(24) Loading and Leaving
The Nightshade Campaign (274-1122 to 287-1122)
274-1122 : Goose
/ Fessor / Foreven
The crew of Nightshade are
pretending to be
a black ship courier -- apparently such ships visit this world on an
irregular basis; Robert
Morris has accepted the black robed acolyte's briefing on enemy
activity. They've accepted a hundred rugs of the vendor's choice
as trade goods, plus several that Helia Sarina has picked out
zack has been ordered for Kalida Siena, Marchioness of
Nakege. A black tech communication box
will be delivered that can maintain contact with somebody through the
barrier of jumpspace.
Based on their guess from the locals'
reactions, they are the only black ship to have been here in over a
The box arrives at the ship, carried by a respectful
man in black robes. There are no installation
instructions, of course. Helia will help Mich Saginaw install it,
way beyond her understanding. It seriously challenges Mich's
understanding too, as it's the first time he's tried to match up an
unspace power portal between two unmatched objects. It'll take
him time and research to figure this out, but to the rest of the crew
he presents a confident attitude.
Callisto and Edward "Shark" Teeth have both been
working on the
sensors to try to penetrate the city, and to find out where Robert was
teleported. For some reason, the city seems to be remarkably
resistant to remote viewpoint projection. Shark
says that there's a serious problem with teleportation if the
they went didn't have a zero relative velocity to the place they left
from. That probably means at the very least that they went
somewhere on-planet, aside from the distance issue. Kalida backs
him up on this from her training for facing Zhodani Commandos.
275-1122 : Goose
/ Fessor / Foreven
The installation of the communications box is going
reasonably well, but Mich thinks he'll need another day to set
it up completely. He's installing it in Engineering and insists
that no-one is permitted to be in there at all. He's pumping the
entire section down to vacuum to do it. He mutters something
about very precise measurements being required and the impact of air
molecules on the box will interfere with the precision.
The rest of the crew think Mich just wants to keep
them away, but Helia backs the engineer on this. The relative
positions of the box and the power cube have to be controlled very
precisely in order to link up the unspace holes and synchronize the
power delivery. Helia will help him set this up, and then it'll
be a job for Mich alone.
Mich says that once it's linked up, there won't be
any more precautions needed -- they can move the communications box
wherever they like and it will work fine, just like they can fly the
launch wherever they like and still draw power from the ship.
In the afternoon, Vonish Kehnaan goes ashore to get
supplies. Helia accompanies him to
deliver her gift of the special skein of thread to the rug-maker.
Also in the afternoon, the rugs arrive. Kalida
inventories the trade goods, while Helia's are stored separately on
board. Kalida announces they have a very fine inventory.
When the scrimshaw arrives later, Kalida is again the person who takes
the pieces on board.
While all that is going on, Misha Ravanos goes for a
his zack. Shark
warns him there are big fish down there, and offers to accompany
him. Misha takes him up on it.
Misha is cautious with the breathing at first until
he's comfortable with it, but it's never an effort. This is his
first open water swim with his zack, and while he's not really used to
swimming his environmental combat skills serve him well. He is
very cautious about navigating too.
There's plenty of plant and animal life to make this
a worthwhile trip. Seaweed grows below the dock, while fish are
plentiful. A group of local swimmers -- in either regular suits
or a zacks, it's impossible to tell -- leave from underneath the city
and head off in some direction, swimming down as they go. After a
while they see another group of swimmers returning to the
underside of the city, bringing large fish and nets full of fish.
Misha soon finds he has no trouble, a natural at
underwater. Shark is having more difficulty at getting around and
regulating his depth, and doesn't notice his captain try out a few zack
fighting techniques underwater. Misha is confident he could fight
well down here.
The weather up above is actually clear today.
The wind is still blowing hard, but shafts of sunlight pierce into
the water between the broken clouds. Highlight of the sights down
here is a school of
remarkable fish, each about 50 cm long, a bright shiny pure gold in
color, spectacular in the sunlight. It's a large school,
travelling at a reasonable speed, not
too fast. Shark can't resist trying to grab one and swims after
them; he misses, and the school scatters and reforms, too far away for
him to catch up again.
Misha and Shark return to Nightshade
thoroughly refreshed by their dip in the ocean.
The installation continues. Mich is expecting
to complete the job sometime early tomorrow. He restores
atmosphere to Engineering in the evening, and says people can come into
the section now if they want. He still has to integrate it and
find somewhere to put it, but it's powered. He'll need Robert's
help to incorporate it into the ship's systems.
Misha takes this chance to ask Mich about the
device. It's a communication device: who does it communicate with?
Mich doesn't know. All he can do is quote
Robert and say it presumably communicates with other black ships or
something. He doesn't know exactly what it does yet. Until
it's integrated, they won't know. He does assure
Misha and Shark that it can be powered off again if they want, although
it might take some time to do it.
This evening is the first meal from the seafood
here. It is excellent indeed, and quite a change from
what they've been eating recently. Vonish brought back enough
with him to cook until the full supplies are delivered, and remind them
all how good seafood can be.
276-1122 : Goose
/ Fessor / Foreven
The next day is cloudy but not raining, which makes
it easy for the delivery of the supplies in the early morning.
They're stowed on board quickly.
In the afternoon, a young man approaches the ship
along the dock. He looks very nervous, glancing around as if
afraid of being jumped.
Shark greets him at the ramp. The man asks him
to please inform the lady that her package is ready. Shark nods,
and the man hurries back into the city. Shark goes back in and
tells Kalida her suit is ready.
"How does this work?" asks Kalida.
"You go there, you put it on. You do what they
"I can do that. I was a Marine, I can follow
Misha says he'll go with her. The two of them
go ashore and through the rings. On the way in, the dock workers
look more suspicious than they were before, but they don't seem to be
threatening any trouble. They move on to the zack store in the
Shark has been trying to follow them in on the
sensors, but loses track of the remote viewpoint and has to give
up. Callisto keeps tracking, however, and Shark experiences her
viewpoint through sparkly pink.
At the zack store, the shop keeper looks around and,
seeing it's clear to his satisfaction, motions Misha and Kalida to the
fitting room. He presents Kalida with her zack and steps back
quickly. Misha steps back too, which is somewhat disturbing to
the Marchioness. The store keeper tells her to wear it back to
the ship, and to be sure to wear it once a week for about five minutes.
Kalida dresses in her zack. It's a glossy
black, except of course for the transparent faceplate. She can't
identify the form-fitting material, but it is certainly
comfortable. She thanks him, and he reminds her that this never
Misha asks if they can make a contribution to his
situation; it is declined respectfully. He then warns Kalida not
to make any sudden moves, to walk carefully, and avoid any valuable
objects while she's wearing it. Fortunately the walk back to Nightshade
is uneventful; the dockworkers look more concerned than
suspicious. Kalida notices that the temperature feels a lot more
comfortable on the way out than it had on the way in.
Back on board, Misha takes Kalida directly to the
exercise room, and starts training her by throwing things at her.
Shark joins in, explaining that some level of adrenaline activates
it. Of course, scaring a Marine may be tough. Misha
helpfully tells her not to try, just to do.
Helia says she should just practice a lot, but gives
her a nice necklace to wear under the zack at all times unless she
expects trouble. She explains it's like a safety to wear
something under the zack, and she should definitely do it when on
board. She says she wears her zack all the time, and on
the ship she almost always has something under it. Anyway, she's
happy for the opportunity to give her a necklace!
Kalida has trouble using the zack at first.
She seems somewhat clumsy and erratic with it. Some chairs she
slices, some she doesn't, and some come right through and hit her
without being intercepted. Misha reflects that this is going to
take a lot of work.
About an hour after the Captain and Gunnery Officer
get back, Mich announces that the communications device is installed
and integrated into Nightshade's communication systems.
They still don't know what it's going to do, but it will communicate
Robert has set it up and has a carrier
established. Now the other end knows that the box is turned on,
and the other end is turned on too. He adds that the bandwidth is
extremely low. There is no way of selecting what it communicates
with -- it talks just to "the other end." He's pretty sure it's
matched up with a corresponding single other device, which is currently
Neither Robert nor Mich know how this works.
It represents an advance in black tech, probably enough of an advance
to be another full tech level. As Mich explains, black tech
cannot talk through the jump barrier this way.
There is nothing more to do here. It's time to
resume chasing Santanocheev and his commandeered fleet, which they
still believe is pulling an end run into Zhodani space.
Callisto confirms that there are still no other
ships in the system. No-one has arrived while they've been here.
They expect the Imperial fleet to
be able to
maintain Jump-4, and so plan their route accordingly. After
pondering it for a while, they ask Baron Bridgehead what he thinks.
Bridgehead points out that the first question is
where would be be attacking. If he assumes that he's attacking to
start in order to spark a war and resume hostilities between the
Imperium and the Zhodani, then probably the
most disruptive move would be to cut off the worlds in Querion
have to do an end run around that, dipping into
Querion subsector briefly and swinging back into Foreven -- Zorro
-- and then swinging back in for the attack.
Shark interrupts to ask what they plan on doing
about it if they do find the fleet making an attack.
Bridgehead ignores him and continues, saying that he
would have to
go through Mizan-Fel,
which is necessary to hit the best
targets at Ninjar
Alternatively he could
go through Curmudgeon to Gyomar to hit
The Baron says that would be the way to do an end run, and it would be
a strategically sound action as well as having the desired political
So they decide to head for Curmudgeon.
The question is, what route should they take?
Most of the crew suggests Zorro as a waypoint. They have
actually spent some time there before, an interesting ice world with a
surprising resort. The cooks in the firepit were very
interesting. Still, their goal right now is to get to Curmudgeon
and so Helia says they'd be better off hitting the empty area at 0805.
Helia takes off from Goose, and at
they jump for 0805/Fessor.
282-1122 : 0805
/ Fessor / Foreven
Nightshade arrives out of jump at 06:00,
5-1/2 days after entering jumpspace. Shark has spent the whole
jump practicing his Zhodani language skills, and also helping Kalida
train with her zack.
Callisto takes the usual hour to confirm their
position precisely, and at 07:00 they leave for