(9) Here at Last

The Misha Campaign (363-1120 to 026-1121)

363-1120 : Jake / Lirian / Foreven

    The H.M.S. Third Eye has settled in at the downport.  Time is spent reviewing the YVN News Service entries.  Among the discussion, it's revealed that the Anastasia -- with Grand Admiral Baron Bridgehead, Mich Saginaw, and Teri Cralla on board -- was the leader of the initial raid on the Staru system.  Only those out of the current crew know anything about the Imperial FarSpace Service, much to the surprise of Ed "Shark" Teeth; but the rest of them should learn more soon, as their current goal is to visit Professor Benshani Farol at the Karma FarSpace Station in the Brod system.
    Ed asks the Admiral while they were out this way.  The Baron avoids the question at first, directing the conversation in other directions.  When pushed, he's non-committal, just saying that they had business out this way.  Teri defers to the Baron about the subject, refusing to say anything further -- even in private with Shark later, she still doesn't comment.
    The captain, Misha Ravanos, asks the Baron if he was a Grand Admiral the same way as Grand Admiral Winchester in the news reports.  Of course he was, but when pressed about what he actually commanded he starts blustering and huffing and puffing and turns red.
    Helia Sarina and Misha get into a discussion about visiting Zett.  She is not happy at the idea of visiting the Red Zone.  Misha explains that the Imperium marks systems as Red Zones to tell them where to go -- certainly the Third Eye has been to many such travel zones recently.  Helia reads him the description of Zett, and points out that the unstable star is a bad situation.  Misha points out that there are people living there.  Teri says that the rumor is that the people were there before the Imperium tested their tactical star trigger on the sun, causing the current instability.  Misha concedes that they'll put off the decision to go there until later; he wants to go there because the Marquis wanted him to check it out.
The Marquis' Story as previously told to Misha Ravanos.  It was not overheard, written down, or told to anyone else. 
(Referee and Misha's player only)

    Helia says that she gets double pay for Amber Zones, and triple pay for Red Zones.  She and Ed discuss it for a little while.  Ed wonders when money became important for her -- the larian has never even seemed to think about money before.  Still, it's the Marquis' money, so Shark is not too worried about it.

    They have decided to stay on this sleepy farming planet to see in the new year , then continue with their journey.  Jake is at least pleasant.  The sun shines all day here on the bright side, except when the moon partially eclipses the very dull red main sequence star.  Vonish is instructed to restock the ship not only with regular supplies, but with a good quantity of wine and beer.

365-1120 : Jake / Lirian / Foreven

    The crew enjoys their New Year's Eve party.

001-1121 : Jake / Lirian / Foreven

    Helia lifts the ship up into orbit and to jump for the Ferle system.  It's a smooth jump, as all have been recently.

007-1121 : Ferle / Lirian / Foreven

    Right on time after a six day jump, the Third Eye emerges from jump in the system.  There's lots of intrasystem traffic here, between the twenty-one colonies.  Almost every hunk of rock has someone living on it.  The coldest colony is -216 degrees, the hottest a blistering 517 degrees.  Traffic control is standard, although Galanglic is just one of the languages used.  They decide to proceed to the starport for refueling -- a quick check by Robert Morris reveals that costs are standard -- and Helia takes them in for a landing.
    The starport here is a good quality Class B.  Tech level is 9, just the same as their last stop.  The temperature is fairly warm, and in fact the only real negative is the thin atmosphere, which would require respirators.  Everything here is well organized.  Resupply is smooth as straightforward.  While the system doesn't get a lot of intersystem traffic -- it takes a Jump3 to get here from anywhere but Sharraf -- it's well set up for interplanetary traffic, though.  From here on in, any ship would need a Jump3 to reach any of these systems from the main area of Foreven.  Normal Foreven traffic is based on Jump-2 -- there's a J2 main that stretches through the entire sector.
    All the news here is entirely local, and there's not a lot of interest to anyone foreign.  Still, Otto Harkaman checks the sports news -- there's quite a following of soccer here, although he can find nothing referring to his favorite, gravball.

009-1121 : Ferle / Lirian / Foreven

    The crew make a quick turnover , and soon Helia takes the ship up into orbit and out to jump for Jost.

015-1121 : Jost / Tardele / Foreven

    The ship arrives in the system to find no navigational information whatsoever.  There are no transmissions at all, as far as they can tell.  Shark is concerned that they might not want to run the transponder.  In a system with no transmissions, they will really stand out.  Misha says there's no reason not to run it.  There is supposed to be a Class E starport here, but with no beacons or signals the decision is made to refuel at one of the gas giants.

016-1121 : Jost / Tardele / Foreven

        Helia brings the ship into orbit around the nearest gas giant, the one in orbit S7.  Before refueling, they run an orbit to check for pirates -- they'd be more vulnerable while low on fuel and in the gravity well.  Sensors still indicate that there's nothing other than the Third Eye here.

017-1121 : Jost / Tardele / Foreven

        Refueling proceeds smoothly, with Helia at the helm and Mich and Otto running the scoops and purification.

018-1121 : Jost / Tardele / Foreven

    With refueling complete, they leave the system for Brod.  Mich lets Otto run engineering for the jump, but steps in quickly and takes over when he sees the swordworlder get confused by the Imperial layout of the consoles.

024-1121 : Brod / Tardele / Foreven

    Otto is starting to notice that this crew is the luckiest he's served on, at least in one respect.  Every jump so far has been the minimum six days.
    The charts show very little information about this system.  Supposedly it's an Ag Ni, with a Class C starport.  Mich tells them that where they need to go is not the mainworld itself, but the planet Karma.  It's the third satellite of the second planet of the secondary star, in orbit S1-10.
    Robert tells them that there are probably some ships -- with no transponders -- out around the area of the secondary.  It's hard to tell exactly what the readings are, but it's likely there are ships out there.
    Misha decides that they should start by refueling at the main starport, so Helia brings the ship in there to land first.  It seems sensible to enter what may be trouble with a full load of fuel.
    The downport is at the pole.  The world of Brod is rather hot, an average of 47 degrees.

026-1121 : Brod / Tardele / Foreven

    Helia takes the ship up into orbit, and with Mich showing Otto how to crank a few extra g's out of the engines they hurtle off for Karma.  It's quite a good tweak, obviously, since they will be arriving at Karma in the same day.  Otto wonders if the inertial compensators can handle it, but Mich assures him that there's a good margin of safety built in.
    Shark directs Robert to check into what's on that moon.  Robert finds that nothing is available locally, except that it's called Karma, a mention that there's a base there, possibly a research base.  There is some occasional traffic with that colony, but nothing of note.  It is interesting that Brod seems to have a very regular newsfeed, much more regular than would be expected for such a backwater.

    They do need to inform the base that they are not a military ship, so they don't get fired on when they get there.  Of course the transponder will tell them that, but it seems that a voice communication might be a good idea.
    As they start to approach the planet, the Baron asks Robert to open a channel.  Bridgehead says, "Hello, station!  This is Grand Admiral Baron Bridgehead coming back for a visit.  I was Sir Bridgehead when you saw me last and there's somebody else you also might know, an engineer called Mich Saginaw.  We should arrive at the landing field later today.  Thank you."
    After a while, a response comes back.  It's a standard flight plan description for the landing approach.
    Robert still can't figure out what those ships in orbit are.  Shark fiddles with the computer and manages to resolve them more clearly.  Robert then uses that information to bring them onscreen.  They are three Donosev class Survey Scouts, Imperial ships, 400t displacement, all holding orbit.  Since they are unstreamlined, it's not surprising that they haven't landed.

    The Third Eye finally arrives at Karma.  Helia brings the ship into orbit, and then down to the landing site as per the flight plan.
    On the way down, Mich explains to Otto that they will have to refurbish a few things.  Several units will need some attention, and some cleaning will have to be done.  Things did get a little warm in the engineering section during the high-g run -- both Mich and Otto broke rather a sweat.  Mich reminds Otto not to tell the rest of the crew -- they don't like hearing about engineering details.  It'll only take a couple of hours to sort it all out.

    There is indeed a starport here.  It's a Class F, a good interplanetary facility.  It supposedly doesn't have facilities for intersystem travel.
    The descent is difficult.  The ship is coming down into a dense atmosphere, the planet has almost one full gravity, and the landing field is totally obscured by an intense snowstorm and gale force winds.  Nevertheless Helia brings them down to a perfect landing.  They wait for the locals to call them.

    After a while, with still no-one calling, they decide to walk over to the buildings to find someone.  Shark puts on his environmental suit (with the faceshield down), Helia her zack (in safe mode), Misha layers up his own cold weather gear, while Mich and Bridgehead don regular Imperial bad weather gear.
    No-one gets lost or blown away on the walk to the building.  They step into the starport lobby, shaking off the snow in the environmental entrance.
    There's a reception area, with a man in uniform at a desk.  Shark does not recognize the uniform.  Behind the desk is a symbol which he also doesn't recognize -- an Imperial starburst with an idealized scoutship heading away from it towards the viewer.  Above it are the letters I.F.S.S..
    The man puts down his book and greets them, "Hello!  Quite some weather we have out there today!"
    They discuss the weather briefly -- the man thinks the weather will probably blow over in a day or so.  He introduces himself as Lieutenant Brown, and welcomes them to Karma.
    Mich tells him they're here to see Professor Farol.
    "He's... here.  You know how he likes fishing... well, he left about three days ago, and we were expecting him back but I think the weather might have held him up a bit.  He'll probably be back in a couple of days.  But you're all welcome to relax here if you like."
    Misha asks, "What kind of facilities do you have?"
    "Not a lot.  We've got a place you can stay if you want, we've got some regular food, anything you'd get at a regular Scout Base we've pretty much got covered here.  If you go through that door there, that's where all the public areas are.  You going to be here long, or just ot see the professor?"
    "Just to see the professor.  I don't know how long we're going to stay."
    "Just remember, don't bring any livestock off the ship.  We're concerned about the environmental balance here.  No pets either.  Some admiral idiot tried to bring out some rabbits a while back, we had to put a stop to that."
    The Grand Am is admiring the ceiling, apparently not listening.
    "Do you need refueling?  If you can wait until the snow stops, or at least until the wind dies down, we'll send a crew out and hook you up."

    They walk into the public areas.  Shark immediately leaves his usual note on the public board.
    This area is much like a regular starport area.  There are some guest rooms, past a check-in desk.  There's a small cafe, a small bar, lounge chairs, news consoles.  In this court-like area are a couple of people in uniform drinking coffee.  There is a big wall of windows that would look out on something if it wasn't totally white.
    Misha calls back to his ship to tell everyone that they're welcome to stay here if they want a break from the ship.  Shark wants to stay for a while.  Helia asks the desk, and finds that there is a swimming pool -- that's good enough for her to want to stay.

    After a while relaxing and sampling the food, Shark commdots back ot the ship.  "Captain, if you'd like to make a big hit with the local commander, invite him over for supper."
    He's been mildly enquiring about what this base is, what branch of the service is that runs it, and so on.
    The bartender is quite forthcoming.  "It's the Imperial FarSpace Service."
    "FarSpace service?  I never ran across it before."
    "Probably not.  We only operate out of the way."
    "This is definitely where you would operate, then."
    "We sort of take over where the Scouts leave off."
    "Beyond the Scouts.  That's interesting.  And we always thought that the Scouts were the people on the edge."
    "They are -- they're on the edge, we're over it."
    "Any good beers around here?"
    "This one isn't bad.  Try this one."  No-one has mentioned money or charges at all.  As far as Shark can tell, it's all free.
    Shark continues chatting with the barman.  What about the commander?
    "Well, this base is mostly just administration.  It's really run by civilians, it's a research station."
    "That's probably why my engineer wanted to come here.  It's a professor from somewhere or other?"
    "Yeah, that's him.  The Professor.  He's the guy that runs the place -- that's why we're here."
    "For the Professor?"
    "Yeah.  And we run some ships here."
    "Well, the planet doesn't seem to be a bad place to be."
    "It's not, when it's not snowing.  It can be warmer than this, it's a particular bad day today.  It's been bad for a couple of days.  It's supposed to clear up."
    "We made five straight jumps without getting off ship."
    "Bring the whole crew ashore.  Or is this the whole crew?"
    "Most of us have come ashore.  I'm sure the rest of them will get their chances."
    "We can run a groundcar out to the ship if you want, you don't have to walk."
    "Our captain has invited your commander over for dinner, I believe.  Thanks for the beer, and maybe I can swing an invite for you too.  We have a good cook, and we just stopped at two Ag planets on the way, so we're well stocked up."
    'Well, let me know when it is and I'll see if I can wangle time off."
    Shark keeps gently digging for information.  He'd like to find out how they report into the Imperium, but that's never mentioned.  Also, his note on the board gets no response.

    Shark asks if he can get a groundcar to park under the ship.  The barman, Ted, says they'd be glad to drive him out, and pick up anyone who wants to come ashore -- just call them.
    He goes to check out the rooms here.  They're a good size, more of a suite really, at least four times a stateroom.  Helia decides to stay, especially when she finds out that she can get one with a big bathtub.

    Misha and Baron Bridgehead decide to return to the ship.  Lt. Brown walks them to a garage, where they are driven out to the entrance to the ship.  He also adds that they'd be glad to drive anyone out or back on demand.
    Otto wants to come ashore.  He wants to check the sports channels, see if they have any big events, snowmobile races, or anything like that.  As Misha and the Baron leave the groundcar, the swordworlder gets in.
    "Is this your first time on Karma?" asks the driver.
    "I believe so.  Most of the time all I see is the inside of ships. I stand a lot of watches in port."
    "I don't know that snow is much better, but it's supposed to clear up in a day or two."
    "What brought me in was I heard you have a swimming pool.  I can work on my butterfly stroke, and see if I can pick up any sports channels or anything like that."
    "We don't have a lot going on, but there's some sports on the base.  It's not like any pro league or anything, but if you play something there might be someone who can give you a match."
    The car pulls up, and Otto walks through the lobby to the starport area.  He sees Shark and Helia already there, just checking in the guest rooms.  They chatter about guest suites, swimming pools, and so on.  Otto needs some sporting gear -- apparently he can get it through the room service console once he gets to his suite.
    Shark checks his console and looks for training tapes, and so on.  Anything they want on board, he notes for them to request later.
    All the suites have a good view outside -- of the whiteout, at present.  They're comfortable, full tech level 15 accommodations.
    Otto finds that there are quite a few courts for various games.  He signs up for matches in several of the indoor facilities.  The IFSS folks find he's a fun opponent, as not only is he a good competitor, but he loses a lot too.  As for outside sports, cross country skiing is available, but there's a snow advisory for that at the moment.

     Back on the Third Eye, Misha asks Robert to connect him with the base commander.  Misha intends to introduce himself and invite him to dinner.  The chain of command sort of stops at present, though, as the Professor is off the base.