(6) To Be Named

The Crusader Campaign (044-1123)

This file has yet to be fully edited...

This file has yet to be fully linked...

Need to put travel time tables including 20g acceleration into library data.
Add Target number formula to character sheet?
Put AT roll somewhere more accessible?
Fill in individual details for Nightshade, including latest stateroom assignments and the climbing wall they built in the solarium.
Admiral Rikk Bainoi (retd.) to be Count of Fulacin on or after 251-1122
Issue release on Tussinian decision and Nakege investigation.
Add "potential sites on interest" that Robert might remember (log 23 ff.).
Update news items and timelines.
Fix Referee's In Game Reference and Referee's Timeline links in Library Data.

044-1123 : Karin / Five Sisters / Spinward Marches

    Mich Saginaw, Misha Ravanos, Teri Cralla, and Grand Admiral Baron Bridgehead have gone ashore and entered the Imperial Far Space Service base on the small world of Lianne.  Marquis Korwin Vanderfield is waiting aboard the gcarrier in the hangar.  Nightshade is hovering in stealth mode above the entrance; Edward "Shark" Teeth is following along with the away team using remote sensing while Callisto is concentrating on the rest of the system for any external threats.
    The figure who greeted them has now taken off his vaccsuit helmet.  It's a man in his mid-30's, and he's still enthusiastically waving them in.  Neither Mich nor the GrandAm recognize him.
    Everyone except Korwin disembarks.  Bridgehead takes his vaccsuit off so that they can see his uniform.  Teri on the other hand leaves her battledress on, and Mich stays in his vaccsuit.  Misha takes his off, wearing his usual clothes (cape over zack) including the sword.  Mich reluctantly takes his off too, rather than being the only on in vaccsuit.
    The man asks Teri to leave the FGMP and battledress behind.  While personal weapons are fine, he'd rather that squad assault weapons weren't brought into the base.
    In a patronizing tone, Misha tells him that the FGMP is her personal weapon.
    The man still tries to convince him that Teri should not enter in full heavy weapon gear.  He offers for Misha to speak to someone in higher authority who could come out and talk with them first.  He insists that they leave it behind to go inside.
    The crew have a brief discussion.  Mich's opinion is that they are probably safe enough.  Via commdot, Shark's opinion is that the base is too heavily
armored for her to fight their way to them if they needed her in a hurry -- leaving her behind isn't an option.
    Misha tells Teri to leave the FGMP here, along with the battledress.  She leaves the gear in the gcarrier, and emerges dressed as a regular marine.  She looks comfortable enough with the combat rifle, which she is certain is a "personal weapon."
    The man turns and leads them to the personnel airlock.  Misha leads the crew after him.
    In the airlock are two people in IFSS uniform, obviously waiting to greet them.  "Welcome, ladies and gentlemen," one of them smiles.  "You are here to look for somebody specific, I believe?"
    Mich says, "Is Jack around?"
    "If you'd like to come this way," he says, leading them into an elevator car.  It moves off -- presumably it does, that is, as it's fully inertial compenstated and there is no sense of motion.
    Shark scans ahead.  It is going along horizontally, then reaches where it would drop into a nexus of tunnels.  It pauses for a while, then takes off in another direction.
    The elevator stops, and opens into a lounge.  Lounging on a very comfortable chair is a young woman in her mid-20's.  It's Jack.  Last time they saw here was six years ago, when she was 17.
    Mich, Bridgehead, and Jack welcome each other enthusiastically.
    Jack expresses surprise that they are here now after all this time, when they'd never come back before.  Of course they'd shown up in the Travellers News Service entries from time to time, mostly for being dead and then not dead.
    Mich states simply that is was best for them to be dead for a while.
    Jack says they must have a lot to tell them.
    Mich nods, and adds that they're curious about Imperial movements now.
    Jack continues, "Last time you were here you were eager to tell me absoluteljy everything you knew, in a contest to hit on me.  You two and that other guy, Chiang Ho, although he was a lot more subtle about it."
    "Well, Chiang Ho and us have parted ways.  Fostriades has been killed.  We had a big accident with our ship, and several people are missing and other people definitely died.  Avon left.  But we have a new ship."
    "OK.  How did you get through the assembled forces out there?"
    "We tip-toed in."
    "Uh-huh.  That's kind of a change in style for you guys, isn't it?"
    "We sort of got it scared into us."
    "That sounds interesting.  How'd that happen?"
    "Well, that's how it was better for us to be dead for a while.  Someone tried really hard to make us so.  And came really close to succeeding.  We let them think that they did."
    "I mean, I can see why you might have picked up a few enemies on the way."  She pauses, apologizes, and offers everyone a drink.
    Mich says, "A splinter cell of the Imperial Navy.  It was a different group that killed Fostriades, but we're friends with them now."
    "Who are they?"
    "We... can't talk about them."
    One of the two other IFSS officers come around with drinks for Mich and the Baron, and ask the others what they would like.  Misha and Teri decline.
    "The splinter cell of the Imperial Navy, them we can talk about," resumes Mich.
    Jack encouragingly waves him to continue.
    "We came across some references to some ancient artifacts, and in digging up what information we could about these, a splinter cell of the Imperial Navy says, 'That information is for us and no-one else, and if you know anything about it, you die.'"
    "I can understand that.  I mean, it's not like the Ancient sites aren't Red Zones most of the time."
    "Part of the technology on the Anastasia came from an ancient cache, as we were delving into that technology and they just said, 'No more.'"
    "Which part?" asks Jack, slowly.
    "The nuclear warheads were a definite part of a ship they had recovered, we discovered.  Not the missiles themselves, but the warheads.  And that's part of the information we discovered that when they found out decided we needed to be eliminated."
    Back on Nightshade, Shark has locked the sensors into this room, while wandering off with his remote viewpoint to other parts of the station.
    "Ancient technology doesn't normally fit into ships.  The black globe's bases on it, but..."
    "It was the warheads, and deciphering some of the language that was written on the warheads."
    "Hm.  What's so strange about language?"
    Mich says that there is research along the lines of that language in the Imperial libraries, and reels off a list of titles of papers.  He adds, "When we went to a used book store and asked for a book related to that, people came and arrested us."
    "So these papers are going to be useful?  These don't seem like they're related to the Ancients."
    "It was related to the understanding of languages.  Had these people seen the language of the ancients they might have been able to decipher what was there.  But these are now classified as hands off.  You walked out of the shop and they were there grabbing you, they took over the fleet..."
    "They took over the fleet?"
    "...and they started a planetary alert.  This was on Rhylanor.  And the admiral in charge of the fleet resigned because he couldn't tell anybody why he was doing it."
    "But Ancient technology is free to investigate.  There are many people in the Imperial working on it quite openly."
    "Through our research we know that there were two groups of ancients."
    "And that they fought a war basically to a stalemate, and then went their separate ways."
    "Now that is interesting."
    "As far as we know it's OK to research the line of the Ancients that the Droyne are related to, but if you research this other group, the splinter cell of the Imperial Navy Intelligence will rub you out."
    "So... would you have any references that we could look up?"
    "The only references we have are what we've already cited for the language papers."  Mich pauses, then continues, "We were trying to do some computer hackery and planetary defenses -- meson guns -- fired on our position, on Mora."
    "Do you have -- and I'm not asking you to produce it -- but knowing that we may not have told the whole truth to each other but we haven't lied to each other, do you have definite proof that there were two groups of Ancients?  Two different races, two different cultures?"
    Misha nods.
    "Were there two sets of technology? There were the regular Ancients who everyone thinks of who turned up later as the Droyne, who had this kind of personal everything different from everything else, portals, and stuff like that, and another group who had other technology, different."
    "Right," says Misha.  "The groups that were making war had technology that is in our eyes very different from Droyne technology."
    "Now if you could actually back that up a bit more, give me some more, it would really make my day."
    "Why would it make your day?" asks Misha.
    "We've always thought it was the case.  There are anomalies in the way things are, it doesn't look as straightforward as the simple story.  Yes, it's pretty clear that there were two groups of Droyne who fought each other, but there's other evidence as well that hints that isn't the full story."
    Mich asks, "What sort of evidence would you need for that.  I mean, we have some scans of some Droyne statues..." He drifts off for a while, then says, "We have met a descendent of the other group of ancients."
    Jack stares in astonishment.
    "He's not the only one.  There are others, and he bears no physical resemblance whatsoever to a Droyne.  In fact he is remarkably like a human.  This person also claimed to be 120 years old, and this planet had a year of 240 years."
    "So these people who were stopping research into this language, that would be language of this other set?"
    Mich nods.
    "OK.  And they had nuclear warheads, whether they had missiles to put them on we don't know."
    "We do.  We know."
    "So, this group that's killing everybody who looks for them...?"
    "Don't know about this other group."
    "Really?  That's interesting.  Obviously they know something."
    "We don't know what the Imperial Intelligence service knows about the other group.  Now that group that we reached an agreement with, was another party that was trying to eliminate us."
    "This is getting more and more interesting."
    "They tried to eliminate us first.  They failed but we went hidden.  Those were the people who killed Fostriades, and, well, Professor Farol."
    "So you are saying that what happened to the Karma FarSpace Station was not an accident."
    "No, it was not an accident."
    "So not only are these people around, but they're capable of making a large slag hole where there used to be a habitable planet."
    "Now obviously they're not making a habit of this?"
    "No, they're not.  Their charter seems to be to preserve the caches of technology in case the ancient enemy ever comes back."
    "Now this is an ancient enemy which is not related to them or the Droyne?  And the Droyne are around?"
    Bridgehead finally chips in.  "Let me go over this.  We've said that there were two, but there are four groups.  The script culture and another group were fighting each other.  They came into the Spinward Marches where the Droyne were also fighting each other.  They got together and signed an agreement to take the war somewhere else -- except the enemy, who were being pursued by the script people."
    Jack says, "We knew about the war between the two groups of Ancients, and knew -- or suspected, depending how strictly you look at it -- that there was another group.  Now you're saying there was yet another one, and that's the one that might come back.  So, could you introduce me?"
    Mich and Misha look at each other.  "Yeah, we could," they say in unison.
    "I'd really like that."
    Mich says, "Right now our timeframe is rather tight.  We don't have time to pick you up and carry you there."
    Misha says, "There are issues we need to deal with other than issues of timing.  Needless to say, the party is very private."  He considers a letter of introduction to the Sheriff of Cormor, but shelves the idea for the time.  He says, "So we've been very talkative..."
    Jack says, "I'm sure you realize that the crew of Anastasia have a history of that."
    "So perhaps you'd return the favor."
    "I'm not sure, quite honestly, what I can tell you.  Nothing momentous has happened until this Imperial Navy thing."
    Mich says, "What are they cruising around here for?"
    "I would love to know.  Well, actually, I'd love them to be gone.  I don't really care if I know or not, as they don't seem to be intending to interfere in what I do."
    Misha asks, "What is it that you do?"
    "I am involved with the IFSS."
    "And what is the IFSS?"
    "Imperial FarSpace Service.  We take over where the Scouts leave off.  Going further.  Looking into stuff.  Promoting stability on the Imperial border.  Seeing what unusual stuff exists out there.  Specifically me, I work with the IFSS in such a way that I am essentially an office administrator of a bunch of their operations.  This base is the Imperium side of these operations.  Mostly we work out in Foreven.  That's in effect."  She pauses, pondering what to say next.
    Misha breaks the silence.  "So how do the Imperial Navy recent activies affect you or your mission?"
    "We can't get news or personnel in or out.  Most of our operations that are going in Foreven are just going on.  We just can't get news in, which from my specific point of view is a shame.  But, that's kind of OK, as it turns out, because the one specific piece of news I'm looking for, you just gave me."
    "How does information about the Ancients relate to stability in the region?"
    "It doesn't.  I said I work with the IFSS.  They promote stability in the region.  I take the information they bring in, and look for evidence of what you found."
    Misha says, "Ah, so you don't work for the IFSS.  You don't work solely for the IFSS."
    "Right.  I am... part of the IFSS, but not working for exactly the same goals."  She grins, "You could say we're a splinter group.  But as you can see, my -- our -- reaction to being told is not to shoot them."
    Mich tells Jack about the orders of the fleets here, where they're going and when.
    Jack says, "So they're moving towards the Imperium with fleets.  Great."  She sighs.
    Mich says, "We've been trying to track down the Happy Fun Ball."
    "Ah, yes, right.  Things happen in Foreven, I hear about it.  I don't know what they were doing out there, exactly where they went.  They were just making no sense.  I guess they came back back here, whatever it was they were looking for in Foreven they didn't find, and they want to move militarily on to find it in the Imperium.  Any idea what that group was doing out there?"
    There is a chorus of shrugs.
    Misha asks, "When did they come through here?"
    Jack says, "They came straight here from Hinay the second time.  As far as I know they're sitting at Iderati now.  Whoever is in charge of that group that went into Foreven -- you don't know who it is, by any chance?  I've heard rumors, but..."
    Bridgehead says that there was a report that Santanocheev was on board.  He says they've been following him for a while.
    Jack says, "The question is, is he just going to try to take over the Spinward Marches, or is he going to go on and try to be Emperor?  That's what it looks like, Emperors of the Fleet all over again.  I'm not sure he'd get that far."
    Mich adds that they've been told that this group of the Navy is not reporting to the Archduke.
    "I'd be surprised if he had enough backing to do that.  Norris is pretty strong.  Why?  Why dive out into Foreven and come back and then head off?"
    Bridgehead says they're heading to Faldor and then Dawnworld, and from there they're not certain.
    "So why did they go to Foreven and what did they find there?  That's the key.  Why are they doing this?"
    Mich says, "Our best guess is they were looking for caches of ancient technology?"
    "They know about it?  They're the splinter group that knows about it?  Or at least knows enough to want to kill anybody who knows about it?  So they went in there looking for alien technology, found it, and figure they can take over now?"
    Mich says, "We have no idea."
    Misha says, "Having one of these super powerful people walk into the Admiral's office and lay a warrant down in front of him might explain the Admiral's apparent erratic behavior, but I don't understand why they want a whole fleet."
    Jack says, "What caused them to look suddenly with a whole battle group?  I mean, if you wanted to go find something, wouldn't you just go find it, carefully?  It looked like they were heading straight out there, and came straight back.  Somewhere the other side of Hinay is... something.  The FarSpace Station is out there -- was out there."
    Mich says, "If they had a secret base with the cache itself, they were going to recover something that was there."

    All the while there has been a frantic conversation going on over the commdots with Shark and Kalida Siena, Marchioness of Nakege.  They've been advising on what can be told to Jack, what Santanocheev's plans and routes might be, and now they're discussing Santanocheev and the circumstances of him being removed from duty by Norris sixteen years ago.  Presumably he walked in to the fleet, presented his Imperial Warrant, and simply took over.  Shark's opinion of why they attacked Hinay was to damage relations with the Imperium, deliberately making the Protectorate mad at them.  He even goes so far as to suggest that Santanocheev might want to set up a splinter country and be able to say that the Imperium was no friend to him either.  He then points out that they went through Hinay because it's the fastest way to Zett.  Finding that someone had been messing with their toys that started this rampage, or caused them to act now because someone was getting too close to it.
    Misha suggests this whole rampage started because they saw them on Rhylanor and recognised the ship.  He then asks if there's a way they can bring Shark and Kalida into this conversation.
    Shark talks to Teri, and asks her to please put her handcomp on the table.  "Boss says we can," he says.

    Teri puts her handcomp down in the center of the table in front of her.
    From the unit comes Shark's voice, introducing himself as the First Mate Edward.
    Jack says, "Hello, Edward.  How are you doing this?"
    "Trade secret," says Shark, "We have very good people on board."
    "Apparently so.  This is blocked.  What prompts this?"
    "I've been relaying some questions through, and it was getting cumbersome.  So, you told us when they came in when they left, and the other fleets have arrived since then."
    "Yes, as if they went to Iderati and stirred things up."
    "Obviously we've told you where these fleets came from.  It's like he's pulling back and abandoning those areas."
    "I'm more inclined to think he's advancing on the Imperium, and really doesn't care much about what's being left behind."
    "So if he's going to go take Adabicci -- either there or Glisten -- both of which are two jumps from Dawnworld, which we know he's sending people into.  Adabicci is a large base, everything's there.  It's one of the largest military points in that sector."
    "Depends how much support he's got, doesn't it?  Does he just have Five Sisters, or can he pull anything else?"
    "That's a good question.  Can he command or take over from inside the fleets that are already there?  We don't know.  He did he take this one?  He's a disgraced ex-Admiral.  He walks in and the fleet launches."
    "Yes.  I don't get that.  There's a few people in my organization who couldn't pull it with a naval fleet, but could with some other groups."
    "We've had that happen to us twice now.  Once with him, and once with a fleet that arrested me on Rhylanor.  The whole planetary system went on alert when they arrested me, for asking about a book."
    "OK.  Let's assume he can pull in some more resources, then.  Who's against him, do you know?  Aside from Norris."
    "Norris himself, and the Duke of Adabicci.  As far as I can tell through my contacts in the intelligence community, this is not a main line Naval Intelligence operation, although the other person who took over Rhylanor claimed to be Naval Intelligence."
    "So they're Naval Intelligence like I'm IFSS?."
    "Yes.  I think someone's using the Navy, and since the Navy is so big, it doesn't know its left hand from its right hand.  If they didn't paint their ships the same color, they'd always be shooting each other.  We know there are elements on Mora within the command chain, because that's where we got shot at.  I still don't know how many..."
    "..which commanders would be willing to attack Imperial targets in the first place."
    "But even a small group of people can cause havoc for a period of time."
    "What prompted it?  What caused the rush into Foreven and then back?  Where did they go, and what did they find?  They knew where they were going."
    Misha says, "We know.  We can't tell you."
    Jack bursts out laughing.  "You can't tell me.  Why?"
    "Because... we'd die."
    Shark says, "We would have another death sentence on our head, and they have better technology."
    Jack says, "Better than yours?  To get into here, for example, to get past the military blockade?"
    "I can't... positively answer that question."
    "I'm sorry to put two and two together and come up with five, but I suspect you couldn't tell me if I was right anyway."
    Shark asks Misha privately, "Does our contract say we have to say no if someone guesses right?"
    Misha replies, "We can't tell them anything.  We're supposed to prevent the spread of knowledge."
    Jack says, "OK, so.  What prompted him to go wherever he went to look in the first place?"
    Shark says, "We probably did."
    "How?  What did you do?"
    "We weren't quiet enough sometimes."
    "Can you expand on that just a little?"
    Misha says, "We have what he thought was on Zett."
    "That I figured.  I'm curious what particular event..."
    Shark says, "It was seen not on Zett."
    Misha says, "Somebody saw it, perhaps on Rhylanor and told him.  Before we continue with the theory that he's going to go and try to take over a piece of the Imperium -- which he may be -- what if he's just looking for us?"
    Jacks says, "What if he thinks he needs the Spinward Marches combined Naval forces to do it."
    "He would."  Misha smiles.  He continues, "Is there any way to confirm the theory that he's looking for us."
    "Other than it being pretty bloody obvious?"
    Shark asks, "We show up and he comes back."
    "He goes there fast enough that he goes through Hinay without talking to them first, they take it the wrong way, shots ensue."
    "But why did he shoot on the way back?"
    "Because he was in even more of a hurry on the way back."
    Misha says, "So he went through Hinay because he was on his way to Zett.  But since Hinay, where has he been?  I suppose he would have gone to Iderati to mobilize his forces."
    "That's where they came from, and that's where they're based."
    Jack says slowly, "So... I guess you have it here... somewhere."
    Shark says, "Yes.  Yes."
    "You had to be pretty stealthy.  But he thinks he can get enough forces together and find it, and... what?"
    "Take it from us, probably.  He wants to know how it works."
    "So do I.  But I don't intend to put the pieces back together one at a time to find out.  That's not my goal.  What would it take for you to be able to tell me about it?"
    Shark laughs, "You'd have to join the crew and sign the document."
    "Yes," says Misha, "Join the crew and sign the document that says you won't tell anybody else.  Believe me, it's a very tight contract."
    Jack says, "The thought that comes to mind there is, 'It's a long way to go to sign the Emperor to the crew.'"
    Misha says, "There's possibly another way.  If you tell us about all the ancient technology you know about, and if you happen to hit on the right stuff, we could just tell you which we're interested in."
    "We don't have enough clues to be able to be too specific.  We don't know exactly what alien technology there is, presumably partly because somebody's been suppressing it out from under us."
    Shark says, "Well, for example, we know that at one point there was a report of a house which had misty fields in it, and statues were taken from... the house where the uncle got the statue, remember Misha?  And in his diary it talked about going to the house and seeing misty doorways and fantastic things.  I can say that out loud, and that's not..."
    Jack says, "And you can probably talk about dimensional portals as well.  And organic spaceships.  Those are probably fine to talk about."
    "We know nothing about those," says Misha, "We're not very interested in that."
    "But you couldn't talk about things that could cause as much planetary destruction as Karma."
    Shark asks her to describe the nature of the destruction.
    "Everything was wiped out.  We don't have a full science report on it.  It seemed fairly obvious at the time that somehow -- ok, it sounds stupid, but somehow scouts who were experienced in astrogation and everything else somehow missed this multiple large chunks of rock which somehow came down on the planet hard enough to render it uninhabitable.  It punctured through the crust and wiped out several ships in orbit."
    "And no-one tracked any of these objects."
    "Right.  Now we didn't expect the locals to track them, but for it to just sneak up on them like that?"
    "And it was multiple hits."
    "It was enough damage that there's a lava plain where there was a research station."
    On board the ship, Kalida reminds Shark that it was more powerful than they can do.  He in turn suggests to Misha that it could have been a bigger gun, like perhaps what was on Swiss Cheese.
    Misha says, "I think the consensus is that we can't talk about that."
    Jack says, "I think you're going to have to sign me up as crew."
    Shark asks, "Do you have a noble title or anything?"
    "Me?  No."
    "Good!  We're back down to an even split.  We too many marquis', and I wanted to make sure we didn't have another one."
    "No danger of that, no.  I'm in the business who never gets a title."  She pauses, and says, "So how's he going to find you?"
    "He isn't, unless we mess up."
    "How's he going to try?"
    "He's going to try to anticipate where we're going, I think.  Wait, no, we have a problem.  He knows the names of the people who have the ship.  He knows who they worked for, before, and he knows where their previous boss is going to be.  And that is Adabicci.  You know that the Third Eye was the ship of Marquis Marcus Crestworthy.  That ship was destroyed when we were supposed to have died.  He's going to be on Adabicci in about a month."
    "Just from my curiosity, in case you can talk about it, how come you didn't die?  What happened?"
    "The Third Eye was blown up, and something happened to the ship that shot it."
    Mich adds, "The Third Eye was not blown up.  It was damaged beyond repair, and then scuttled."
    "Right, and the Naval destroyer that did the damaging disappeared.  Suddenly.  With great violence."
    Misha says, "The Third Eye was defended with extreme prejudice.  Perhaps with more prejudice than was necessary.  If we assume that Santanocheev is headed for Adabicci, can we plot his likely route?"  Over the commdot, Kalida assures him they have it all worked out.  Misha continues, "Can we get to him before he gets to Adabicci?"
    Shark says, "Depends on how quickly he left Iderati."
    On the bridge, over the commdot, Kalida says that he would probably have reached Iderati on about 276.  She says, "But we do know that the group here was supposed to go to Iderati three weeks from now, then to Faldor then to Dawnworld, following up the group leaving on their way to Faldor three days from now.  Assuming they'd be going to Adabicci, from there they'd be going to Olympia then there."
    Misha asks why they're spacing out their travel.
    Kalida says they know when Marquis Marc is going to be there, so there's no point in getting there early.  They themselves are not supposed to arrive until 085, and it's only 044 now.  "As soon as they appear, everyone is going to know they're there, so they're not going to arrive until they know that we and Marquis Marc are there.  So that's why the delay.  They're not going to get there before we will."
    Misha says, "I say we go to them."
    Shark asks, "Do we show up and run away, or...?"
    Kalida runs through Santanoceev's history.  "It starts in 1107, when he was against making peace with the Zhodani.  Norris was in favor of it.  On 212, Norris who at the time was just the Duke of Regina, disappeared and was reported ill, and there was a rumor that he had been deposed by rival power factions within the Navy.  Then a hundred days or so later, it's put out that the rumors were false, he reappears and immediately removes Santanocheev.  There's an inquiry but nothing public ever came of it, then Santanocheev retired.  Reading between the lines, Santanocheev obviously either planned to or did directly attack Norris, and of course it was hushed up.  Right after than peace was made, Santanocheev retired, and a couple of years later Norris became Archduke of Deneb."
    Shark asks Jack if she has any records here about that incident; she says she does not.
    Shark has his own historical revelation: "Captain, I can tell you that the Third Eye was under scrutiny -- by this alternate organization is my suspicion -- back when I joined the crew."
    Misha says, "That's the group within the Imperial Intelligence service?"
    "Right.  And that someone else said that group was really interested in the Third Eye and Mich, and asked me to keep an eye on them and tell them what was going on.  We've long outrun them."
    "Is it possible the request you were given came from the FarSpace Service, or Jack herself?"
    Jack shakes her head.
    Shark says, "No, this happened on Mora.  I suspect our knighted friend or equivalent.  That was back on 315-1119.  Right after the Third Eye was berthed next to the Extraordinary Circumstances."
    Misha asks if anyone has anything more.  All decline.  He turns to Jack and says, "We're going to go talk to Santanocheev.  You want to go with us?"
    "Yes," says Jack immediately.
    "OK, let's go."
    Shark says, "We'll pick you up at the same place.  Do you need to pack anything?"
    Jack shakes her head and says, "Dick, you're in charge.  See you, guys.  I'm officially on walkabout."

    The crew, and Jack, get up and walk into the elevator.  As soon as they're inside, Misha says to Jack, "Just to be sure you understand, that by joining our crew you are entering into a pact in which certain information cannot be shared outside the group.  At all."
    "I understand.  I am anticipating that at some time we can sign the Emperor on to the crew."
    "I'm not promising that."
    Jack says seriously, "You understand that what I'm saying there is we don't need to sign anyone in between.  But I will not break the agreement."
    "As far as the Emperor's concerned, I've never met the Emperor, so my trust in him isn't high."

    When they reach the gcarrier, the contract is on display on the monitor.  Jack reads it and signs.  It takes some time, as it's translated from a page of script language.  The wording should give her a clue that something is decidedly odd around here.
    Shark checks the football sensors, but they show nothing unusual.
    Korwin backs the gcarrier out of the hangar and starts up towards where the Nightshade waits, invisible.  He's going to take the gravcraft up, stop, and let Helia move the ship over him.
    Misha resolves that now is the time to learn to read.  He quietly asks Teri to help him, and she eagerly agrees.