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Albatross Adventure Log Summery #1

Cast:

Milliken@prismnet.com: main GM, Captain Parvari, Awolloomara, NPCs, T'kik initially.

Arcangel@prismnet.com: version of Quicksilver, hotshot pilot; once a secondary GM, some NPCs (Erica & Joanna)

knk@christa.unh.edu: Derek Jethero/Dirk Jet, split personality security.

ddumont@christa.unh.edu: Warren Pheral, trader, diplomat.

JadaO@aol.com: Version of Kelly M'Buto

mca@christa.unh.edu: T'kik (hive beetle engineer); Gaimen "Wrench" Jrill, engineer after T'k'k

Matt: Etalon, the Irari doctor.

Things between //...// are cribbed from Silver's personal log. Things in [[...]] or [...] are stuff that only one or two people really know much about.

**October 2, 153**

Needing some fast cash, the Albatross went to Pelageos -- Kilgar Oil is used in antiagathics, and a vial of it can be bought for tens of credits worth of stuff, and sold for tens of thousands of credits -- if it's fresh. As they got within range, they saw a shuttle go into the atmosphere, and flare and "die." The words "salvage fee!" sprang to mind, and they went to investigate. They hauled the sinking shuttle over to a submerged mountain top (a few miles beneath the surface, rather than several) and investigated it, finding that the emergency beacon had been shot out, everything portable in the shuttle was *gone*, and that so was the "black box" flight recorder. They took the computer out for T'kik to work on, hoping that some clues might be found there and left a salvage beacon to mark the sunken ship. Then they headed for the nearest tribe -- on the equator. As they neared there, they picked up another "distress beacon" that had just been activated -- it was about fifty or so meters underwater off the "shore" of one of the floating islands. The Captain set the ship down rather hard and damaged the seals in the lower gun -- T'kik complained. Warren and Derek went to investigate. They found one native woman there, and after a little while, were confronted with the question, "Where are you from?" from a person up in a tree, with a laser rifle aimed at Derek. A few more questions later, mostly along the lines of who might be employing the Albatross, and the new woman came down the tree. She wanted passage to New Garavar, instanter. Parvari wants to know if she any useful skills? Yes, she can pilot. She admits to being the pilot of the shuttle, but is not mentioning it very much... Is it stolen? Not really, she says. Uh-huh... Well, the Albatross needs another person who can fly the ship, and definitely someone who can fly the ship better than Parvari! Derek can probably keep an eye on her. Her name is Silver Hawke, "Two words, 'e' on the end of 'Hawk.'" Something about that name bothers Parvari. Well, bring her on board.

//'Met by a hive beetle with a laser pistol. click-click-click. "Don't pretend you're not sentient -- you'd be trying to eat the gun if that were the case." Doesn't want the native on. The bug doesn't believe she's a "witch" -- says that witches don't exist. "Witch" is right, and bug is wrong! -- she knocked the bug's pistol out of aim without touching it! (Bug says to Security guy, "Witch!") I'll pay her passage. Go to autodoc. Bug plays around with the autodoc blades. Cute, real cute. Ignore, ignore. Does tests. Tell it to watch for strange drug reactions. Finishes. "Not sick. {click} Feel bad." Whatever *that* means. Go to 'fresher, quarters, drop off stuff, go to bridge and fly the friggin' ship over to the bigger island. No friggin' problem.'//

T'kik finds that Silver is addicted to Dex-adders, tells Warren and Captain Parvari. Oh, well -- that's not uncommon among pilots. What *is* strange is that she doesn't seem to know it! She says something about thinking "it was some kind of stimulant!" Parvari allows as to how that could be one way to look at it. Silver finally says that she has a touch of amnesia -- yeah, right. Parvari tells her that it was a Dex-adder she took, and that she's addicted to them. She looks minorly stunned for a moment, then recovers and hands a blue pill to T'kik, asking what *that* might be -- IQ-adder. The name, "Silver," is still ringing bells with Parvari, but he's not sure -- something just doesn't quite match.

//Captain wants to hire the Witch, Kelly, when he finds out what she can do. She keeps saying she "Saw" that she belonged on the ship. These people don't normally leave their world. Whee.//

Wanting a larger guard on the Warren and Derek, who have gotten *three* vials of Kilgar oil (!!!), Parvari drafts Silver to go with him. Sometimes these natives try to jump the off-world traders instead of being content with what they've got. Silver has a dino-laser from that shuttle, and can use the thing, she says, so that ought to be impressive enough. On the way down to where her weapons got put, they find that Kelly, the native "Witch," has gotten locked into her room by a short in the door-control panel. [Kelly had been pushing buttons at random when she got left in the room -- she'd turned the lights on and off, the temperature down several degrees, and made the beds fold up & down. And she'd hit the "fire!" button, setting off an alarm down in T'kik's area -- T'kik comes back and tells Kelly not to push buttons! If they'd been in space, that fire-alarm could have evacuated all the air in the room... A small confusion about "which" and "witch" (referring to buttons, I think) occures, and T'kik goes chittering around "Which witch!" Left alone again, and this time locked into her room, Kelly uses her electrokinesis power to fry the door panel -- the lights go, it starts getting cold (from the temp change earlier), and she uses her photokinesis to make a light in the room.] Opening the door, Silver and Parvari find that there is a glowing ball of light in the room! Silver pokes at it -- insubstantial -- and Kelly admits that it's her doing. Parvari wants to know what else she can do. Move things? Yes. Know things? Yes. Read thoughts? {Telepathically:} *Send them, too.* Now *this* is a nice sort of "edge" when trading with primative alien races!!

//We've got some kind of liquid antimatter, or better, from these waterballers, and are headed to Unar at highest warp.//

**Oct 6, 153**

//On to Unar. Cranky as hell most of the time -- trying not to take those little red pills until I'm driven to it... All my weapons from the NovaTech shuttle are locked away.//

Silver stays in the 'fresher for a fair amount of this period, despite the fact that she wears a biosuit.

**Oct 7, 153**

Parvari sends Derek checking to see if Silver's wanted for any crimes -- looks like she's not. Parvari sees Silver (going off to "get her prescription filled" -- i.e., get more Star Fire {street name for DX-adders} in the mirror-reflective silver biosuit (she'd been in a green biosuit before, with silver trim -- the pilot's license had had the silver suit, but Parvari hadn't looked that closely), and adds that in with the white-blond hair and blue eyes and very-nice body and profession... QUICKSILVER! Small rep as a smuggler (never caught), will outfly anything (or crash trying, probably), and has a quirk -- one does *not* ask *her* for, ah, favors; *she* insists on doing the asking! Bother her, and you're liable to get the "family jewels" stunned at close range, or worse. Some rumors say that if she does ask one, one had better say "yes" or else. Other rumors say that saying "yes" to her is a good way to die happy, aged before one's time. Focus of several songs, numerous stories, and something of a budding legend! ON HIS SHIP! Oh, well -- at least she's supposed to be a hot pilot, and she does seem to be half-way decent.

Turns out that the Kilgar Oil has 1 fresh batch, and two half-stale batches, so it's not as much cash as Parvari was drooling over. Oh, well. It's still enough to make the payments.

**Oct 9, 153**


//Arrange a cargo to Kintara for 20,000 creds and only a couple of cy. Talk everyone else into it, especially Warren, who takes a lot of talking.... Go to Kintara Station. Find out that Kintaran flight paths are most amusing. Kelly goes drinking with the Customs Officer. Discover that Derek is scared of open spaces! And he flips personalities from nice to obnoxious! Woops. Oh, well. Get a trunk. Come back. (I owe Derek 40 credits for rental of the cargo-hauler -- the flight-path for *that* was even *more* entertaining! Didn't even think to use the autopilot...) Friggin' bug cuts the gravity while I'm trying to get the trunk to my cabin! Well, it *is* easier this way... Get it to the cabin, strap it down, tell bug thanks and can you restore the gravity now. NOT THAT HIGH! Friggin' 1.5 Gees! Fall down. Inform snickering bug that if I break an arm or something then the *Captain* will have to pilot out. {click} From Kintara station. {fear-click!} Bug promises not to break my anatomy. Later, see bugs hauling the dinolaser somewhere. Peek around the corner at the Kintaran Liberation Front (KLF) (!) who is escorting Kelly back, presumably to hijack the ship for a while. Let the Bug play backup with the dinolaser. Oh, my. Kelly did something and the KLF fell asleep on his furry feet. He was going to use pheremone spray on us? Oh, my. *sigh* Leave it with him, even if it would be valuable.//

//Flight out is *really* nasty -- there's this friggin' huge ship in our flight path (The _Hell_), and the station AI is insisting that we undock *now* or pay a fine... Call up the Hell's pilot, apologize to the Sparrial, and just barely make it out with minor scratches on the paint. Sparrial says it wishes "she'd let me fly the other one." I don't think there's *anything* I wouldn't rather fly than a white elephant like *that* ship!//

//Looks like we're heading back to the friggin' waterball, to make the salvage beacon they put on the shuttle into a respond only to code thing -- guess they don't want NovaTech on their backs for helping me... *sigh* They all think I stole it.//

**Oct 23, 153**


//Evaded Pirate-trap -- a distress beacon from a small prospector. We were nearly there when Kelly came in asking what we were doing, and saying we shouldn't -- she'd Seen people aiming things at us, us being locked in small rooms. The prospector -- bait? Warren scanned, picked up some kind of anomoly a little ways away from the prospector, which drifted to one side when I tried to be on the total opposite side of it, straightline with the prospector between us. Prospector claimed it had a power-plant problem -- T'kik didn't think so, thought it was bogus. We *ran*. Stealthed ship and prospector started chasing! About to be overtaken, fired on cloaked ship -- ha, the frigging thing went visible! It took out our fresher, we fired all our missiles at it, it veered off (minus one life-sign) and we got *out* of there!//

**Nov 5, 153**


//What, by the stars, is a "Guy Fauke" that it should have a day? And why did the Bug see fit to try and put explosives ("fireworks") in the soup in honor of "Guy Fauke's Day"? Yeesh!//

**Nov 12, 153**


//Headed for the nearest station to report the pirates.//

//Picked up Irari researcher -- clueless fellow, Student of PseudoMammalian Fauna. Dropped him off on his planet to study his critters, after we sold him a stunner. Shot down one of the critters -- sky-colored things, hard to see -- fended off the rest of the friggin' flock-or-whatever (one grabbed at my face, but I'd pulled the biosuit hood up), stunned the one that grabbed Dirk's blaster. Had Kelly come and read the things -- they weren't scared of Dirk's blaster, even though he'd taken one of them out with it! Not sentient -- wolf-like, about. But Telepathic. Left the Irari there, with luck nothing will eat him, and someone will check in on him in a year or two.//

**Nov 23, 153. 0800 shiptime**


//We are picking up another passenger, oh goody. Human, this time. Jim Setton, human, dark haired, shortish, stocky, attractive -- if you like the type. Bit of a macho image. Looked at me (not that that's unusual), but not for very long. He was waiting at the station before the Caulder Mining stop, but he didn't make any comment about the Albatross being two weeks late. I wonder how long *he* was, or *wasn't*, waiting. There's something fishy about him... Oh, Kelly... Ask Kelly to rummage around in this fellow's mind find out what he's doing here. We'll catch him while he's eating, and I'll distract him.//

**Nov 25-28, 153, written on Dec 9, 153**


//We get to Humario -- time to go out and have a snowball fight! Would've taken Kelly sledding if we'd had the time (tropical waterball's never had snow!), but oh, well. We've *all* been on the ship and stations for too long... Maybe a whole six months, for the rest of us (well, besides Kelly). We ask T'kik to watch Jim. I tell Jim to watch out for the Bug. Him, nodding: "Right." Hit Parvari with a snowball & finally drag him into the fray. Ho -- we've got company -- big bears and little bears. A little bear is driving the sleigh (it's being pulled by some sort of badger-looking thing...) Warren won't talk with these "middlemen" people. Okay, *be* a friggin' idiot, Warren! *I'll* step forward and greet this lot. "Sir Butler" the head bear gets translated to -- he invites us to the castle. We get to meet the Lord. (The little bears seem to be servants of some sort, the big bears come in shades from dark to light -- the lighter the bear, the higher up it seems to be in status.) I get to give greetings. We get invited to stay for a feast. I ask if we can inquire after the whereabouts of the "sage" (xenoanthropoligist that was dropped off here a while back). Answer: "No." Ooooookay. Don't argue with the eight-foot-tall fella with the sword & crossbow.//

//We get shown to our rooms. There are fireplaces here -- set way far back, probably because sparks are dangerous if you're a furry person. Kelly decides to help out the little bears who are trying to light her fire; she lights it herself. *We* don't get any fires lit for us after that -- she seems to have scared them half to death. I return their hose and flint&steel gizmo. I *think* they're understanding me through the translator, but when they reply, it doesn't translate! Some kind of "lower caste addressing higher" dialect?//

//Banquet -- buncha raw carcasses dumped on a table, and the big light bears dig in. Wander over and hack off a handful, just for grins -- can't be worse than ship & station food. Get some of the drink. The meat, besides being colder than any sane human would eat, tastes like tough chicken. Not worse than standard suit rations. The drink is *strongly* alcoholic! Yow! Nice artwork on the mugs, too. I ask Kelly if she can cook my hunk of meat a little for me -- find out how the stuff tastes that way. She's worried about her control, so I put on my biosuit glove. Good thing, too, since we get a gout of flame a few seconds later, and one of the big bears comes over to ask us to please not demonstrate our stuff till later.//

//We get treated to music, which sounds like Kintarans brawling. Warren, [...], tries to play some human songs on one of their instruments and gets the instrument snatched away from him by one guard (at the request of the Lord, I think), while another tells him with body language to go back to the little alien ghetto over here. Great. Now I can't hand over the translator to him without messing up the deal entirely. Listen to an epic tale with a lot of smiteing in it that doesn't translate too too well. Watch the fire-jugglers! Yow! Attempt to "applaud" the way the other big bears do, by tossing & catching a knife. Drop knife. Oh, well -- been a day since I've had one of those friggin' pills, so obviously my reflexes are a tad off, not to mention sipping at that drink at *all*.//

//The "trading" is a friggin' hassle & a half -- *I* am the speaker (Parvari doesn't want to do it, and Warren is clearly not to be trusted here). Not to mention that I'm the one with the palest hair. First thing the Lord wants to know about is my "liquid metal" -- my biosuit! It's set for Quicksilver-silver... (Possibly another good reason for me to be the "leader" of this lot.) Quick discussion, determined that we can make such a thing, sort of, for Big&Furry -- we'll have to have measurements. Warren will have to take 'em. "He must not touch me!" says B&F. "Understood," says me. Good thing the scanners have a decent range. We promise a larger, heavy laser pistol and a few smaller ones. We give a dozen radios. B&F wants to know about what to do when an item has lost "spirit" -- we supply appropriate "hearts" (batteries) for his "fire-bow" (laser pistol).//

//This is a "gifting" society, Warren thinks -- we give gifts, they gift us in return with stuff of "equal" value... Compliment him on something, and that will probably provoke a response... "Your jewels are very fine, I have not seen the like before -- they outshine the stars..." (Stop gagging, Kelly!) We get shown some jewelry. Eight *lovely* pieces... Warren comes up to check them... The lot of them are worth, dear me, about 500K credits or so... Gape gape, boggle, boggle, until Kelly says, *Stop gaping! Say something!* in my mind, scaring the living daylights out of me. Right... "All these?" I ask in my most boggled voice. "Take what you will," replies B&F. Right... Uhhh... Not the best piece -- look at that, sigh, and set it aside. Pick 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th best, though. Kelly gets a sense that Lord B&F is pleased and maybe a trifle smug about this setup. We've got *plenty* of profit, so we don't ask after anything else.//

//Warren takes the stuff & Derek back to the ship -- Derek is going to help with the "liquid metal" armour for Lord B&F. Derek asks "Who's going to take care of you, Silver?" Kelly pipes up, "I will," matter-of-factly. I drawl, "And there's Parvari, of course," with a nice leer. "Can it, Silver," quoth the poor Captain. "But I can't! My expressions don't fit in cans!" I reply. "Pilots! Why are they always the crazy ones?" Parvari asks the sky. Silly -- *he's* the back-up pilot.//

//Next morning. No Parvari. We knock, no answer, we go in, and nobody's there -- the bed's been slept in, but of our captain, there's nary a trace. Kelly prepares to do something witchy...//

//I need to be looking for the Captain, obviously, not hanging around doing gifting crap... Ah! Warren's about to become a blond, and I'll dose him with just enough perfume to hide his scent, and see if I can scrounge up something that looks like armor and appoint him as my 2nd in command or something... I can probably get away from talking to Lord B&F on the grounds that it would dishonor me to not be in the search... I wonder why they took him? He seemed the least dangerous? No armor like mine, no witchy powers like Kelly's? Dark-colored, too, hence "lower-caste"?//

//T'kik spraypaints a shipsuit, Warren actually has some cologne that doesn't stink too badly, and I turn over the translator to him.//

//Kelly gets the impression of lots of short dark arms dragging Parvari off the bed. We catch a dwarf, but no luck questioning him... ARGH! (Takes two stunner-blasts to take the dwarf down when he tries to escape, and then he stops breathing! Kelly jump-started him, though, thank the stars.)//

//Discover servants' tunnels, go wandering around with Kelly and Derek, freak out the kitchen staff.//

[[When everyone but T'kik leaves the ship again, Jim goes prowling with a "strange bit of equipment." T'kik spots him and pesters him with nosy questions. Jim wants to look at the bridge. T'kik says all right -- it can introduce him to the computer... Jim seems more interested in the communications logs, and not the "Eliza" style program T'kik is running, but T'kik doesn't let him mess with that... Jim suggests that he'd like to see more of the ship -- say, Silver's quarters? And why would he want that, T'kik asks. Jim suggests that playing some practical jokes would be entertaining -- like glueing all of her stuff to the ceiling, or something. He sets off towards Silver&Kelly's room. T'kik protests that the door will be locked. Jim says "Oh? No, it's unlocked." and opens the door, slips inside, and closes it again, then disables the electronic control for the door (much like Kelly did... but without the psi). T'kik gets the power-tools it needs to winch the door open physically, also collects most of the rest of its drones, toting blasters, stunners, etc. T'kik gets the door open, and finds Jim looking inside Silver's trunk (mostly at all her outfits). Beside him are the disassembled remains of a trap Silver had set for the Bug -- a fire-extinguisher and little sign: "Gotcha!" that had been set if the trunk was opened the wrong way. "Was this for you?" Jim asks T'kik, indicating the remnants of the trap. T'kik flies a stunner up to the back of Jim's head and fires, but thanks to a crit-success on an HT roll, Jim is totally unaffected, and turns around and grabs the stunner. Discussion -- Jim looks boggled at some of the outfits that Silver has in her trunk, T'kik asks if it should model some of them for him, Jim asks, "Would you?" Jim claims to be a New Garavaran Intelligence Agent, shows an ID to that effect. T'kik and he enter a discussion about whether he has any jurisdiction if a New Garavaran registered ship is on an alien planet. Jim claims that he's investigating Silver, that she's some sort of pirate, stolen several ships, that sort of thing. Eventually, through letting the blaster slip from head-shot to familyjewels-shot, T'kik gets Jim out of the room, back into the passenger room, and welds him in. Jim wants to talk to the Captain -- the Captain is busy, says T'kik. T'kik then gets on the comm to everyone.

//Whilst wandering the tunnels, T'kik calls up -- that fraggin' idiot son of a mangy Kintaran and a moulting Unar Jim was messing with my trunk, posing as an Intelligence Agent, and saying I was a "wanted criminal"! I COULD STRANGLE HIM! Most likely got his ID out of a candy-box! AIE! I don't fraggin' need this!//

//Right -- Warren and Derek and Kelly can go looking in the ATV, and I'll take the ship up and check out the heavy-metal mountains with T'kik, after I finish dismembering our passenger.//

//I manage (I think) to get T'kik to agree not to listen in on the vidcom -- Jim's been welded into his room by the sweet darling Bug. I have to promise to let T'kik have a unmolested audio-only "bug" in my room, though...//

//Meanwhile the ATV group finds some tracks, mining-trail, whatever. They think that the captain may be in these mines. Bring the ship over. Land on a glacier. Yeah, right. Take a pill. Fly over, land -- tricky, but NO PROBLEM! Convince Bug that I want a laser rifle.//

//Wander into the tunnel... Finally T'kik raises Parvari's implant comm -- and the captain himself! -- on the ship's comm. We wander about checking things -- the biosuit is set on "ninja". He's locked in a room, can smell some sort of "rotting fruit" smell, can hear thumping sounds... We find a storeroom, but he's not there. On the way out, a dwarf tries to stun Derek! I do a running dive into the tunnel, fire stunner, knock the little fella out, and go after his buddies. Dirk, in nasty-mode, follows shortly thereafter, but he has to stop and mark his way and I don't. He has to bother with the flashlight, too.//

//Wander around in tunnels, tracking dwarfs. Warren and Kelly find the xeno-anthropologist's lair and his computer which has better linguistics info (has the dwarfs' language as well!) and a map of the area! Earlier I suggested that the Captain was deliberately kidnapped as a hostage in some sort of revolution run by the Xanthro and armied by the short&furries. Warren finds some stuff here that indicates I may be right. The map indicates that there are some mining activities near a residential area, and that's a fairly logical place for Parvari to be -- mining noises, food smells, etc. Get a visual, wait for Dirk to catch up, and start heading for the residential area.//

//We're in the area when we get another person on the radio, saying, "Ship crew". We're supposed to leave our weapons and powercells in the tunnels and leave the area and the Captain will be released. "But I'm lost. I can't find my way out," I protest. No problem -- one of the "Small Folk" will lead me out. Feh. Okay, toss the powercells. But he's *not* getting the laser rifle! Turn off the comm that I've got and listen -- faint echo of the fella! Head for that. He "just wanted to talk to the captain" when Parvari woke up, the small guys hit him a little too hard, etc. Warren and he get into an argument about the workability of this revolution.//

//We get to a store-room type place. Our Xanthro, Simon Henry, is talking into a hand-com. He doesn't have any weapons! Send Dirk in -- bare hands, not blaster, I'll wait in the tunnel to see if he tries to escape... Dirk lunges at him, misses, I step out of the tunnel with the biosuit back to Quicksilver. "Don't kill him, Dirk." Simon looks at me in terror, so I tell him, "I'm the good guy, I'm going to keep him from killing you!"//

//Then we hear a thump and a "That you, Dirk?" from a door off to one side. "Captain?" "Yeah! No kill, Dirk, no kill! Just hurt him some!" Seems Parvari holds a grudge, and has a headache. I send Dirk to knock the door down while I make sure our captive doesn't escape.//

//We are all re-united, I insist that Simon gets his stuff back. I tell Simon about what we gave Lord B&F, and tell him that the next time a ship comes, he should call them on the comm and tell them to come trade with the dwarfs (who are being "exploited") instead.//

//Parvari got a couple of kegs of that alcohol somehow -- didn't pay attention.//

//Give Lord B&F his bio-silver. Take off.

Passenger Jim tells Parvari, over the comm, that he's New Garavaran Intelligence (his ID *does* look real) and that Silver's some sort of pirate. The comm shorts out in the middle of this, for some reason.

//Be real nice to Parvari -- he's nervous when I smile at him even in a mostly non-smirking way! Argh. At least he doesn't seem to be likely to turn me over to the son of a scaly.//

//Get to Calder around the 7th of December. Freak out about the Artemis System Defense thing -- we can't spot it, but it's giving off power like nobody's business, it scanned us in the midst of this sensor-jamming mess, and some of the scans IT did aren't stuff that *we* have a clue about! Jim wanders around Calder. He's supposed to be some sort of accountant, or gov. official type, here, it seems.//

Silver is very, very subdued during the trip back. She also gets rather sick from not-taking her pills at one point.

//Jim is confined to quarters except during meals -- the captain won't let me carry a stunner, but he tells Dirk to keep alert. ('Bout the only reason Jim got to come back with us is from the 10,000 creds he offered for us to hang around... And I didn't think it mattered whether he came back on this ship or not.)//

**Dec 13, 153**

//Jim invites Kelly (who has been complaining of headaches and worse ever since we brought the samples on board -- which are interfering with our sensors, too) to go with him around New Garavar. Looks like she's probably going to accept. Wunnerful. "Show Kelly around New Garavar"... Riiiiight. Starting with a bar and ending with his bedroom, I'll bet. Her call. She took out the KLF, she can probably take Jim out if he gets too obnoxious.//

**Dec 15, 153, ship evening**

//The Station won't let us in -- tell us to stand away out of system till a Patrol ship can come out and look us over. I go and turn off the holographic stuff on my trunk. Patrol fellow comes on board, traces the interference to the samples, and says "Oh, more of *those*" in tones of disgust. We are then allowed to come in and dock.//

//Station...//

//Kelly and Jim wander off together... I hope he doesn't dump her for someone prettier -- that might be a bad idea... Cause a tad of property damage, p'haps. At the least, he'd probably fall asleep on his feet, just like the KLF.//

Silver drags her trunk off the ship and vanishes for a while. In this period, Kelley comes back, whistling cheerfully, and won't say how her "date." went.

[[What Silver is not saying is that someone attempted to hire her to smuggle some of those crystals from Calder away -- and Selene Holmes got wind of it, and decided to have a little chat... Silver was appropriately terrified, and very deferential during the interview, and the pair came to the agreement that if Silver didn't interfere in Artemis' business, Selene wouldn't make Silver's life a living hell. Nobody but Silver knows this, of course. However, it is probably noticable that Silver tends to be rather ... jumpy? ... whenever the topic of Artemis Enterprises comes up. She seemed rather boggled when Parvari got the sensor upgrade, fer instance.]]

[[Silver gets drafted to run a little errand for Her High-Programmer-ness.]]

//On the way back to Artemis, I ran into "Big Ben" who insisted that I owed all 6 drooling feet of him a drink. That I'd promised him a drink the next time I was on the station. A huge docker like this... Argh! I shouldn't be in a hurry, this fellow thinks, I should have a drink with him before running my errand. Finally I tell him he can tag along and I lope off.//

//Press the button again. Door opens after a moment -- Diana. She holds out her hand. Ooooookaaaay -- hand her the disks: clink, like metal, not flesh... Big Ben is drooling at her now. Spotting a good opportunity, I say, "Why don't you ask *her* to have a drink with you?" and lope off, hoping to lose him in the moment of confusion before the door closes... He stays behind, saying, "Hey, I haven't seen you around before." I slow at the corner and hear *Diana* saying, "I haven't seen you around before either, big guy. Why don't you come in and have a drink?" The last I hear is a THUD and scream.... I head back to take my trunk back to the Albatross, whistling. Life is good.//

**Dec 16, 153**

//Sent thank-you note to Diana.//

**Dec 20, 153**

Around here, Selene contacts Parvari, offering to purchase the "salvage rights" to the downed NovaTech shuttle for about 100,000. Since NovaTech has enough lawyers to ensure that someone like Parvari never saw any cash from it, the captain agrees and gives the codes to the beacon to Selene.

**Dec 24, 153**

//Asked Parvari what he wanted for christmas -- "A sane crew." What, I asked, not something he could unwrap? "A new pilot." I was hurt. According to what *he's* heard, I was going inches above the pavement in downtown Thrallia at mach speeds, and *several* Thral Patrol ships went crashing. He accused my biosuit of not being "real" clothing (okay, okay, so it *is* skin-tight...), and I suggested that I could make it transparent -- "No! No! Don't trouble yourself. Or anyone else..." *sigh* He complained about my showing up on a stolen NovaTech shuttle -- but "at least they won't be able to track it anymore." *sigh* I pointed out that it was Dirk and I who rescued him, and he said that I'd get a bonus for it. "Oh? What sort of bonus?" I asked him, and he said about 1000 credits, since we were ahead on our payments for a change -- nothing's broken down in a couple of months. I asked how often things broke down on this ship: "Too often." I said I wanted a new ship. Parvari offered to give me a reference. I asked if he *really* wanted me to leave. He wouldn't answer, said he was in trouble either way.//

**Dec 25, 153**

//Got a note from Her today -- a newsclipping saying that an Artemis Enterprises ship, The Bat Out of Hell, found a NovaTech shuttle on a hostile waterworld (methane and amonia atmosphere) down near Irar, about where they'd said they'd lost one.//

Parvari also gets an equivalent note.

[[It should be noted that the shuttle the Bat found, while it *did* still have the engine damage, also had a functional and functioning emergency beacon, computer core, and flight-recorder that had a "dead battery." Supplied, of course, courtesy of Artemis, but NovaTech don't know that. And, to make matters even more entertaining, Selene "scrubbed" the shuttle of all traces of where it was before the hostile world.]]

**Dec 27, 153**

//Parvari's happy today -- he sold off that keg of Himario booze for something like 1000 creds. He sold it to *Flare*. "Everybody knows Flare," he says when I ask about who "Flare" is. I reply, "I don't -- I'd even forgotten about those wretched pills, remember?" He looked at me out of the corner of one eye. But I got the information. Flare is a large red Kintaran male, who runs the "Lucky Star" which is a bar, casino, pawnshop, and hair salon. Oh sweet stars... Parvari says that Flare is a good person to know -- he has contacts. Sometimes he's got a cargo. Parvari doesn't ask what it is, and doesn't say that what's being shipped is Flare's; just that sometimes Flare has a cargo. I take the hint.//

**Lea 1, 153** [Leap, the New Garavaran 13th month, and general "party month," being the one between Xmas and New Year's]

//Met Flare. Good person to know, yes. Kintaran stamina.//

//I pestered a pair of stunners out of Parvari (in case I ran into Big Ben) and went a'wandering down to Flare's Lucky Star. When I wandered into the bar part of the establishment, Flare himself (big red Kintaran, can't miss him!) called out "Quicksilver!" and rapidly arranged for someone else to take over bartending while we went upstairs.//

**Lea 4, 153**

//Well, Parvari worked *some* kind of deal with Her for that NovaTech ship! A bunch of Her robots came in and installed some fancy sensor gear (with much grumbling about "on *this* bucket of bolts??*). We've also got people working on replacing the recycler and fixing the lower gun turret where he belly-flopped the ship into Pelageos.//

**Lea 15, 153**

//Off again, into trouble and deep space... Though Big Ben has been making a bit of a nuisence of himself, hanging around the ship, he managed not to run afoul of Derek -- who, I found out on the way out when I was gritching about Ben, would have cheerfully handled Ben for me...//

//T'kik painted the ship paisley (red and green and yellow paisley...) -- Parvari wouldn't let me bounce off the atmosphere of any local planets to scorch it off. I wanted him to list me as "Anon. Pilot." When Parvari mentioned that we'd be making a stop at Thral, I *really* wanted to be Anon. "Uh, Captain?" "Oh, yeah, you've got a little problem there, don't you..." I'd stay on the ship. He'd work something out.//

Silver is wanted on Thral for the Han Solo Memorial Astroid Belt Maneuver, performed in downtown Thrallia at high speeds, in case that hasn't been mentioned before...

//Captain mentioned that I probably didn't want us to make any deliveries to the NovaTech research base down Irar way; "Ah, not unless they're paying rather a lot extra..."//

**Lea 17, 153**

//We made our first stop at Thral. I stayed on the ship. Nothing awful happened.//

**Lea, 21, 153**

//Picked up Student of Soil Microbiology, who will, like all Irari, talk your ears off about his specialty. He's headed for a research base down thisaway.//

**Jan 1, 154**

//My watch (ain't it always?), and a distress beacon comes in. I love New Year's Day presents. The signal says it's from the _Starchaser_, registered out of Kintara, crew of four. Uh-huh. Get Warren to scan things to blazes -- he doesn't see any other ships. Head for the beacon, that's the right thing to do, according to NG law; with luck, if it *is* pirates again, Kelly will get bad vibes again.//

//Second planet of an old K star -- 1.15 Gs, 30% oxy, etc, terra-normal otherwise, though low on everything but organics. Mostly plains & forests. You can see why Kintarans would land here.//

//We get some pictures of three of them -- one seems to be chasing his tail, one is lying on his back sprawled out, and one is hunting down an antelope thingy and eating it.//

//I try, eventually, landing about 10 feet from the _Starchaser_ (which does not answer the comm, even though there's a Kintaran in it playing with the buttons (as near as I can figure from the way the ship's acting)); unfortunately, I am not on Star Fire at the moment, and it would seem that one of the _Starchaser_'s cameras got in the way of the landing. Parvari has commentary about finding the only other ship on the planet to hit, and so I gritch back about the lousy steering on this crate. Embarrassing.//

//We send T'kik out to get a sample of the dirt for our Irari, who demanded some when we explained the situation (something about soil areation being strange when he scanned). Student then griped about the lack of proper equipment.//

//T'kik got into the _Starchaser_, found a Kintaran female playing "piano" on the control panels, and so the Bug cut the power. Bug comes back, we give it a comm (I ain't going outside, and Derek is having fits about the plains!), and send it back to talk to the Kintaran (we don't want to go out till we're sure there's nothing strange airborne). Warren knows Trade Kintaran. Warren tries yowling at the Kintaran for a little bit, finally reports back that she's babbling about eating birds. We tell T'kik to move out of range...//

//Student finally discoveres something, and after much prodding, we find that there are strange substances in the plants and animals, which read as harmful for humans to eat. We send Warren out with a double-dose of Purge. He zots the Kintaran, who complain that he stung her, and then wanders over on all sixes to try and open the door and go get some more food. However, by the time she figures out the door-opening combination, she's coherent. (T'kik has taken her weapon away. Warren does not have even a stunner. Warren is clueless.) T'kik is trying to decide whether to shoot the Kintaran or Warren with the Kintaran's gun.//

//She wonders why the power is off, goes & fixes it -- we explain that she'd been playing with all the buttons... She winces at the thought of accidently taking off at about 3 Gs.//

[[GM says he missed a bet -- she should have been *flying* the ship when we found her!!]]

//We explain that the food's got strange stuff in it ("Humans... Can't eat anything."), which was making her strange. She complains that they smell and taste *so good*... She's tired of their synthasizer food. I offer her some of our food -- which is "very unique." She askes for "poached merfah on a stick"... I'll see what I can do... It looks like a scorched lizard. Ugh. Let Kelly take the blame here; I'll hide on the bridge.//

//The Kintaran ain't so thrilled with it -- worse than their stuff, she thinks. Ah, well.//

//I ask what her name is -- Swiftflyer.//

//"Glad to meet you, Swiftflyer. I'm Quicksilver," I say from down the hall a bit.//

//"*Quicksilver*? You're *really* Quicksilver??" she says.//

//"As far as I know," quoth me.//

//"Did you really fly through downtown Thrallia at mach 6?" she asks.//

//"Well, I don't remember how fast it was -- I wasn't looking at the speedometer at the time. It was fast enough, though," I smile.//

//She explains about "First day, first month" at Kintara station -- everyone leaves dock at once and flies in criss-cross patterns... *She* did it at warp .5 once! I ask her to drop me a letter sometime when it's going to happen, and I'll try to be in the area -- sounds fun!//

//She and Warren and Kelly go in the ATV to where the others are, about half a mile off. (Swiftflyer mentions that she'd hit the distress beacon when Swatpaw {"she's a mean drunk"} started acting strange, chasing the others and yelling something about . . . twins. Not fraternal, either.) We only have enough Purge doses for the lot of them, once, and a couple of doses left over for us. The Kintarans have none, since More Beer, their planetologist, was partying last station...//

//Warren wants to dose Whitebelly, their captain, have Kelly put "Tailchaser"/More Beer to sleep, and have Swiftflyer take care of Swatpaw (who was the one chasing the local fauna -- Whitebelly is the one on his back). Swiftflyer won't get near Swatpaw; she's their security, she's mean, and she's probably still got her blaster.//

//They return for a stun rifle. Derek and I go, I under much protest. I accuse Parvari of being the one whose fault it all is and stalk off to the ATV.//

//We dose their captain -- who is *quite* cute. "Cute captain you've got there," I comment. "Yes, that *I'VE* got!" Swiftflyer says. Ah. "Don't worry," I tell her, "I don't poach. I don't need to." "I've heard about you..." "Oh? Who from?" "Flare." "Ah. Don't worry, really, poaching is beneath my dignity."//

//We leave Swiftflyer to look after Whitebelly and head for Swatpaw -- we get to within a certain distance of her and she fast-draws a blaster and fires! Warren swerves and we only get grazed, fortunately! We pull up about 300 yards away and I (I'm better at sonics than Derek -- he's better at lasers) aim and fire. "BANG!" says the gun. *T'kik*!!!! Argh! I miss the other two shots, and she's chasing us... Kelly grabs her blaster away and I lean out a hatch and finally manage to drop her. We dose her (I shove Warren out to do it) and leave her to recover. On to More Beer. *He* gets this friggin' grin on his face when we get near, then takes off running away from us. I am *not* in a mood to deal with chasing down a Kintaran with Warren driving. I lean out and drop *him* with the stun rifle. We haul him into the back of the ATV, and head back to see what's up with Whitebelly. Whitebelly and Swiftflyer are otherwise occupied. We head for Swatpaw, to keep her from eating anything else.//

//She and Warren growl back and forth a little.// [She doesn't understand NG. She's complaining about a "twinning stunner hangover".] //I get Warren to tell her *exactly* that eating the animal will make her have more hallucinations about twins. She's in a mood -- she takes out a laser pistol. Kelly takes it away from her as we flee. Swatpaw jumps on the roof. Kelly tells her *Quit that!* or words to that effect and Swatpaw stops clawing at the roof and bounds away to look at us with big eyes from a little ways away.//

//About now, More Beer wakes up. "Did you get the number of that bar?" he moans. He talks to Swatpaw [in family tongue, not trade] for a while, and relays that she wants to know if our "shaman" is still mad at her. Kelly replies that she won't be mad if Swatpaw behaves civilly. Swatpaw wants her weapons back -- we oblige her. We lead them back to where Whitebelly and Swiftflyer are straggling back to the ship.//

//Warren has been a pest, and I'm not so happy with T'kik either on general principles -- Kelly grabs a drone and I try to feed it some grass. T'kik tries to send another couple of drones to *gather* **lots** of grass and bring it on the ship! I try and lock the airlock -- it overrides. I aim the stun-rifle at the pair. "DROP IT!" Nothing. *FIRE*! Apparently stunning a Hive Beetle drone is not too good for the drones. One nearly gets fried; I take it to the autodoc. T'kik is irritated, no doubt. I'm going to have to *live* in this biosuit for a while! [Captain: "Thanks, T'kik!"] I tell the captain to try and keep a leash on the Bug lest he be without a pilot out in the middle of a fringie run. Time to beef up the defences... Maybe I can figure out what the Bug is trying and fall for it so it won't keep a grudge...//

//Take off from the planet, knocking the camera off the Kintaran ship's wing again... Tell them that the trader joggled my elbow.//

**Jan 2, 154**

//Send T'kik Email: "I apologize for stunning your drones -- I've even moderately sorry I did it, and I am sorry that the one got so sick. I was having a bad day,[...] getting chased by psychotic Kintarans with blasters [...], and all, and frankly, T'kik, just *threatening* to bring that stuff on board would have been enough of a joke... I might have over-reacted just a tad. [...]"//

//T'kik replies that I will not be the target of "special attentions," but I should beware its ordinary whims; never fear *that*!//

**Jan 3, 154**

//Warren wakes up one morning with a hot-pink biosuit. Derek asks how much Warren will pay to have it fixed. Finally Warren gets T'kik to repair the thing, in exchange for leaving an audio-only bug unmolested in his room.I've already got one of the things, in exchange for being able to talk to Jim privately.//

**Jan 4, 154**

//We get to the Irari base, and find nothing but a scorched area where the research base should be. Eventually we contact the two Irari survivors -- the base was attacked by a smallish ship, 6-8 Thrals and humans wielding heavy weaponry came and shot the other two Irari, and took a human researcher and a human prospector (Captain Art, female). They went and shot down the aircar that the survivors were in, but didn't bother to hunt down the Irari themselves. We take in the survivors and haul them along to Jordan's Station.//

//Strange that the pirates just shot the Irari -- if they'd wanted Kaa-food, I would have thought drumsticks would be just fine. But they only wanted the humans.//

Jordan's Station is a large ex-ore freighter, sorta like the Hell, only spherical. It has puny warp engines, and Jordan moves it from system to system as one belt gets mined out and another is discovered. There's been a Lanthium strike in the system that it's currently inhabiting.The Irari want to go back to Irar, but can't pay the captain enough to abandon his route.

**Jan 6, 154, ship's evening**

//We get in to Jordan's Station. There's the Station, and a couple of prospectors are nose-up to it, but shut down. One of them... The transponder is wrong, but it matches the configuration of Captain Art's _Rustbucket_, which the raiders took with them. We are suspicious. We scan the place. We find five human life-signs in one area, with no powercells, and four life-signs in another area, where only three of them have powercells. They have *large* powercells, consistant with weapons. We are paranoid.//

//I snarf my daily Star Fire about 10 minutes before we dock. We come in normally, get directions normally, and are asked to unload our cargo ourselves, since the station is short-handed. Derek in his exoskeleton plays cargo-handler. I go along with a laser and stunner to play guard. Warren is there to handle the paperwork, and Kelly is down just to be obnoxious.//

//A fellow meets us there, and introduces himself as Jordan. I am standing out of his line of sight, holding my laser and being paranoid. He tells Warren that they can do the paperwork in his office, and then go down to the bar -- the rest of the crew is invited to hit the bar as well. (The directions match where the three people with powercells were.) Kelly has wandered up to listen during this, and now she says to Warren that the Captain wants to speak with Warren. They excuse themelves and head back up to the bridge. I stay down and Derek keeps unloading cargo. T'kik is hiding in one of the boxes that we've unloaded.//

Kelly sensed that "Jordan" was lying about his name, and was worried. Erk. So, ditch the cargo and undock? The Station has weaponry... It could shoot at us. Finally it is decided that Derek, armed, Warren and Kelly, unarmed, will go and do the paperwork -- we may be able to pretend that we don't know anything's wrong. Derek is in on the conversation via implant comm. Warren and Kelly come back, collect Derek (out of his exoskeleton, but still toting a heavy blaster and a laser), and go with "Jordan" to his office. A couple of T'kik's drones attach themelves to Warren and Derek. Kelly gripes about those "pets."

In the office, "Jordan" says that he can't find his credit transactor and he probably left it in the bar again. So everyone troops to the bar, where there is a bartender and two men at the table -- one of the men seems very drunk, and about the time that our trio+bugs get there, the sober one is saying, "Come on, Doc, let's get you to bed." They leave.

//Captain says that the group is heading to the bar, and can I provide backup? Sure thing... I head out and set myself on full paranoia mode. I get to another end of the hallway that Jordan's Bar is on, spot people coming, and wait.//

T'kik goes out and finds a control panel -- it will try and make a fire alarm somewhere, when Parvari gives the signal.

//I hear someone saying, "Come on, Doc, let's get you to bed." Odds that "Doc" is the unarmed person? Sure... Hide against the wall till pirate and Doc come round the corner -- they turn and head away from me, so I sneak up behind 'em. Shoot pirate. He falls. Doc is going "Uh?" so I go "Shh!"//

[[ Doc: "Silver? What are you doing here??" Silver: "Taking the station!" Doc: "Got any Purge on you?" Silver: "No -- there's some on the ship, though." Doc: "It's quicker to go back to my cabin..." Silver: "Okay -- here, take my stunner." Doc: "Right..." And he weaves back towards his cabin. ]]

//Drag the pirate into a room and relieve him of his heavy blaster. Head back to Jordan's Bar, poke my head around the corner -- drat! The bartender fellow may have seen me! "Jordan" is messing around under the bar for something.//

"Jordan" insists that everyone gets a drink on the house. [The glasses have been pre-drugged (which is why Doc was there), so there's no "slipping something into the drinks."] Kelly gets a vision of drinking the stuff and waking up together in a room with a headache. She Telesends to the others "Don't drink it! Bad! Go to sleep!" T'kik's drones start drinking Warren & Derek's stuff. Kelly acts highly disgusted. The bartender seems boggled. Both he and "Jordan" seem to believe that the drones are pets -- must not know about Hive Beetles. New drinks are served to Warren and Derek.

Warren tries to help "Jordan" find his credit transactor, but "Jordan" stands up and says, "No, I don't need any help," while holding a heavy blaster. Bartender draws a heavy blaster. Derek hits the floor, drawing his blaster. Silver decides to step around the corner and take a second to aim her laser at Bartender's shoulder. T'kik sets off the alarm -- decompression alert in section 16. Derek shoots *through the bar* [Crit success! A 4!] and takes off the bartender's leg at the same time that Silver nails the bartender through the right shoulder [2d damage -- I rolled a 12]. There is an explosion as the bottles of alcohol are ignited by Derek's blaster. "Jordan" is briefly distracted, and Warren gets a [crit!] head-shot with a punch, deafening "Jordan." A moment of stunning, Warren throws another punch at "Jordan" and hits him in the torso -- and hurts his hand, since there's a biosuit there.

"Jordan" starts to swing his blaster back on Warren and Silver tries a snapshot at Jordan. [Two crit-failures (17s) in a row.] The laser pistol sparks madly and she tosses it away, cursing. Kelly grabs the blaster out of "Jordan's" hand, and Derek stands up and holds his blaster on the man, just before Warren would have been decked. Silver, biosuit colored hallway-gray, dodges out of the room and resets her biosuit to silver, then starts heading for the prisoners. Kelly tries to make "Jordan" drink her drugged drink (telepathically telling him to drink it, since he can't hear anything), but he throws it in her face. She keeps her temper. The bartender is dragged out from where he's lying on the flames, and the fire is put out.

//I'm going to have to have a little talk with T'kik about modifications to the weapons -- it *did* say "Bang!" before it blew...//

//About now, Parvari notices that there's a 500cy ship coming in, and there's a little notation next to it that says, "Stealthed"! It figures, considering where we *got* those sensors from. He calls us all up to tell us this and wants everybody to come back so that we can run away. Me: "I want to free the prisoners first, it will only take a minute..."//

(She's got a comm with her.) Derek, Warren, and Kelly haul fake-Jordan back to the ship and tie him up. They also bring T'kik's sleeping drones. The captain decides that the pirate ship is faster than we are, and maybe we should hang tight to the station and try to think of something, like hiding in the belt.

//I meet up with Doc again, him looking much better, and he suggests that the Station *does* have weapons. I head for the bridge while Doc frees the prisoners. Real Jordan gets to the bridge and demands to know who I am (I'm sitting in the Captain's chair). "Quicksilver!" quoth me.//

Jordan actually hasn't heard of her. Aw. Kelly gets bored with smiling smugly at fake-Jordan and wanders away. T'kik gets a blaster and aims it at the man's head.

//Kelly shows up on the bridge, and complains about the people I know. I introduce her to Doc. He says his name is "Doc Doyle." He then says. "Hello, Kelly." Obviously I'm going to have to explain about keeping one's powers secret to Kel.//

//Notice that the _Rustbucket_ is powering up. Captain Art wants to get *out* of the area! She doesn't want to stick around, though I tell her that we need the station to look the same as when the pirates left it, to make sure that they don't get suspicious. She don't wanna listen. Jordan tells her about her bar-tab, and she stops threatening to shoot holes in the docking clamps and such. The Rustbucket powers down.//

Kelly, Silver, Doc, & Warren go off to question the pirates -- Kelly hangs back and asks who this person is, because he's lying about his name. Silver shrugs.

//Doc takes one looks at the bartender-pirate and asks if he should finish the guy off now. Doc takes some Crediline and we head for the pirate I shot. I suggest that a little Purge might be handy here. First, I do a quick search on the pirate, starting with stripping him. (I'm sure that I'm shocking Warren, who is with me & Doc & Kelly.) I find a nice little vibroknife in a sheath built into the man's boot. There's a sheath that fits this small knife in my biosuit, along the lower leg! I also find a neurolash.//

About here, Kelly wants to know Doc's real name. Silver shoves Warren out the door.

//We let Warren back in. Doc administers the Purge. I stand above the (nude, with shipsuit discreetly draped) pirate, one foot on his chest, neurolash in one hand. "Good morning," I chirp. "This is your wake-up call!" The pirate goggles up and says, "I've died and gone to heaven!" "Cute," I say. "Not bad. Maybe I'll talk to you later, after the unpleasentness is over." Doc administers the Crediline.//

//We find out how many people are on that little pirate ship, and what the recognition code is. They were hired to capture humans for sale -- bonus for psis! The pirate captain had a gizmo that was supposed to detect psi. They thought the Doctor was psi, maybe. He denies this ("Who, me? No way.").//

[[Kelly senses that he's quibbling. Silver WANTS that psi-detector. She also wants to know who the people were being sold to -- Kelly had an image of Kaa, but they aren't in the area, as far as anyone knows, and they'd probably love to snack on Irari as well.]]

Next stop, the fake-Jordan.

//Bolduc (aka fake-Jordan) is quite helpful -- he tells me what the recognition codes are (type of music playing from the radio), and gives me his hold-out laser. Tell real-Jordan to start playing the "coast is clear" selection.//

//Yell at T'kik about my laser nearly blowing up in my hand and demand that it fix it.//

//Out of curiosity, I wander over to the Rustbucket -- no Art. Turns out she's in the bar, where she managed to polish off several bottles before the bartender (real) caught up with her. She's mid-aged, red-head, fairly attractive despite the blaster scar on her cheek. About my height. She's also rather drunk. She's got an antique blaster which she waves about and vaporizes the center of the dart-board. Dirk buys her a drink. I buy myself a drink since I'm starting to finally come down from the Star Fire. Captain Art may or may not be a help when we take the pirate ship, which will show up in about nine hours, we figure.//

//Take a nap before the pirates show up. Take another pill. Wait in a room off the corridor that T'kik has prepared. Warren is with Dirk at a cross-corridor. We have the place sealed off, and are in our suits, because there is nothing but nitrogen in this hall. I have insisted to Dirk that he use his stunner only, since I want to talk to their captain. For this, I have bribed him with the biosuit I got off of Bolduc.//

//Five pirates leave the ship. They go into the corridor. T'kik has a robot jam its "foot" in the airlock door, so it won't shut. The pirates get a ways into the corridor and one says, "Something's wrong -- suit up!" Only two of them manage, though. T'kik kills the lights, mostly (save for disco-style croft) and the grav. I hear a couple of }thumps{ in the corridor where the grav switches back on, and figure that Dirk can handle those two. I'll try for the ship. I really mess up at first, going into zero-G. At least no-one can see me. I hear a couple of stunner sequences, and the lights and grav come back on. [Silver is in her "ninja-style" of biosuit.] I open the airlock into the ship while Warren stuns the pirates that fainted in the hallway. [[Normally, it's not possible to open an airlock on both sides at once, and T'kik's 'bot is holding the inner door open. But Silver jiggers the thing anyway.]] I ask Parvari where the last pirate is -- "Aft," he says, so I go that way into the pirate ship. Hear cursing up ahead, and see a pair of feet sticking out of a maintenance panel. Stick stunner in and fire. Feet go limp, and I haul out one stunned pirate. End of mess.//

//I take a hypo of Crediline, the rest of my well-gotten gains, and "Wolf" (the pirate captain) into a room and ask him some questions.(I also get another biosuit and a vibrodagger from him.)// Silver gives the biosuit to Parvari, with the cavaet that he might want to disinfect it first.

What she found out, and eventually got around to telling the rest of the crew, when Kelly was kidnapped..... Wolf & friends hijacked the Jackal at a station a while back, started their careers. Word was going around that some place would pay 1000 for humans, Kintarans, Hurricanians, and Sparrials, and 5000 for psis. They got a psi-detector thingamabob from these people. They've done two meetings -- 4 people the first time (mainly Sparrials -- this is Sparrial space), and 6 the second. A fast (at least warp 6) courier ship has met the pirates and they dumped the captives, unconscious and unclothed, in the airlock. There's not enough cabin space on the courier for more than freeze-tubes for the prisoners. Wolf thinks they're Corp. -- part of the reason that he hasn't tried to take *their* heavily armed ship. Heard something about "not wanting the home office to know" what was going on. Heard something a few weeks back along the lines that the courier ship would have to hurry to make room for a shipment (of people, maybe?) from Sparrion. Get names/descriptions of all the humans that Wolf has dealt with. Get the meeting-place coordinates. Get the comm-code for arranging to meet the courier ship, and his other Organization contacts, too.

//I find out that the guy's name really is "Wolf" -- Bernard Wolf. "Bernie," for obnoxious.//

//Warren managed to claim the ship as salvage from Jordan. I want to call it the "Bullet." "I've heard about your ship, Silver," says Parvari. He insists on calling it the "Sparrow." I comment that smart remarks about SparrowHawkes will get someone whapped. At least he didn't want to call the ship "Chicken." I will, of course, be flying this thing. Warren is a pain about how to sell the ship (he seems to think it can't be done), and I'm coming down off my pill, so I stun him. Dirk has a minor cow.//

//The ship is Sparrion design, has no real transponder (but a nifty do-it-yourself transponder immitation!), and got its particle beam shot up. T'kik transplants its missile launcher to the Albatross. Now all the "Sparrow" (Formerly "Jackal") has is a couple of medium lasers. Ah, well -- it's still decently fast and stealthed.//

//I offer to buy the ship from Parvari -- with barter. He wants to know if the Bug gets its ten percent. I tell him he can make the change and handle that -- or does he want to watch? He says no deal. Oh, well. It was worth a try.//

//To make sure that I don't fly away with this ship, Parvari has the Bug rig the engines to stop working if they get too far away from the Albatross. Spoilsport. The Bug wanted to just kill all "extra" stuff in the navigational database. I point out that now I've got a challenge. (One I can't manage, it seems. Drat. Pity I don't understand this mess better.)//

//I set the "transponder" to that of the Albatross. Parvari doesn't think that's funny. He doesn't want to race, either.//

**Jan 13, 154**

//At the planet Karalooar, we onload a bunch of sealed "cages" with live critters in 'em -- mudhoppers and something that looks, through the cameras, like a bald ostrich. Parvari is also tired of me flying this ship, and leaving him and Derek to split watches. He gets a Sparrial fellow to play pilot as well. Gooooody. A Hive Beetle to break things, and a Sparrial to steal them. Now all we need is a Hurricanian to eat stuff.//

//Actually, I kinda like Sparrials -- even if this one does seem to be a rather scrawny fellow. Pity that they go in for life-mating only. Thank goodness I brought my stuff over to the Bulle--ah, Sparrow.//

//His name is Awolloomara -- Awol for short. *That* bodes ill.//

[[Mud-hoppers look like furry frogs. >GRONK<]]

**Jan 16, 154**

//Alardin. Thrilling, patriarchal Alardin, where female pilots aren't allowed to land or take off, and women are property. They've only got one over-firepowered system patrol boat... Let's see, about Mach 2 over the spaceport ought to be good for some amusement... Yipe! They *saw* me! At least they can only hit warp .1, and I can zoom out of range at warp 5!//

//I think I'll stay out of range for a while.//

While Silver is staying out of range, an Alardin girl dashes onto the starport in the confusion that followed Silver's sonic boom. She's dressed in boy's clothes, and is carrying a stun rifle. She dashes up to the Albatross, where Dirk & Warren are overseeing the unloading and loading of cargo. The girl begs for sanctuary, and finally Dirk tells her to go inside. She looks at the rifle in her hand in confusion, and hands it to Dirk before she runs in. Warren notices her. T'kik leads her off to one side.

A couple of cops run up and ask Dirk where the girl is -- he says she went out the other gate. "But you've got a police rifle!" points out one of the cops. "She dropped it. Here," quoth Dirk. They take the rifle and head for the other gate.

Unfortunately, one of the dockworkers, less blase' about escaping girls than the rest, went to inform the admin fellow on the base about the incident. He wants to bring a couple of guards on board and search the ship. Awol takes the girl, Erica, to Kelly's room, and tells her to get on the top bunk and put this belt on (distort belt) and pull this blanket over her head (camo cloak) and don't move! This, along with some brilliant fast-talk, convinces the starport guards that she really did leave the ship after Warren saw her get on.

[Kelly rolls a 4 for an Empathy roll upon meeting Erica.]

The girl says she can pay, but nobody has asked her what, yet. She needs passage off-planet, and she needs somebody to rescue her sister, Joanna Cassidy, who was convicted of adultry and will be buried alive in her husband's north field in two Earth-days. (Days are very long here, so it will be daylight for several earth-days.) Discussion rages about what to do -- smuggle Joanna some air and dig her up? Go in and get her now? The latter seems to find favor with Awol (the other way has no class) and T'kik (this is great! A practical joke, *and* stealing a person!) No, Joanna's alleged lover (that muscle-bound twit, according to Erica) won't be needed.

We go outsystem, manufacture a warp problem for a little while to make plans. Meet up with Silver's ship. Dirk and Awol, carrying a note from Erica, so Jo will go with them, will do the rescue while Silver keeps the engines warm. (Dirk asks if 'Silver' is really her real name for some reason. She says, "Of course!" and Awol snorts slightly. Silver looks over. "Slight respiratory problem you've got there," she states. Awol coughs some more and comments on the stench of the ship.)

After a couple of false starts [the dratted dice kept coming up 7s and 8s for the scanning-rolls for the patrol boat!], the Sparrow is landed in good old Mr. Cassidy's north field (currently fallow -- people are in the southeast and east fields). Dirk and Awol creep to the grain-storage building (up against the house). At one point, they get sort of spotted -- Awol hides up a tree, Dirk pretends to be grass (he's got his "new" biosuit set to pseudo-camo), and after a couple of hours, most everybody in the house who woke up to check things out is back asleep. Awol creeps into the grain-house and uses his force-sword to cut through the wall under the bed that Joanna is sleeping on. He then shoots *THROUGH THE DOOR* with a stun-rifle, taking out the policeman on guard out there. Next, he fast-draws his pistol and snap-shots the priest who was in the room. Joanna wakes up, Awol -- from under the bed -- hands her Erica's note, and fast-talks her into leaving without getting her jewelry. He tosses a nitrous-oxide grenade (made by T'kik) into the room as they leave. They reach the ship without further incident, and Silver takes off. Joanna wants to know who's flying the ship, and is rather loud about her disbelief at a female pilot. Silver is not amused. Joanna, when she sees what Silver's wearing, is somewhat scandalized (or maybe jealous), and the pair are rather cool to each other. Once again the patrol boat spots the Sparrow. Silver takes off to the two-parsec range from the Albatross, since she's *tired* of being chased around.

Payment: several rings, a very ornate necklace, and a bracelet that Joanna claims is hers, and berates her sister for having. Not really quite enough to get them to Sparrion, technaically, but hey...

Joanna, it should be noted, is Very Beautiful, has Voice, and Sex Appeal 20. This means that her SA skill is 28 when used on males. (Oh, yeah, don't forget HT 17.) Her sister is merely Beautiful, with Voice, and SA 15 (not counting the bonus for appearence). It should also be noted that our Jo is Lecherous and Unlucky, among other amusing disads. She attaches herself to Warren and he plays his keyboard (or whatever it is) for her, and they sing. Quite well. Disgusting.

**Jan 26, 154**

[[Sparrion. Sparrial stations are... Think a slightly toned down version of the Bazzar on Deva.]]

**Feb 14, 154**

//Tomorrow, Kelly comes back from that psi-school that the Captain sent her off to. Today, there's a moderately large, *highly* stealthed ship -- that looks like it could make warp 8 or better! -- heading towards the school. "That looks suspicious," I mutter. "Like those pirates, who got so much money for psis..." I then have to explain the set up from Jordan's Station to everybody, since I'd forgotton to do so previously...//

//We call the station, they say they aren't expecting any ship there, and they don't sense any ship there, and they don't want us to talk to Kelly because she's in a class right now but they'll give her a note. Later, when the stealthed ship has landed right outside the school, they say that she's gone for a walk, and they can't find her. We spot a couple of people leaving the ship, and coming back with a gurney -- "to take out the trash," according to the school. However, they go right into the ship, and that cart they were pushing could have carried a person! Nobody but us can see the stealthed ship, though T'kik puts out an anon. broadcast that there's a highly stealthed ship in the area. An aircar buzzes the school at mach speeds -- sparrial pilot, who sees the people disappearing, but doesn't spot the ship. The ship starts going up, Warren loses them for a few minutes, we find them again, and I spiral around them as they go up. We try hailing them. Nothing. They dive downwards, I trail along above them. (The Albatross, unloaded as it is, is faster than they are in atmosphere.) They try cutting sharply away, and I keep following. They head for a small sea, and start going under. They still won't answer our hailings. Awol nails their engines with a light laser.They go and send off an encrypted burst of hypercomm. We record it, but it's not likely that we'll be able to decipher it. I'll try later anyway.//

//About now, the school calls back -- says that Kelly's been found, she's back in class, we can talk to her in a couple of minutes. We ask for them to have her call us. Give them about 20 minutes, the person says. "2 minutes, 20 minutes," I gripe. "Can't anybody tell time?"//

//It *sounds* like Kelly -- but she uses the term "secure comm channel"! And she doesn't give her usual response to my offer to tell her about Flare, and doesn't seem to know about our sensors. Bah.//

//We hail the stealthed ship again, and fire a couple of missiles at them to shake 'em up a bit. Finally we get a "Leave or she dies," and the comm cuts off again. Okay. We've got Artemis sensors, and their warp drive is busted so that they won't be going anywhere for at least a few hours. I start backing the ship off. "Leave the system or she dies." Okay... We'll do that -- at least to the edge of their sensors... But then we'll head back in and take over the Sparrow for a short while (Parvari's sold it for 800K, and we'll be transferring title tomorrow, but till then.), and try to rescue Kel. But how will we keep them from noticing us? Parvari has T'kik change over the transponder signal... THAT SLY FELLOW! I would never have guessed it!//

//A couple of air-cars start heading for the downed ship (one armed, one not) as we (Derek, Awol, and I) head down to the planet. The stealthed ship has turned off its 500MW antimatter plant (the problem with shooting at it... don't want to blow *Kelly* up), and its stealth system, and has beached itself. There's some implant-comm type traffic around it, but naught else. That is one expensive ship. Set the Sparrow down into the water as lightly as a floating feather, and slowly head for a cove next to where the kidnap-ship is. There's one person outside the ship, and 3-4 people inside. At least one person armed up near the bridge, probably two people there, and a couple of unarmed-types (at least, no big powercells) in the middle part of the ship. We sneak out, me on Star Fire, of course. [And with biosuit set to a camo-pattern.] Awol picks off the fellow on the outside with his stun rifle, and we charge the airlock. Cycle the lock (it would take too long to hack it), I dive forwards as the lock opens, and a stun-blast goes over my head. Zapzapzap! with my stunner, and a fellow falls. The door to the bridge area starts closing -- I try to dive for it and go *WHAP* against the closed door.Awol: "Graceful." Me: "Shut up."Derek heads for the closed doors to the other side, opposite the bridge door that I just smacked into. Several cramped rooms with narrow bunks. Kelly, alone, is in one of them. She doesn't wake up. Awol tosses Derek some Purge, and that wakes Kel up. Meanwhile, I hack the door open, have a laser blast by my head, and stun the fellow inside.//

//I go and get the Sparrow (the fellow on the bridge told the aircars they'd better hurry up, but they'll still take a little while to get there), and we drag all three people on-board. I realize that they might have stored our voices on their computer! Fortunately, just as I'm panicking about that, Awol says, "This computer?" That wonderful Sparrial swiped their computer! (They didn't have a black box.) I tell him that if I were a Sparrial, I'd start giving him stuff. He says he's already married, and shows me pictures of his kids.//

//The two bridge people have faked IDs -- "Sam Brown" for the captain-type with the stunner, and "John Smith" for the fellow with the laser. The outside fellow is Gregory O'Mally.//

["Brown" is known as "John Smithers," but is really Mark Simmons, a miner captured by pirates. He comes to himself when we give him some Soothe {they're all allergic to Credaline} and the implant thing in his brain tries to self destruct. Take lots of scans. They were the stealthed ship that Bernie Wolf's pirates were delivering to. (Greg, who took the pic for possible blackmail, gets kissed for this info) That "hurry & make room" that Wolfie talked about was a couple of people from the psi school. The ship that they off-load to is a drab-painted Executive shuttle -- like the one that showed up on Pelageos along with Silver, though sans the markings. And "John Smithers" has been on it! Though the other two haven't. The brain implant would have self-destructed, but Kelly 'ported the explosive out first. Later, Kelly gets the braintape disk, and Silver takes charge of it. Kelly has been fed an IQ adder {they are not addictive, it turns out}. When thinking about planning a commando raid on the school people, it turns out that the next day, when we would have "picked Kelly up," there is a *lot* of confusion going on! Half the staff has vanished to a "staff meeting" and never come back! The administrator, a couple of teachers (one who knows Mindswitch, one Antipsi), the doctor and a nurse, and a couple of other exec.-types. Silver advises the poor fellow on the comm to check them carefully if they come back, since they may be under some kind of illegal control -- a black-market personality implant, she says. The fellow informs her of Mindswitching -- she boggles.]

[Kelly has some interesting information about the psi school. Must remember to have Jada tell about it.]

//Kel had a vague premonition that morning, but naught useful. She says she was walking down the hall, one of the nurses passed her, she felt something on her neck and the nurse said, "Are you all right?" and there was this nasty bald fellow down the hall just staring at her -- the antipsi. She says that she spent a while being poked over in the med area when she first got to the school, and that they were very excited about her then.//

**Feb 15, 154**

When thinking about planning a commando raid on the school people, it turns out that the next day, when we would have "picked Kelly up," there is a *lot* of confusion going on! Half the staff has vanished to a "staff meeting" and never come back! The administrator, a couple of teachers (one who knows Mindswitch, one Antipsi), the doctor and a nurse, and a couple of other exec.-types. Silver advises the poor fellow on the comm to check them carefully if they come back, since they may be under some kind of illegal control -- a black-market personality implant, she says. The fellow informs her of Mindswitching -- she boggles.

//Well, maybe if they left quickly enough, we can drop in and find out some more information... We take a shuttle down to the surface, get an aircar, go over... (I, Warren, & Derek have the psi-shields that the three kidnappers were wearing. I am in a toned-down ship-suit look, rather than the mirror or even the green&silver -- I am asked if I'm feeling all right.) Have Kelly lead us to the admin office (where the administrator's assistant {another vanished person} had spoken with her and encouraged her to work on Telerecieve, rather than any of her other skills) -- there are two people there (three terminals), both of whom look to be very busy and seem to be trying to untangle a lot of admin stuff. I try to help one out, but it's beyond me. Warren is more successful. I have him send info about our flown-birds to the third terminal in the room, where I snarf it off onto disk. Kelly noticed a third person through the open door into the back office. She wandered back there, and I follow along. Rather bland-looking fellow scanning hordes and hordes of numbers... Finally he notices us -- I explain that we're here about a billing error, and we were kinda suspicious when a buncha people flew the coop last evening, etc. We hang around (Warren helping the panicked teacher & cafeteria manager when they whimper). The fellow (who eventually says, "I don't believe we've introduced ourselves..." to which I say, "I'm called Silver.") is Thorvold Johnson, aka "Thor." He does not look it.//

Kelly has gotten an impression of lots & lots of columns of numbers in his head.

//He says that the books aren't matching up well -- a lot of NovaTech's donations to the school aren't accounted for. They went in, and out, but what they went for is unknown. John Simmons was some kind of cab driver perhaps? There are some small payments to him. "Thor" is from the NovaTech main office... He wonders if the coop-fliers knew he was coming. He dredges up a deposit, without a linking to a student (!) that matches to us. There is no record of Kelly in the databases. There are six other similiar unlinked deposits....//

//From Warren's efforts, we find the main admin fellow came reccommended by a New Garavaran university, allegedly, as being able to handle psis well. He brought his assistant, and hired all the other coop-fliers during the year he was there. He also hired a Sparrial precog and a Kintaran shaman as teachers, who have not flown the coop.//

//Kelly drags me away for a moment to tell me that the NovaTechie accountant is more interested in us than he's acting... Yeah, I had gotten the feeling that he was looking at us covertly.//

//Warren goes wandering off and discovers that the med area is rather bare -- the fellow took his fancy equipment away with him "to be serviced" and the Sparrial nurse in the room is looking bewilderedly for his records on the students... There's no reason he should have taken those away...//

//I and Kelly hang around the NovaTech accountant -- there's a safe in the wall... I comment, "I wonder what's in there? The duplicate books?" The NovaTechie says, "It's empty." Kelly tries to read it. Blank, as if it had just been installed! *Really* strange.//

//We go to hunt down the teachers -- Kintaran first... She's in a class. Kelly mentions that our NovaTechie has a thing in his head very like the one that was in that poor miner's. But she doesn't think it was possessing him... Not sure. Would have to get closer. Argh.//

//Find and query the Sparrial ("Oh, it's you! Who are you?"). Hired about six months ago. Kelly spills that she was kidnapped by the nurse & antipsi. Sparrial is puzzled. Considers that an antipsi might have been able to fox even a precog teacher's abilities.//

//Find and talk to "Goldy," the Kintaran. (*OLD* Kintaran female, bald ears, graying muzzle -- still a bright shade of yellow, though.) She invites us out to lunch; she's hungry. She goes catching a buncha furry things. Comes back -- asks if I want one. It's still alive and squirming. Take it by the neck. "How do you kill one of these things?" I ask. "Like this!" She wrings the neck of one of the other ones she had in her sack. I hand it over to Dirk to do the honors. The stuff's a bit gamy and tough, at least raw, but let's try to be polite...//

//She asks if we'd gotten the cards for the admin & co -- no, because the safe was blank. Hm. Maybe something the antipsi did... Goldy tries looking for the lot of 'em (what is her *range*??), but can't find 'em. Warren, when asking what she did, apparently got a demonstration of her mental illusion abilities... He hid behind her.//

//Kelly got looked over -- Goldy seemed mildly impressed that Kel had so *many* talents, but the strength of them was termed something like "pathetic." Kelly grumbled that she'd been having a bad couple of days. Goldy: "You have? Oh, yes, you have, haven't you?" Kelly was not amused. I asked if she had a problem having someone do that sort of thing to *her* for a change.//

//From Goldy, we learn that the money was going to "Station Five," and something about... K'Kree? I remember that system from when I was looking over Bernie's star database for the area! It's a K-star system, one vaguely habitable planet (1.3 Gs, thin atmosphere, nasty place), otherwise useless. A great place to dump someone for a prison planet, if you ask me... Well, that's where we look first!//

//We ask if Goldy would like to come along with us and try to catch our coop-fliers. No, she hates to travel... Food's always lousy. She seems... Not too surprised by our story? And how did she get to Sparrion if she hates to travel?? Strange. Will have to ask her later...//

//About time to go check on our NovaTechie accountant -- while Goldy was out hunting in the field, Warren scanned the NovaTechie and we think that whatever *he's* got, it isn't a braintape thingy -- it is at least as complex! But it is not a duplicate. An implanted computer, perhaps? They do that sort of thing...//

//We encounter him while he's on his way out... I ask if he found anything interesting. Perhaps, he says. He thinks he might know where the money's gone. He then asks, "You're ship crew?" Yeah... "Is your ship available for charter?" Probably, I say. Warren jumps all over himself to say, "Probably? Of *course* it's avaliable!" NovaTechie: "How fast does it go?" Me: "When it's unloaded -- like it is right now -- I can push it to warp six easy. Maybe faster, if T'kik's on the ball with the engines." This earns me some griping from Warren & Dirk. Me: "All right, all right, I'm not really that bad. But we can hit warp six. You want to hire the ship?" NovaTechie says he'll think about it -- we'll hear from if so.//

//We leave. Warren gets his credcard stolen on the station. I thwart a lot of attempts, don't seem to lose anything. Four hours later, we hear from "Thor." He wants to hire us. Fine and dandy.//

[later] //A couple of hours pass, our Thorvold "Thor" Johnson arrives. He's now wearing a biosuit, and has a largish pack of stuff. (He says something about living on ships all the time -- try to travel light, but...) Warren scans it, of course. Clothes, laser pistol and stunner (*laser*? An accountant? Hm.), and a bunch of computer-type electronics at the bottom. I look over Warren's shoulder...//

//Find the Captain -- after he's sat down at the pilot's chair, put my hands on his shoulders... "Captain," I murmur. "This fellow has a computer tap in his luggage -- don't go looking at the logs terribly much, eh?" Parvari boggles somewhat. "Oh, and Parvari," I continue. "I got on the ship at Unar, got it?" "That's not what the logs say..." "So don't look at the logs, mmm?" "Right. Unar." "Thank you, Captain."//

//Three days or so to K'Kree. I wish I knew if we were walking into a trap -- accountants don't usually have enough money to charter a random ship! He's pretty plain, but maybe I can rationalize a chance for some pillow-talk... I would *not* want to go along with all this, save that he's from the home-office, which Simmons didn't want finding out about his little scamming, according to Bernie.//

**Feb 16, 154**

//Warren finds out that our "Accountant" is actually a "Financial Investigtor" for Novatech -- rather than going through Accounting channels, he reports directly to the Vice Pres. for Operations (who also includes Accounting). Amusing.//

//He plays poker -- not an utterly good poker-face, but he wins a lot. No wonder -- math is his life...//

**Feb 17, 154**

//Kelly & I have a little talk with him... "So, what's a guy like you doing on a ship like this?" I ask. "Counting the days till retirement," he says. (Kelly says he was covering here.) I do some half-subtle flirting for a while, but everything seems to be going over his head. (I find from Kelly later that he was more interested than he acted. He was also curious about the ship -- half curiosity, and half business-related, maybe?) I ask what an accountant was doing with a laser pistol, anyway. He says that he doesn't really know how to use it, but sometimes his job takes him to places that aren't very nice. To my comment that not knowing how to use a weapon is silly, he points out that sometimes people are more scared of someone who doesn't know how to use one (aims fingers and shakes them all over the place, simulating nervous person with gun). I allow that he has a point. (Kelly says he was severly lying when he said he couldn't use the laser.) Eventually, I ask Kelly if I should go get a two-by-four, she says it's probably not really necessary. I mutter about boredom -- it's been a long while between Kintarans. Somewhere in here, our Novatechie excuses himself and goes back to his room.//

//Go bother him later. Again, my "subtle" hints seem to go over his head, and he finally closes the door on me, saying that he has to get back to work.//

T'kik's bugs get Thor playing solitaire. The ... same ... game of solitaire, over and over again, with the same motions each time, and the same repetive off-key singing.........

**Feb 18, 154**

[[ Corner "Thor" again. "Nice 'work' you have -- the Bug says you're just playing card games." Him: "You've found me out. These trips can be so long and boring..." Me: "Yes, I know. Wouldn't you rather have an interesting time?" Him: "Um, no, being attacked by pirates would probably not be fun." Me: "How about being attacked by something else...?" Him: "I'd rather not be attacked at all, I think..." Me: "Not even to drag you into your room?" Him: "Why would you want to do that?" But he's losing his straight face. Pity -- I would have resorted to physical if he'd been playing dense much longer... Me: "Because I'm rooming with Kelly, and she's not interested in second-hand voyaurism, much less a menage a' troi..." He *finally* says that he doesn't get involved in romantic entanglements with employees. And, since he's paying for the ship to take him somewhere, and I'm flying it, I count as an employee. When we drop him back at Sparrion, then I won't count as one. I promise to remember that.]]

[later] //We get within scanning range -- for us -- of the K'Kree planet. 1.3 Gs, and other marginal stuff. Loverly. Some kind of ship, shut down, and a building with a small fusion plant. Also, a strange, faint oddity... Like the way the sensors were acting when we were carrying that stuff from Calder!//

//When we get just outside normal scan-range, Thor calls us together and says that he found where the money is going -- someplace, here, called "Research Station 5." I ask what #4 is -- he says that neither 4 nor 5 are supposed to exist. NovaTech only has 1, 2, & 3. I'd be looking for a #4 if I were them... Anyway, he's not sure what's going to be going on, and he was hoping we'd provide backup for him. Sure thing. *I'm* all for that!//

//We get within normal scan-range, get scanned. The ship on the surface starts powering up and heading out -- we get to the planet about the time that the ship -- a small Jackel class, like the Sparrow was -- clears the atmosphere. We fire at it, it fires all its missiles at us, a couple hit (I did *real* bad on the point-defense... *sigh*), and we get shaken up pretty badly -- the only things left working are the warp-engines! (We lose pressure in some places, but we've all got suits, pretty much...) The sensors and computer are down, too! Well, that's fine, that's what *I'm* here for, to fly this crate blindfolded. I warp us out of the area, and we start repairing things.//

//By the time everything is back on-line (the sensors are pretty cobbled together, though -- and they can only be serviced by Guess Who), the Jackel is off in the direction of NT Station 3. We follow. It will take us about 16 hours to catch up with 'em. *sigh* And here I took a pill for nothing, I guess. *sigh*//

**Feb 19, 154**

//We catch up with the other ship -- it sends off a message, which may or may not have been aimed at NT Station 3, and may or may not have been recieved. Argh. After a lot of back&forth, we shoot up its engines & thrusters. Dirk (changed from Derek deliberately by Kelly, so that someone would sound appropriate to demand a surrender) and I board -- Dirk lands pretty heavily, and I drop off his tow-line. I fix the aft-lock open (it's the only one Dirk's exoskeleton-vacc-suit can fit in), and Warren says that the sole passenger & crew is heading back that way. I head for the forward one-man lock, and land *real* bad. By the time I get in, there's an explosion, and the life-sign of the crewman is gone. He exploded his head. With much irritation, I gather up the electronic bits and take pics and scans of the remains. If Dirk wants the biosuit, he can loot it himself. Undoubtedly this was another poor innocent who had a device in his head, and we didn't manage to stun him and have Kelly take it out. DAMN!//

//The ship is pretty radioactive by this time, but we salvage 6 freeze-tubes from it.//

//I yell at Thor a bit, and demand to know what these things are. Kelly is, of course, right behind him. Thor doesn't want to say what the electronic stuff is, that it's classified.//

//Kelly says, "Y'know, this looks a lot like the stuff that was in that other guy's head... Except we took the explosive out, of course." Thor loses his cool. "You've seen one of these before?" he asks, sounding a bit shaken. Silver: "Oh, yeah, sure. Except he didn't blow his head off."//

//Thor wants to get a look at the equipment, says it might tell us something, but the miner is off towards New Garavar. On the other hand...// Silver: "Would the braintape that was in his head provide any clues?" Thor: "You've got it?" Silver: "Sure. Kelly took it out."//

//He says Kelly is talented. He says that maybe the base ("station 5") would have equipment to read a braintape. About now, Thor says, "Stop it," frowning. Silver: "Stop what?" Thor, rather annoyed sounding: "Reading my mind. I don't know which of you is doing it, but stop it!" Silver: Smirk & shrug.//

//So we head back to the base. Another 16 hours...//

//Kelly says that the gizmo is made for the government by NovaTech for secret agent types, except the "ridden" person has given permission, and the bomb isn't standard at *all*. Thor is very worried that people have seen them out and about. The only place that makes them is NT Station 2.//

***Feb 20, 154***

On the way back, Silver demands some "combat pay" from Thor, and he actually lets her into his room.

On the planet: buildings, 2 story. Get the computer files -- he tries to keep the header for the braintape disk (which was encrypted); find the 6 freeze tubes -- 5 humans, 1 sparrial; the 2 humans, sparrial, & kintaran, all brainwiped. Silver stalks in to Thor and yells at him about this, tells him she holds him personally responsible, and stalks out, leaving him stuttering behind her. Leave. We go search the Jackal ship, find tapes, including progress reports about the projects. The non-psi human (the biochem lady) had a different treatment. The drugs, she says, were psychoactive stuff, cause dreams, maybe? All had strange dreams -- psychedelic, save the biochem woman who dreamed she *was* psi. Looks like they were trying to make psis.

**Feb 23, 154**

Go back to Sparrion, Warren looks up everybody, finds their names (except the ones in freeze tubes: save those for New Garavar). We patch up the ship a little, and head to New Garavar.

**Feb 26?, 27?, 154** [some date confusion; if you're not in the game, go to Silver's personal logs for the "authentic" dates]

Thor wants to take the 6 'tube-people, Silver gives him a hard time. Says something like, "So one's doing braintape research and one's doing psi research and they're splitting the people or something, maybe?" Thor *winces*, and when queried on that, says, "Nothing! Forget it!" [She just rattled off the *real* projects of those bases, rather than Clone Research and NeuroElectronic Med devices, scanners, etc.]

Silver finally bids Thor goodbye (he wouldn't go get a drink with her), and threatens to write him on the Main NovaTech station.

***Mar ??+6, 154***

//Most stars-awful headache today, round about lunch-time. Yech. Whole bloody *station* had one, but they said nothing was wrong with the air.//

**Apr 1, 154**

//What an auspicious day for a ship with a hive beetle engineer to be setting off. On board is Etalon, the new Irari medic type, who wants to get genetic scans of everyone and study the effects of warp drives on genetics. Forget *that* one. My genes stay unstudied, thank-you-very-much. We also have passengers -- Dr. Sydney Hill and two grad students, Mitsui and Paul Taylor.//

//We are going to be toting a little cargo around, and taking Hill down to look at various planets down FAR TOO NEAR KAA-SPACE FOR MY LIKING. But he is paying A Lot, and Parvari needs the cash to pay us... *sigh* Hill is on this ship because Parvari is cheap, and Parvari has Artemis sensors. At least we will be able to see the Kaa coming *long* before they can notice us.//

//Warren talks Dr. Hill into a "rent-a-missile" trick with a couple of antimatter missiles. Hmmm... Those are not cheap. He's got more money than just a grant... The Kaa have been quiet lately -- too quiet? Probably. I wonder if we're supposed to be sort-of scanning the border with our spiffy sensors, as well as looking for Stalker Precursor bases?//

//When we look up the grad students, Taylor has a sparse record -- former scout, he was; this is his second degree. Kelly also informs me, later, that Taylor is a powerful telepath-type -- she wanted to get an emotion reading from him, and didn't get past his shield very much...//

[[And then he started avoiding her...]]

***April 3, 154***

//Taylor and Hill are both cute (Mitsui wants to kill me -- *she* is ga-ga over Hill, and does *not* appreciate my questioning leer at *her*, either), and they will both flirt with me, and I am having a ball. Three months of theses passengers? We'll let Taylor hang a week, at least.//

//"Mitsy" and I get into some cat-fights, of course, which I think are quite amusing, even if Parvari *does* tell me not to harass the paying customers. I am not doing that, of course, since "Mittens" is only a grad student. Taylor is a spook, and is probably the reason we got the cash for the missiles. I have no proof, of course.//

//Mittens (Dr. Hill calls her "Mitsy" and I cannot imagine how she thinks this is anything but a Bad Sign) also thinks that Taylor is (like me) far too free with who he sleeps around with. (It's probably because he didn't make a pass at her.) Well, Taylor allegedly used to be a scout, and spacers usually make the most of things. Besides, he's niiiiiiice.//

//I told Mittens that if she could get Hill to quit calling her "Mitsy," I'd keep my hands off him. He quit for the rest of the afternoon, but that did not last.//

//Dr. Hill has a silly hat he wears all the time, which is great fun to swipe and wear oneself -- I dropped it on Mitten's head once, just to see what she'd do if I, the hated evil pilot, put her beloved's hat on her. It's too big for her.//

//Mittens and I had a little astrogation contest -- she did some very impressive stuff. I won anyway, but I do not want to repeat that because I am not sure how well I'd do on another go-around. She's good with the computer, and delving up stuff.//

***April 14, 154***

//We let off several orbital drones to scan planets -- some of the stuff, Warren thinks (and which Taylor did *not* talk about), would also scan well for hidden bases and things like hyperdrive stuff and other stratigically useful things.//

//Finally we find a Stalker base -- with a flat airfield that hasn't been disturbed for a long time.//

//However, when the inside of the base is examined, there have been some relatively recent *repairs* made...//

//That is getting ahead of myself. We find the base -- Taylor appears on the bridge to get some better scans after we've released the drone. Dr. Hill and Mittens show up soon after. (Mittens and I have some words, of course, and T'Kik cuts the grav -- I, Taylor, and Dr. Hill do well, of course, while Mittens shows that she is obviously not a spacer; at least she didn't make a mess, and she landed just fine when the grav came back on.)//

//I land pretty close to the base's opening. Dirk gets out with Awol and looks around. A bunch of squirrel things throw stuff at him, and a bear-like thing is watching from a ways away. Dirk shoots his blaster at the squirrel-things and we discover that the clumps of trees are highly flammable. Dirk seems to be unhurt, though he got knocked down.//

//Etalon (Et-a-lyn) declares that there is something plague-like out there, and we will have to undergo decontamination for 20 or so minutes before we get back on the ship. Ah, well. The passengers all get off, and so does Warren. Awol heads into the base after swiping Dr. Hill's silly hat without him noticing (Hill asks for it back). Awol finds a nest of little "cute" scalies, and a mama scaly squeaking at him from a little ways away.//

//But it seems safe enough and everyone goes in. This is where we discover that the base has suffered from some repairs by an unknown agency. Taylor seems interested in this. Hill, Dirk, and Mittens go deeper into the base, and Taylor and Awol head another direction.//

//Hill, Dirk, and Mittens run across a fire-spitting dragon. It does not eat Mittens, which would have killed it instantly, but instead spits fire at Dirk and gets its head vaporized in return.//

//Dirk manages to land his exoskeleton in the floor, and T'kik has to send a drone to help him out.//

//Kelly wanders down a while later, when they've found apparent signs of a human ... cast-away? Who knows. He'd patched up the reactor, apparently, and lived there for a while. And then he left, Kelly says, doing some of her witch-stuff. Says he felt happy about something and then she doesn't sense him any more.//

//Later in the day, a few things of interest occur. 1: Etalon discovers that, silly him, the Cereliun Death Plague isn't here after all. 2: a ship with a few Unars and a battered human arrives. One of the Unars is *also* a xenoarcheolgist. The human (and some of the Unars) go poking around, and Kelly goes and pokes around in the poor fellow's head, and finds that he's *looking for something he left there* [[when he was hiding from a Kaa ship or something]]. So Kelly goes and finds the spot, and determines that one of the scalies maybe dragged the thing away. So we go scanning. And we find something!//

//It's in a scaly-den, of course. Derek and T'kik manage to retrieve the things, which turn out to be ceremic plates. While there's some debating about whether or not we're going to tell anybody about them, Mitsui and Hill start studying them sixteen ways from sunday...//

Summery: Mitsy finds a starmap. We go there. Jackpot -- several Stalker bases, in very good repair. Also Kaa. Kaa are shot down, killed, etc. One human, Jacque (telepath and healer), and one Thral, Warrik (bad- tempered). Jacque gets along quite well with Kelly. Warrik takes apart a Kaa prisoner while Derek is on the surface playing bodyguard. (Silver lets him do so, though insists that he clean up afterwards.) Mitsy and Silver go investigating the various other bases. They find one that's severely working -- when Mitsy tries to turn on the lights, it starts up a solar-tap. And then little satallites around the gas-giant in the system start up solar taps. And they're building up power... There's also a nice holo-pic of a place in the other galactic arm.... About 7000 parsecs away or so. Kelly finds out that there's an AI in this place, and contacts it before the stargate (!!) as a chance to materialize. But not before it knocks the Kaa ship out of hyperspace (!!). Kelly says something that makes the thing declare that it's going to shut down and it wants everyone out of the base. It gives Kelly something, and asks her to give the something to any other operant Stalker bases or live Stalkers she finds. [It D/Ls a copy of itself into a small cube of living metal computer.] Kelly makes the mistake of saying that it gave her something, and gets badgered. The spook tries to pick the lock (Silver'd set up a bug to monitor the outside hall, and got a pic of him doing so), etc. Finally Kelly says she threw it out the airlock, but the records only show T'kik's tampering. So Kelly contacts the thing, and it makes a dupilcate of itself, and Kelly goes and opens the airlock door at 2am, and puts the "duplicate" {actually a game, and *not* of living metal} in, and pretends that she was just an ignorant savage and didn't cycle the lock properly. So Taylor recovers it a bit later. And Kelly says that she threw it out the airlock again (as a "last request"), and Taylor checks the records and *backs her story*, and he and Hill start discussing the search pattern required to retrieve it.

//About June 1st, we're finally back at NG again, and get a week of being debriefed. Whee. [.25 points in Administration skill, everyone...] Then we get a job from the Interstellar Health Organization (IHO), and it's to take a lot of stuff to this new Thral coloney world, Parva, which Guess-Who-and-start-with-the-initials-SH-and-company-beginning-with-A managed to discover a while back. The stuff is medical. Also, an expert genengineer... Dr. Circe Jones, who I remember hearing about because we're *also* taking the ship, _Holmes Sweet Home_ on board with us, and Sweetie says "Hi!" Oh, stars. Before we take off, Derek discovers explosives in one of the cargo boxes. Turns out it's a bunch of missile warheads. (Probably Navy -- since they showed up to take possession of them and didn't want to say anything other than, "this is no longer your concern.") I am most displeased that anyone would try to smuggle anything on *this* ship -- without at least asking me and offering a cut. There's the problem of who those would have gone to -- no off-loading address. Maybe there's something fishy about out IHO contact on Parva. We Shall Have To Be Careful.//

[On to Albatross logs 2]