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!)

[Back to Gaming War Stories]
[Back to May - July]

[June-July -- uneventful? Or a date-frotzup? Dunno... Some of each?]

**August 10, 155**


We finally get back to NG, 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 colony 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.

Sweetie's wings pop off, and it gets put in our hold. What won't She think of next...

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 our IHO contact on Parva. We Shall Have To Be Careful.

But I shall also have to *fix* something up. An empty box, with the proper numbers on it. Well, not *quite* empty -- a note reading, "Haven't you ever heard of 'professional courtesy'?"

**Aug 17, 155**

We arrive and are greeted by the Navy, who gives us some more data. (Parvari already got smart and bought the White Lady's version.) We are told which of the Sapients we should avoid, some of the conditions in the Zones, etc.

We land in Zone Lon and pick up Greta Kagan, the IHO person. Then we start delivering. First, Zone Vanlit. Soldiers here. Off-load stuff, and Dirk gets to wander around in his exoskeleton, scaring off bandits.

Second stop, Zone Ber-mil. Turns out that Greta's contact's band got outsted by another quasi-military gang. We don't know this at first -- all we know is that they don't seem to be quite sure what's going on. They send a kid with a gun out to meet with us. I haul him over towards the ship to explain the medical supplies and let Kelly read him. Turns out that he's stalling till the others can rush us. Wretches.

We won't off-load anymore, we decide. But Derek insists on going out to pick up the two wounded lifesigns we scanned. So when the group with the guns and missile launcher start rushing us, Derek and his exoskeleton (and armored vaccsuit, thank the stars) are outside the lock, while we and the Thral kid are on the inside.

[[Derek is outside -- he shoots his blaster and takes three of them out (including the one with the missile launcher) with two shots (blow through!), but is taken out himself with a lucky shot and he falls.]]

When people start rushing the ship, the logical thing to do is close the airlock. So I hit the close-button. So the Thral kid shoots me with his rifle! Doesn't he have any hormones?? I had my suit looking like a halter-top and pants! Idiot. At least the Reflex-armor mode was on, and the sensors got the incoming bullets. Hope the brat was startled that all that exposed skin didn't turn into something T'kik would force out of the food synthesizer...

Anyway, first thing *I* know, there's this stardamned *loud* noise, and something's thrown me against the wall a couple of times, and then there's this nasty SCRAW-TWANG noise of bullets ricocheting off the wall next to me. Fortunately, I keep my feet. I draw and fire my stunner, and the kid drops.

[[Nobody sees this -- Kelly has taken cover just a little before the attack started (Danger Sense), and Warren and Greta dive for cover *when* the attack starts. Only Silver doesn't try to get out of the way.]]

Then Kelly and I have to go out and rescue Dirk, since somebody seems to have gotten lucky and taken him down. Kelly is a healer. We get Dirk into the airlock, cycle it, and then cycle the Thral kid *out* the lock, and then we take off.

And then we have to dodge missiles, because the twits decide to fire on us.

So we get a ways out, and I get off, and I head back to see if we can salvage those two wounded people who were probably part of the *correct* band of Thrals.

I don't have the proper equipment. There's an electric fence in the way. I have to go find a proper stick and vault the silly thing. Then it's trek through the greenery [[which is, BTW, the local equiv of poison ivy; Ber-mil is so Green...]], creep over to where the Thrals are (with Awol's camo-cloak), and talk my way in without getting shot. There's just one little problem -- Quickheal won't work on a busted spine, which is what one of them has. Oh, well. Maybe if Kelly can get in here, she can stabilize him enough to be moved. Trouble is, how to get the ship in here? I wish we had stealthing....

Oh. Right. Dr. Jones is the White Lady's mother. Sweetie is visual-stealthed at the least (and probably more...). *That* ship can get in here. So they talk to her and she comes in herself, with Kelly and Dirk, and it turns out that she's not just a Nobel-Prize-winning gengineer, she's also a psi healer. The spine-case *walks* to Sweetie under his own power. (This explains Her, this explains Her, this explains Her... Talk about "Let mommie kiss it and make it better!")

We take off, bid Dr. Jones farewell and thanks, and go looking for any more survivors of the little group. Find one of them. Offload the trio of Thrals and the remainder of the medical supplies -- they think they can use the stuff to barter their way into another group.

Then on to Zone Mossekay, one of the few *civilized* Zones. I could use some civilization. I could use about three Kintarans, actually. At once. Nothing like getting shot to get the blood pumping...

Well, Zone Mossekay has many friendly natives, and most of them are toting around computers and sensors with Her mark on them, for some crazy reason. I find a nice friend [name of Toriven Glantak], and we wind up at his place (after I tell Parvari that he can bloody well tell Greta that I'm tired and jumpy and she doesn't want a tired and jumpy pilot to make deliveries).

Darn near Kintaran stamina on this fellow. Good.

Turns out, of course, that Zone Mossekay has delusions (or ambitions) of Byte-hood, and had researched *all* of our little crew to the best of their abilities. And then they sent a hand-picked team to go and chat us up and see what free information they could pick up from all of us. My little spookling volunteered for me, though. I suppose I should be flattered.

[[They also had a fellow who talked to Awol and let him steal silverware, and some who talked to the others, including T'kik.]]

My proto-spook also wants a warp-drive. They want to go claiming nearby planets, probably, and they need an FTL drive for that. Problem is, Parva's not allowed to have FTL capabilities just yet. (Too many war-like people, and people who would want to nuke the Sapients in the belt, who don't deserve it, probably, because they've all been reprogrammed by Guess-Who-And-Start-With-The-Initials-SH-And-I-Don't-Mean-Me.)

Well, why not give me the shell and the claim-beacons, and I can get the engines fitted on somewhere in civilized space, and then release the probe-drone *outside* of Parva-system. If it never comes *inside* Parvan space, then probably nobody will kick!

We finally agree on a price. Now all I have to do is talk Parvari into coming back here after we finish with the IHO's little mission.

I also wrangle the codes for Wasoltiv Liberty out of my spook. The Wasoltiv government looks just like the Thral homeworld, except with a Dictator instead of all the mega-Veeps, and I don't like it. Turns out the resistance group has a grav-comm. They're speakable, then... (I wonder who gave them the grav-comm... *Her*?) I can make a deal -- I'll supply them with some holdout needlers, and a bug, and they give me old weapons... And most importantly, I'll smuggle a disk full of information on the Real Wasoltiv Situation out of their Zone, and agent it to a newsie, and get them a passle of off-world Credits.

Ought to be fun.

**Aug 18, 155**

I wonder if Kagan qualifies as Ungodly? She insisted that we be gone at 6am the next morninng. Wretch. I made a point of being 5 minutes late.

So we delivered to Zone Parelavan with some trouble (our contacts managed to wreck their truck, and we had to track them down to where they'd taken refuge with a hermit-family), and to Zone Telet with almost major problems -- a bunch of religious rabble-rousers tried to come and do something nasty to our ship (seems some of the people there don't like aliens), and almost got through the battlesuited (!!) troops who were guarding the area.

We got out of there, and then they shot a couple of missiles at us. Pfeh.

Zone Brisha is fine -- it's got gobs of Zone Lon's people there, apparently, as well as refugees from Zone Me-xan (where we are not going).

Zone Peko is ... annoying. That lot were trying to be Sparrials, scanning or swiping anything that wasn't nailed down. We closed the doors and Awol retrieved our stuff. Along with some other things. We gave them back most of the stuff, but when they claimed to have two laser-pistols, we said that Awol didn't have any of those (they were slug-throwers; obviously somebody got greedy) and besides they weren't supposed to bring weapons onto the ship anyway. So Awol got to keep the guns.

Zone Newl is silly -- they want to insist on unloading the cargo personally, and they've got way too many weapons for us to let onto the ship, and they won't take 'em off. So we put the stuff in the 'lock, cycle it, and they unload it from there.

Then, for that evening, Zone Wasoltiv. *They* have a little parade/speech thing set up, with newsies and such. Parvari, Kagan, Warren, Derek, and Kelly go out for some of that -- Parvari and Kagan do the newsie/speech thing while the rest of us watch over the unloading stuff.

Then it turns out the entire crew is invited to Dinner, and to stay in the main Startown hotel (Zone Wasoltiv has wasted no time in creating a Startown... Turns out it's designed to keep aliens inside its limits, away from any other businesses or people, and where they can be monitored at all times. Eyech.) for the evening. I'm *not* staying in any bugged hotel, thankyouverymuch. This place gives me the creeps. But I will go to Dinner, since my Wasoltiv Liberty contact might meet me there.

The Hotel is really fancy -- and not a little tacky. I ask Parvari, "All this for a bunch of scruffy fringers?" and he says, "It's free. Enjoy it until they figure it out."

We are guided around by the most annoying, unctious, little Thral I can recall meeting. I tell him to go away, and not flirt with me, because he's not attractive enough. This apparently serves only to endear me to him the more. After the Dinner, when dancing is allowed, I tell him to drop dead. He falls to the floor, which I acknowledge as useful, but keeps pestering me until I have to ask one of the Security fellows (obvious Security, that is -- I figure half of the "non-security" people are actually plants, stooges, or total loyalists) to get rid of him so I'll say nice things when I get back to New Garavar. *That* finally works.

I digress. During the Dinner, one attractive waiter catches my eye, and I ask him what he's doing when he's not being a waiter -- he says he'll tell me about it after the Dinner. I say I'm intending to go back to my ship, and he says, "Let me give you my number." It's the grav-comm address. I tuck it into my biosuit and say, "Maybe I will talk to you after Dinner."

So the pair of us wind up back at his apartment, where a little sonic screen is quite useful. I supply one of the holdout needlers and the bugs right then and there (well, I have to go into the bathroom to pull them out of my secret pockets -- they didn't search me going in, and probably wouldn't have found those anyway, but there's no reason to give away *all* my secrets) and hand them over. He gives me a disk, and we arrange that I'll deliver the final needler in Zone Lon, where they'll give me my payment of "antique guns."

His place has audio-bugs all over, and a visual bug in the living room, and I am just too wound up to feel like relaxing with him, so eventually I leave. I have to purchase a disk-reader for the primitive data-disk he's given me, but that's not much of a problem. There's a vid-disk store handy. I go prowling about, looking at their collection of "steamy" material. I sigh, and get asked, "Is something the matter? Can I help you find anything?" I ask the fellow behind the desk if there's anything that has more... agressive females in it. "You mean *perversion*?" he asks. I sigh again and mutter to myself that I've forgotten about alien psychologies. He says that maybe he could come up with something... I show off some of *my* personal collection. He looks intrigued (must be a real market for perversion), and asks what sort of stuff I want. I say that I'm really interested in older movies and such -- antiques. And maybe we can work something out -- he should give me a call if my order comes in.

I buy the player and a couple of disks, and wander out. (I notice that there are no fountains around here -- the place seems to be laid out with the intent that there will be no sources of "covering noise." Yeesh.) I go back through Customs, pay that bill (easiest Customs I've ever met, besides Sparrion -- just declare and pay) and head back to the ship, where I will play the Thral vidplayer so that my computer can pick it up and feed it into the secure level. Then I'll start trying to market the thing.

[[Etalon went to the Dinner as well, and flew back to the ship -- except he took a little side-trip to see how close he could get to the main city. A helicopter shone its light on him for a minute. He flew back to the ship. Warren is off carousing with willing females. Kagan visited the hospital. Kelly and T'kik stayed on the ship. Awol went to Dinner. Parvari went up to his hotel room to go to sleep. Derek went off with the most spirited of the ladies, and is preaching sedition and equality and stuff. They are, of course, being followed.]]

**Aug 19, 155**

2:30 in the morning. I have gotten everything but the last half-hour of the tape copied into my computer. Then a couple of jeepoids with a couple of customs officers, a pair of cops, and two dockworker types come up and buzz the door. Fraggit. Busted? I need twenty minutes to fix up the disks so that I'm not traceable. T'kik and Kelly can stall them in the hold.

...

Turns out they never make it out of the hold -- they go hunting for "contraband" and find The Box, and proceed to make a show about lecturing Kelly [whom they have decided is the "ship's wench"] and T'kik about smuggling military-grade weapons as they pry open the crate ... and find it empty, except for my note. Here, they start yelling about searching the ship. T'kik seals the doors and airlocks shut, trapping them inside. The bug gets Kelly out of there, and there is a bit of a problem about it resisting arrest, and it taking the six Wasoltiv people "prisoner." One of them eventually shoots T'kik's drone. *Messy*.

I sound red alert and call everyone back to the ship, including Kagan. Awol has hotwired one of the limos and picks everybody up to take them to the ship. They get past the guard [Warren implied (heck, stated) that the ship had an emergency and could have blown up...]. Kelly has been playing with the people by trying to Morphazine them telekinetically (didn't quite work, but has potential...), and then throwing packing stuff at them, and then Derek activated the anti-mutiny gas and knocked them out.

I came up with the wonderful idea (taken up quickly by T'kik) that we simply weren't aware that these were *real* cops -- they showed up at 2:30, and were very rude (unlike all other Wasoltiv authorities we've met, uh-huh), and shot T'kik! They were obviously impersonating real Wasoltiv police! (I get Kelly to fry any of their ID or quasi-ID cards that have electronics in them, just to lend weirdness and confusion.) Eventually, they actually buy this, and send out *another* team of police to investigate. We play good little galatics and cooperate. They tell us that they'll have to continue the investigation in the morning.

I go to bed.

Morning -- they come in again, look around (ignore the hotwired limo Awol got...), take The Crate (and note) away, filch numerous of Parvari's trade-goods, and tell us not to leave.

Derrek's girlfriend of last night shows up at the ship. She seems to want something from him. Kelly drags him off and asks what's going on, then gets into her mind... Something she said doesn't jive with what *my* contact said -- that no other non-loyalists had managed to get into Startown. But she's asking for society data, and medical stuff, and saying that *her* apartment isn't bugged, and she can get past the Customs people... So while Kelly's in her mind, I ask, "So, dear, are you an intelligence agent?" And while she denys it, Kelly implant-comms, "Merry Christmas." Yep, a spook. I usher her off because "we're going to be taking off soon, and I don't think your government wants us kidnapping one of their spooks." She wants to know what ghosts have to do with anything.

By noon, we are allowed to leave. I give them a *lovely* take-off, clearing the starport fence by a few feet and then doing a striking bootlegger reverse off to Denar. Their traffic controller yells about leaving flight-lanes and 1,000 cred fines. As if I care. Idiots.

Next, Denar, where we get to deliver to both more TRF, and this other group (the TRF calls 'em "'bot-lovers") that translates as "VIRUS." The guys in charge of both groups keep glancing over at me, for some reason. {smirk} Maybe it's the skimpy setting I've got the biosuit set for.

After that, Tokar, where they're the most organized, useful anarchy I've ever seen. Place is crawling with 'bots, too.

Zarrain is not a problem.

Then Carval.....

We get held hostage. Never never never hold Kelly hostage. Bad Idea.

We finish off-loading the stuff, and the people want to invite us to lunch. Okay, sure, why not -- Kelly says that something interesting is going to happen, and she wants to go. [Kelly crit-fails a Precog roll...] In the middle of lunch (which is not so good), a bunch of people with guns come in and tell us not to move, etc., etc. I comm to Parvari, "We've been kidnapped, Captain." They take all our weapons. (Well, not all *my* weapons...) and tell Kelly to call the ship.

Kagan is in shock, of course.

They want everyone off the ship in five minutes, and then they'll tell us the rest of their demands. Goody.

Kelly starts playing heat-up, cool-down games with the people -- one of them passes out! Unfortunately, while she's trying to heat them up and give them fevers and temperature shock, she does something wrong and the whole fragging *room* explodes! And about six of those people's guns! That takes a few of them out of action... The leader of the twits apparently thinks somebody came in and did something from behind them, since he takes several people and goes to the door. Kelly tries some more things, and a couple *more* guns explode and she passes out.

Twit leader comes and says that the ship had better stop doing whatever it's doing or he's going to shoot people! I take the comm, implant-comm to Parvari, "I'm going to say something strange. Just agree with me." I relay the demand. Then I explain, "Kelly did something that made the room blow up and then she passed out. I think she's okay, just tired."

When Etalon, Parvari, and two of T'kik's drones come out, we get stuffed into another room. Kelly wakes up and plays some games with making lights appear just barely within our guards' line of sight (corner-of-eye stuff). The leader comes in and says that if anything else happens, he's going to shoot somebody.

Meanwhile, T'kik has been scanning things from the ship and has noted that all but two of the sentries have stopped moving, and those two have run into the compound in a panic. The bug sends a drone out and finds a pair of "biped Kintarans" who're getting into the compound.

The bipedal Kintarans take out a couple of the twit Thrals who are guarding the interior of the complex. Around this time, Kelly turns out the lights in our room. One of the idiots opens fire. Kelly does *something* and one fellow falls over [flash-froze his helmet]; one of the guards runs out; Kelly does something else, and the sole remaining guard in our room screams and rips his helmet off and is rolling around on the ground whimpering. The sole guard outside the door slams the door shut. I run over and Morphazine the guard, and we pass out weapons. Kelly looks through the door somehow, and makes the outside-guard's rifle explode.

By this time, all the Thrals who can move are beating a hasty retreat out of the complex. We recover most of our stuff, except for my laser, stunner, and vibroblade! I want my stuff back! I take Derek's blaster and head out, somewhat against Parvari's wishes.

I run into the biped Kintarans -- they ask which Zonemind made me. They say Carval made them. Okay, this is weird. This wasn't mentioned in the data we were given. Right. I'll figure out something after I get my stuff back... The twit Thrals have gone and holed up in a nearby cave system, drat 'em. Maybe we can get the ship to come in and blast the place...

I'm just in position when Warren calls me up again. Sweetie called. Dr. Jones went into one of the Zone Mante citadels, and apparently people were in there, and now Sweetie can't raise Dr. Jones on the comm anymore. Oh, FRAGGITALL!

I zap at the fellow I was aiming for, and am only about a meter or so off. Then he fires back, but I'm already swinging for lower branches, camoed. I miss the one I was trying for, but catch hold of another one, a little lower down, so I don't break anything of mine.

I meet up with the biped-Kintarans again and tell them that I have to help rescue someone. We're halfway there when the twits raise us on the radio and start telling us to go back to the first base or the hostage gets it. Me, Derek, and the two critters get ourselves dropped off in a clearing to wait for stealthed Sweetie while the rest of the ship goes to "wait for instructions."

We get to the top of the building, and want to get in -- there's some problems about this, but one of the critters (they have numbers, not names! Argh.) produces a key that lets us in. I asked Sweetie if it could hypno the baddies, but it has a lousy range for that. *sigh* We go in, and the felinoids take out two guards, then go down to take out another two who were doing something to the main computer core [[tossing a grenade in...]]. Derek is in Awol's camo-cloak. After the furries go out of sight, I sigh and turn my suit camo. He says "Nice suit." I say, "I like having an edge sometimes." I also turn on my sonic screen.

Derek and I scan the rooms, find four Thral lifesigns, one human one. Good. She's still alive. Derek has a stun rifle, a tangler, and some stun-grenades. Unfortunately, I have only two hands, and the Thrals are in three different areas. Ah, well, Dr. Jones is a powerful Healer, so even if I get hurt (unlikely, if I'm good and lucky, since I'm effectively invisible right now), rescuing her is top priority. Besides, I think I'd rather be dead than have to explain to Her, "Your mom got shot because I dithered around trying to stay safe." I have him open the door, while I have a stun grenade in each hand. I toss the first one towards the two Thrals standing in Dr. Jones' area, the second to one of the pacing ones, then draw my laser. Then things get kind of confused...

[[Silver makes both her Thowing rolls. One Thral drops -- the two by Circe make their HT rolls that second. Combat Reflexes allows them to react. One gets a critical success with his rifle. Silver makes her fast-draw with her laser and is about to snap-shot the remaining Thral not in range of a stun grenade (he's confused and cannot react this second) when the AP round hits her. Her reflex armor does *not* catch the bullets this time (not that it would have mattered), and we discover the meaning of "blow-through" as the bullet enters the suit, drops her to 0 HT, and exits the other side. Silver fails her HT roll to stay conscious. There is a lot of blood and Silver drops to the ground.

Derek has his stun rifle out and leans in to shoot the remaining Thral as the others finally succumb to the stun grenades. He tries to administer Quickheal through Silver's biosuit's "medicine ports" but discovers that Silver is paranoid and they don't respond. The suit has lost integrity around the wound, though, so he can administer it there. Then he goes and revives Dr. Jones (who cures her stunner headache) and points her in the direction of Silver. While Circe is doing her healing thing, Derek zots the stunned Thrals with tangler-shots.]]

[[Arcangel: "If you must get shot, get shot rescuing the Power 15 Healer."]]

I'm starving, and there's this ceiling above me, and a lot of blood on the floor next to my face. "No clouds," I mumble. "Good." Obviously I wasn't deaded, then... Dr. Jones is sitting over me. I ask her what time it is, to reset my internal clock. She finds this bemusing. I sit up and discover that there's a hole in the back of my suit, and a lot of blood all over everything, like my back. I guess one of the Thrals got lucky...

We convince Circe to *please* check out all the future citadels before entering, and tell Sweetie to make sure she does, then we collect the furries (who are sort of bewildered that we didn't kill the Thrals we caught -- they *really* call these Thrals vermin....) and the prisoners and get the Albatross to come and pick us up. We drop the Bloody Dawning twits (the resistance group who were more concerned about converting other biologicals than fighting 'bots, even when there were still 'bots to fight...) off with the *real* Carval "authorities." (They'd infiltrated Kagan's contacts, and set us up.)

[[They'd been breaking into Zone Mante citadels, and then Circe stumbled into their midst and got hit over the head.]]

Finally, back to Lon where we can kick Kagan off, and pick up the last half-hour of the Wasoltiv Liberty tape and the Liberty payment. Then we go hopping around to do some trade of our own. I talk the Captain into going back to Z.Mossekay, so I can on-load the warp-less probe. He doesn't want to know what's up. Then we'll head for Tokar, probably. Wasoltiv is *not* on the list. [The order actually was: Lon, Tokar, *then* Mossekay.]

At Tokar, I trade a fair amount of stuff, and some credits, and pick up a "Doberbot" and the manuals for it. I'm sure Flare can think of something to do with the thing.

**Aug 20, 155**


After a relaxing evening at Zone Mossekay with my sweet proto-spook, we head out. For some obscure reason, we have picked up another pilot -- a fellow who got a one-way ticket to the Zone and needed a ride off. He dead-heads, working his passage, but Parvari isn't going to pay him anything. This fellow, Cyrus [something or other], is from Alardin. Kelly is not impressed with him, and I'm not either.

Our cargo from here is loaded on, including mine. [[The proto-probe that's gonna get equipped with FTL and dropped off outside the system afterwards.]]

We lift off (Cyrus does the honors, actually, while I watch), and head for the Sapients in the belt -- Sapient Arralee is selling ore. We discover a strange sensor/computer set-up hidden inside one of the ingots! Arralee denys knowledge of it -- says it was part of some goods that Sapient Vanlit sold it. Vanlit denys knowledge. Kelly tries to read it, but can only find that it was made by a bunch of 'bots. Cyrus wants to sell the data on how Kelly did that (he figured out she's a psi), but Kelly pre-empts him by saying "hello" to one of Arralee's 'bots. Arralee sells data to Sapient Brisha, who promptly calls up Kelly -- she says "No" a lot, and explains that it wanted to hire her to have experiments done on her.

Arralee replaces the problematic ingot with a good one. Then, when we're loading stuff that Sapient Vanlit was selling, we find *another* anomoly -- a robot of unusual design hidden in one of the ingots. Vanlit refuses to replace the problematic one, and insists on taking all of its shipment back.

[[Mossekay was trying to slip a spy-'bot onto a ship, routing the ingot through Vanlit. Vanlit thought that Mossekay was trying to slip a *combat* robot through, and decided that would be a good idea, so it put its own combat 'bot in, to try and take the winners of the presumed Mossekay-shipcrew battle.]]

**Aug 21, 155**

I get a note from Her, asking that I drop by Her ship when I get back, please. I reply that I am at Her beck and call, and ETA is [[whenever]], barring unforseen problems.

Turns out everyone else got cash, for helping save Her mother.

**Aug 22, 155**

I call up Dr. Hill and ask him, firstly, how things are going (Mitsy is still working on the Stalker stuff -- it's her project for her Ph.D -- and Taylor was out for a couple of days after coming back, which Hill thinks is my fault. I don't tell him it was probably 'cause he had to be debriefed by the NGIA), and secondly, if he'd hunt around for a friendly xeno-anthropologist to babysit a couple of constructs from Parva... After some discussion, he agrees that he'll do it.

**Aug 28, 155**

For some strange reason, the comm-beacon that should be here isn't working. Ah, well. At least we can certainly see just about anything before it sees us.

**Sep 1, 155**

It is just about to be my watch, and I find that during Cyrus' watch, a comm-call came in from a ship that's been sitting in one place for a while. The comm-call was from a kid who said that the ship had been taken by pirates and her mom had been shot, and then the *IDIOT* calls *Parvari* and *sits around* waiting for him to make a decision! And then he won't get out of the pilot's chair so I can *head* for that ship!! **IDIOT**!

We get there -- fortunately without me having to mutiny -- and get onto the ship. Cyrus was being a twit about me going in alone, trying to get behind the pirates while Dirk and him distracted them. Idiot.

I will be carrying the camera to prove that this boarding action is legit.

One of the forcelocks is damaged and can't be locked -- another (the one Cyrus and Dirk were going to go in through) is locked, so Cyrus comes to the one I'd had my eye on. I swap around and hack the lock open in a minute. Dirk tries to get in via a 3rd airlock, but it's wedged shut (it was too close to some weapons that got shot out). I hang around upside down and shoot in through the forcelocks -- I nail a pirate's head, but he's wearing a combat helmet. Kinda surprise him, though! A Kintaran with a blaster rifle leans out of one of the rooms and fires a shot (which misses) and then in the middle of the next shot, it kinda peters out... [[Crit-fail on the pirate's part.]]

[[Cyrus enters and takes out a Kintaran with a laser rifle, but falls to a crit-success from a human with a blaster -- never walk into cross-fire. Cyrus fails the HT roll and will be dead very soon. Silver sees him fall, doesn't hear him on the comm, assumes the worst. She turns herself invisible. Dirk shows up and provides covering fire while Silver (sonic screen running too) launches herself in and dashes over to Cyrus. Nobody shoots at her. She hits him with Suspend, then tries for the pirate with the blaster, who manages to dodge back inside a room and close the door before she does enough damage to get through his biosuit. The Kintaran with the blaster rifle manages another crit-fail and drops the weapon; he's having a bad day. Dirk takes out mister combat helmet, and the blaster-rifle Kintaran. Silver takes off for the cargo bay, but there's nobody there but an unconscious human [[Arala's lightning bolts...]]. The sole remaining functional pirate heads out the airlock, and Dirk goes after him and shoots him and Silver has Dirk drag the fellow back inside.]]

We hook up the passage tube.

Etalon goes around hitting people up (even pirates!) with Suspend and Quickheal, and we manage to get Arala and Arala's *SPARRIAL* mom into the Albatross. Etalon has a field day with pirates and Cyrus and Arala's mom.

**Sep 3, 155**

Arala really was stolen by Sparrials... *Before* birth -- somehow, her "dad" managed to get a genetic sample from the New Garavaran Gene Databanks! Cute kid, Arala.

Some of the pirates (like the dead ones who were in Engineering, which is where Arala and her mom were holed up) had some funny marks on them. Arala and her mom say that maybe they'd fallen into some electrical wiring. I didn't see any open, but oh, well.

One of the pirates says Arala and her mom had rigged up some spark-throwing device -- and Arala was certainly playing with the gravity on the ship until Warren asked her to stop so we could come on and shoot pirates. Another, the lead fellow (Mr. Combat Helmet, who is a Thral), is also helpful in providing answers about the strength of the pirate ship (1 disruptor beam, two particle beams, assorted lasers...) and says which of the pirates was the pilot, who knows where the rendevouz spot is... (That pirate is the Blaster-Rifle Kintaran, Grayscar.)

**Sep 4, 155**

Cyrus gets patched up and will probably survive his brief stint of being dead. We get to Kestral, off-load ore, off-load pirates, and I talk Parvari into letting the furries stay on until New Garavar (since there's a decent chance that I'll be able to find a Xeno-anthropologist to babysit them there...).

I take the furries sight-seeing. They want to talk to Unars...

Awol announces that he's going to be hanging around with Arala and her mom -- they need help, he says. This means that Parvari will wait until Cyrus is up and walking...and hire him. Dear Stars.

At least I will have time to arrange something with that cargo I contracted to carry.

**Sep 5, 155**

I drop in on Cyrus, say I'm glad that he's alive, since I'd have hated to have risked my life for nothing, and bop out again.

Around in here, She calls up and is curious about the furries -- "Kayolas," She calls them. I think Dr. Jones might have done that as well, but I was not really in any condition to note details like that.

She talks to them for a while (falling into their contagious speech patterns at least once, and mentioning that She was the one who shut down the recalcitrant AIs) and manages to get them talking first to Sapient Brisha, and then to Sapient Carval, who says they must have been captured by Mante (one of the shut-down ones) and it's very sorry about that, and *it* explains that "the Artemis Zonemind" made all the AIs leave, and that any Zoneminds who didn't promise to stop killing Thrals were shut down. It does allow that "the Artemis Zonemind" is really more like several Zoneminds working together. The Kayolas want to know if they can hunt the Selene Zonemind. Sapient Carval explains that Selene is an ally now, so no, they can't. It tries to coax them back to stay with it until it gets a new planet. It agrees that they can go to new planets and see if the planets are good, but it can't talk them into coming back and going into cold-sleep ("sleeping is boring"). Apparently it and the White Lady are going to set up some trust fund and try to lure a xanthropologist in to babysit the pair; I have no idea what will happen next...

**Sep 20, 155**

After arranging to get the Doberbot and weapons that I got to Flare's (expended: $2000 credits; got back: $3000. Not bad.), I take myself over to Her ship, wondering why I got that summons/request/whatever. Turns out that She, stars help her, is bored (and lonely), and wants to talk to somebody who is 1: having more fun than Her, and 2: not somebody from one of Her ships (since She can know everything *there*, just about). ("Why else do you think I have so many weird people on my ships?")

It turns out (after poor Diana is cut from the loop), that She happens to *like* hot-pilot types. She says that She'd always wanted to be one. I, brain overheating, allow that I'd thought She was... too self-confident, too stable, to want to be a hot-shot. She said that everyone has a repressed side. I said that *I* didn't! She said I probably did -- a subconscious longing for security and stability, an anchor. Then She apologized for analyzing me, said it was one of her bad habits. I said it was all right, but I wasn't going to think too hard about it just then, though it didn't seem quite right... I mentioned Mom, and how Seth'd called her/me "a survivor." So She said that I'd probably seemed more vunerable, but She thought my "Mom" was probably just as "lost" as me, might even *envy* me... My mind definitely boggled. Highly unlikely. Mom's just peeved at me for being less than perfect. I covered with a comment that nobody sane would envy working on the same ship as a Hive Beetle.

The topics turned to some of my and Diana's exploits, like those three Marines we picked up once, and the ways of exhausting them -- not too much interest in the details of how Diana took on two at once, but when I explained that males often found the sight of two females "playing" to be... resurrecting... She blushed! Just a little, but with Her coloration, it showed quite nicely. Of course, I spend most of the rest of the chat trying to decide whether I want to try and get Her to blush again, or if that would be unwise.

Much other discussion, of course, including a mention that all three of us enjoy "shocking people" -- especially Diana, in her new body. *Bad* pun. I tell Her that She's definitely a sadist.

She shows off various ship designs that She's done up, though not yet built. I drool over the fast ones, and admire the less-than-fast ones too. She asks what I'm looking for in a ship, so I tell Her (fast and stealthed), and then mutter darkly about people who would make me sell my soul.

She said that She owes *me* a favor or three! I suppose I won't argue too much, since I got my silly self shot while rescuing Her mom, but I'd thought that would be more of an evening up of the debt that *I* owe *Her*.

She asks if I'd like to stop by and visit again sometime, and I say, "Your whim is my command!" She looks a little startled, that I'd want to visit a "boring old computer hacker," so I mentioned that I could count the number of people who Knew about me on the fingers of one hand, and have fingers left over, and it was *nice* to be able to talk to somebody where I didn't have to hide details all the time. Then I ask if She's going to be free during my week of shoreleave.

Diana, after I leave, asks what happened for forty-three minutes in there -- was I seducing Her? I nearly choke, and sputter "NO!" Not that She's not my type, of course, but I'm not sure if I'm Hers. She did blush. But it's really too much to hope for. Anyway, I tell Diana as much -- that I don't think I'm Her type, and then ask, "Am I?" To which I get a smirk and a declaration that that's personal business, which Diana's always been banned from talking about. Of course, Di suggests, I could ask *Her*... To which I state that I'm going to do no such thing, of course.

Diana then says that I'm afraid of Selene, to which I reply, "The person who took out a station? The person who has enough data to get me rehabilitated and maybe brainwiped, and Mom certainly brainwiped? You *bet* I'm afraid of her!" Diana says that She wouldn't tell anyone -- She's very ethical about personal privacy. I say that I don't want to be annoying, and tempt Her to make any phone calls. Diana insists that She wouldn't, that She doesn't take things personally anyway -- look at how She handled Vlad. I point out that She let *me* have Vlad, and that was probably a pretty good revenge, even if I couldn't bring myself to do him in while he was being a puppy. Diana allows that I have a point. I also state that if I ever catch him again, I will deactivate his clones and braintapes, max out his credcards again, then rip out his living heart and feed it to him. Which would be merciful, compared to what Mom would do. Diana allows that I had a point there, too.

**Sep. 21, 155**

More chatting with Her. I think She's having fun tormenting me... Watching my bioscans, no less! Fraggitall. So I started trancing out so She couldn't tell when She'd said something that made *me* sort-of blush. She thought that was interesting.

Wish I dared to flirt at Her. She's het. I *know* She's het. Though She did say something about forgoing men for the duration... I really am going to skin Vlad if I ever catch him. But I don't want to flirt with Her and maybe freak Her. That would be bad. I *like* talking with Her.

I invited Her to come to Flare's Halloween party with me.

Must remember to encrypt this stuff. Mom would have cow.

Anyway, I mentioned something about going slumming, and that I could fake up an ID card for Her. She asks what I'd need, and I tell Her, and ask when I should show up, and She says anytime, so I'll wander over there tomorrow.

At the end of that, I bowed to Her, and She griped a little about it, and I told Her, "But sometimes it's *fun*" and beat a hasty retreat. Diana says that She just sat at Her desk for a while after that...

**Sep. 22, 155**

Wandered over, and She showed off the disguise She wants -- had a holobelt. Though the first setting wasn't the disguise... It was a black leather outfit holo... Then She said "Oops." At least She'd taken off that sensor-visor first, so She couldn't see what that did to my heart-rate, even if I *was* grinning at the notion. She looked pretty neat in that... She said it was a Halloween costume from a while ago, though She hadn't used it. [[This is a fib. This holo wasn't intended for Halloween at all. She was also bioscanning with the wall sensors.]]

I told Her there would be other Halloweens. (And stars know I'd like to see some of them...)

Weird thing is, when She did that "oops," She didn't blush, and I think She was looking at me when She did it. Not an accident? Yeah, but what reaction was She looking for? Me grinning? Me *pouncing*? Stars, I *wish*. Mrph... I'd better be careful or I'll wax poetic.

Other weird thing is that She didn't have to show off the holodisguise of "Penelope Adair" (copper-red hair, goes by "Penny," of course...) -- She had the data in the computer already...

After I hacked together the ID card (and it wasn't a bad job, I'd say), I asked Her what She wanted for Christmas. She looked a little boggled, and asked why, so I told Her that I didn't really have many people to get gifts for, so why not? She said that She didn't really need much -- a biosuit, a spare, Her ship... I grinned at Her and said I'd send Her a card, at least.

Later, I called up Diana, and insisted on getting Her measurements. If She's going to flaunt holo-clothes like that at me, well... In return for the measurements, and a promise to film Her opening the present, I tell Diana what I want to get... [[an outfit in black]] Diana wonders if that's not a bit serious, and apparently *she* didn't get to see the holocostume! I tell her to just send the measurements to my computer.

[a trip of about a month, probably down Sparrion way; uneventful]

[On to October - December]