During jump, Mich Saginaw has been sparkly pink to
feel the jump grid. He's
making progress, definitely.
Edward "Shark" Teeth has been under Grand Admiral
Baron Bridgehead's care,
having his prosthetic elbow replaced with a real one; he has to spend four
days unconscious in sick bay, and a further day of light duty to recover.
The Baron says he could do it quicker when he gets the hang of the
medical equipment -- Shark as a patient is being very useful in that regard.
After the procedure is over, the Doc shows his student what he did
to build him a new joint. By the time they come out of jump, Shark
is back to full strength. The Baron did a very fine job.
The crew of course have been training for a long
time. It has finally started to pay off == most of them are better
than they used to be at their chosen.
The day before they come out of jump they have one of
the crew's famous parties. Vonish puts together a spectacular spread
-- it's clear why Sir Geoffrey of Adabicci wants
him as his personal chef -- which is nicely complemented by large quantities
of North Whipsnade whisky. The Baron briefly considers buying the
bottle of Blockade Bourbon himself, but concedes that it could make an excellent
present for the Duke of Adabicci to intercede on their behalf. The
Duke certainly carries a great deal of weight with the Archduke, and they
might do better that way than contacting the Archduke personally. Not
to mention that the Duke's youngest son, Sir Geoffrey, is a close personal
friend of Marquis Marcus Crestworthy.
Their social resources are actually pretty good.
They have a Marquis on board, another on Mora, and of course
Grand Admiral Baron Bridgehead, whose supposed death even netted him a TNSobituary. Mich and the Baron
have had a personal audience with Archduke Norris, although it could not
exactly be said that they were personal friends, no matter what Bridgehead
says. Then if Count Fostriades turns out to be still alive (as Shark
believes) he's another noble who can represent their case.
They also discuss the demise of Anastasia
and the city on Pimane
that was evacuated to hide her recovery. Jump astronomy could let
them observe the explosion flashes, but they don't have a big enough array
to get much resolution. At this point it's not worth spending the time
and effort, but it's something they can consider for a later date.
The established crew -- not the newcomers who aren't
aware of it -- discuss the Third Weapon and whether it could produce effects
similar to antimatter bombs. They have run it in simulations, but
never actually used it on anything -- at least, according to Helia (who
should know) they haven't. It didn't look like an antimatter explosion
in the simulations, and apparently the characteristics just aren't similar
enough to mistake it for one. The larian strongly opposes the trial
use of the weapon, even on some apparently lifeless rock -- you never know
if there might actually be life on such a rock. All arguments fail
against her stubborn insistence.
At some point they still need to get somewhere they
can catch up on news. Here it would come in with the scouts from Flammarion,
taking four to six weeks to get here from the xboat route link there.
The asteroid belts occupy two orbits in this system,
blending into one enormous contiguous belt encircling the inner worlds.
Searching all the asteroid belts in Spinward Marches and Foreven
would probably take them at least seven years. Here in Bowman, they'll
spend two months -- eight weeks -- searching the belts. Even Helia's
expert astrogation and
piloting can't save them any time.
Then they have an appointment at Digitis to meet
with someone on 075-1122. Helia says it'll take just four jumps to
While performing the tedious scan, Callisto is very
busy. As pilot and astrogator, Helia too is quite busy. Mich
keeps an eye on the ship's status, making sure it's all red. Everyone
else practices. Shark continues working with his zack, and wants to
improve in sensors in sparkly pink mode -- he wants to be able to fly his
point of view around. Unfortunately for him it's hard to do much at
the moment, as Callisto's using most of the sensors' bandwidth to get this
belt scanned in two months. So instead of working on sensors, he plays
with his robot dog, installing the gravbelt; Kalida helps him.
Misha decides it's time for the Captain to try sparkly
pink mode again, in addition to his regular zack work. He wants to
study everything he can about this ship. The last time he tried it,
it was a very disorienting experience. He thinks it's worth asking
for advice again. Everyone else tells him all he has to do to get into
sparkly pink is sit down at his chair and think about it.
The Grand Admiral says he's doing a long term study
on the effects of sparkly pink, but it's too early for even a preliminary
report. He adds that going into sparkly pink, or just attempting to,
triggers Shark's football sensors.
Misha does as he has been told. He is surrounded
by sparkly pink light.
Everyone but Kalida is surprised when the laser fires
into open space.
Misha looks rather disoriented and dizzy as he drops
out of sparkly pink.
Helia says to the gunner, "Did he make you do that?"
Kalida replies, "He didn't make me."
"Apparently he did. You had an urge to do it,
and you did it. So it's either him or mind-sucking joes."
Misha says, "Did anyone say there was nothing there?"
"We didn't scan anything there. Why?"
"I heard you."
"Did you make her fire there?"
"Yes I did. Or, I made myself fire there. I
figured firing was safer than messing up the scan than moving the ship,
or changing the scanners. So what did it feel like to you?"
"That was cool," says Kalida. "I just suddenly
wanted to fire the laser in that direction. Then I thought about
it and figured it must have been you."
Misha is still feeling a bit dizzy. He settles
back in his chair and says, "I think I'll just go with the flow for a while.
How's the scanning going?"
After a while Misha feels much better. He asks
Kalida to go train long blade with him. She accepts eagerly.
Nightshade flies on through the Bowman Belt,
scanning asteroids. Every day Misha practices with sparkly pink, and
adapts to it quickly. The dizziness goes away after the second time,
and he can switch back and forth easily. He finds he has to be sitting
on a chair on the command dais for sparkly pink to work.
14 days into the scanning, Sagan falls ill. Sie
reports to the sick bay, where Bridgehead works on hir with Shark watching.
Sie spends two days there, then recovers somewhat and goes back to
In the doctor's opinion, it's just some hiver illness, perhaps a bug or
some biochemical imbalance, or a benign something that turned funny.
17 days in, Callisto gets something interesting on
"What is it?" asks Misha.
"I don't know," she replies. "Whatever it is,
it's artificial." The thing is on or in an 80 km diameter asteroid,
and it's not an object in stealth mode.
Misha orders everyone to their stations, drops into
sparkly pink mode, and commands that they change course towards it. It
is clear to him that it is not an immediate threat.