(1) To Be Named
The Regency Campaign (195-1123 to 201-1123)
This file has yet to be fully
This file has yet to be fully
Nightshade will be leaving Adabicci
soon, heading to Regina to fetch the new cook promised by Duke
Norris. On the way, they'll be looking in on Marquis Marcus
Crestworthy's Ancient Site expedition at Victoria /
Lanth. It will be two jumps to Victoria, and then another
two from there to Regina.
The crew has been shedding people along the way here
from Mora, and now as they are about to leave, one more wants
to jump ship. Jack has decided that in the current circumstances,
she wants to be at Karin to carry the IFSS through the
transition of Five Sisters from military to civilian
administration. Once there, she'll use the IFSS resources to work
with data she's accumulated on Nightshade, put things together
and see if anything pops out. Of course she won't reveal anything
about Black Tech, but there's a lot she can do.
Jack does ask them to call by in the future,
especially if they find out anything interesting. She might have
something for them too by then. She asks for, and is granted,
permission to take the Brown Box with her.
That now leaves Sir Misha, Shark, Kalida, Mich,
Robert, and Teri.
Jack left after lunch, and so does Nightshade.
At 13:00, Mich takes the helm and takes them out to a nice safe jump
point at 100d. he calculates the jump and then runs down to
Engineering to fire up the drive. At 16:00, they jump to 0208
It takes two hours for jumpspace to stabilize.
Mich says they are ready to
come out at 18:00, and Sir Misha tells him to do so.
Mich pulls the ship out of jump with a solid
thump felt everywhere on board. His status shows blue for three
jump emitters that are out of
alignment, and estimates it will take 1 hour to realign them.
It takes an hour and a half for space to stabilize,
and a further hour for Shark on the sensors to be certain of their
exact position in this empty hex. By the time he is done, Mich
has long finished his work on the jump emitters.
At 20:30, they prepare to jump for Victoria.
They'll be coming out in stealth, so this will need to be a normal jump.
Robert has been checking Mich's numbers for his jump
simulator, but this time he disagrees with the parameters calculated by
the ship's official astrogator. He asks the monkey to explain how
he got his answers. Perhaps he didn't have enough bananas that
Mich indeed explains his calculations, and suddenly
he comes across the mistake. Mich snaps, "Let me see those
figures again. Well, this isn't right either! But let me do
Mich does them again. "This is really
right. Yes, of course it's different from the last one because
we'll be going at a different time. So yours is a little
wrong. I'm going to go with this one. I don't care what you
have." Mich now understands jumpspace like Helia did -- it's all
in the maths. He also understands how it feels when ignorant
people try to tell him he's wrong.
No-one else knows why Mich seems to be in a bad mood
when he announces they'll be ready to jump at 21:00, but the jump
transition goes smoothly and they are on their way. They expect to
arrive in their standard 5-1/2 days, so they should get there at 09:00
The small crew slips back into a jumpspace
routine. There is no Rebellion to worry about anymore, just the
normal day to day activities.
Mich works on deciphering Helia's scribbles.
Robert works on his jump simulator, and starts working on a
computer-generated novel in the style of Akim Gavrolovitch. Shark
has been keeping his shooting sharp, but also working on his next
At 09:00 Nightshade pops out of jump in the Victoria
system in stealth mode.
Everything seems normal here, although there are a
few ships here. Witchhunter is here of course, in orbit
around Albert, the mainworld's massive moon. There are
also several Imperial Navy ships, a few near the gas giant and one in
orbit around Victoria itself.
They can't reach Marquis Marc right now from
stealth, of course. They'd have to get alongside a ship and hack
into it, running the transmission from there.
The catch is that they have lost their expert
pilot. That would be rather dangerous to attempt with the current
skills about the ship.
Albert seems like it's quite pleasant.
Atmosphere is thin and breathable and the temperature warm
enough. Witchhunter is sitting on the ground.
Shark says the obvious answer is to fly over there
in stealth, then just walk up to the Marquis's ship from the
undergrowth. They decide to do that.
With Mich piloting, he decides to keep the transit
fairly sedate to reduce risk. He sets off towards Albert
at a pace that will get them there in an hour and a half.
On the way in, Shark notices some spatial
disturbances on the moon. They're not the spatial anomalies that
would cause alarms, but just something weird going on.
This is also the place that the strange statue came
from, the one they gave to Sir Arken Hauther a long time back.
Shark has a hard time figuring out the Ancient
Site from has passive scans. The entrance is simple enough, he
thinks, but a little way in, if you
followed exact dimensions and directions then several rooms would exist
in the same space. He can at least map some of the entrances to
the distortions, and perhaps that will be useful to the expedition.
Nightshade arrives at Albert at
10:30. Mich brings them in to land nearby at 11:00.
One person is laid out on a lounge chair beside Witchhunter,
apparently sunbathing. It's someone in a bikini, not someone they
recognize and therefore probably someone from the University of Mora on
Marquis Marc's team.
This of course will make it harder to walk up to the
ship without being seen. At least there are no Imperial Navy
ships in orbit around Albert. They could wave their paper
if they needed it, but there should be no need.
Nightshade flies very quietly through the
atmosphere, and has come into land silently.
While Shark can't scan Witchhunter to find
out if anyone's on board, Robert can establish a tightbeam and hack
into her. Parking next to the ship they're hacking into certainly
solves the piloting problem.
Robert quickly reports that no-one is on
board. He can't stop himself there, of course, and sucks out
everything they've found from the expedition. One very important
event: they lost a crew member three days in.
Shark of course wants to know what kind of lost.
"Lost," says Robert. "He went through a door
and hasn't been seen since."
The site is certainly strange enough for that.
Rooms of mist; invisible walkways passing across ellipsoidal rooms;
perfectly smooth spheres moving around in what looks like it ought to
be a pattern, but no pattern that could be found; occasional objects
like trees, that change every time you look at them. The whole
place is very organic. There is definitely power, but no
identifiable source. In his notes, the Marquis observes that it's
very explainable by magic.
Kalida reminds them that her crystal ball often
showed that they were kind of here, but not sure where exactly.
Marquis Marc apparently had no problem with the
overlapping map. He simply ignored any dimensional difficulties
and made a tulip map instead.
Shark suggests everyone putting their data together
and seeing if they can come up with anything. Mich's ability to
cope with things in more than three dimensions will surely help here
Mich says there's some spatial multi-dimensional
thing going on, but it's nothing to do with jumpspace. It's just
strange. The doors aren't physically connected in a normal way.
Shark says that's also true of the gremlins in their
That is true, of course, but Mich says this is
totally unrelated technology.
"Ah," says Shark, "Then this is the other guy. An-other
Time to visit the Marquis. Sir Misha, Kalida,
Mich, and Shark will leave Robert and Teri behind to look after the
Shark has already noted that the flora and fauna
appear to offer no threat. What fauna there is, is staying well
out of the way, and the flora seems to be safe, even possibly
edible. The gravity is light, but not quite light enough to be
dangerous. Perhaps the world is so light because (as Kalida says
brightly) it isn't really here, or perhaps the Marquis' theory that the
world is hollow might be true. Marquis Marc is certainly looking
for the way in.
The sunbathing student doesn't wake up as the four
of them pass, just lying there in the reddish sunlight. It's easy
enough to walk aboard the open ship and find their way to the
Around lunchtime, Marquis Marc and his team -- Sir
Geoffrey and a couple of other students -- emerge from the entrance to
the complex. They shout something in greeting to the
sunbather. She gets up and comes aboard.
She is clearly astonished to find four strangers in
the observation lounge.
Shark smiles and says, "Hi! The Marquis is expecting
She says, "Excuse me, I'll... go check." She
turns around and rushes out of the room, shouting for the Marquis.
She is in quite a fluster when she finds him.
"There are people here who say you're expecting them! There's
people on board! There's no way to get here! There's people
Marquis Marc starts to calm her down.
"They're on your ship!" she insists, "They're
drinking your coffee!"
"You're right, they are," says the Marquis. "A
striking gentleman with long hair and a big sword, a little short guy,
a well dressed lady? Who else might have come?"
"That's them! And a scruffy..."
"Yes, I am expecting them. Good. They
"OK. They're on board!"
"Finally, news! We'll get to find out what
happened," Marc says to Sir Geoffrey.
Marquis Marc, Sir Geoffrey, a couple of researches,
and the girl in the bikini come into the observation lounge.
"Ah, you're here!" says Marquis Marc, "I'm glad
you're here! So, did you win?"
"We're here," says Sir Misha.
"That means you survived. Do you have to
continue running, or can you stay a while?"
"We don't have to continue running. We can
stay a while."
"But you didn't say you won. This might be an
Sir Geoffrey is waiting patiently, looking from one
newcomer to the other. He smiles at Kalida.
Marquis Marc turns to his crew and says they must
have lunch! The girl quickly leaves, presumably to prepare it.
Lunch is brought in, more coffee prepared, and it's
time to catch up.
Sir Geoffrey is the first to give up small talk and
as what happened and where everyone is.
Kalida starts to speak, then pauses. "How do
you summarize this?" she says to no-one in particular, then says, "The
Rebellion is over..."
"Suspended," interrupts Shark. "It's not
finalized, but it has stopped."
"It's all up to the lawyers now," adds Sir Misha.
Kalida says there's a legal team on the way to Capital.
"Let's see, the Archduke has temporarily stepped aside, the Duke of
Rhylanor is acting is Regent until the legal settlement comes
back. We'll tell you the details about that later, they're
complicated. Mostly everyone is... all right. Adabicci
is now uninhabitable."
Sir Geoffrey lets out a sharp noise.
Kalida continues, "Oh, and we're now friends with
the Sword Worlds, who are helping your father clean things up."
Sir Geoffrey simply stares this time.
Sir Misha says, "Santanocheev lives, and his
organization is still intact."
"OK," says Sir Geoffrey, visibly gathering his
Kalida says, "That's under consideration as part of
the legal decision."
Shark says, "A little bit of shooting, mostly in
delaying actions, which mostly worked but both delaying both divisions
of fleets by about the same amount. Everyone arrived, they were
preparing to fight, and somebody came up with the idea of, hey, let's
just declare a regency and let the lawyers settle it. It'll take
a few years and in that time maybe Santanocheev will die of old age."
Sir Geoffrey asks about the Sword Worlds.
Shark says, "They invaded -- well, their fleets came
in to Adabicci to blockade it, and then.. something happened."
"You rendered it uninhabitable?" guesses Sir
"No, not directly," says Kalida, "Somebody shot at
us and missed, and hit the planet. More or less."
"So how is everybody? Did they make it out?"
"Yes. Your father is on one of the moons, and
the others of course were out of system."
Sharks says, "The Sword Worlds are helping, which
the Imperium is helping to stage a revolution against the current
"They're reorganizing," says Kalida.
"It's been announced, and battle fleets are going to
leave. You know how that is," says Shark.
Kalida says, "There's a new Trilateral Alliance in
Sir Geoffrey points out that Imperial politics was
never his strong point, so Sword World politics, well... and when Shark
mentions that Santanocheev is responsible for the Sword Worlds helping Adabicci
recover, Sir Geoffrey just throws up his hands in amazement and
gestures to Marc to take over the questions.
Marquis Marc asks if they have news service data
they can give them, something they can study overnight.
Kalida says they have all the official news, and
they can fill in a few more points. He'll be left with more
questions than he began with, she tells him with a smile.
Marc asks about the crew: not all of them are
here? What about the little one, Helia?
Kalida explains that several crew members along the
path at various points decided to follow other paths.
"And you let them go?" asks Marquis Marc, astonished.
"They are still bound by the agreement," says
Kalida, "Once a crew member, always a crew member."
"And most disappointing," says Shark, "Vonish was
assigned to the legal team."
Kalida explains that he was the one who came up with
the legal argument.
Shark says, "So Santanocheev has a legal document
that is multiple folders high as to why it was a legal and moral and
correct thing for him to do to attack the Archduke and assassinate a
bunch of people. And so the Archduke appointed him to the legal
team because he came up with the one most obvious legal argument
"Although of course in the end," Kalida observes,
"It will simply come down to what the Emperor wants, what he decides."
Shark adds that it will be years before anything
happens and gets back here, and so hopefully they will have time to
recover. "And the meantime," he continues, "We have been
appointed UNA, unassigned. Right?"
"Will we admit to being UNA?" asks Kalida quietly.
"In present company. We have our orders,
"Undisclosed Naval Assets," explains Mich.
Kalida says, "But we weren't really all that
important, we didn't really accomplish anything."
"No," says Shark, grinning like an idiot, "Not a
thing. What could a little pop-gun one-gunner do? Only a
couple of fun balls."
"We wreaked undisclosed havoc," says Kalida.
"The official report says Undisclosed Naval Assets
had a minor impact. You read between the lines.
Anyway..." Shark looks around. "It was an interesting
time. Hopefully we reduced the casualties significantly.
The big battle did not happen."
"Well," Sir Geoffrey says, "Welcome to our
expedition. Where's your ship?"
"Nearby," says Shark helpfully. "By the way,
did you register Nightshade as part of this expedition?"
Marquis Marc shakes his head, looking puzzled.
Clearly he didn't.
"We've had an interesting time here too," says
Geoffrey, "Although of course on a much smaller scale. We're kind
of... still looking for Dyuuk. We don't know where he went."
Shark nods, "The sensors were very confused by your
doors. By the way, we had in our possession for a while a statue
that was collected from here, with some interesting properties.
Mich can tell you more about it's internal structure."
Mich says, "There was an arrangement of superheavy
atoms in the statue that we could tell was purposely laid down.
There was no information we could decode what it meant."
"We theorized it was a map," adds Shark, "But we
haven't been able to map it to anything." On a whim he quickly
pulls up the arrangement on his hand puter but it doesn't match the
Ancient Site here. While he has the connection up, he checks on
the football sensors. Those special sensors show nothing unusual.
Shark then looks up and says, "We're on our way to
pick up a cook. It was on our way, so we thought we'd stop by and
Geoffrey says, "Well, I guess I don't need to be
here for safety anymore."
Kalida says, "We're heading toward Regina,
but after that we're open, so do you think you'll be here for a while,
or come with us, or...?"
Geoffrey seems happy to stay here for a while,
though. When Shark asks if they've found anything interesting,
any artifacts, or whatever, his voice takes an interested tone that
seems almost out of place. He says, "We lost one person, and
found a lot of things. We lost him. He stepped
through a door somewhere -- we watched him go through -- and that was
the last we saw of him. It was kind of a foggy room, he walked
off into it, and that was the last we saw of him. We followed him
in, and he wasn't there. We came back and he didn't. We
"That is certainly different," says Shark.
"The whole place is certainly different," says
Geoffrey. "There are strange places. There is a whole
sequences of ellipsoidal rooms, often with a transparent walkway but
sometimes not. There are things in there."
Shark says, "You mean egg-shaped volumes that you
may can walk down the center."
"What kinds of things?" asks Kalida.
"Trees, maybe. Spheres. Pedestals.
Glowing crystals. Statues of... some sort of creatures I think,
it's hard to tell, they change each time we go in."
"Modern art," says Shark, "Never understood it."
Mich shows Geoffrey a picture of the statue they had.
"I've seen one like that," Geoffrey replies, "It was
about ten meters tall. That was in one of the rooms."
"And you can get back to it? Maybe?" asks
"Well, we've seen it a couple of times. We
can't always get back to that room. Sometimes it doesn't lead
"Have you taken a football in with you?" Shark asks
He has, he says, but they haven't had a single
reading aside from the background noise he'd expect from the team.
Shark tells Marc he has some interesting readings
recorded that he should show him. He then says, "Perhaps after
lunch you can take us on a short walkabout."
Geoffrey says, "If it... chooses to be a short
walkabout. Sometimes I think it's choosing where we go.
Marc has a little more of a scientific approach to that, but I think
it's choosing where we go."
"Sometimes. It's taking you on a tour,"
"Not exactly, it's just choosing where we go."
Geoffrey seems a little lost trying to describe it.
"Do you go in with the same team every time?"
"No, everybody gets a chance to go through."
"If you go in with three people, and sometime later
go in with the same three people, do you go in the same places?"
"Sometimes. It's not always the same."
Shark was wondering if it was reacting to the
combination of them.
"It might be," says Geoffrey with a smile.
"Well, let's have lunch, and we can go and share
some of that data you asked to collect," says Shark. Suddenly he
stops and looks at Kalida. They've forgotten to mention something
Shark says, "Bridgehead isn't a Baron anymore."
"He got stripped of the title?" asks Marc.
"No." Shark pauses for effect. "He's a
Duke. And he married two girls. He married the Rorise
daughters. Both of them. At the same time."
Mich corrects him, "They all married each
other." Mich is right, and in terms of the nobility that's a very
important distinction. Goodness knows Vonish spent long enough
"Right," agrees Shark, "He has two wives, they have
a wife and husband each. And there was an assassination and a
whole bunch of stuff that Santanocheev did preceding the main battle
before it was defused, including detonating a nuclear warhead next to
the tactical planning room with all the admirals and senior captains
from all of the fleets in defense of Mora. Therefore
being the most senior retired and recently called back to service Grand
Admiral, he commanded the entire defense."
"Which didn't actually happen," observes Marc.
"Well, he commanded it, and so as reward for that he
has been given the position of the first civilian ruler of Five
Sisters. So he is now Duke of Five Sisters. With his two
wives. Maybe he'll have five daughters. So it's no longer
Grand Admiral Baron, it's now Grand Admiral Duke Bridgehead, Lord
Rorise. That was interesting. We packed a whole lot of
adventure into a few months there," Shark smiles. He makes a
mental note to give Marc all the data, although of course Geoffrey
isn't a Crew Member and can't look at most of it.
With that, the food arrives. The expedition is
well-catered, at least, and eating takes the place of conversation for
a while. There'll be time for more talking later.