Misha Ravanos has a hunch that they should head for
Dulu. Of course it's a long way there from here, back through the
Hinay Protectorate and out towards the war zone. Marquis Marcus Crestworthy
is not concerned about money, since there are millions of credits on board,
but he still recommends stopping at low-end starports and refuelling from
gas giants and so on. They should probably stop every four or fifth
jump at a high-end starport to give the crew a chance to stretch their
Misha agrees that they should probably avoid Quorrn, given the reception they had there last time. Better would be a route through Wendas.
Before they do any of this, however, the Marquis checks with the engineer about the jump drive. Would it be sensible to return to the Imperium briefly to replace the zuchai crystals? They could try buying them here -- Robert taps into the local net to see what the local price might be. The annual maintenance was performed quite recently, so they don't need to make that a priority yet. If they can repair the zuchai crystals -- so they can stop relying on the antimatter generators -- they should have eight or nine months before the ship needs an overhaul.
Zuchai crystals should be available at a class B starport. Individually, zuchai crystals cost about 20kCr each. The problem is the special facilities for transport, so they'd be astonishingly expensive here on this agricultural world.
The Marquis wonders about the whereabouts of the nearest TAS facility. There is one in fact at Emape, in the Imperium just one jump away from here. He's considering leaving the ship and returning to Mora for more mundane studies at the University. First, he sets up a legal document handing over command and responsibility to Misha Ravanos, until he returns the ship to Mora or until informed otherwise by the Marquis. Misha knows what sort of information the Marquis has been looking for, and can arrange for those studies to continue since Marc is leaving the sensors on board.
But first, the Marquis has some loose ends to tie
up. He asks the navigator to find independent star systems with a
bright white or blue-white main sequence star. That would be spectral
class O, B, A or F; type IV, V, or VI. While Helia Sarina works on
this, Marquis Marc has something to tell the new captain, Misha.
The system must have just one star, and have at least one asteroid belt.
(Referee, and Marc's and Misha's players only)
There are no candidate stars in Tardele; moving over
to the next subsector, Klarn, does bring up a candidate: Zett. The
Marquis laughs and says that she can stop looking now, that's where they
want to go.
Helia says, "There's wars all around us, and we're going to a place where all the people around here thinks the Imperium is doing bad things. They're going to think we're spies if we head that way, and we will be killed."
Marquis Marc then says, "And that brings up the other reason I'm calling you in. I'd like to introduce you to Captain Misha."
"Why?" asks Helia suspiciously.
"Because the owner is taking a holiday and going back to the Imperium."
"You're leaving us? I didn't sign up for that. I signed up to be your pilot. Not that I have anything about Misha, but what's the fun if you're not here?"
"Because Misha is going to further my research. I'm getting too old to be caught in misjumps. I'm just getting too old for this game."
"My point is not Misha being captain -- I have no problem with Misha being captain, for the most part he's pretty good but he doesn't listen very well -- but I'm not sure that my place is here on this ship without you being on board."
"Why is that?"
"Because that's what I hired on to be. If you think back to when and how I was hired... my understanding was that I was going to be pilot on your personal ship."
"And this still is my personal ship. It is the only ship I will ever afford to own."
"But if you leave the ship, who's going to be in charge of research, sir?"
"Well actually almost everybody on board here has a... um... personal and direct knowledge -- consciously or subconsciously -- of the research I'm doing."
"Yes you do."
"You fly in places you can't fly."
"You said I don't test out to have any of that."
"Yes you did."
"Don't be ridiculous. That's illegal!"
"I know. That's why I haven't told anybody. Misha has a shoulder warmer who is quite adept. The dog is quite adept. The engineer being so paranoid about it has always focussed on it -- he'll see things from the non-sensitive point of view. This entire team, by accident or design -- I'll claim it was design -- is actually one of the best investigative teams for these subjects that you could put together."
"Yeah, but we need somebody to lead the research."
"I can do the research. I just need somebody to get me the raw material, the data."
Helia says this wouldn't be as good as if Marquis Marc were there in person.
He agrees, but continues, "Actually one of the best people to take my place was our original engineer. He died."
Helia then adds, "Guys, Zett is a red zone."
"So who's forbidding it? The nearest planet is non-aligned."
Misha asks, "Who actually publishes the data that it's a red zone?"
Teri says that in this area, it's the Yonder Veterans Network.
Misha continues, "Well they must have had some reason."
They did. The YVN Advisory for the system states that the star is unstable, emitting ripples of stellar material that is catastrophic for any exposed ships; the wavefront that precedes it interacts violently with jump fields. The system is populated with a TL-4 culture -- the Mineworkers Democratic Republic of Zett is based around volcanic vents. There's a class E starport, which indicates that there will be somewhere they could buy water.
Helia says, "No, we are not going there!"
Misha answers, "We're not going there just now, right."
Marc and Misha clear up a few details about the handover.
Misha is not an Imperium citizen, but while he has no real loyalty to the
Imperium, he does have loyalty to the Marquis. Marc says that he
himself, in turn, suspects he's working for a secretive organization sponsored
by Archduke Norris, but that's just a suspicion. Norris is fostering
relations with the Zhodani, after all.
Marc says to him, "Not that I think your job before I hired you wasn't fulfilling, but I think you have more responsibilities and opportunities in this position that anywhere else. I don't think you're going to run off with my ship. You might take six years to bring it back, but you will bring it back."
It is likely that zuchai crystals -- they need four,
two for the drive and two for spares -- will be more readily obtainable
in the Imperium. Misha suggests that since the Imperium is so close,
they should jump to Emape, drop off the Marquis, replace the crystals,
and be on their way.
All that remains is for the crew to decide who will stay and who will leave. Grand Admiral Sir Bridgehead is intrigued by the possibility that the source of the Anastasia's sick bay might be in this area...