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

[Back to Gaming War Stories]
[Back to March - April]

**May 1, 155**

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 Korvanoff and Paul Taylor.

Dr. Hill. Yeesh. I drop a brief note to Mom about it. Turns out that she smuggled him onto a Thral-claimed world to do some xenoarcheology stuff a while back (and did some entertaining maneuvers when a Thral ship discovered them on the way out). And of *course* he was paying his way partly in "barter." I really must acquire a comprehensive list of Mom's memorable snuggle-partners.

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...]]

**May 3, 155**

Nonetheless, he 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. I have a Quicksilver persona well-established, for when I'm *close* to Taylor. Three months of these 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, since I don't want to break cover to bug the passenger cabin, and it doesn't really matter to me anyway: he's not likely to be Ungodly.

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 -- not so good as the White Lady, I very much suspect, but certainly a proto-version.

If all I have left is this "Living Legend" for a persona, plus whatever I can make myself, then I had fragging well better be able to live up to my reputation -- outfly, outbrawl, and outnavigate anything in known space. If Mother could be everything *she* was, all at once, then surely I can be Quicksilver alone, even if I am but her Shadow....

**May 20, 155**

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 strategically 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.

Besides the Cerulian Death Plague, there are far too many scalies around for my tastes and I am very glad I've stayed on the ship.

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 Cerulian 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/Dirk and T'kik manage to retrieve the things, which turn out to be ceramic plates. (Dirk got "active" when the den's resident mom-scaly flamed him; the kid-scalies just wanted to play with him. YUCK!) 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...

[[Derek goes out hunting with the Unar captain, they find a scaly critter which seems rather friendly to the Unar.]]

[[Summary: Mitsy finds a starmap. We go there. Jackpot -- several Stalker bases, in very good repair. Also Kaa. Kaa are shot down, killed, etc. The human fellow who came with the Unars tries to say that the Kaa surrender-signal was a "fight to the death" signal, but we convince the Unar captain to cease fire and let the Kaa shuttle land -- then we blow their drives after the Kaa exit. We find the original Kaa base, with some surviving Kaa (who get stunned) and a couple of Kaa slaves. One human, Jacque St. John (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 Warrik 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 satellites 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 (!!) has 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.]]

[On to August - September]