tells
him that they're scuttling the
ship, that only increases his concern. Bridgehead tells him not to
worry about that now, as the Captain will explain it. That doesn't
alleviate Shark's worries.
Everyone dashes down to Sick Bay to welcome their
First Officer back into the waking world.
Misha Ravanos tells Mich Saginaw to figure out how to
rig the Third Eye to explode. The engineer works with Teri
Cralla to set all the missile warheads to explode on board it, as if a laser
hit had caused secondary detonation. It's not too easy to figure out
how to do that, but working together they do a fine job.
Misha asks everyone to leave the room so he can talk
with Shark in private. The Doctor and Helia Sarina wait immediately
outside the door.
Misha starts out, "We've returned to the place where
we got the box, with the Third Eye and the black ship. The black
ship remained pretty quiet, most of us moved back to the Third Eye
, and we left you here with the doctor and Helia and Robert. The
Third Eye got hailed by some military boat who ordered us to stand by
and be boarded, and instead of coming aboard they just shot us."
Shark replies, "We weren't supposed to come back.
Did they get any transmissions off?"
"Not clear. Talk to Robert about that. The
question I want to ask is, tell me again who gave us this box and why we
"It was a claimed representative of Imperial Navy
Intelligence. He said that he wanted a intelligence report of activities
insystem. Obviously he was booby-trapping us and we weren't supposed
to come back. Obviously they wanted us dead without publicity. They
could have arrested us just for asking to go to the
, which we sort of did. There are all sorts of things they could have
put us in jail for and taken our ship. But they jumped on the opportunity
so quickly there were standing orders to get rid of us in some way."
"OK. I do remember that if we didn't get the
box back in time there would be a standing order to shoot us. I didn't
take that seriously. Now here's the question: is it within the realm
of possibility that the ship that fired on us is under the control of military
"The other question is, does the military intelligence
have the... is there such a thing as a shoot to kill order, military intelligence
just says 'shoot this ship'?"
"Military intelligence will pin an admiral's bar on
me, send me onto a ship, and the ship will do anything that I tell it to
do. Given that we're working in a
, no-one will ask questions."
"OK. Last question I want to ask you. Did
you sabotage the ship?"
Shark laughs grimly. "No," he says. He
pauses for a moment, then asks, "What have Robert and Helia described of
their fish oil experience?"
"Nothing. All Robert's ever said is that it's
pretty much indescribable, and everybody should have it. Helia's
"An expanded view of the cosmos indicates that we
on this ship may in fact be at the center of several conflicting conspiracies,
actions, activities. Of course, given my job, that could just have
been a delusion, but I'm taking it very seriously. Now, I've heard that
we're abandoning the Third Eye, that we're going to destroy it."
"I hadn't finished my story. The Third Eye
is pretty badly hurt. We could probably put it back together again,
but I like the idea of taking care of loose ends."
"If I were Imperial Navy, and I wanted to make sure
you were dead, I would find all the wreckage, biological and otherwise, and
verify that the quantities correlate. So if the Third Eye
is here in pieces parts, and there's no bodies on board..."
"Can they do that?"
"With enough time and manpower, sure."
"Would they do that? I mean, what do they think
"They think that if we got back here and their ship
blew up, that the Third Eye wasn't what it appeared to be. They
know exactly what the Third Eye was. Something other than
the Third Eye came back and blew this guy up."
"Why wouldn't they just go and check out -- maybe
they will now that..."
"They probably will."
"OK. So you're saying they're not going to think
we're dead anyway."
"It's going to be hard. The Third Eye
could disappear, possibly, and they'd continue looking for it, and also
be looking for something else. I don't know whether this particular
group has the authority to go in and investigate what's missing from the
space station, but somebody will eventually find out. So we can hide
for quite a while, we can run for a long time, but we're going to get tired
of running. I guess we can blow up the Third Eye and it'll
slow them down at least. But eventually they're going to be waiting
for us, just about everywhere. In Imperium space, and a lot of other
spaces. I don't know what to do. Short run, definitely let's
get out of here."
"Yeah. If they spend enough manpower, whatever,
they're going to be able to figure out what happened. But we're not
going to make it easy on them. We're going to blow up the Third
Misha asks Robert Morris to join the two of them in
Sick Bay, and asks him what he can add.
Robert says, "At the time our attacker was destroyed,
I was trying to establish a communications channel to tell it to halt,
and listening to all communications out of it. It did not get a message
out. Other than that, I wasn't paying attention to what Helia was
doing. And then it didn't exist any more. So no, I do not know
what happened. Helia was doing what she could to defend the Third
Eye, that I do know."
Misha asks, "Do you know what she was doing?"
"She was in sparkly pink mode sitting at the console,
just like I was in sparkly pink mode sitting at a command chair. In
another fifteen seconds the Third Eye may have been destroyed, but
that destroyer would have been mine!"
Shark asks, "Did the destroyer see us?"
"No indication that the destroyer saw us, no."
"So you hit it with a nuke, and it exploded."
"I do not know what Helia hit it with."
Misha adds, "Mich has already told me that he doesn't
recognize the energy signature. It wasn't a nuke, it wasn't a
, it wasn't an antimatter device, it wasn't anything we knew. That
tells me it came out of the black ship." He then asks Robert to go
help Mich work on blowing up the Third Eye, and asks Helia to come
in. The Baron asks pointedly if he's needed in the discussion, but
the captain brushes him off.
Misha asks Helia, "So, do you have everything you
need off the Third Eye?"
"I already had everything I need," replies the larian.
"OK. Can you tell me what happened to our attacker."
"Can you add anything to the information that I probably
"I was intercepting their missiles, and then they
"In what way were you intercepting their missiles?"
"You saw it. I shot them down."
"Did you fire on the ship?"
Helia pauses. "No," she says.
"Did you cause it to explode?"
"Can you expand on that answer?"
"It's a definite maybe. In the end, though,
they probably exploded because they had something they shouldn't have had
"They certainly were doing something they shouldn't
have, which meant they had someone on there who was doing the wrong thing."
"There you go. Maybe it was just god."
"Maybe god was on there, yes."
"No, no. I mean, maybe god made them explode."
Misha laughs. "Maybe, but..."
"Isn't it enough that it happened? And it's
not going to happen again unless it should?"
Shark asks with a wry smile, "Whose point of view
decides when it should?"
"Yeah," says Misha, "I'd like to get a better handle
on 'should' there."
"If it's only Misha, or the
in command of this ship who decides 'should'."
Helia says, "I guess. I mean, after all,
if I had anything to do with it, I did that under orders."
Misha asks, "Can you explain your reluctance to talk
"Is it a repeatable event?"
"I don't know. If I were you I'd be very very
careful who was operating your weapons besides me. And I don't mean
that as a threat. Do you understand what I mean? I wouldn't
let Mich, say, touch the weapon controls, because I don't think Mich needs
to tinker. You know how strange this ship is to us? I think
we all need to drink more fish oil."
Shark has an unpleasant expression.
Helia continues, "It's one thing for him tinker with
the engines, but I wouldn't let him near the weapons. And by the way...
if you scan the debris, is there enough debris to measure anything? The
thing imploded, how much debris is there?" There's not a lot. Small
bow and stern sections were blown out into the system, but of the midships
section there's nothing at all remaining. "I tell you what," she
continues, "If you promise me that no-one else runs the weapons, I'll see
if I can get the Third Eye to disappear as completely as possible."
Misha says, "No, I want the Third Eye to go
down by conventional weapons. I want it to look like the other ship
"But they won't find any bodies."
"That's too bad. We aren't going to be able
to do this perfectly."
Helia nods. She then asks Shark about his two-week
bad trip. "How bad was it, and what happened?"
Shark explains, "My view of the universe contains that
which... is not nice."
"So does that mean I shouldn't take any more?"
"Now that I've said that, probably not."
Helia thanks him, and leaves him to rest under the
care of the Grand Admiral.
Robert Morris wants to wipe the Third Eye's
logs before abandoning the ship. He manages to access the ship's
computers through sparkly pink mode and do everything from here on the
Mich and Helia decide that the best way to dispose
of the Third Eye is to set up the missiles so they will explode, as
if a laser hit caused a secondary internal explosion. Teri, the crew's
demolition expert, rigs up the missiles where Mich indicates.
His assignments complete, Mich finally reports to Sick
Bay to get his injuries treated.
Helia drops into sparkly pink mode, backs the black
ship out to a safe range, and tags the Third Eye with a laser.
The Marquis Marcus Crestworthy's ship blossoms with
a large explosion in the missile bay.
At Helia's request, Robert puts on some mournful music.
They leave the area, keeping a watch out to see if
any ships come to investigate.
Out near the
, six hours later, Misha calls a meeting of all personnel in the solarium.
Shark is issued a gravchair and attends the meeting in person. There
has still been no sign that indicates anyone else in the system noticed
Misha opens, "It appears that Imperial Intelligence
has blown up our ship, which is unfortunate because it wasn't really our
ship. So, if I had my way, I'd find a way to extract enough money to
buy a new ship out of military intelligence."
Shark says, "Well, given that you took out a military
ship with no problem, we can just go take a couple of them out and sell the
hardware on the black market."
Mich says, "You mean we become a pirate, just like
"A selective pirate -- a privateer."
Misha laughs, "We declare our own little war, issue
ourselves a letter of marque..."
Shark continues, "It is entirely likely, and probable,
that there are factions within military intelligence, and not all of military
intelligence is aware. You can run for a period of time, but when you're
working with an octopus that covers the entire known space..."
Misha asks, "Is there any way for us to track down
the faction? I mean, could we find the people who gave us the box
"Possibly we can find them. But would he know
why he was told to kill us?" Shark pauses for effect. "We could
start tracing back the chain of orders. After some number of intermediaries
we would probably lose the trail. But we can try that. The name
he was using at the time was Artie Burca, he was on the mainworld, we can
tap into their communication systems."
Mich adds, "That's safer than pirating other ships."
"That's true. Physically safer. We can
Robert is all for selling information.
Helia says, "Let's go visit Helia and the Professor.
It's the one place in known space that we might be able to go. For
one thing we can get into the main information networks. They may
not know that we were there, and that she's there and he's there. Or
they may not be able to do anything about it. The Professor just seems
to be outside of the realm of... touchable."
Shark says, "He's only untouchable because he's useful."
"If we sneak in and at least talk to them, then we
can at least get information from the regular network."
Mich says, "Parts of
are much closer technology-wise to this ship."
Shark agrees, "I wouldn't mind going back to the place
with the trees, the living domes."
"Then there's also the place where you got the zacks."
Helia says, "I'd like to talk to Helia."
Robert adds, "The more people we interact with, the
more danger we're in. We're safer on the ship."
Misha says, "OK, this is what I want to do. I
want to just lay low here. How much food do we have? How long
can we last?"
Vonish says they have enough food from the Third
Eye to last them a couple of months. That's without going into
the original supplies on this ship.
Misha continues, "Let's tap into the information networks
we can get into, whether that be ships, or planets, or space stations. Let's
lay low and try to figure out as much as we can. When we get either
totally out of our minds or run out of food, we'll start heading for one
of the three suggested locations."
Helia flies the black ship into the system in sparkly
pink mode. Robert works the sensors from the console, watching for
anyone who might notice them.
They are trying not to be seen. So far there's
no sign of anything out of the ordinary.
123-1121 : Ferle
/ Lirian / Foreven
Robert ties into the regular communications channel
and looks for any news. There is a new Yonder Veterans Network news
item, dated 090-1121
. It reports the loss of the Third Eye over a month ago. Clearly
they expected the sabotage to kill them, and when they didn't show up, assumed
it had worked. It is a little surprising that they didn't send anyone
to check that the sabotage worked.
Shark points out that the Marquis will eventually hear
that they're dead, but they can beat the message back, except that it's
right into the heart of Imperial space.
It's now been at least twelve hours since the Imperial
Navy ship would have been missing. On the other hand, unless anyone
was actually observing the battle, no-one is likely to have noticed it. And
if the destroyer was on patrol, it will be even longer before it is missed.
Shark wonders if the
keeps arrival and departure records. Robert says the public records
indicate traders coming in and out, scheduled mail services, nothing unusual.
The Third Eye's arrival and departure is recorded. They
left here on 051-1121. The Imperial destroyer is not in the records,
but then this is just civilian ships. They'd have to hook into a System
Navy base to hack into military records.
They're now getting into the range where they're seeing
some interplanetary traffic. Helia keeps them up above the solar plane
and out of the traffic lanes. They don't know any way to change the
exterior appearance of the ship at this point. It's ultra-black, of
course, just with a blue glow from the rear of the maneuver drive
Helia, in sparkly pink mode, wants to be unnoticeable.
Mich notices power consumption suddenly increase. It's
going to some portion of the unidentified system components in the ship.
It's comparable power with running the ship at a couple of g's. He
calls to the bridge and tells them about it. "Anybody make any changes?"
Helia says, "Stealth mode."
Misha asks, "What is stealth mode?" Nothing changed
on his command display.
"I told it that we wanted to be as hard to see as possible.
There are many military bases in this system. They
pick the closest ones to their path, around the
P5. Of the four moons, one has a research station, two have military
bases, and the fourth is uninhabited. The innermost moon and the research
station are very small; the other two have some sort of atmosphere. Robert
suggests they get close to the research station, so they can perhaps use it
as a relay. At the very least, if the military try to trace the source,
it will be in the area of the research station.
There are several military ships in this area. They
are all fairly low tech ships in the 1000 - 2000 ton range. Three
are around the outer military station, with two around the inner one. All
are in parking orbits. There are no ships around the research station.
The science base is transmitting a data stream; Robert taps into it
and finds that it's routine traffic -- research data from some sort of autonomous
research vehicle in the gas giant atmosphere. The data is processed
by the station and sent out to the mainworld; there's also personal communications,
and administrative stuff.
Robert slips into sparkly pink mode and taps into one
of the orbiting military ships. A little more work, and he has the
encryption figured out -- it's pretty simple. He checks the ship's
logs. This is what passes for a warship here, on standby for anti-piracy,
to render assistance, or defend the system. There is a record of expected
flight plans, including whereabouts and movements of all System Navy ships.
The Imperial destroyer is mentioned -- it was escorted into the system
64 days ago, on 059-1121. It was escorted to the mainworld as a foreign
friendly warship. There is no further information on its movements,
including nothing about it leaving the mainworld.
Robert tells Misha and Shark what he's discovered so
far. He could try to get more from the military base, but he says there's
unlikely to be anything else here -- more would be available at the mainworld.
He tries it anyway -- bouncing from the warship down to the base on
the planet. Although he's not totally familiar with the system, it
does seem to be using encryption derived from Imperial technology. It's
not too tricky to get in.
There is more here. After being escorted to the
mainworld, the destroyer was assigned status of friendly, and permitted
full movement. "It could do whatever the hell it wants to," mutters
Robert. The order to issue it that status came from the civilian government
to the navy. Looks like they'll have to go to the mainworld.
No other Imperial traffic has been recorded, and there
are no standing orders to be on the watch out for anything in particular.
Robert backs out of the computers.
Helia puts them on course for the mainworld.
Shark hears that Helia maintained a vigil over him,
telling him fairy stories and so on. "You wouldn't have told me stories
about shadow, would you?" he asks her.
"No," she says, "I told you happy stories. And
I talked to you about the places we were, and what I thought about some of
Shark sighs, "OK."
"I just figured the more we talked to you the more likely
you were to come back."
Shark still looks worried. He resolves to read
the ship's log to catch up on what he's missed.