(23) To Be Named

The Crusader Campaign (093-1123 to 096-1123)

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093-1123 : Mora / Mora / Spinward Marches

    Nightshade comes out of jump at midday in stealth mode.  It's been just 13 days since they left.  They do the same underwater thing again, that being the best place to hide the ship.  They now need to get the Duke of Rhylanor to the Archduke without anyone seeing it.
    Robert Morris will drive the gcarrier and try to work them into the normal traffic.  It shouldn't be too hard.  Getting into the Archducal palace should be no problem, as Norris himself said that Roger Jolly and his group would be let in without question when they turned up.
    On board the gcarrier are the Duke, Sir Misha Ravanos, Kalida Siena, Marchioness of Nakege, Mich Saginaw, and Edward "Shark" Teeth.

    The trip is uneventful.  Robert seems to have slipped in easily to his new role as the designated gcraft driver.  He pulls up at the gate, where Shark steps out to tell the guards that he, Roger Jolly, is here to see the Archduke.  After being invited briefly into the guardhouse, they are given the go-ahead to proceed.  They are escorted again, but the air seems a little more relaxed this time.
    Pulling up in front of the palace, they leave the gcarrier to be escorted to the Archduke, and are not surprised when they are taken to the same place as before.
    The Duke of Rhylanor has been disguised, not just in an anonymous nice business suit, but with a makeover treatment by Robert.  He should not only be unrecognizable but totally forgettable.

    The Archduke is alone in the room when they arrive.  Shark is of course expecting snipers to be watching again, but doesn't see any new ones.  In fact, he's not sure the old ones might be there either, and a closer look around reveals that the Archduke really is alone.  Even the escort steps out into the elevator once the group steps in.
    "Hello, sir," says Kalida, "We've brought you Duke Rhylanor."
    Norris gestures to Rhylanor that he need not remove his disguise, and comments to Kalida that they were quick.  Kalida quietly mentions that he had indicated he was in a hurry.
    Shark laughs that yes, they are the same people who left here.  At that, he has a sudden thought, and looks closely to see if the Archduke himself is the same person.  He believes he is.
    The Archduke asks if everything went smoothly.  Kalida and Shark assure him that it did.  Kalida adds that she does not believe anyone saw anything.
    Norris turns to Rhylanor and says that there will be plenty of time to fill him in on the situation, although of course Nakege may have done so already.
    Nakege says that she's filled Rhylanor in with everything she has already, and in response to Norris' question says that she has no new information to add since last time they met.
    Norris says that they still have a few matters to discuss.  "Here is your Letter of Marque," he says, handing Nakege a sealed envelope which she passes immediately to her Captain, Sir Misha.  He then turns to Mich and says, "I believe you have something for me?"
    Mich hands over the informations he's prepared: the data, the papers, the simulation.
    The Archduke accepts it with his thanks.  He pauses for a moment, fingering the tape, and says, "I believe you have some harrassing to do?"
    Nakege says, "Have you come up with anything more specific you would like us to do?"
    "We need to delay Santanocheev as much as possible, and let Rhylanor's fleets  -- excuse me -- come in as smoothly as possible.  Delay him, harrass him, slow him down, cause him to take extra precautions to cost him time.  And of course if you can make it back here in time to help us with our defense, that would also be useful.  Everything will help."
    Sir Misha says, "Yes, we are looking forward to it."
    Nakege then says, "I've been running the numbers while we travelled, and I believe I have some approximate guesses for dates.  They are just guesses, but I believe that what will happen at Tussinian will be occurring around 140, give or take a couple of days.  My best guess for what's hitting Mora is perhaps around 180.  They are approximations, but they may help you in plans."
    The Archduke thanks her, and asks her sources.
    Nakege says it came from further analysis of existing information, not from any new sources.  She has no intention of telling him they came to her in a drug haze.
    There is no more information to pass to or from the Archduke.  Norris says he would throw a reception for Nakege, but as they are not supposed to be here that will have to wait.  He adds that while this crisis continues, Roger Jolly's group will continue to be let in if they have need to report in.
    It is clearly a dismissal.  There being no escort in the room, so they have to key the elevator themselves.  Misha tests his new reading skills on finding the right button, while Shark and Kalida look on in amusement.  To the Archduke, it surely looks as if the noble is waiting for one of his commoners to press the button for him.  He looks pointedly at Shark, who suppresses any hint of laughter and triggers the elevator.
    Inside, their escort is waiting.  The crew enter the elevator, are escorted to the gcarrier, and return to Nightshade.

    Kalida has their route already planned, with two quick jumps followed by a regular one so they can come out at Dawnworld in stealth.  Helia immediately lifts them out of the ocean and out to 100d, proceeding as quickly as possible without going supersonic in atmosphere.  On the way to the jump point, Mich spends the time checking the ship's jump systems to be sure they're exactly correct for this jump sequence.
    At about 18:00, Nightshade enters jump for 0106 / Mora.

still 093-1123 : 0106 / Mora / Spinward Marches

    It takes about 45 minutes for Helia and Callisto to announce that they have stabilized.  Sir Misha gives the word, and Helia goes down to Engineering and does her thing.  Mich observes in sparkly pink, remaining conscious through the transition.
    Nightshade pops out of jump with a barely noticeable dull whoomph.
    Mich is pleased to see that everything indicates red, with just one emitter out of perfect but within spec.  He sets that back into perfect alignment while Callisto verifies their position.
    In another hour, Callisto confirms they are in the correct location, and Sir Misha commands the next jump.  This will be to 0309 / Lunion.
    At 19:45, they jump again.

still 093-1123 : 0309 / Lunion / Spinward Marches

    This time it takes about an hour to stabilize, and Helia brings them out again at 20:45.

    This time Nightshade precipitates violently, with a loud bang and a heavy shudder.
    Mich reports that he has blue all over the board.  There are three emitters that will need to be
completely replaced, and all of the others will need alignment.  Several components even need the unspace power link to be reset.  That will require gravity to be off for twelve hours, with some sections in complete vacuum.  The total operation will probably take about 20 hours.  He sets to work right away.
    Mich has half a dozen spare emitters, so next time they make a real jump he's going to need to make some more in the Engineering Shop.  One of them failed explosively, making rather a mess, but he can clean it up and repair it without difficulty.
    Outside the ship, space is visibly flickering.

    Meanwhile, Kalida seeks out Shark with a favor to ask.  She says, "You've informed me, twice, that you've gotten some sort of glimmer off me.  Once I was in a klatrin trance, once I was'nt.  I want to try what I was doing before, by way of an experiment."
    Shark says he has his three sensors set up for triangulation, and it's all ready to go.  "Go ahead," he says, "I'll be recording."
    Kalida returns to her stateroom and just does what she's done before.  She works on the Adabicci issue, trying to figure out more about it, where it's coming from, what it might be.  She realizes that it's definitely a string that Santanocheev is pulling, but she can't see where the other end of it might be.  It goes off in some direction she hasn't looked.
    Shark sees a very slight blip, just a little above background.  He informs Kalida that whatever it is she does, just happened.
    Kalida's response is, "I was afraid that would happen."
    Shark says, "Put it this way, I get more of an indication when Helia stretches her wings."
    This does not reassure Kalida, although she does feel a little better that it's Santanocheev and not something else.  At least there's not something completely unconnected going on.

094-1123 : 0309 / Lunion / Spinward Marches

    It takes ten hours for space to stablize, seven hours after Mich was done replacing the emitters.  He has 17 hours of work left that relies on space being stable, and gravity off, and vacuum in some areas.  So while waiting, he asks Helia what happened.
    Helia has written down a mathematical description of exactly what went wrong.  She's fascinated enough about it even to talk down to Mich a little: "This fold intruded just a little here, and threw this off, and that resonated through the wave... as you switched the space, the wave resonated through it, and that propagated through as you popped out, and fed back, and ... here!"  She points to some incomprehensible equation.
    Mich returns to working on his new simulation of jumpspace.  Helia helps him with that, because she's really interested right now.  Robert pitches in with computer work to assist them.

    It is now 06:45.  Callisto starts her work while Mich has breakfast and coffee, so that he won't have to wait for her before he shuts down gravity.

    Mich resumes his work at 08:00, and tells everyone that gravity will be off for twelve hours.
    Most of the crew find a safe place to be, but Shark and Sir Misha practice their zack fighting in zero gravity.
    Kalida lies back and runs some more thought experiments.  She looks for Geoff in all the threads. She's not sure, but he's not hooked up with the threat thread.  She thinks he's probably fairly safe, aside from whatever he might be getting into at Victoria.  She's quite tired after that effort, and rests until gravity comes back on.
    Helia simply relaxes and drifts around the ship with tiny flaps of her wings, from one end of the ship to the other.  She delights in taking on perfect twitch of her wings and floating exactly from one end of the corridor to the other, which she seems to find quite easy.
    Mich works constantly for the whole time, carefully turning gravity back on at 20:00.  There's five hours of work left at this point.
    When Shark's exercises are over, he notices that there was a slight increase in football readings in Kalida's staterooms.

    Mich finally takes a break.  He's been working for a long time in awkward conditions, and the work has to be done perfectly.

095-1123 : 0309 / Lunion / Spinward Marches

    After an early breakfast, Mich starts work on the final five hours, completing his work at noon.  The ship is red.  He informs Sir Misha, who orders the jump.

    Nightshade jumps for Dawnworld / District 268.  This is planned to be a normal jump, coming out in stealth.  They should arrive just after midnight on the morning of 101-1123.

    This Kalida's first opportunity for quite some time to drink some klatrin.  She asks Captain Sir Misha for his permission.
    Baron Bridgehead of course points out that since they'll be coming out in hostile territory, this would be a really bad time for the crew to incapacitate themselves.  He looks pointedly at Robert.
    Sir Misha agrees.  "No," he says.  "Don't you think that would be a bad idea?"
    "No?" says Kalida hopefully.
    "What advantage would be gained by you taking a klatrin trip at this point?"
    "I may learn more than we already know, and we don't know very much."
    "Oh.  That's different," laughs Sir Misha.  "I'd like the chance to learn more.  Yes, you may take a klatrin trip."
    Baron Bridgehead blusters, "But we won't have a gunner!"
    Sir Misha retorts, "If you keep complaining, we won't have a doctor either."
    Shark objects.  He can do first aid fairly well, but he's not a real doctor.
    Baron Bridgehead sighs, and says that he would like it if Kalida at least came down to Sick Bay so he could monitor her condition.
    She enjoys her glass of klatrin, despite the disgust of most of the rest of the crew at the oily foul-smelling liquid, and accompanies the Baron to Sick Bay.

    Shark asks Mich to make some spare football sensors for him.  He'll get to that between his work on jump simulations.

    About five hours after Kalida went into her trance, the football sensors suddenly show a solid spike from Sick Bay.  It's coming and going, but it's definitely way above normal background.  It's higher than anything he's been getting from Helia's flying.  It's a solid positive reading, the like of which he has not seen for a long time.
    Shark calls Bridgehead.  "Hey, doc!  You might want to up her calorie input, I think she's working pretty hard on this one."
    Bridgehead snaps back hastily, "I'm working on it!  I'm working on it, all right?"
    "I just thought you'd want to know.  And no, you don't want to know how I know."
    "Well if you know anything, get down here and come help!"
    Shark rushes down to Sick Bay.  Kalida's signs are not looking good.  She's in serious stress.
    Bridgehead has clearly been working hard, his movements as a doctor smooth and controlled in contrast to his tone of voice.  "She's starting to stabilize a bit, but goodness knows what's going on with her head!"
    "Exactly," says Shark.  He reflects that, as far as he knows, the Doc has never worked with psionics.  It does look like Kalida is stabilizing, just as the Baron said, not at a good level but at least not getting any worse.  He moves over to a console and pulls in the feed from his football sensors, plotting it out for the Doctor.  He says, "This is the energy usage I predict for our patient.  We need to compensate accordingly."
    Bridgehead sighs, "I told you this was a bad idea."
    "Working hard always is.  I'm just wondering what language she'll speak."  Shark tells Bridgehead to call him if he needs him, and goes off to find the Captain.

    Shark finds Sir Misha is in the lounge.  He says, "Captain.  You're aware of the abilities of some of our crew in extraordinary fashion, for example the fact that Helia's wings are not enough to fly the way she does.  She uses something called telekinesis to lift and move herself around."
    "I am aware of that," says Sir Misha.
    Shark continues, "And that over the last two klatrin trips, and a couple of times in between, our gunner has exhibited a lower level of something going on in that same manner.  Right at the moment she's putting out a factor of two to three times as much energy as I've ever seen Helia put out.  The Doctor is fighting a battle to keep her going physically.  I just want to let you know that's what's going on now.  I have no idea what she's going to be like when she wakes up."
    Sir Misha nods.  He calls the Doctor and asks what's going on.
    Bridgehead sighs, "Oh, well it's a typical -- you know, like Shark had that problem.  Kalida's picked it up much quicker and it's some sort of problem.  She's stable right now, but I don't know how long this is going to last.  I can't predict it, it's doing strange things.  I don't know how long she'll remain stable."
    "Is there anything anyone can do to help?"
    "I'm doing everything I can.  Other than that..."
    "I mean someone else."
    "Shark's backup medical.  He came down a little while ago when we had a crisis.  Right now there's nothing much we can do except wait, I think.  I'll keep you informed."
    As he leaves the Captain to go back to work on his robot while monitoring the footballs, Shark reflects that he really needs whatever information she's getting.

096-1123 : Jumpspace (from 0309 / Lunion / Spinward Marches)

    The next day breaks with Bridgehead still monitoring Kalida in Sick Bay, expecting breakfast and lunch to be brought to him.  Kalida remains mostly stable, drifting up and down but not peaking.

    A little after noon, Baron Bridgehead's voice comes over the ship's speakers.  "Get down here!" he says sharply.
    Shark and Misha rush to Sick Bay.  On the way, Shark checks the footballs.  He was about to be alerted, because there was a big spike.

    Sick Bay is a mess.  All sorts of stuff is scattered over the floor.  Bridgehead is over at a monitor exclaiming "Look!  Look!  She can't keep it up at this rate!  We have a real problem here."
    Shark says, "We can try and bring her out."
    "Try and pick up some of this stuff.  Get someone else in here if you want.  Here, come over here and watch this monitor, keep an eye on it and make sure I don't miss anything."
    Shark says, "Captain, didn't you guys pull me out of my adventure with klatrin?  It might be time to do something like that."  He asks Robert to come down and help out if he can.
    The Captain has grabbed a broom and started sweeping the floor out into the corridor.  Robert looks quizzically at him as he approaches, steps past him, and enters Sick Bay.
    Bridgehead barely takes his eyes off the display to acknowledge Robert's arrival.  He's clearly very concerned.
    The Captain, meanwhile, has walked up to the Bridge to check sparkly pink to see if there's any new information about Kalida there.  Unfortunately there is not.  He returns to Sick Bay.
    Robert has said that they could do nothing to bring Shark out, and that they'd probably confused it with the communal trance with Lap'da on Digitis.
    The Captain looks at the Doctor, who shrugs.  There seems to be nothing to do but wait.

Kalida's Fourth Klatrin Experience
(Referee and Kalida's player only)

    Suddenly everyone is thrown across the room amid all sorts of items smashing across the room too.  As Shark comes to a stop in a corner, his puter alerts him of a big football spike.  Across the room, Kalida's monitor is flashing blue.  Shark is the only one who seems to be conscious in here, the others rammed up against cabinets and walls.
    He gets to his feet and tries to work on Kalida first.  She has to be stablized before he will have time to attend to the Doctor.  Pulling on whatever he can remember, he reacts quickly and does exactly the right thing.  Kalida is far from stable, but she's no longer dead.
    Shark turns from the patient and attends to her doctor.  A quick jab brings the Baron round.
    "What the heck is going on?" mumbles the Baron.
    "Telekinesis, I believe," says Shark.
    "What?" exclaims the Baron loudly, "Are we being attacked?  In jump?"
    "No," says Shark calmly, "I believe the klatrin is exposing latent abilities in people, and in this case..."
    "She's got worse," says the Baron, noticing the monitor for the first time since recovering consciousness.
    Shark keeps the same quiet calming tone.  "She actually breathing now," he says, "And we should go beyond what I did.  And by the way, I gave you 50cc of this."
    "Good," says the Baron, "Thank you.  Good job."  He returns to his job as Doctor, working with the monitor to analyze Kalida's condition and start treating her.  He looks across the room to where Robert and Sir Misha are sprawled.  "You want to look at those guys?" he says.
    Shark brings the Captain and Robert around.  They feel like they've been slammed into a wall, which in fact seems to be the case, and the scene in Sick Bay is chaotic.  Aside from Bridgehead working with the monitor, the rest of the room is in complete disarray.
    Shark privately points out to the Captain that they can't tell the Imperium what happened here, or Kalida at least will be arrested.  Just as quietly, the Captain says he already knows that.
    Bridgehead announces that he's going to put Kalida under for a while.  He's going to shut down as much as necessary, and just keep her going so she can get through this.
    With the instinct of a true field medic, Shark finally tends to his own scrapes and bruises.  He glances at the football readings and is somewhat relieved to see nothing above normal background.
    With Kalida in a stable low metabolism, the Doctor relaxes a little and seems finally to notice the state of his Sick Bay.  He sounds like his old self again when he addresses Sir Misha and Robert: "What are you people doing here?"
    "We're cleaning for you," says the Captain.
    "Oh.  Well, there's some more over there."
    Without a word, the Captain starts sweeping again.
    Bridgehead takes a kindly tone.  He tells the Captain that Kalida is out of danger now.  She's the most stable she's been for a long time.  She's not under stress, they just have to get her back from wherever she is now.
    Shark suddenly says, "Have you had too much caffeine?"
    "Who?" says the Baron.
    "That reminds me.  I'd love to have some more coffee, please."
    "Why don't you take a nap?"
    "No.  I'm going to stay here."
    "Take a nap on that table."
    "No!  I will not take a nap!  I am in charge here and I am going to look after her!"
    "As First Officer, I order you to get some sleep."
    The Baron splutters, "As... as... as... Doctor, I order you to get some coffee.  I'll get some sleep later when I'm sure she's in good shape."
    Shark meekly leaves Sick Bay to fetch the Baron some coffee.  Of course it will have a couple of drops in it that he can counteract if he needs him awake later.
    The Baron sips his coffee, then sets it down and starts to fold.  Shark drags him over to another table and lays him down, before returning to check on Kalida.  The Doctor was right.  She is definitely stable.  It looks like they'll be able to bring her out in about two or three days.

    Shark reports to the Captain.  He tells him about Kalida's condition, and when they can expect bring her back up.  She should wake up about a day before coming out of jump.  He mentions that he would be grateful if the Captain could save him from the Doctor when he wakes up, since it was Shark who spiked his coffee to knock him out.
    Sir Misha smiles and promises only to forbid the Doctor from killing him.