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25: Clonenappers 2:

[[Hey! We can break into the Station Security again & find out who went to pick up the stuff from the locker! Then we can trace that person(s) back -- sie probably thought that the locker was an appropriate cutout, & won't do all the obnoxious stuff the Thral brothers did!!! Well, maybe -- it's too likely that the records were wiped... They are probably only 24 hour records. Frotz.]]

Having drained everything we can from the Thral brothers, we wonder what to do w/ them. Eventually Moonfur goes back to Vorkon & asks for some sort of hallucinagin, since she can't kill the brothers in cold blood -- another 600 credits & ugly sculpture, & she gets something -- "they won't know which way is up for two days, & won't be able to spell 'up' for a week" -- & goes back. Moonfur has first aid, so she gets to administer the hypo. "What is this?" the victim asks suspiciously. "Sleepytime," Moonfur tells him. "Uhhhhhh..." The Thral looks like he's going to make trouble. "Look," Moonfur tells him, "if I wanted you dead, I'd do it a lot bloodier & lap the blood from your intestines." Thral gulps. Moonfur continues, "I don't want you dead." The Thral lets Moonfur administer the hypo. Moonfur watches -- breathing & heartbeat go erratic, but don't seem to stop. She seats the Thral & watches a bit longer -- slow motion "convulsions" & occasional grunts. The other Thral says, "Looks like good stuff." Moonfur replies, "& it's free, too," as she administers the second dose. We depart, heading back to New Garavar w/ naught but dead ends. *sigh*

Partway back, we talk to Selene. She suggests that she can take a few hours (that being more interesting than talking to bankers) & decipher Bessie's constant scans of the station to find where a life-sign went after picking up the stuff out of the station locker. She also suggests that while InStellComm isn't likely to want to help her (she's been setting up her own comm relays -- competition), Bessie will have scanned & stored all the communications from the Delta Bioproducts base! We can find out who they might have talked to! We do this -- there are 8 reports back to the home office that Bessie can decrypt in a year or three, & the other 7 are to individuals (in a code that is decryptable in about a day or so) -- mostly genetics-oriented people! Among the lot is a Dr. Jones & a Dr. Drake.

Selene calls back -- she thinks that the person who picked up the samples went to a ship called the Aliestair Mundy, heading for Sparrion. Easy -- there's only 130 passengers... *sigh* Let's head after that one -- there are two Delta Bioproducts employees on it, & -- Dr. Jones!

It should now be noted that Dr. Jones is a Genetic Engineer, Nobel-Prize winner, inventor of Panimmunity 2, that sort of thing.

Selene: "Dr. Jones wouldn't be involved."
Larana: "How do you know that he wouldn't be involved?"
Selene: "She's . . . sort of a relative."
Larana: "Sort of a relative? What kind of relative??"
Selene, gritting teeth, sighing in frustration: "She's my *mother*, okay? I don't want to hear any more about this."
We extract a promise from Selene to talk to her mother & ask if Dr. Circe Jones has seen anything...

Next day, Bessie reveals that Dr. Harvard Nelson (the Delta Bioproducts main scientist) did keep a scan of Moonfur's kids! (He offered 10,000 for the scans -- Moonfur: "I've had more than that for my head!" & a mere 100,000 for samples of the kids. No dice.) Anyway, that's what he'd sent along to everyone -- the kids' names were on there. It is revealed that Selene hasn't talked to her mom yet. "She says she forgot," quoth Bessie. Moonfur asks if it's okay if she calls Dr. Jones. It is. Moonfur contacts the ship, "Moonfur M'Bat M'Hell M'Artemis, to Dr. Circe Jones."

Dr. Jones turns out to be a very attractive redhead who looks like she's in her late 30s or so. (Selene is just around 30, & Minerva is 8 years older -- antiagathics, anyone?) She's wearing a green biosuit.

Jones: "Yes?"
Moonfur: "Hello, I'm Moonfur M'Bat M'Hell M'Artemis."
Jones: "You work for Selene, don't you?"
Moonfur: "Yes."
Jones: "How is she, anyway? I haven't heard from her in a while..."
Moonfur: "She's doing all right -- she's fairly busy, though, meeting w/ bankers & stuff."

Moonfur mentions that she's been abducted recently, & samples were taken from her children, & the samples have been traced to that ship. Circe points out that playing detective is more Selene's line than hers -- there are 130 people on the ship, 60 humans, mostly male, "& I think I've met every one of them..." Moonfur begs for any hope of help, since she doesn't want her kids growing up lab-animals... Moonfur says that we suspect the Delta Bioproducts people, since they were so interested in the scans of Moonfur's kids.

"Oh, those were your kids?" asks Circe. About here Moonfur maneuvers so that Circe says that she got the scans of the kids from Delta Bio. Now maybe the lawyers can be rousted from their kennels... In here, Moonfur mentions that scans had been sent to several other genetics specialists. Dr. Drake's name gets mentioned. Circe says, "Drake..." w/ a "grrrrrr" expression. She wouldn't be surprised if he were mixed up in things. He stole a chip of hers, w/ some information on learning-enhancing neurotransmitters, which later NovaTech put a patent on. Not that important, but very annoying. Moonfur says, "K'eetha Hisst!" Which Circe agrees w/. Moonfur promises scans & samples from her kids to Circe's content, if she'll only do what she can.

[[Paranoia time here -- the neurotransmitter thingy can speed up learning & training of blank-mind clones. Could it also, perhaps, be used to play a braintape into a clone of someone else? Such a thing is supposed to be technically impossible, which means it would be a great trick if someone could do it -- could this explain the people who suddenly changed their behavior that SH noted?]]

We have Bessie do a search on who's funding Dr. Drake's work currently (he is working for a free-lance research company, but someone's got to be paying them to pay him). NovaTech. There are 3 NovaTech people on the ship as well, & they will be catching a shuttle to Irar (along w/ Dr. Jones, who is heading to a conference there) -- there's a NovaTech research base there. The Delta Bioproducts people are going down to the surface of Sparrion. We decide that NovaTech is more important -- the Delta Bio people were just salespeople anyway, & they won't be going anywhere, probably. We ask Dr. Jones to scan their luggage for the samples. Selene has NovaTech flagged [from about 48 hours ago, around the time that she talked to Silver] -- they're competitors in some stuff, & showed an interest in those crystals from the Caulder Mining Colony. Showed an interest as in arranging to steal! Anyway, she wants any information on NovaTech she can get, very-high priority.

We're nearly at Irar when Bessie reports an "anomylous" hyperspatial emergance about 7 parsecs away. It's the Hell!

Moonfur: "10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1, Lucifer reboots... Lucifer, what's going on!?" (Poor Lucifer... He'd only just woke up...)
Lucifer: "When you finish there, come pass by here -- there's something you're supposed to look at. Selene's orders."

A short time later, the Hell vanishs back into hyperspace.

On the way into Irar space... We get a call from an indignant Irari who says that our drive emissions are bolluxing up his/her/its experiment, & we have to shut them down now! We'll never get to Irar if that's the case, & we can't mask 'em... Moonfur tells the Irari, "We can't shut down our engines -- the engineer has been doing some experiments & the power will back up through the weapons systems & fire. On your antenna."

Irari: {pause} "Weapons engineer?"
Moonfur: "& my little sister helps -- she's a Kintaran."
Irari: {click}!

When we get to Irar, we're met at the lock by Dr. Jones -- Moonfur comes out w/ Lura & Corren, Larana & Damien flanking. [It should be noted that Bessie is disguised as another Hermes-class ship, since we were debating coming in stealthed...]

Moonfur says, "Larana, Damien, head for the NovaTech people & get their luggage..."
Circe: "That won't be necessary -- they're in quarentine."
Moonfur: "Huh?"
Circe: "Yes, they had an outbreak of warts. Not contagious -- most have been something they ate."

Moonfur, breaking into giggles & grins (since that seems a very Selene thing to have done, plus the obvious absent-mindedness): "It's genetic, it's genetic, it's genetic!" (referring to Selene & Circe)
Circe: "Of course it is." (Referring to the wart-stricken NovaTechies.)
Moonfur: "No, no, that's not what I meant, never mind."

Larana & Damien go to loot the NovaTechies' luggage. According to Circe, they won't be getting out of the researchers' clutches for years, while they're studied six ways from sunday. Moonfur stays to show off her kids to Circe. ("Hi, Lura! Can I see your teeth?")

Moonfur invites Circe into the ship, so that the scans Bessie did of Chester can be viewed.

Circe: "Is your ship like Selene's? W/ all the holographic stuff?"
Moonfur: "No, we haven't put that in yet."
Circe: "Good. Don't."

According to Dr. Jones, the kids' very molecular structure is unstable, "DNA just doesn't fold that way!" She sends some scans off to Selene (physics isn't her speciality, it's Selene's). Moonfur promises to come to Dr. Jones' lab at New Garavar sometime & let Circe do some more tests. (Moonfur is much more impressed by Dr. Jones than she was w/ either Geoffry or Nelson.)

Larana & Damien, meanwhile, are discovering the lax security of the Irari (it's boring!) -- the Security station is unguarded, uncameraed, & the NovaTech luggage is just sitting there under a quarentine field. Well, we know the warts aren't contagious, so Damien gets the samples, a couple of disks that were w/ 'em, the neurological whatsit that the Thrals used on Embereyes ("Get the toy for Selene.") & what would seem to be a portable, small brain-tape machine!!

Dr. Jones goes on to her convention, we head back to New Garavar. Moonfur wraps the mechanical toys up in halloween paper & gives it to Selene for Xmas. Selene scans it, then opens it & is lost to the world for rather a while. The disks turn out to have some strange "sort of" braintapes on them! Selene is dissecting the machinery.

[Circe scanned Larana & Moonfur & told Larana that she had some similar-to-the-twins'-chemistry "unnatural compounds" on her transponder-braceleted wrist, & at her hip. Not on her back! (Unique metallic compounds in Kylaran tatoos & bracelets. [[Selene(A) had decided that she wanted to be able to control Larana's transponder at need, & had infected it w/ living metal. Don't tell Larana!]]) Chester displayed similar "molecules don't do that" characteristics.]

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