Mich Saginaw summarizes the situation. They
run with two zuchai crystals
short, by overdriving the others, but that would only last for three or
four jumps, not nearly enough
to get home. They do have the design of the Anastasia's jump
drives, which didn't use nearly as many zuchai crystals, but it does use
some matter phase inverter units.
So, as Marquis Marcus Crestworthy puts it: "We're going to use the antimatter engines which caused us to misjump and get here, along with the warp system which caused the Anastasia to misjump, to get back home?"
Mich nods and smiles. "Well, we don't have any choice."
It takes them six hours to fill up with water. While they're doing that, the Marquis' scientific curiosity gets the better of him, and he makes sure all the sensors are being run. He runs three of his football sensors, one at the tail and one on each wingtip, and tests them for triangulation. He also runs scans of everything else in the area. There is some small animal life in the ocean.
Ed "Shark" Teeth is bored. He goes off to work on blade combat with Teri Cralla.
Once the refueling is finished, Helia Sarina immediately takes the ship up to 2 km altitude. They'll cruise the planet from there and gather data while Mich works on the system. Sagan, as a hiver explorer, directs the operation.
The Marcus suggests they try fishing, and see if there's anything else they can sell rights to this planet for -- animal, vegetable, mineral rights, for example.
Helia takes the ship across to the nearest island
-- either real ground or one of the floating vegetation masses.
The nearest object is a small island. It is covered with plant life, small leafy bushes about a meter in height. There are no signs of animal life.
When they're done island hopping, Helia sets the
ship down in the water to get more information on water creatures.
Most of them are quite small eel-like creatures, in the 15 - 30cm range.
Some are solitary, others run in schools. Sonar doesn't reveal any
apparent sounds of communication. All of them seem to be water breathers.
There's a brief discussion about collecting plant samples, but given their experience on Gorram and Digitis it is decided to stay on board.
The Marquis then goes against his decision to investigate
the local life. He opens the rear door and takes a few samples.
Testing of the top level life soon reveals that the food chain in general
here is edible. He tries using a flashlight to test for intelligence,
but gets no results.
Marc then asks Misha Ravanos for instruction in fishing. It's quite simple, it seems, and the two of them are soon fishing out of the back door of the ship. Misha is quite successful. Now, though, he has to catch the Marquis, who has just fallen in the sea.
The Marquis doesn't seem to have much idea of how to swim. Misha throws him a rope, which Marc grabs and hangs on for dear life. Misha pulls him in towards the ramp, and the Marquis climbs on board, wet and a bit cold and looking rather foolish. The Marquis goes straight to his room to change.
The jump drive does have some minor repairs to be
made, but that only takes Mich a couple of hours. The only real problem
is the shortage of two zuchai crystals. The only solution seems to
be to put a few of the antimatter units in parallel with the crystal array.
That will take a lot of programming work -- a team is put together for
the task, lead by Robert and including almost everyone with decent computer
At the same time, Mich takes the opportunity to work up some prototype jump vortex generators, to decrease the drag while falling through jumpspace. He rigs it up rather successfully, he thinks.
Now it's time to leave. Helia takes the ship up into orbit, heading for the jump point.
The Third Eye pops out of jump in a populated
system. There are navigation
beacons, radio transmissions, and everything else one would expect in a
It's definitely not the Imperium. Some transmissions are in Galanglic, but others aren't.
They're in the Quorrn system. Nobody on board has heard of it, but transmissions include directions to the mainworld. They go on in, proceeding politely.
At three hours out of the mainworld, they are hailed.
They reply, "This is the Third Eye, Imperium Registry, Marquis Marcus
Some guy in a uniform says, "We'll send you a landing site. Please proceed there immediately. Where have you come from?"
"Roulette," replies the Marquis helpfully. "The system call Roulette, as far as we know."
"We'll send you data showing where that is." Robert does so.
"OK, here's your landing site, please proceed there immediately."
"We're a bit off our beaten path, we've had some problems."
"OK." The uniformed man ends the transmission.
On the way in, they check to see if they can determine whether their landing site is a military base or a civilian port. It's impossible to tell at this point.
The world they're heading towards is in the innermost
orbit of the white dwarf star. The world is apparently tidally locked
to the star, and the landing site is on the warmer side of the planet.
The starport here is probably around class C, and they are being directed to a domed landing site area to the side of the main starport. Theirs is currently open, and big enough for about a 2000t ship.
Helia brings the ship in to a perfect landing. As soon as they're down, the dome closes over them. The air is thin but breathable, and the gravity is very similar to that on Jackpot.
They wait. Helia asks Mich if there might be any mind-sucking Joes down there, reading their mind right now. The Marquis checks and it indicates that there aren't, not right now anyway.
After about 15 minutes, someone in uniform approaches
the ship. Misha goes to meet him at the door, and welcomes him to
the Third Eye.
The man doesn't follow him into the ship, just says, "Sign here, please," and presents him with a clipboard and pen.
This is not very useful, since Misha can't read. "One moment, please," he says.
The Marquis joins him, and looks at the paper. It's not in Galanglic. The writing is quite angular in form.
The officer refuses to translate it for him, just says he needs to sign it.
Obviously the Marquis doesn't.
The officer says that it's just an acknowledgment of their status.
The Marquis hands back the clipboard.
The officer leaves, saying someone else will be out to see them in a while.
There is no radio signals they can pick up. Clearly the dome is shielded.
Time passes. At Marc's command, they start to replenish their air supply.
Mich works on the recordings of the drives during the jump.
Ed goes out into the dome and looks around. There are probably doors for fuel services and so on, but they're all closed right now. The locks look around TL-9.
After about an hour, someone walks out towards the
ship. It's another person with a clipboard. "I need to speak
with your captain," he says.
The Marquis is there to meet him, with Misha standing to one side with his sword slung over his back. Marc says, "What can I do for you?"
"Where did you come from?"
"We transmitted the data that we have."
"What is the nature of your visit?"
"Trying to get back to the Imperium after a misjump."
"From the Imperium. Near Mora."
"So where did you just come from?"
"One system spinward."
"What were you doing there?"
"Repairing the damage after the misjump."
"What was the nature of that damage?"
"Replacing the zuchai crystals."
"What are you doing here?"
"Because we'd like to get back to the Imperium."
"Why did you leave there?"
"OK. What cargo are you carrying?"
"None. It's a scientific survey ship."
"What were you surveying?"
"The planet we were trying to get to when we misjumped."
"What facilities did you use on the last world?"
"There were no facilities in that system."
"How did you pay them?"
"There was no-one to pay."
"What currency do you have on board?"
"Imperial credits. We also have some Digitis credits."
"So what's the nature of your business here?"
"Refuel and leave. Unless I can purchase a starmap of the area."
"When was the last time you contacted an Imperial ship? And why did you leave them?"
"And whose orders are you working under?"
"University of Mora. Can we sit down? I have some refreshments in the lounge."
"No. Why did you refuse to sign the paper?"
"I couldn't read it."
"Why did you refuse to sign the paper?"
"I will not sign anything I cannot read. As you have people here who speak Galanglic, you could translate."
"How many people on board your ship?"
Marc gives him an accurate number.
"How many military personnel?"
"What weapons do you have on board?"
"Personal arms only."
"What do you want to tell me?"
"That we want to purchase water and a starmap if possible."
"What's your business here?"
"To continue on our way to Imperial space."
"Where did you come from."
"One system to spinward."
"Now what did you say your name was again?"
"Doctor Marcus Crestworthy."
"Do you have any Yonder natives on board your ship?"
"Very well. An official will be coming out to talk to you tomorrow. We will need a full record of where you've been and so on. In the meantime we'll be opening up the refueling port. You can go ahead and start refueling if you like. It will cost you 2500Cr per ton." That is five times the normal price for refined fuel.
"Will the official come for dinner? We have a gourmet chef on board."
"Certainly, if you like. Would eight hours from now be convenient?"
That will be around 3 am. Nevertheless, the Marquis says it will be convenient.
When the officer has left,
Marquis Marc immediately goes to find Teri. She's not in her stateroom,
but in the lounge. He joins her there.
Marc says he told the officer that no-one on board was a native of Yonder, and asks if she is. She is indeed. Marc then asks her about the languages being used in local communication -- she doesn't recognize those.
What about the uniform of the officials here? Does she recognize those?
"Yes," Teri replies. "We're in the Hinay Protectorate."
"Is this a good thing or a bad thing?"
"Well, I wouldn't have expected this reception. Normally they're friendly to non-military ships."
"Perhaps they weren't expecting anyone here -- perhaps we're far into them. But then you haven't been home in a few years, and lots of stuff shook up along here."
"Yeah, well, there was a war going on when we left."
"OK." Marc nods and continues, "Heavily bureaucratic?"
"Not tremendously so. Normally it's pretty good to trade through here. That's how it is supposed to be."
"There's a lot of trading ships around here, not many military."
"They have a reasonable military capability."
"But we're an unrecognized ship. I doubt they've dealt with the Imperium very much."
"On the contrary, they have."
Marc and Teri both wonder what's going on. With no news feed through here, they have no clue.
Teri tells him that they're about TL-14 or so, very good capabilities, and with that the Marquis is satisfied. Scorpionis wasn't expecting to fight them, but they did get familiarization training.
Marquis Marc calls a general
meeting. He tells everyone that he's said that there are no Yonder
natives on board; he also says that no-one is to mention the altered drive
systems. They are a simple survey ship gone wrong, and they're going
home. They're to replace some of their zuchai crystals, and that's
it. He says they aren't going to try to replace the crystals here
-- they'd be way too expensive, and they'd have to weave through too much
diplomatic tape to get them anyway.
Ed tells Teri that for the purpose of this visit she's from Colada, in the Sword Worlds.