Helia Sarina brings the H.M.S. Third Eye alongside the Extraordinary Circumstances to transfer personnel. It's a perfect maneuver, bringing the lock directly alongside the end of the umbilical. Sagan transfers back to hir ship, while the scientists who had been on board the hiver ship return to the Imperial ship.
The probes that are on the planet are directed out into deep ocean and abandoned.
Helia moves the Third Eye out to a jump point,
calculates the jump, and engages the drives. The ship slips into
jump for Resten.
The Extraordinary Circumstances follows the human ship out of the Red Zone, trailing a little behind the larian's expert astrogation and piloting.
There is of course a good bit of paperwork to file,
just because they've come in from the Gorram Red Zone. Of
course, they were on a straightforward scientific zoological and anthropological
mission, with full reports to be filed at the University of Mora on their
They also should be subjected to standard Red Zone exit quarantine, but Grand Admiral Baron Bridgehead manages to find a way to be declared exempt. He also prepares the way for the Extraordinary Circumstances which no doubt will be arriving shortly.
The paperwork ends up taking the Marquis most of the rest of the day.
There is not a lot of important news to be picked up from the TNS. Another report of pirate activity by the Berlin and Robin Sherwood, similar methods -- no personal possessions taken, nothing stolen from passengers, just the cargo removed. The Petition for Imperial Intervention on Ianic was denied; terrorist activity against the local government followed. Not much else seems to be going on of importance... except that the detached duty scoutship Rattlesnake has been reported missing, presumably lost.
Among the Marquis' reports is information on the encounter with the Rattlesnake and her ship's boat.
Since the whole crew of the Third Eye has been stuck on the same ship for several months, it's time for some shore leave. The Marquis volunteers to take first watch and stay on board his ship, while the others are free to entertain themselves ashore. In fact, any of the non-crew are free to leave here if they want. Brandon Asu says he'll consider it, but he doesn't need to decide yet. The Marquis then confirms the legal status of the ship's boat. It's clear that if it's parked out of danger, it remains his.
Brandon says he knows his way around here, and suggests
a bar that might just be in Mich's style.
Vonish checks about local bookshops, looking for cookbooks and self-help books. There isn't much here. Resten does not have very extensive facilities -- about the only thing here is the scout base. Well, he can always coax recipes out of the drunkards in the bar...
The doctor heads out to socialize with the local doctors and find out about the medical facilities here.
There's a fair amount of shipping going through the system. Resten is a stop on the xboat routes, and traders, freighters and liners call here before and after the jump-2 to Quiru. Population here is small -- prospecting, farming, or suchlike, the official population is a mere 50. There are some transient workers in various unskilled jobs at the starport and scout base. There is no TAS facility here.
Robert of course has set up
monitors for the communications. This pays off when he intercepts
an outgoing message... it's from Brandon to an unlisted number.
The message consisted solely of the name of the bar where he was going
with Mich. Robert investigates what information about Brandon is
here at the spaceport -- the computers reveal only that he was listed as
a crew member of the Rattlesnake, as Flight Officer (in charge of
the ship's boat). The number that he called is not only unlisted,
but not in the phone company's system at all -- it simply does not exist.
Having run into a dead end, he shrugs and drops the matter.
(Referee and that player only)
Brandon leads the shore party to the bar he suggested.
Mich of course joins him enthusiastically, and they're accompanied by Vonish,
Robert, and Helia. Weapons here are legal; Vonish takes advantage
of this to carry his submachine gun. Everyone is wearing a commdot
-- that has an advantage of enabling the ship to locate them if necessary.
The bar is a dive -- well, a bit better than that, but definitely at the lower end of the social spectrum. The place is fairly large, and there's around forty people here.
Helia attracts quite some attention, including some wolf whistles. Even in her simple grey jumpsuit and colored tunic, she's apparently very easy on the eyes. She chooses to sit with her back to the wall, pulling one of the bar stools over to the table. She pulls out a yo-yo with a long string, and starts playing with it.
The bar remains fairly quiet. Vonish talks cooking to one of the other customers. Helia is surprised when she's sent a drink by another customer. The man that the waiter points out is about 5'6", wearing baggy spacers overalls. He raises his glass to her, and she acknowledges him. She invites him over to the table and introduces herself.
He in turn introduces himself as Ed "Shark" Teeth... and Mich starts off on a loud rendering of "Mack the Knife".
Shark asks Helia where she's from ("here and there"), and they exchange pleasant small talk for a while. He says he was doing general spacer work, various specialties, but left because he didn't trust the engineer.
Helia says, "We have an engineer like you would not believe. Mich over here, he can make an engine sing. He can make a jump shorter than anyone else, particularly with a good pilot, and we have a good pilot. That would be me."
"I've ridden with some good pilots," he says, "But I don't know how to do it myself."
"You've got to have a good engineer," pipes up Mich. All agree.
"You've go to trust him too," adds Shark, "And an engineer who can't hold his liquor is not worth his salt."
"You should have seen our last engineer," says Helia.
"He blew his head up in a car," says Mich, "He didn't notice the lights had changed."
There's a brief silence.
Then introductions continue... except Brandon, who's just stepped out to the restroom. Mich tells Shark about Brandon being an independent scout, on the Rattlesnake.
"They disappeared!" says Shark.
"Yep," says Mich, "And we found their ships boat. He said that they were having some problems with their jump drive, and would he go out and look at it, and then they disappeared."
"And you were there to pick him up. I don't want to gamble with this guy, he's too lucky!"
Vonish gets Robert's attention. He points out a group of four suspicious people who've been talking to people in the bar and apparently been getting them to leave.
"And you're Robert," continues Shark, "Where are you from?"
"Oh, I've been bouncing around," says Robert, "I've been in the Merchant Marine, communications officer. I've been travelling around."
"Who's that fellow sitting next to you?"
"Vonish Kehnaan," says Vonish.
"So what are you doing so far from home?" Shark asks him, "You sound like you're from down center ways. Oh, sorry, very rude of me. I'm from Romar, in Glisten subsector. A small desert world."
"I'm from Rhylanor," Mich adds. "Are those guys your friends, do you know them?"
Shark turns around to look. Four guys have been talking to a group at one table nearby -- the group gets up and leaves, and the four sit down.
"Oh, look at the time!" interjects Helia, "We've got to get back to the ship. We've got to get going, are you ready? Here, this'll sort out my bill."
The group toss money on the table, and Helia slides off her seat and starts moving towards the door, her back to the wall. "It was very nice meeting you, Shark Teeth."
"Hey, are we going bar hopping?" says Shark.
"We have to go back and check in first. If you want to you can walk with us to the port."
The four men (all in grey suits) come over. One of them steps forward, flashes a badge, and addresses Mich. "Mich? Mich Saginaw?"
"Yeah," says Mich.
"OK, I'm afraid you're under arrest here, you'll have to come with us. Excuse us, ladies, gentlemen."
"OK," said Mich, apparently not worried in the slightest.
"Excuse me sir," says Helia, "Can you tell me where we can collect our team-mate here?"
"He's boarding on our ship."
"He. Ship-mate. Us. Like you're with the police?"
"We won't be keeping him long."
"That's OK, we can go along and wait for him."
"I'm afraid that's not possible."
Mich says, "Just ask the Grand Am to look in on me."
"Will he know where to find you?"
The arresting officer says, "It's no problem, we won't keep him long. He'll be free to return to his ship."
Vonish asks, "Exactly what seems to be the problem?"
"It's no problem, we just need to talk to him for a little while." He turns to Mich. "If you'd come right now, sir..."
"Don't worry about it," Mich assures them. "I'll see you back around in a while. Just ask the Grand Am to look in on me."
"It's all right," confirms the officer, "We'll be returning him soon enough." To Mich he says, "Come with us, then. We appreciate your cooperation."
"Certainly," says Mich, and gets up to leave the bar with them.
Shark says to the remaining crew, "So you guys are going back to your ship? I'll see you in a couple of hours at the Mosquito Net... it's a bar just down the street."
"Just a minute," Vonish says after the officers,
"By the way, what is your name, your badge number?"
"Badge number 761."
"And what organization was that again?"
"We'll have him back soon enough. It's a local matter."
Shark steps outside the bar. He sees a buggy, as he expected, facing towards the left. It's a taxi, capable of carrying six passengers. He notes its number. A driver is waiting in it. The group escorts Mich to the taxi, and sits him in the center back seat. One sits either side of him, the other two in the front passenger seat. One of them says something to the driver, and the taxi moves off at its normal speed of 30 kph. Shark jogs after them, making sure they don't see him.
The crew head back to the Third Eye as quickly
as they can. Robert wants to track Mich by his commdot.
Vonish sends the others on, and looks for Brandon. He's not in the bathroom. There's no other exit from the bathroom, but there is another door from the bar. He guesses Brandon must have left that way. He contacts the ship and asks for a relay to Brandon, and also tells the Marquis what's happened.
"Brandon has disappeared," summarizes the Marquis, "Mich has been arrested, we need an engineer, let's find Mich."
Vonish says he wants to find Brandon, but Marc requests that he returns to the ship. He doesn't want to loose any more crew.
Marquis Marc calls for a security detail. "Misha, there are missing crew members. We need to find them. Two of our crew. One has apparently been arrested, the other has disappeared. The crew is coming back. The communications officer has told me that he's given people things that we can find where they are, so he can tell you where they are. I want you to lead this. Gather whatever it is you need. All weapons are legal here."
Robert relays in that badge number 761 was the arresting officer. Marc contacts the starport police. They don't have anyone arrested by that name, but perhaps he isn't here yet? Perhaps he could check later? Marc asks if there's an outstanding arrest warrant, because they came up and asked for him. Apparently there isn't. What about badge number 761? That is not a police badge number. All their officers are uniformed. "OK, I'd like to report a kidnapping, and in the meantime Grand Admiral Baron Bridgehead will be talking with you and filing all the necessary paperwork." The Baron is also returning to the ship; Vonish contacts him and tells him what Mich said.
Marc calls Teri and asks her to prepare with medium firepower and armor -- these are only civilian targets.
"You'd be surprised what civilians can pack," she replies, and prepares for duty at a moments notice.
Marc reports the kidnapping, and says the Baron will give them more details later.
Everyone arrives back at the ship.
Robert calls up the display of the commdot positions. He immediately comes to the obvious conclusion. "From the location of Brandon's commdot, he took it off and flushed it. He must be in on it."
"Misha," says the Marquis, "Brandon is now a bad guy. I want him alive, if possible, but Mich first."
Mich is approaching the hangar bays.
Robert tells everyone about the one word message -- "Bullfinch" -- that Brandon sent out to an unlisted number before leaving the ship.
Marquis Marc issues directions: "The marine is ready. Mich looks like he's going to a ship. I don't want him going on their ship."
Misha asks the remaining crew, "Did you see the badge? Was it Imperial?"
"It looked like a badge," says Vonish.
The Marquis calls the starport. "This is Marquis
Marcus, I need to speak to the harbormaster."
"Can I help you, sir?"
"Do not open the doors for ships in any hangar. My man is being taken to one of those ships."
"I'm sorry sir, but this is a starport. Ships come and go all the time. It's normal procedure"
"If my crew dies, who's responsible? You are."
"No, sir. We are not responsible for persons on board ships."
"He's not on ship, he's in your port."
"Then we're not responsible."
"And the ship on ground you are responsible for."
"No, that's not correct, sir."
He hangs up in disgust.
While agreeing it's irritating, Vonish agrees that the starport representative was acting correctly.
Misha and Teri (in full combat gear -- battledress, FGMP-15, various ancillary equipment) leave the Third Eye and head after Mich.
Marc tells Teri to get into battledress and grav
belt, and Misha and Teri to go after Mich. "Do not let Mich on any
"All necessary force?" asks Teri.
"Yes," says the Marquis. "Don't kill Mich."
"Hey, Robert," says Teri, "Can you pop me up a map of the starport and show Mich's location?"
"Sure," says Robert. He hasn't worked with a TL-15 Imperial Battledress interface before, but it presents no problem for him.
Misha and Teri head off, Misha at a run and Teri by gravbelt.
The remaining crew can only listen in on Mich's commdot.
"So where are we headed?" they hear Mich ask.
"We're just heading somewhere for some questioning."
"Well why don't we go into the town instead of the vehicle bay?"
"Because this is where you'll need to be for the questioning. The officer is currently in that location. We're going to save you some time and take you directly to him."
"OK. What's this about anyway?"
"I'm afraid I don't know that, sir."
"What do you know?"
"Very little, sir."
Marquis Marc calls up Teri. "One more direction:
tell them you're going to stop them, and if they don't stop, then you're
released. Give them a chance to live."
Teri is moving rapidly along the corridor, and thanks to Misha's Environmental Combat skill he's keeping up quite handily.
Mich's conversation continues. "So how long
have you been on this spaceport?"
"Oh, we've been here quite a while. It's not much of a place, but..."
"When was the warrant issued?"
"I wasn't made aware of that, sir."
"So when were you told to arrest me?"
"That would be this morning, sir. It's important that we found you so quickly. That way we can keep this to a minimum disturbance for everybody."
There is a long pause.
"So what's the local news that's been going on here," resumes Mich, "We've been out of the system."
"Nothing much goes on here, sir. You can find it all in the local news reports after you get back to your ship."
"So I'm not really being arrested, I'm just being questioned."
Vonish suggests to the Marquis that Robert might
be able to help the local computer system along with complying with his
"Robert," says Marc, "Can you keep the doors from opening?"
"Probably, I don't know for how long. I think that our better course might be to find what ship they're going on, if any, and shut that ship down. That would cause less ramifications."
"Make it so."
"I'm tracing. We have to find the ship first."
Vonish taps in to the starport computer and checks what ships are berthed in that area. It could be any of at least twenty ships right now.
Marquis Marc tries another approach. He pulls up a list of ships in port; eliminate freighters, official Imperial ships, what does that leave? There are several free traders in that area of the port; he bets it's one of those.
Mich continues, "Don't you want to question the Baron,
too? Grand Admiral Baron Bridgehead?"
"I don't believe that's in our instructions, sir."
"But you don't have any inkling as to why."
"Baron," says the Marquis, "What does Mich know that
you don't know?"
"Engineering? How to wear a dirty uniform for six months at a time? Brewing coffee from beans? Liquor?"
"Isn't he supposed to be one of the best engineers about?"
"Did you do anything special on that ship of yours? Yeah? OK, I think we now have a reason why they want Mich." He remembers David talking about Mich, how he was muttering about anti-matter, and "You're still doing it this way."
Vonish asks, "To know about Mich and his exploits, how would they find out? The only thing I can think of is they've seen some of his work. Has he done any work on anything other than your now lost vessel?"
"I don't know of anything. He did work on one other ship briefly before it blew up."
"Then these people have seen your vessel before it was destroyed? Assuming it was destroyed...?"
Robert gives Vonish Brandon's commdot log to check over. Nothing unusual, just that it ends with a flushing sound and gurgling.
Misha notices that someone else is following the
buggy as well. It's a spacer in grey overalls, fairly short, moving
Ed "Shark" Teeth watches as a person in Imperial battledress flies over the buggy and lands in front. He stops at this strange sight, and leans up against the wall with his hands in his pockets.
Teri just stands in front of the taxi. One of the front seat passengers leans over and tells the driver to move around. The taxi starts up to move around; Teri moves in front of it again, and this time says, "Stop."
Mich talks to the officer again. "You're not
really spaceport police, are you?"
"Just sit there quietly sir, we'll deal with all this."
Teri asks the Marquis if he'd like to announce anything
to these people. He does.
"Gentlemen, this is the Marquis Marcus Crestworthy. By dint of my Imperial title, I am ordering you to release my crew member, and you may at our convenience interview him on our ship."
"I'm sorry, sir," replies the officer, "That's not possible. Our interview will not take long."
"You may not proceed."
"You are aware you're obstructing Imperial officials here?"
"What is your Imperial ID?"
"Badge number 761."
"That is not a valid badge number."
"We're not local police, sir, this is an Imperial matter."
"We're not local citizens. We are the Imperium."
"Sir, if you would like to file an official complaint with the local office of the Imperium..."
"If you'd like to file an official warrant with the ranking member of the Imperium on the planet, we will certainly be happy to review your application."
"Mr. Saginaw is coming with us, sir. He is proceeding here of his own free will."
"He's just received orders not to."
"Please get out of our way. He's coming with us, sir."
"No, he's not."
The little man in overalls fires his gauss pistol from inside his pocket. With a loud crack, the flechettes punch into a tire.
Misha checks around for a crowd forming, or traffic
backing up. It's a quiet area. The few people who were on the
street have left. Misha is within a few steps of the taxi, behind
it. The occupants don't seem to have noticed him.
On the other side, Shark has moved up closer.
The Marquis says, through Teri's suit, "Driver, you
are ordered not to move that vehicle. Your fee will be covered for
the next 24 hours."
"Excuse me," says the taxi driver, "I don't think this is my thing." He starts to get out, but one of the men in the seat behind him shoves him back in place.
"I think a Duke beats a Marquis," says Mich.
"Mich," says the Marquis, "step out of the vehicle. Gentlemen, I would not move, the marine is just itching to have fun."
"That's fine," says the officer, "But Mich is not going anywhere."
Mich starts to stand up. He is pushed back down by the man on his left.
Misha runs up the back of the luggage crate of the
taxi, drawing his sword, and splits open the man's head.
Shark, on the other side of the buggy, shoots the other guy in the back seat as he's drawing a weapon. The tracer stitches a neat line between his gun and the grey suited man, as 50 rounds per second plow into the rear seat passenger -- and the officer in the front seat, and the taxi driver.
The remaining front seat passenger is pulling something out of his jacket, and turning to look behind him. He never makes it, as Teri's built-in personal sidearm takes him out.
Mich sits in the center of the back seat. He's covered in blood. "They're going to be pissed," he says, to no-one in particular.
Teri reports back, "We have secured Mich, sir."
"I can see that," replies Marquis Marc.
Shark shoves the dead driver out of the way, and climbs into his seat. As an afterthought, he suggests they pile the bodies into the buggy. "I suggest that I drive by your ship, and you all step out, and I'll see you all at the Red Moose Bar later tonight." He turns the buggy around and drives them off at its maximum speed of 30 kph to the Third Eye's hangar.
As Shark brings the buggy to a stop, Misha puts his
sword to his throat and says, "First, thank you very much. Second,
who are you and what is your interest in this?"
"An unofficial security guard from a friend of the Marquis."
"OK." Misha hops out, followed by Mich. They walk back to the Third Eye.
Shark drives off, no doubt taking the taxi (and bodies) to be cleaned up.
Misha, Mich, and Teri walk on board their ship.
Misha makes a mental note to check with the Marquis about "the unofficial