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19: Time Travel

[Here is where Milliken becomes prime GM]:

Selene is sick & tired of being followed around by newsies, shot at by random crazies & disgruntled Thral & Unar ex-military, & getting strange Email from various nutcases. The War: The Movie obviously didn't work right. Time to try something else.

Well, if this whole War hadn't started in the first place, events would obviously not have consipired to get her (& the rest of the crew) in trouble, right? Durn shame that someone hadn't blown up the Cyberbug planet before any ships disappeared. Hm. The jump-drive has 4-dimensional coordinates. Normally you don't mess w/ those, but suppose one could jump back in time...

Well, Selene bought out Nick's share of the Hell & Bat, we (Moonfur & kids, Larana, Celeste, & Selene {& Watson & Sapient Gordon & Diana}) dropped off Geoffry & Brace the engineer, & went jumping back in time in hops of about 50 years... (Selene thinks that when we get back to the present, everything will be just the same as when we left, except no War. Conservation of entrophy or some such. So Moonfur isn't having a cow about leaving Embereyes.)

First trouble -- the living metal "dies off" rather a lot after the first jump. Oh, well, Selene'll just fix it when we get back to our time. We make about 7-8 50 year jumps, then one 100 year jump to get around the time the bugs were in residence. Each ship (Bat, Hell, & Diana's Bow) has 3 non-AI probes that are set to automatically release & home in on the bug planet upon emergance. (Most of the crew are riding out the trip on Soothe.) Moonfur wants to see the planet blow up (she missed it the first time), so she's awake when the Bat comes through. Well, looks like someone else came out first -- there's naught but rubble where the bug planet used to be... & naught but an expanding fireball where a ship about the size of Diana's Bow ought to be! Moonfur has a bit of a hissyfit. From the one surviving probe, fuzzy pictures of what looks like a failure of an antimatter containment field are drawn. (Selene was carrying about 10 kilos of antimatter around to be able to refuel the Bow...) Larana assures Moonfur that we'll just revive her w/ the braintapes in the Librarian when we get back. & Watson & Gordon & Diana are probably backed up there too. (Watson & Gordon were also the holders of a couple of Selene's 'tapes.)

We go jumping back, in the system of a boring M-class star. We get to the present. Moonfur, once again, stays awake. (HT 13 is useful.)

[Timeline B: Artemis Enterprises has been hired by the Irari [birdlike, very intelligent race] Student of Hyperspacial Anomalies to go & check out some strange readings around a certain boring M-class star. Moonfur, Larana, & Celeste -- the three w/ decent levels of Freefall skill -- are out positioning specialized sensor equipment. Selene detects something -- "Get out of the area! The readings are getting..." >CRACKBOOM KABLAM< (Two starships appear out of "nowhere," apparently "around" Moonfur & Larana & Celeste.) "...stronger." Still getting readings from the three crew, plus two small mutant Kintaran life-signs. A moment later, the smaller of the ships, the one that looks like a Hermes Class ship {like Diana's Bow}, vanishes & is very hard to re-spot. Hailing Moonfur, Larana, Celeste...] [Longstoryshort -- we (mostly Larana -- "It's kind of hard to explain...") explain that we're from an alternate timeline, what happened to Selene(A); Selene(B) puts out that we're from an alternate hyperspatial universe & replaced this universe's analogs of us, & that we're still sort of hired by Artemis Enterprises. A.E. now has three ships... The timeline(A) AIs are rather confused...]

20: "Stalker" Base & Bear-sloths:

[We take Student of Ancient Starfaring Civilizations, an Irari, to an alien base on a freezing planet, figure out how to land, how to get into base, & Don's Kestralian (Damien) uses his screamer to turn a "bear-sloth" into roadkill.]

21: Pirate raid:

[We raid a pirate base, capturing 2, killing 2, rescuing about 30 random ship crews that were stuck on a near-by barely inhabitable planet, waiting to be sold as slaves/dinner to the Kaa [snakemen race, rather nasty]. We came in disguised as one of the pirates. One of the pirates got to a ship at the other end of the base & threatened to blow all the antimatter they'd captured if the disguised Bat didn't back off -- so the Bat faked a hyperjump & blew the other ship to bits after it undocked. (The pilot did survive.) We stripped the base of everything portable, salvaged their stolen antimatter, & carted everything away in the Hell while they were away hiding in another system. Heh. We call the Thralian Patrol to catch the pirates, but they get away. Pirate Leader: somebody named Darson.]

22: Miner base:

[We transport a bunch of miners & equipment to a planet that Selene's probes found & she sold to aforementioned mining company (Calder Mining). We find some Very Hard crystals in the entire system (which is anamolous because of too much heavy metals, & a neutron star that was once a supernova...) which react strangely to energy & jam scanners a bit. We get a fist-size chunk of the stuff, which is very pretty, & Moonfur lets her kids play w/ it [& fails an IQ roll for some reason. Argh!]. We also find an alien artifact (about TL13+) inside a hollow astroid, & date it to back before the star exploded. We don't play w/ it. Larana attracts the admiration of one of the miners, but gets ticked at him when he won't do anything but watch her from a distance.]

23: Psi Rabbits (& rats & foxes oh my!):

[We go to a research base that's plagued w/ "gremlins/ghosts". Turns out the research they're doing is feeding neruo-enhancer thingamies to rats -- can you say psionic Rats of NIHM? Not to mention all the native wildlife. But the researchers are dissecting the rats at times, so the locals aren't happy. Moonfur's son, Corren, starts crying the instant we get there (Moonfur has Larana hold him for a second -- he's tapping into the hostility of the "mind net" on the planet, Larana crit-fails an IQ roll, thinks there's something behind her, & fries the wall...) Moonfur talks Celeste into taking her & Corren to a different spot in Handy, where he stops crying. In the middle of the night, all of Bessie's power is cut off -- the AI is still running, but she can't sense or control anything. Lura, Moonfur's daughter, is having a nightmare; when she wakes up, Bessie gets everything back; Lura puffs up in terror. Moonfur comes back to get her (Corren starts crying again), & they spend the rest of the night in Handy, a ways away from the area. Next morning, all the lab rats are found missing (surepticious examination of the security tapes by Larana reveals that all the cages were locked, then there was a break in the tape, then the cages are all empty & open), & all the animals are heading away from the base at meduium-top speed. Damien goes out to look at them, & a bunch of animals stare at his ATV for a while & blow the engine on it, then go away. Moonfur reveals that her son has been crying a lot, & the researchers put her kids under a "psi detector" -- electrokinetic girl, telepath boy ("Who did the genetic engineering on these kids???") Anyway, it is decided that the animals are pseudo-sentient at least & that they were ticked off by the killing of the lab critters, so stop worrying about "ghosts." Pfeh.The scientists want to keep the scans of the kids, & get samples as well, but Moonfur says no -- says they'll have to buy those scans, & they'll have to deal w/ Selene to do it.]

24: Clonenappers

(or, "Life in the Underworld..." or "Why doesn't anybody have Streetwise????"):

We've gotten back from the psi-critters job & have been in station for a while. Along w/ (count them) three Kintaran clanships. One of the clanships is the First-Star (Choosaraf), Embereyes' & Moonfur(B)'s old clanship! Embereyes & Moonfur go over several times, w/ Moonfur's kids, to visit.

Moonfur, one fine day, wakes up one level below where the First-Star is docked -- smelling like she's been on a binge, & it's the next day from when she remembers heading out for the clanship... The kids are hungry & unhappy, & they smell like chemicals! Moonfur heads for first the Station sickbay, then for the Bat's autodoc. Moonfur's been dosed w/ Morphazine, the kids have some scratches that could indicate tissue samples (enough to make a clone from!) have been taken. Right. NOBODY clones a Kintaran's kids!! Frank(B) hacks into the Station Security (Moonfur: "Since when have we been concerned w/ legalities??") cameras & we trace what happened, mostly. Long-story-short: Two humans walked out of a bar on level 12 about the time that Moonfur & Embereyes left the ship on level 7. The humans went down to level 17 & went into the elevator controls there. Two Thrals came out, & waited in front of the elevator w/ a needler. Moonfur & Embereyes were trying to stop the elevator, but didn't have enough time. The doors opened & they keeled over. (Moonfur has some marks on her neck that look like needler marks.) The Thrals waved some kind of device (later IDed by Selene as some sort of neural-induction whatsit) at everyone (the kids quieted down when exposed to it), loaded the Kintarans up on a cargo hauler, & drove them into a warehouse area where the security cam was out. A little later, Embereyes (rather groggy) was brought back to the elevator, dosed w/ the device again, & told, "Moonfur had to go back to the ship, right?" "Uh-huh..." "You were going to the clanship, right?" "Yeah..." "You'd better be going there, then." "Right..." Embereyes leaves in the elevator (Embereyes vaguely recalled that Selene had called Moonfur back to the Bat for some reason -- but couldn't tell what level they were on at the time, whether the call had come over implant comm or Moonfur's vid-com, etc. Bessie said catagorically that Selene had sent no messages.). About 18 hours later, Moonfur & kids are hauled up in a freight elevator & dumped where Moonfur woke up. The Thrals go into a Bar on level 14 (Flare's Lucky Star) & don't come out.

Moonfur, Larana, & Damien go hunting. Larana tries picking a lock into one of the six warehouses in the area (3 empty, one Thral vintner, one Kestralian, & an Artemis-rented one. Larana pulled rank on a Station Cargo-type person for that information.), but sets off an alarm [[crit fail!]]. Frank diverts it to the other end of the station. We decide to try to trace the Thrals out of the bar on level 14 (since Larana needs more practice picking locks). We wander into Flare's Lucky Star, a combination bar, casino, pawnshop & hair salon. Flare, the owner [[Certain Player has a mild hysterical reaction, suddenly realizing: FLARE!!! {Read S.H.'s log for the reason why}]] turns out to be a bright orange-red Kintaran (Moonfur: "Born or choice?" Flare: "Natural, of course!") male w/ flame-like earrings, rather attractive as well as unique, & Moonfur is briefly distracted. We explain our problem -- the Thrals who were humans -- & Flare says, "Sounds like you're dealing w/ professionals." Eventually, it is decided that Moonfur will hang around till the bar closes while Larana & Damien keep looking. In return, Flare will ask around & see if he can find out anything useful. [[It is suspected that a fellow like Flare knew who Moonfur M'Bat M'Hell M'Artemis was on sight...]] Eventually Moonfur mentions that she thinks the abduction was to get clone samples from her children -- a clear case of K'ee'tha Hisst. [Stealing of another person's ideas, & a Very Bad Thing among unique Kintarans.]

Larana goes back & investigates the elevator control room that the Thrals came out of -- it's clean, too clean. Finally she & Damien give up for the night.

Moonfur & Flare have a reasonably good time... Next morning, he gets a call from some of his contacts -- word is a couple of Thral brothers took a job recently, & are headed back to Thral on a passenger liner that took off yesterday. (If we leave RIGHT NOW we can make it in about an hour before the liner docks!) Flare gives Moonfur the name of a Thral contact who could be helpful. (Said contact runs a ... pawnshop.) Moonfur gives enthusiastic & hasty thanks, "See you when I get back!" Flare: "I hope so!" We get to Thral & w/ much ad-libbing [[No-one has Streetwise!!!]] manage to A) get Larana a Kaa-built electron pistol (for about 7000 credits) & the names, faces, & contact medallion to get in touch w/ the Thral brothers. Moonfur pays. Larana contacts the Thral brothers & maneuvers them into the back room of a bar. Moonfur & Damien are slipped in while the Thrals are confused. Upon seeing three biosuited critters (Kestralian, "human" & Kintaran in opaqued suit), the Thrals draw laser pistols.

Moonfur & Larana activate their force screens. Damien hides behind the people w/ force screens. No weapons are drawn on our side. Larana displays her Kylaran bracelet. Moonfur de-opaques her biosuit. We want to ask a few questions. Larana walks towards one of the brothers & reaches for his laser. He fires. The hotshotted laser beam has little to no effect on the force screen -- it nearly does enough damage to overload it, so it's nice & flashy, but nothing gets through. Larana: "Sit down." He sits. Brother number two is still holding his laser. Larana: "Drop it." He drops it. We find that they dumped the stuff -- the equipment they'd been given & the tissue samples -- in the same locker at New Garavar Station that they'd gotten the equipment from. AARRGGHH! What number was the locker? A dose of Memory-Beta & about a half-hour of questioning later (nobody has Interrogation skill, & Larana's not making the rolls...), Moonfur has a go, & gets the number first try. ("You people just don't read the right books.") Thral #2 is snickering a bit. Moonfur prevents Larana from mauling him (she's given up on tearing the culprits' ears off & attaching them in the lungs -- she wants the real culprits, not just the hired help {of course, she's not thrilled that they didn't figure out the kids were hungry, & wants to dump the Thrals on Kintara w/ no comm gear...}), though. We send the call back to Selene -- the locker is, of course, empty. The Thrals don't know who hired them. Our only source for that might be the Thral contact, Vorkon, who offered to tell what the word on the street was -- for 5000 credits. & that's not guarenteeing the validity of the information! &, well, Vorkon implied that no-one would bother too much if these Thral brothers "disappeared" -- but we don't really want to kill them, so what do we do w/ them now? They'll know that somebody squealed.

(We think we have some clues about who might be behind the abduction, sampling, & scanning. The psi-critter researchers -- Delta Bioproducts -- did scans of Moonfur's kids, wanted genetic samples, & wanted to keep the scans. (Moonfur said no, said they'd have to buy scans & samples through Selene. Delta Bioproducts knew that the kids were psi & strange! They were in comm contact w/ the home office on the station, they could have arranged this all. The Thral brothers were watching Moonfur ever since we got in, waiting to estabish a pattern of her movements w/ the kids before they made the snatch.)

[On to next set of logs]