IF YOU'RE PLAYING IN THIS GAME, DON'T READ THIS!

(This goes for Judd, John Moore, Vince, Mike, and anybody else who has played or might play... Go read the Albatross logs!)

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[Back to November]

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 the area. (Jim mentioned earlier, when I was wanting to tear his ears off, that he had some kind of Maintainence PW for my computer that Selene Holmes had given him -- I get Kelly to take a pass through, discover it's some file on his computer, and he doesn't know what it will do. Damn.) He's supposed to be some sort of accountant, or gov. official type, here, it seems.

Mail is in the buffer for me -- I already turned off my computer when I radscanned it and found it was talking to something of his (something that the Artemis Holmes gave him, it turns out) and shoved it in the shielded Hedoni compartment. I convince him to take the batteries out of that thing so it can't suck anything more from my computer (what would I do if I thought that the security had been compromised? Pull every file created or modified after the failed attempts... Like my personal log, and some of the incoming mail!), and bring the computer out. The mail goes out of the buffer. It doesn't appear again! Ulcer time. It's "eating" my mail, till it gets the word that it's not "stolen"???? Right. No telling what this Occident person (looked him up by trying to call Sherinford {"If it's urgent, contact James Occident"} -- that's his real name, James "Jim" Occident -- the one on his Intelligence Agency card...) will tell the Pres. Cry, stare at walls... I can't get NovaTech if I'm just Silver, and I can't even live as Silver unless I can get my mail! If Artemis' SH is blocking my mail...I might as well go over his head -- I'm dead anyway when he reports, and I don't think that hiding will win me any brownie points. If I'm going to be in trouble, I might as well get it over with quickly. Pick one of the Byte Email accounts -- the one I know as Quicksilver's, since that probably won't have any names attached to it.

To Selene Holmes, President of Artemis Enterprises.
"The computer Scherazade is paying for is not stolen; I just got the passwords wrong once too many times, and forgot to send a note about it. Sorry. --S.H."

Five minutes later. Reply.

"Come to Docking Ring 7, Berth 1, when you get to New Garavar Station. --S.H."

Send back: "Will be there in two weeks, barring pirates."
Reply: "Acknowledged."

[[The GM is somewhat sad that I did this -- *he* wanted to *kidnap* Silver for that interview!!]]

Trip back is not much fun... Nothing to distract me from impending doom, my personas in shreds around me, house of cards in ruins...

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...) I ask Jim how his numbers are doing -- "Fine." "They're all adding up?" "Pretty much, I'm still working on them." "Can I help?" "No." Wander off, saying, "Gee, and he didn't even say I could help better in his room."

[[Jim is planting tracers on the appropriate crates, so the crystals can be tracked to their eventual destination.]]

Such an irritating man. Wish I could just decide to ignore and avoid him, but he *knows* things about my past! Damn near every time I talk to him, I learn something... And he gets even more hints that something's wrong with me... Stars, what *am* I going to do, even if I survive New Garavar Station?

Staying off the pills for up to four days at a time, but had to stay in the autodoc one day after a bout of that. Very sick Silver.

**Dec 13, 154**


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. At least he's not going to try and make good on his threat to "take me into custody". 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.

I get a message from the Thral veep to Quicksilver-on-the-Albatross that the job is no longer open, and "Word to the wise, don't watch the cargo being unloaded too carefully." Right. Fine. Not my worry either way.

Get some messages -- one wants Scherazade to do a doc on a colony world -- would take too long, even if I had the camera and stuff, which I don't. Another inquiry for Hedoni. Consider ways to keep Harami active. Pretend that I'm going to be alive after New Garavar Station. About the only thing that gives me hope is *her* "--S.H." signature. If she's not irritated enough to be standing on dignity.... Stars, Occident painted her as a bit of a terror... She may have already gotten much/most/all of my personal log... *Will* she have a fit that I gave her a false ID? *Is* Scherazade a false ID? For all I know, *she's* the real one.

**Dec 15, 154, 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 Hedoni 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.

[[Jim did -- Kelly dumped his drink down his front, telekinetically, then went back to the ship, grinning.]]

At least I've got the bug I put in his room back from him.

Take my trunk over to the Pilot's Guild and leave it there for a while -- don't want the Bug messing with it, and I don't know what's going to happen after today... Pick up the latest gossip -- I haven't been here in a while, I'm told, and "Big Ben" is still looking for me. "Oh great, *still*? Why?!" Good thing I'm not looking for a job -- business is slow; especially with the scout-pilots. Seems Artemis has been putting out fast AI probe-ships (who are real hard to hit when people take pot-shots at them) who have *real* good sensors -- better, or longer range, or something. And they're cheaper than humans... Oh, well, maybe they could talk to her, or bribe her, and get Artemis to take one half of the galaxy and leave the other half to the humans. Either that, or start lobbying for higher pay for AIs so that they become less economical.

Put trunk in the locker room at the Guild. Get the computer out, empty the biosuit pockets completely, except for a couple of pills. *Especially* empty out the needler! Throwing oneself upon someone's mercy with a holdout weapon in one's pocket is just a tad dubious -- I remember the scans that "system defense" thing was doing on us! IDs are all still in belt. Keep the sonic probe, keep the stunner that the Captain let me have when he turned us all loose. Lock up the chest (including the alarm-lock that I canabilized the security circuits in the NovaTech flight recorder to make). Go down to docking ring 7, keeping an eye out for anyone who looks like a "Big Ben" and watching out for Sparrials. Wearing the Quicksilver outfit -- might as well look nice before the execution...

Before I get there, check and see who's supposed to be in berth 1 -- find out it "belongs" to Artemis. There's a ship docked there, but no names. Go up, stand there for a while gathering courage, press the door-button. Pleasent female voice, asking who's there. Speechless. Open my mouth, but there's no right answer here! No good answer. "Uh..." Voice: "Ah, Pilot Hawke. You're expected. Enter."

Door opens (no air-lock, just a fairly expensive forcelock), I walk in -- into a solid whiteness! Hard to see the floor, the ceiling, the walls apart! Could be a narrow corridor, could be wide as the KLF. Shining white, like the inside of a sunlit cloud! Touch a wall -- it's solid, and I don't seem to be leaving gobs of fingerprints on it.

From around the corner -- which I couldn't even see until now! -- walks a dark-haired woman in a blue biosuit with a silver Artemis logo on it. She's quite good-looking -- she'd attract as much attention in a bar as me.

"Ms. Holmes is expecting you. Please follow me," she says. I follow, taking care at the corner -- I could walk into a wall in this place, easy! "Kind of difficult to navigate in here," I say. "I don't have any problem," she replies. "That's good," I squeak. We get to a door. "You may go in now," the woman says -- and vanishes in a cloud of sparks! Holographic projection, and I didn't even notice! "Impressive!" I say, looking quite impressed, I'm sure.

Take a breath, calm the mind...

Door opens into -- space! With a desk in the middle, just floating, and a person wearing white behind it -- must be more holographic, the stars at least. Step in, walking on empty space as far as I can see. Scene to touch a pilot's heart and soul, that's for sure. Graphs, computer notes, projected flight paths -- those all seem to be overlaid on the star-map walls as well. The woman must be the Pres. Selene Holmes -- she's wearing some kind of silvered sunglasses, unlike in the Artemis promo I got, but the skin and hair and outfit are the same. And there can't be *that* many "unique" humans wandering around.

There seem to be "blacked-out" areas in the room that are vaguely furniture shaped, but I'm not going to risk tripping over something and bothering Her and looking clumsy. Stars, how can one not admire somebody with this sense of style in decor?

Ms. Holmes finishes, looks in my direction. "Come sit down, Ms. Hawke," She says. Make my way to the chair-shaped spot, sit down. About now the star-map decor vanishes and the place turns into a posh office area. Look about with a touch of regret.

[[[Random snippits as I recall them, in no particular order -- ASH means Artemis SH: Selene.]]]

ASH: "Ms. Holmes, Hawke -- what *do* I call you?"
SH, looking at biosuit: "Silver, I guess." {shrug}
=-
ASH: "Ah, that's right. You don't know who you are, do you?"
SH: "Not really."
=-
ASH: "I never realized that Scherazade and Sherinford were the same."
SH, blinking: "Mm?"
ASH: "Of course, I never met Sherinford -- Jim mentioned her to me because of the similarity in names."
=-
ASH: "The Sherinford ID is fake -- it's my great great great grandfather's name."
SH, shrugging: "I'm not responsible for the names that my parents might have given me."
ASH, consulting implant: "No-one by that name in the family tree..."
Consults again. "Genetic reading indicates that the closest relation would be at least three generations back."
=-
ASH: "Can I see your ID cards?"
SH: {nods and digs cards out from behind her back}
ASH: "Quite a house of cards you've got here."
SH: "Yes, I know."
=-
[[ Selene consults her implant comm, and says in a pleased/amused tone, "Oh, that's clever!" After a moment, SH can't stand the suspense and asks, "What?" It seems, Selene explains, that somehow SH managed to get her "gene hash" (a "shorthand" compression of a full genetic scan) to be the "default" for *all* gene hashes! Either she was born lucky, genetically engineered to fit, or managed to bribe someone -- she's not good enough with computers to have done it herself. What this means is that she can impersonate *any* human so long as a person of that name exists, and no tests besides comparing gene hashes is done.]]
=-
ASH: "Some of them are real people -- you can't be Sarah Hart..."
SH, wryly: "Or Sydney Hill."
ASH: "Mm. No, you're missing a Y chromosone and have an extra X."
=-
ASH: "It would seem that you've been playing a sort of shellgame, and you haven't been caught because no-one's been able to figure out which shell the pea is under."
=-
SH: "So, will you stop the computer from eating my mail?"
ASH: "Eating your mail? It's not supposed to be doing that..."
SH: "There was mail in the buffer, but it never showed on the computer."
ASH: "Oh -- that wasn't mail to you."
SH: "You sent mail to my computer?"
ASH: "I ran a diagnostic on it -- I thought the persona lock might have been malfunctioning."
SH: "It wasn't."
ASH: "Yes, that was what was so puzzling."
=-
ASH: "Hold still for a scan."
SH: {holding breath}
ASH: "You've been mindwiped recently, haven't you."
SH: "Yes -- I didn't think it was drug-induced..."
ASH: "No, there's all the neuralogical signs -- it was complete?"
SH, bleakly: "Yes."
=-
ASH: "Brainwiping, except for when the government does it after a fair trial and sentencing, or by special agreement, *is* illegal."
SH: "I'm hardly in a position to press charges."
=-
SH: "I'm hardly a real person."
ASH: "You're real. You're human to the 99.999th percent. You have some strange joint-structures, though, and odd neural connections..."
SH: "Mm. I *am* a good pilot -- I can find my way places, know where I am, even in space."
ASH: "That could account for it. Those could be engineered, but mutations can crop up in the general population normally." [[___at the time this game was done, I (Walter [the GM]) didn't know Selene's father had 3D Spatial Sense, though I *did* know Selene's sister had it, probably accounting for the "mutations" comment.]]
SH: {carefully not saying anything to the albino in front of her}
=-
SH: "You're reading my personal log?"
ASH: "I've *read* your personal log -- I don't have to do it again!"
SH, considering her ability to find her way out of twisty mazes: "Hm. Okay."
=-
[ASH finally mentions that Byte occasionally wipes its employees partially. Also mentions that, while it *is* possible to merge braintapes, the 'tapes in question must be very similar -- SH's current state of mind couldn't be meshed with all her old memories.]
=-
SH: "I should stop wasting your time..."
ASH: "It's more interesting than what I'm supposed to be doing... Dealing with banks and clients -- this is no life for an engineer."
=-
ASH: "What *does* Kelly do?"
SH: "Well, she took out the KLF once..."
ASH: "Do you know how?"
SH: "No... I was hiding behind a corner at the time..."
ASH: "Understandable; he *is* intimidating."
=-
ASH: "NovaTech's been very interested in the crystals -- they've made several attempts to acquire them through roundabout sources. As I believe you're aware -- Quicksilver."
SH: "NovaTech... I'm very glad I didn't take the job."
ASH: "It would have been unwise."
SH: "I didn't know that then -- just thinking about all those zeros..."
ASH: "The Organization can pay well, when they're being paid well."
=-
SH: "I take it NovaTech didn't get its samples?"
ASH: "They got them."
SH: "Are they going to be happy with them?"
ASH, smiling: "For a while."
=-
ASH: "Oh, yes, the voice in your head -- how *did* you do that?"
SH, thinking hard: "Mm, it's a trade secret?"
ASH: "The only way I know of, you'd have to have access to the equipment..."
SH: "Why do you want to know?"
ASH: "I'm interested in brainwipe/braintape technology."
SH: "Mm. I'd rather not say -- if I got caught again, I'd like to still have my 'out'."
=-
SH: "So... You're not going to take my cards away?"
ASH: "Why would I want to do that?"
SH: "You're not going to turn me over to the authorities?"
ASH: "No -- they leave me alone, and I leave them alone."
SH, relieved: "A most -- *admirable* arrangement."
ASH: "Apparently quite fortunate for them..."
SH: "Oh?"
ASH: "Never mind -- it's a long story."
=-
ASH: "This one, Si-mone Hospi-tal-yer?"
SH: "Hospitalier."
ASH: "There are records six months prior to the earliest of any of the others -- she was moving in high social circles, referred to as 'enigmatic and mysterious.' She doesn't seem to have had any job then, not a stockholder, no source of income..."
SH: "Wealthy daughter?"
ASH: "No... There hasn't been anyone with that name born for 200 years."
SH, looking at card: "Mm. I rather doubt she's a time-traveler."
ASH {pause}: "No, not cryogenically."
=-
ASH: "A dangerous game you've been playing, with Silver, Scherazade, Sherinford, and Shannon --"
SH: "Shannon?"
ASH: "Oh, that's right, you don't know about her. It would seem she has links with the Organization -- she might be a freelancer... She's an assassin."
SH, resigned/shocked: "Oh. I was wondering when that was going to show up on the resume."
=-
SH: "Her [[Sherinford's]] office is being watched by the Organization."
ASH: "That would be expensive in man-power... Let's see. What are the coordinates? Ah."
SH: {mutter} "Are we moving?"
ASH: "I'm just doing a scan."
{Wall blanks out, scans of every concievable thing to scan in appear. Building is built up layer by layer. Scanning of this amount of detail shouldn't be possible from orbit.}
ASH: "Yes -- there's a camera on the roof of the building across the street, there's a gene-scanner in the door, and a bug in the office itself."
=-
SH, referring to the Calder cargo: "You can compensate for the effect on the sensors? You could have told the poor cargo-ships about that..."
ASH: "They would have had to buy my sensors, which are rather expensive."
SH: "Ah -- I can see how that would be a problem."
=-
[[Again, referring to Artemis Enterprises sensors]]
ASH: "They're the best available in the sector."
SH, admiringly: "I sure haven't seen anything better."
ASH, muttering: "I have."
SH: "Huh? But..."
ASH: "Never mind, it's a long story."
=-
SH: "You have the sensors -- do you also have the, ah, reverse of those?"
ASH: "*That* technology isn't for sale."
=-
ASH: "Silver's been banned from Thral -- something about Aerial Evasion Maneuvers."
SH: "What did I do??"
ASH: "Allegedly sent a Thral Patrol ship crashing into a sky-scraper."
SH: "Oh, I hope so -- I'd hate to be blamed for something I didn't do. I'd have to correct the impression, otherwise..."
=-
ASH: "I'd advise you to stay out of sight."
=-
SH: "How many levels does this computer *have*, anyway?!"
ASH: "Three -- the top level, the trap layer, and the secure layer."
SH: "Trap layer?"
ASH: "Yes, it's relatively easy to break into, but it doesn't have any really important information on it." Somewhat chiding tone of voice -- the personal log was on that level.
SH: "*sigh* It was the most secure level I could get to."
ASH: "Yes -- how *did* you find out about the third layer? It's not supposed to be easy to find!"
SH: "It's not? I just asked how to change the icon, and it told me I needed to be in Chameleon Mode."
ASH, consulting implant: "It shouldn't have done that... Oh. Damn bugs. There. It's fixed now. It won't do that anymore."
=-
ASH: "I've been selling sensors nearly as good as mine to the Patrol."
SH: "I see Silver's going to have to go legitimate."
ASH: "They don't fly any better -- they just see more."
SH: "I'd rather be able to slip in and out without being seen."
=-
ASH: "Oh, be careful walking through gene-scanners, if they use the New Garavaran hash rather than a full genetic scan -- it could be somewhat difficult to explain why you read as a forty-three year old, fat, balding man..."
SH, grinning: "One heck of a bodysculpt job? Right. So *that's* what that's for..."
ASH: "The distort belt? Crude."
SH: "Oh? How so?"
ASH: "Those block everything -- hard to explain why someone just saw you walk by when the scanners didn't pick up anything."
SH: "I guess one just has to distract the person from looking at the scanner...."
ASH: "I hadn't thought of that. Easier to just have the belt broadcast something else."
SH: "You can *do* that?"
ASH: "Of course."
SH, thinking of how much she'd like that sort of a gizmo: "You're a dangerous person."
ASH: "Me?"
SH: "Dangerous to my bank account."
ASH: "Yes, lots of people tell me that."
=-
SH: "Those computer disks that NovaTech . . . misplaced..."
ASH: "That's an interesting term for it!"
SH: "Well, they *were* in the wrong place at the wrong time."
ASH: "While I could not deal with stolen property, if you had some disks and you neglected to mention where they came from, I might be able to scan them for files the size of a braintape."
SH: "Of course -- I'll just bring some random disks by, you know how disks are, collecting under chairs like video game tokens... If they're not interesting, well, I'm sure blank disks are always useful."
ASH: "They'd probably be obsolete around here, actually..."
=-
ASH: "There's no problem moving the accounts -- I'll just file the appropriate papers with {slight pause} InStelCom."
SH: {wince}
=-

=-=-=-=-

In summary: 'Twas a *much* less worrisome experience than I'd feared -- I was afraid I'd have to beg and grovel and offer my abilities from hot pilot down to distractor-for-Jim (her ladyship read as pure het to me) to escape with anything of my existance intact. Instead, I've switched the blind credit and Email account from Byte to Artemis where it will be rather a bit cheaper; I've learned *quite* a lot -- like how I manage to pass such phony IDs as the Sarah Hart one without getting caught; where the bugs are in Sherinford's office's vicinity; that Artemis has been selling *very* sophisticated sensors to the Patrol, and keeping better ones *and* the cloaking tech for Herself; that *NovaTech* was the ultimate recipient for those crystals the Thral fella wanted me to transport; that the shuttle I wandered off with was reported missing in a pirate raid -- near Irar; and that there were at least *25* different braintapes on the disks I gave Selene!!! There weren't that many people in the station! (The Clone Research Station... But they didn't seem to be doing much *clone* research...) Dear stars... And that was only a random collection of disks from that drawer! Some of the disks had more than one tape on them -- as many as four. Also some smaller files.

I managed to say something about how stealing from Artemis would be quite impossible -- "That would be unwise" I get in chorus from both Her and the woman in blue, who reappears in a shower of sparks and holding a blaster. Me: "A blaster?" Holmes: "I know you're bored, Diana, so am I." I take my leave hurriedly.

On the way back to Artemis, I ran into "Big Ben" who insisted that I owed all 6 drooling feet (length and width both...) 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 -- "Silver Hawke here with the disks." 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, 154**


Sent thank-you note to Diana.

Simone is the only persona who doesn't have a personality profile, just notes of where she was, where she'd said she was, what she said she was doing. Either this personality is near enough to "the original" that I didn't feel the need to make notes, or it's just because it's the oldest and was second nature for a while... Maybe it *is* the "real" me, and I *am* some kind of time-traveller! Could I be some sort of genetically engineered spy? Simone as my cover? Someone's escaped illegitimate clone? She's the oldest by six months, according to the White Goddess of Information. Scherazade is the next one. Simone predates the ShadowHawk, Scherazade is contemparary with the first appearence. I need to pull the news files for most of my appearances there... Pity I can't ask Her Holmesness for the files that She obviously was accessing, but I don't think it would be a good idea for a small-person like me to bother Her, and I couldn't afford Her price, I suspect.

If I'm going to be Silver for a while, and Silver looks like the best person to be for a while, I'll have to check out what exactly Silver *did* on Thral to get banned, what she's wanted for, etc. (Unauthorized acrobatics -- wait about three years till the statute of limitations runs out; Thrals like that sort of thing, but the police {who don't like being made to look stupid} might rough me up a little. There's a note about avoiding New Garavar because of "Big Ben" -- "Won't take 'no' for an answer, even when applied forcefully.")

Add in locations of the bugs around Sherinford's office, the incident with "Big Ben" and Diana.

Pity I didn't keep a diary (before) or something like a scrapbook.

**Dec 19, 154**


Got a note from Her today: "I thought the name rang a bell -- have a look at these." And a pointer to some *old* Old Earth texts and flat-screen movies about one "Simon Templar." A thief who robs from "The Ungodly" (other criminals), helps out his friends and tends to stumble across the most implausible plots in the process, has another "S.T." alias, and who generally gets into a lot of trouble. Sometimes called himself "The Saint" and doodled a little stick-figure with a halo... Strange fellow, but I like the attitude. Hated by police *everywhere* on the planet, just about, but they never could catch him. (No gene-scanners in his day.) Obviously a role-model for my predecessor -- why else would Simone be the first?

Send a somewhat faint and boggled "Thank you -- *very* interesting" note back to Her.

**Dec 20, 154**


[[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.]]

[[SH has, on her computer, a small, nameless icon, looks sort of angelic-stick-figure. Opening it produces a larger version of the crude drawing. But... The file is too large for such a crude drawing! After trying "Open file Angel," she goes to the thesauris. Seraphim (SerapHim?) is the key -- that was the master PW for the rest of the computer, in fact). And she gets a list, labled "Ungodly."]]

Found my own "Ungodly" file -- names, some with checkmarks and dates. Rather a lot of the checkmarks&dates correspond with the _Pathfinder_ raid! Some sort of Organization convention there -- links with . . . shady biotech??? Look down list, NovaTech! Last on the list, mentions of people -- bosses, governmental types, {ex-}competitors -- who had a run-in with the Division Head [Vladimir Tscheya] of *that* station, number 2, coordinates match) and *changed*. Either stopped being competitors, sold out, overlooked NovaTech excesses, or turned their interests to biotech... And they didn't meet with mister Division Head for very long, either, it seems. Fascinating. Send Her a note: "How well do you trust the Email encryption on this machine?" Quite a lot, if the highest level is used... Send Her the appropriate excerpts and a note to "Take care, eh?" Reply that NovaTech's not likely to be able to get at Her. Send: "Good -- be rather unpleasant if someone unfriendly had all your knowledge." No response. Oh, well -- I don't live in that ship, I only have a faint clue what sort of defenses it's got. I just hope She's as secure as She obviously thinks She is, and She *is* warned now.

(Found a little file on Her -- swift rise of Her business, within about three years from nothing to small but profitable... Rumors linking Her to broached security on Byte Swiss Data Accounts, which *stop* after some Byte Corp board meeting. Stop dead, to be replaced by rumors that She'd *landed undetected* on Byte (Sweet stars! What sort of stealth technology does Artemis *have*??), and that either She'd done something that Byte was happy about, since they're not doing anything to Her, or else She'd managed to blackmail Byte. She and a Byte Core Security person spoke at a directors' meeting type thing, and the records of that are sealed, but Dillings left the board after that. I had some notions about him being suspicious, but apparently She got to him before I could do anything. She got that ship, _Diana's Bow_, after that, and then started up Artemis Enterprises. Waitaminute! What was that She said -- the only way She knew about tampering with braintapes, one had to have access to the equipment... Stars! There's *definitely* more than meets the eye about that woman! Jim's implied, the files say, that he's gotten some of his fake IDs through Her... That She isn't too concerned with legalities, but has Her own sense of ethics/honor... Heh. One could almost call Her "Mostly Harmless" except that She clearly isn't, but She's not "Ungodly," as far as I could find out. That's relieving, since my fate is, to a certain extent, in Her hands. A shuddersome thought. She is *not* a controllable woman, and lacks the Y chromosome that might increase my chances of survival if I should accidently cause Artemis some irritation. And -- beyond mere survival, I kinda like Her style, I think.)

What if the director fellow is a "Witch" like Kelly? Hm. Interesting notion. Not necessary, and certainly wouldn't work on Diana, but something for *me* to watch for if we meet... Meet again? Wouldn't be surprised. Next time, *he'll* be the one stunned from behind, to wake up pumped so full of Crediline he'll be flying for a week!

I wonder if he was the one who decided to "dispense with the restraints"? Yes, a jar of Crediline, some Soothe, and Kelly ought to do the trick on him. "Not dangerous" my friggin' hospital gown.

(More info on NovaTech: They're "shady" in that the various divisions are pretty much given free rein, and so long as they A: bring in money for the company {if they skim that, okay, so long as they don't skim the Corp.'s cash}, and B: don't get too much bad publicity. If someone gets caught, or something is very unprofitable, then someone gets scapegoated. The big exec.s -- a combination of old Ungodly and business-people {most like corp-raiders and/or politicians} -- keep their hands clean.)

**Dec 21, 154**


Got a little request from Her -- She wanted to see the flight recorder that I snarfed from the NovaTech shuttle. Ran it over (sans the stuff that I'd used in my improvised alarm-lock for my trunk). She copied the information -- 6 mo. old -- and said it was nothing interesting. She said someone had been "poisoning the electrolytes" in the batteries... It *looked* rather like a manufacturer's error. Lucky me, I get the flight recorder back. I'd like to know why she wanted it, if not for the information -- she didn't sound too disappointed that there was nothing interesting on it. Not mine to ask, just mine to run errands.

**Dec 23, 154**


Need to find a public library node and look up some of these names... Find out which ones have the double meanings -- "Houri" indeed! (If that's not what it sounds like...) And besides the Simone/Simon, I can't see how She would be able to make the connection... Templar/Hospitalier? I need to find the connection. And I apparently picked some sort of historical figure for Sherinford -- either that, or Her ancestors read the same stuff that I did, and liked the same sorts of names.

Ah -- Knights Hospitalier and Knights Templar, during some war or other called the Crusades. Rival orders. Was Simon Templar not only a role model but also a fine act to top? Sherinford -- alternate name for Sherlock Holmes, ficticious MasterClass private detective, before the final draft was written. Also shows up in some strange book with "Gilbert and Sullivan" references... Also a real person a few generations back -- must've been who She was referring to. Sheherazade/Scherazade as a storyteller, also old old Old Earth literature, 1001 Arabian Nights. The Crusades had several Arab references, too. Harami ... "Thief" in Arabic. Rubbing it into people's noses, weren't we, Simone/Sandra? Salome Houri... Houri is indeed yet another arabic word, for a kind of sensual artist. Salome is a princess (?) of some sort, who danced to please a king (her father-cousin) enough to win the head of some holy-man or other. (Not the whole man, just his head on a platter.) Sadie Hawkins -- from a truly ancient "comic strip"! Some sort of primitive colonist, it seems... The only really amusing bit I get from "Hood" (after paring it down to ficto-historical celebrities) is "Robin Hood" who "robs from the rich to give to the poor." Thrilling. A "hood" does seem to have some archaic reference to thief, again, though.

**Dec 24, 154**


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 Thralia at mach speeds, and *several* Thral Patrol ships went crashing. I really must get around to getting that news-clipping. 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. I wish I knew if he was serious. I'd leave if he really wanted me gone -- much too dangerous to stay where I'm not wanted.

I really need to hear some of these stories that he's been hearing from the other captains. Hm. I wonder if I could bug him?

The Ungodly file has a date of creation concurrent with the first appearence of Simone. Hm. The autodoc said I was about 24, 25 years old... Did I run away from home to be a chameleon? I certainly started this fairly early.

**Dec 25, 154**


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 ammonia atmosphere) down near Irar, about where NovaTech'd said they'd lost one.

Talk about "Merry Christmas."

Heh -- well, either they'll decide that "Sandra Houston" was connected to Artemis, or else they'll decide that Artemis wants to twit them... Either way, I'm likely to be unnoticed here on the Albatross, and if they *hadn't* found the Albatross' beacon (and they haven't come a'looking for me yet, that's certain), they won't *ever* find the link now!

[[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. *And* she also left the disks (with data corrupted) that SH swiped and gave to Selene -- after all, she'd made copies.]]

Send Her mail: "Do you do miracles routinely?" Reply: "If I have the time."

White Lady, do you know what I owe you, now for actions as before for inactions? How does a Dancer on the Edge like me repay such debts, especially now that I have stumbled and all but fallen?

**Dec 27, 154**


Parvari's happy today -- he sold off that keg of Humario 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. Stars, stars, stars... Oh, well. He must be a competent Kintaran, or else I wouldn't have let him fence the stuff.

I really need to wander down there... I can't have ever met Flare face-to-nose, I'd think, but Quicksilver might ought to know him. I *must* reestablish my contacts. Simone was being supported by some other occupation -- either her real self, or some lesser persona -- Silver makes the most money, and I can keep an eye on Kelly here, so I think Silver shall be my base. When Kelly gets tech-aware enough to haul off, I'll go hopping personas (which I dare not do while anyone could connect 'em with Silver!) with her and we'll go after that NovaTech Station Manager. Salome might be able to wrangle a meeting with him... I need to either bug his computer and find the decryption code there (and thus find if any of those braintapes that She has are mine), or see if I can pull the information directly out of the wretch.

[On to Leap, the "party month" between Xmas and New Year's]