(63) Social Intercourse
The Misha Campaign (049-1122 to 051-1122)
Several of Nightshade's crew have
retired to the bar at the First City Yacht Club following dinner. While
Mich Saginaw and Grand Admiral Baron Bridgehead argue over
the right way to drink gin, the remainder just shrug at the absence of beer
on this world and order wine. Kalida Siena orders whisky; it's certainly
drinkable, but not as good as the North Whipsnade irish-style they picked
up on Wonstar.
Robert Morris has ensured that everyone has
an ample supply of local currency. Helia Sarina really doesn't
use money -- whenever she needs anything, she either charges it to the
ship or someone else buys it for her. On this occasion she hands
her money to Kalida, and orders a large mug of a fruity beverage, insisting
it has to have a glass bottom.
One woman from the crew of Baba Yaga
-- apparently the captain -- comes over to the bar. She says, "Hello!
You must be from that other ship," and orders a drink. She's
wearing the same private uniform as the rest of her crew.
"Yes," says Misha Ravanos.
"You don't see many offworlders here. So
I gather," she says. "Having two here at once is quite a coincidence."
Misha nods, "Quite a coincidence. So you're
here on business or pleasure?"
"Me, business. I run the yacht. My
boss is here on pleasure. He's off checking some records -- one
of his ancestors came here with the original settlers. Right now he's
just lording it up over at Center. I don't expect to see him back
for a couple of days. So what about you? Business or pleasure?"
"That must be a long way from home. Here
"Well, we lived a long life."
"That ship certainly isn't from around here."
Misha nods. He says, "Where are you from?"
Helia comes over, her large mug sporting an
umbrella and a fruit kabob. "How are you doing, ma'am? May
I buy you a drink?"
"That's OK," the woman says, "I've got one,
"May I buy your pilot a drink?"
"No, I think they're all planning to go back
to the ship."
"That's a shame. We were hoping they'd
be interested in hanging out a little and talk ships talk, talk about
travels. Always interested in meeting new people."
"Since you've come such a long way, I'd imagine
you would be."
"I love meeting new people. I'd really
like to talk about Vilis, because I've been to Digitis, I haven't
been to Vilis, and I was very interested, because like, you know
the people from Digitis came from Vilis, and I know how stuff
can get a little twisted, and I'd really like to hear what Vilis
people think about Digitis."
"Um. They don't think about Digitis
"Oh, OK. But you come to visit."
"Well, my boss did. Apparently one of
his ancestors was on the settler ships."
"But then his family went back to Vilis?"
"His side of the family stayed on Vilis."
"So, like, a cousin or an uncle or something."
"Or something. It was either an uncle,
or brother, or the father and everybody else in the family went and his
ancestor stayed, you know, whatever."
"Did he find his family?"
"He's looking through the records."
Helia whispers to the woman, "Are any of them
"Sorry? I didn't catch that."
"There's this story, right, because the people
that settled here, some of them went off to live in the forest. And,
like, it's a completely different culture, so I was wondering if any
of his people were Janns. That would be so cool."
"I don't know. I expect he's hoping they're
the largest landowner or something. Somebody who can entertain
him in the manner he wants to be entertained."
"Oh. There are plenty of places you can
go on this planet where you can be entertained very well for very little
money. At least I think it's very little money. It didn't
seem like it was a lot."
"Well, he pretty much does what he wants to
Helia changes the subject, "Well, we'd like
to buy a round of drinks for your crew if they'd like to stay a little
longer. Maybe tomorrow for lunch? We'll buy lunch tomorrow!"
"OK. As long as we don't have to do something
for the boss, you know."
Helia turns to Misha. She says, "I'm sorry,
sir, you should have invited them. I just got excited at the thought
of spending some time with other travellers."
Misha indicates it's fine with him. He
agrees that noon would be a good time.
Kalida says, "It's not like we're expected anywhere.
For any particular reason. Immediately."
Helia says she'll order a special meal of the
local cuisine, local delicacies and so on. She adds that this
is a nice place to sit out on deck when the ship is due to take off,
"Because you can see before the ship really does take off. Of course,
you know, if the pilot's the one sitting out on the deck, taking off is
Baba Yaga's captain says, "Well, we take
off when the boss tells us, and go where he says, and so on."
"We do too. The boss came and said it
was really time to go, so we left. Believe me, there's no mutiny
on this crew." Helia looks over the other crew, who are getting
ready to leave. Two of the three men are probably in their late
twenties, reasonably attractive. She glances alluringly in their
general direction, but they're not even looking. They get up from
their table and head out of the club.
The woman continues, "So are you all going to
be here for long?"
"A month or so," replies Misha.
"Really? That long? Wow."
Kalida says, "It's a nice quiet place to relax.
How long are you all going to be here?"
"I have no idea. Depends on how long he
wants to stay. We're just here, ready to leave whenever he says
leave. Just keeping everything polished and clean."
"Keep from getting bored," says Helia. "Very
important not to be bored."
"Yes, well it certainly is to him."
"I'd like to meet him."
"Not much of a chance, unless you... Well,
it's possible, who knows, but not talking to me you won't."
"Sounds like my kind of person. Except
for the boss bit."
Kalida asks, "How long have you already been
The woman says, "We've been here a couple of
days. Long enough to figure out the paperwork." She smiles.
"So have you been here before? It seems like an odd place
to come, just to come."
Helia says that they have been here before.
Robert says that's why they know the paperwork.
"Just make a copy of the forms from last time, fill in the appropriate
The woman asks, "So where did you hear about
"I don't remember," says Helia.
"It was on our starmaps," says Misha. Kalida
"Lots of things are on our starmaps," says Baba
"We've been lots of places," smiles Misha.
"Well, where you all are from isn't on my starmap."
"Would you like it to be?" asks Helia.
"Could be useful. We don't have any maps
"Anything you could trade in kind?"
"I don't know. What do you need?"
"Let's talk to our security officer and see.
He's usually good at figuring that sort of thing out. We could
discuss it further at lunch -- that would be a good time."
The woman changes the subject: "So they all
speak galanglic where
you're from? At least, you guys don't seem to have much of an accent."
"Good schools," says Helia seriously. "I
went to good schools." This is one of the few statements about her
past that the larian has said so seriously.
Kalida adds, "When you travel a lot, you tend
to lose things like accents."
"Sometimes accents can be rather a bit of a
bother, too," adds Helia.
The woman continues, "So are you all from Dulu, or...?"
Helia fields this question. "We've all
sort of joined at different times."
The Baron, finally noticing that a strange lady
has joined them at the bar, stands up straight and walks over.
Helia greets him, "How are you doing, sir?"
"Oh, I'm doing fine," says Bridgehead, not deviating
from his path towards the lady.
"What are you drinking?" asks Helia, finally
distracting him. "See, I have this wonderful fruity thing. And
"Yes, so you do. Gin."
"No tonic, no lime?"
"Of course not. Why would you do that?"
"I don't know. I always heard you're supposed
to drink gin and tonic with a twist."
Without missing a beat, Bridgehead takes that
as a cue to show off a couple of dance moves. His drink barely
"What are you going to do about the tonic? Ooh!
I've got some tonic in my stateroom if you want to try it later.
It's got a kick, if you know what I mean. It's not as good
as fish oil, it won't do any tampering brain changes, might kill a few
brain cells but so does that gin."
Mich says, "Gin is its own tonic."
"Well, there you go then. All you have
to do is the twist like the Admiral did."
Bridgehead returns to his original purpose.
He says, "I can't believe you haven't introduced me to this nice
lady here." He steps forward and shakes her hand. "Grand
Admiral Baron Bridgehead, nice to meet you."
The woman looks taken aback. She says,
"Hello. I'm Corinne Elliot."
Helia is amused that the Baron is coming on
to this woman. She moves to a seat that gives her a prime view,
next to Kalida. She raises her mug and looks at them through the
"What is that?" asks the Baron, but looking
at Corrinne. "I always think gin is much more refined, don't you?"
Helia says, "Well, when you look like a kid,
you can get away with a lot." Helia doesn't really look like a kid
-- she's dressed for dinner at a posh yacht club. She's not in
her diaphanous stuff, but some kind of floaty stuff that shows off her
figure. Oddly enough her backpack doesn't look out of place with
Robert muses to himself that he wishes he had
some of those bugging devices, so he could find out more about Baba
As for the Baron, he is apparently being a bugging
device himself -- at least, Corinne is starting to look rather uncomfortable
with his attentions.
Helia and Kalida notice this. The larian
says loudly, "I need to go powder my nose. Captain, would you care
to join me? Kalida? Why don't we all go powder our nose together?
Baron, sir, we shall be back."
Kalida stands up, and so does Corinne. The
three of them head to the ladies' room.
Once there, Helia pulls out various things from
various pockets and starts fiddling with them. She says to Corinne,
"Ma'am, how long do you want to give the Baron to possibly give up on
you? He's pretty persistent. No, I think if I may be so bold
as to suggest, it's time to make a strategic retreat, and... sit by us tomorrow.
I'll see if the captain can manipulate the Baron rather further away."
Kalida adds, "Avoidance is really the only option."
Helia continues, "But he's a very nice gentleman,
don't get me wrong. But he likes beautiful women and he's lonely."
Corinne says, "Well, I guess I should be flattered."
"Oh yes. Beautiful women of what he would
deem to be correct social status. So it really is quite flattering.
He thinks I'm too short and too young. I keep him thinking
I'm too short and too young."
"Well, you know, once you're lying down, height
can be irrelevant. But as far as the too young, does a twelve year
old really look like this? I come from a very small family."
"So you're from somewhere out in Foreven, I guess?"
"Oh yes. Very small planet. Very
backwater. I was lucky enough to receive a fine education and be
recognized for my skills."
"The Baron looks Imperial. Is that
an Imperial nobility?"
"The Baron's life story is truly his story, but
I'm sure you don't want to ask him. At the very least he fancies
himself to be Imperial nobility."
Kalida concurs, "He certainly considers himself
"And he has the money and the manners to back
it up. Like I said, he's a good man."
"I tell you what," says Corinne, "I'll slip out
by the deck, and I'll see you guys tomorrow at lunch. Give my apologies
to... most of the others."
Helia smiles, "We'll tell him you were called
back to the ship, needed aboard."
Corinne leaves. Helia and Kalida return
to the bar.
Bridgehead immediately says, "Where's Miss Elliot?"
"She was called back to the ship," says Helia.
"She said what a pleasure it was to meet everybody, and she's looking
forward to lunch tomorrow."
"Hm. Well, good." The Baron continues,
"She didn't seem so bad at all. I don't see what all the fuss was
"You know, that's a lovely yacht. You could
see if they have a doctor on board, and perhaps tour their facilities."
The Baron thinks that is a good idea, although
he's sure the facilities are pretty primitive. Of course, they
were pretty primitive on H.M.S.
Third Eye, too.
When the ladies left, Misha told the others that
he was going back too. He left Teri Cralla as Mich's bodyguard,
and went down to the beach. Marquis Korwin Vanderfield was still
shuttling the others back to Nightshade in the air/raft.
While he's waiting, Corinne Elliot comes down
from the deck. She too waits on the beach, although about twenty
meters along from Misha. A standard Imperial air/raft emerges from
a bay in the upper hull of Baba Yaga and heads towards her.
Later, when the rest of the crew get back on
board, Robert does a sweep for bugs. None of the crew are apparently
With that out of the way, Helia changes into
something more comfortable and goes to stretch her wings in the solarium.
Later that evening, the crew gather in the lounge
to discuss the Baba Yaga situation. Helia asks Misha, "Are
we all supposed to be passing ourselves off as being from Dulu? No?
That's good, because it's not going to fly."
"No," says Robert sarcastically, "We know who
we're supposed to be passing ourselves off as." He stares at the
Baron. "You all have very good credentials."
"Except for the Baron," says Helia, "Who decides
to pass himself off as the Baron."
"Oops," says the Baron without sincerity. Helia
berates him for a while, but it doesn't seem to impress the old curmudgeon.
They follow this up with a slightly heated discussion over whether
Bridgehead should have been hitting on the captain of Baba Yaga.
It's approaching time for lunch at the Yacht Club.
Robert has prepared some of his pinhead bugs to plant on the captain
or crew of the other ship.
Attending lunch are Misha, Helia, Kalida, Robert,
and Baron Bridgehead. Helia and Kalida have asked Misha to help keep
Bridgehead away from Corinne, subtly if possible, as they don't want him
interfering with the other crew. Teri will stay behind to ensure
Mich's safety on Nightshade.
Everyone arrives much at the same time, the air/rafts
from each ship pulling up alongside each other on the beach. Baba
Yaga is represented by the same crew as last time, two women (including
Corinne Elliot) and three men.
They all sit down at a table, and pleasant greetings
are exchanged. The musical chairs that leads to the final seating
positions is quite elaborate, as Nightshade's crew tries to keep
the Baron away from either of the women. While they manage to get
him well away from Corinne, he does end up sitting next to the other woman.
Her name turns out to be Sharon Hatherly, and she seems to be quite
taken with Bridgehead's patter. In the confusion, Robert didn't manage
to get to Corinne's seat in time to dump his bugs on it -- he'll just have
to try again later.
Lunch, surprisingly enough, is a meal with no ulterior
motives. The entire time is spent in pleasant small talk. Bridgehead
in particular is having a good time, apparently impressing Sharon so much
he even tells an Imperial Navy story and keeps her interest. Misha
sees this and leaps to the immediate conclusion that she's a spy.
Robert chats about trade routes they could follow
after their R&R here, but no-one on the other ship seems to know anything
about trading. Why should they, since they just do what their ship
Their discussion of Vilis sounds like they
know the place well, and there's nothing to indicate that they're not
in fact from there. The whole crew professes to be from Vilis,
Helia says that their crew is from many different
places. She asks Corinne about the most interesting place they've
"That would have to be Attica," says Corinne.
"It's just a very... interesting place. The people and the
situation both. Have you not heard of Attica?"
"I've not ever been," says Helia.
"Well if you ever want spares for a strange ship
like yours, you can probably find them there."
This gets Misha's attention. He says, "What
do you mean, strange?"
"It doesn't look like anything else I've ever seen."
"Except on Attica?"
"No, I've never seen anything like it on Attica.
But you can buy anything on Attica."
"Anything?" asks Helia. "Could you buy a ship
"Probably. Anything that's ever been pro-actively
salvaged you can buy on Attica."
Robert and Kalida laugh aloud at the phrase "pro-actively
Helia says, "That is kind of an interesting way
to put it, isn't it?"
"Yes," continues Corinne, "I'd have to say that
Attica is the most interesting. I'm not sure that I'd really
want to make a habit of going there, but it was interesting. Just
don't give shore leave to your crew unless you know they can handle it
-- or you don't care if you lose them."
"Or bring Teri along," muses Helia. She explains,
"She was the other lady with us last night. The quiet one."
Corinne nods. She says, "So where's the most
interesting place you've been?"
"Here's pretty interesting."
"It is? I must admit I haven't seen much of
the world, but it doesn't look that interesting so far."
"The ecology is interesting, says Helia. "The
people are kind of interesting because there's like two different kinds
of people. There's the people here, and the Janns. The Janns
are kind of like descendants of the settlers that didn't want to live in
the city so they went and lived in the woods, and they got kind of -- they
wanted to have a very, very different society, they actually may be the first
humanoid people to ever want to turn the clock back in terms of sophistication.
So they lost something in terms of that, but I think they might have
gained something in terms of peace of mind. The citizens here do not
have a very high opinion of the Janns because of that. They regard
them as people who shirk their duty by sneaking off into the woods. They
very much believe in a sense of duty and everyone having their place. It's
an interesting society. The forests are incredible if you get a chance
to go visit. The air is stimulating, it's just beautiful."
"The air's pretty thin and polluted around here,"
"The air is just delightful in the forest, trust
me. If you do go, make sure you have an escort -- a native escort
-- with you."
"I doubt I'm going to get a chance."
"Yes, that's much more the kind of thing that...
fortunately we have a much more egalitarian sort of crew than on a private
yacht. We're not at the whim of an owner in that way."
"So what do you do?"
"I'm the pilot."
"I meant the ship."
"Oh." Helia pauses. "Travel. We're
on a mission, the captain pretty much knows what it is. We gather...
stuff. Do some trading. Speaking of which, in trade for the
starmaps of Foreven, my security officer said he'd be very interested to
see the interior of your ship, since it's so different from ours."
"Sure, if the boss is away."
"My security officer has offered to bring you the
starcharts for Foreven if he and his second could come see."
"That'd be great, thank you!"
"He's not here at the moment, but John's here and
I can introduce you to him in a moment." John Brunner glances over
at the mention of his name. Helia continues, "They like seeing new
ships. I wouldn't mind coming along too and talking with your pilot.
Who is your pilot, by the way?"
"Is he also your astrogator? No? You
have a separate astrogator?"
"Yes. That's Sharon." Corinne indicates
the woman who is currently enraptured by the Baron's tale of obtaining a
suitably dry martini on a visit to Pysadi.
Helia calls over to Sharon. "So you're an astrogator?"
Sharon doesn't seem to want the Baron's story to
be interrupted, but she does acknowledge Helia.
The larian continues, "I have an astrogation problem
I'd love to discuss with you later."
"Sure," says Sharon, "Later would be fine."
"Lovely. I have a cousin who's a mathematician
and she and I have an argument about what the real solution is to this
one particular problem. It's a little difficult. I'd love to
"Oh, OK. Sure." Sharon smiles politely
and returns her undivided gaze to the Baron.
Helia has of course brought a bag of candy for Captain
Elliot. Corinne says her favorite kind is sweet hard candy, and Helia
goes on to recommend some from her bag and continues telling her about all
the different kinds that are in it. Helia then offers to have Vonish
Kehnaan bake some pastries for them and bring them over to Baba Yaga
later. She explains that Vonish has been helping the chef for this
meal, and the two of them have emphasized local delicacies in their selection
of the menu.
As they disperse after the meal, Helia tells Robert
(John) about the tour of the ship she's arranged. They'll try to do
it this afternoon -- Robert wants enough lead time to prepare any electronics
he wants, as well as to get the starcharts into Imperial data storage form.
It's agreed to do the tour at 3 pm. He's already planted half
a dozen of his pinhead monitors on Corinne. Bridgehead and his new
friend have retired to the deck for some more drinks and some privacy.
Back on board the ship, Robert first scans everyone
(except the Baron, who has stayed ashore) for bugs. He finds two --
one each on himself and Misha. He takes them to the lab and checks
them out. They are simple TL-15 Imperial style devices, programmed
to record and then burst transmit at predetermined pseudo-random times. The
one on Robert has transmitted once so far. He loads them with audio
recordings of them doing their gravcraft simulations, and then puts them
back on their original hosts.
Robert then prepares a portable device to trigger
and read his pinheads, and puts together the Foreven starcharts in standard
John Brunner, Roger Jolly, and Belladonna head over
to Baba Yaga in the air/raft, driven by Korwin. The vehicle
bay on the Imperial ship is on the upper surface towards the rear, and
there's plenty of room to drop in comfortably beside the air/raft and civilian
gcarrier already there.
Korwin returns to Nightshade while the others have their tour.
Corinne shows them the entire ship except for the
owner's luxury quarters. Everything looks standard Imperial, about
TL-14. The ship is reasonably but not excessively armed, all consistent
with it indeed being a 1000 std yacht. The luxury quarters would be
plenty big enough to conceal special facilities, but there's no evidence
that they're not what they say they are. There's a large observation
dome in those quarters that they can see from outside the ship. It's
a big yacht indeed -- much larger than standard noble fare. Whoever
the owner is -- the crew won't give a name -- is clearly very well off indeed.
One advantage of being on Digitis, of course,
is that the owner himself would have had to fill in and file the paperwork
in person at the customs office. There would be a record there of
Belladonna finds that Sharon is not as good an astrogator
as she is. The problem Belladonna presents is indeed difficult, and
the human says she'll have
to give it some serious computer time, and get back to her. The two
of them install the starmaps of Foreven on Baba Yaga's astrogation
The pilot, Paul, is probably quite decent. A
few casual questions indicate that the crew has a very long running game
of poker that occupies their spare moments, and that no one of the crew
is a consistent winner. Belladonna tells him a sea story of a cheater
on one ship and his fate; Paul responds with the tale of a merchant who
lost his entire crew -- the crew, not the ship -- in a poker game on Attica.
He adds if you're lost in a poker game on Attica, it's better
not to argue your fate.
Belladonna asks Paul about Attica. He
says, "It's dangerous. It can be very interesting, but you have to
like that on-the-edge stuff. As they say, you can buy anything there."
The larian says, "I've found that due to my stature
of being unusual, places like that are dangerous unless I'm surrounded by
"On Attica you're always surrounded by heavily-armed
people," Paul laughs.
"I mean of my own team."
"There are some unusual people on Attica."
"I've enjoyed some of the unusual people I've met
other places, so I guess unless we get bored or my captain gets a hankering
to go there for something..." She makes a mental note that Attica
may be the best place to sell the bottle. Aloud she says, "What about
a nice luxury planet, like a recreational planet?"
Paul says he's not really into the vacation stuff.
The owner doesn't go to those sorts of places. He implies that
the owner is independently wealthy, and Paul says he doesn't know where
he gets his money, but there's no shortage of it. The wages are good,
he says, and it's a good job if you like poker.
Belladonna says that they're probably leaving on
a train the next morning, but if not then perhaps they could set up a poker
game at the yacht club for the two crews. She says she'll leave him
word either way.
Meanwhile, John and Roger are done with their tour.
This being the last certain chance of being close to the captain,
John triggers the pinhead burst. At this point, of course, he has no
idea how many devices responded or what their content was -- he can review
that back on the ship. They have seen nothing inconsistent with it
being a TL-14 yacht. The ship is good workmanship, and in fact it appears
to have been built by Ling Standard Products
as a one-off special construction. It would have been quite expensive.
It's been spotlessly maintained, and everything is clean, polished,
and gleaming. Roger has noticed that they're always being watched,
of course, and that everyone on the ship is subtly armed -- except Sharon
They call Korwin and return to Nightshade.
Robert debugs them, and this time finds there are no new ones. He
is disappointed to find that there was no response from his pinheads --
apparently they'd been swept.
Misha has decided that they will leave for Cormor
Home tomorrow. Belladonna sends her regrets to Paul about the poker
Helia is concerned about security on the ship while
they're gone, but she's sure that it won't let anyone in if it isn't appropriate.
That night, Misha has a project of his own. He
plans to visit the customs office, alone except for a small camera. He
has a zack, and so he can approach it underwater all the way.
There are lights on at the office. It's a small
building on the pier, about ten meters from the shore. There's an
ample walkway around it on both sides. There's a front door and back
door, a couple of side doors, and a good number of windows. Misha could
even come in from underneath through the pier floor, but that would leave
traces. There's never been any sign of guards.
Misha leaves unobtrusively through Nightshade's
main cargo lift, which lowers under the water as the ship floats in the
harbor. He swims out, zack faceplate pulled down, and dives underneath
the pier to the far side of the building. That'll keep him out of
sight of the yacht club and any personal ships moored in front of it --
the commercial anchorages on the other side are apparently completely inactive
at this time of night.
The occupied offices are brightly lit -- the front
desk and back desk. The back desk is smaller than the front, but is
also attended by one person. Everything else is lit dimly by nightlights.
There seems to be no-one else in the building. Moving to a
side door, he easily picks the lock and slips inside.
Misha's goal is to get to the records. The trick,
of course, is finding them. He knows that they're not at the front
desk, or in several interior interview rooms. That narrows it down
to three rooms, and the second of those proves to be full of filing cabinets.
He slips in silently, closing the door behind him.
Misha brings Edward "Shark" Teeth online with the
commdot and camera, and asks him to direct him to the right filing cabinet.
Unfortunately, none of them are labeled in galanglic. They
are however labeled in Jannish, which Robert manages to translate. Of
course it's baby talk to him, linear in thought process, but he can read
The filing cabinets seem to be organized with duplicate
records, one set in date order, the other for individual ships, and quite
possibly other copies for other reasons. The records by starship
are in a couple of cabinets, in which many of the forms are in galangic.
Robert and Shark direct Misha to the folder containing the paperwork
for Baba Yaga.
Baba Yaga's forms have been filled in using
Jannish, not galanglic. The forms for their current visit are here,
and also the ship has been here six times in the last ten years. Misha
scans all the forms for later examination.
Then he finds the forms for Third Eye, in galanglic
of course, and a separate folder for Nightshade. The latter
are all in Jannish, filled in remotely from by the ship acting on their
behalf. Misha scans them too, then puts everything back exactly as
it was and slips back out into the water. He swims back to the ship
and boards, again through the underwater cargo lift.
Back on board, they examine the forms. Nightshade
filled in the forms in the local Jannish, the baby talk version of the
script language that the ship uses as its native tongue. Baba
Yaga filled in the latest visit as here from Vilis / Vilis, here
on pleasure, the owner is Brian Waterson. That name does not turn
up in any of Shark's records or computer searches. It does not mention
where he's going, just that he's here for pleasure, vacation, whatever.
Nightshade has filled in the forms similarly.
It has used their real names each time, as that was what they were
using the first time here.
The team is ready to leave for Cormor Forest. Among
the equipment is of course the large backpack with Robert's commdot relay
equipment, the flawed but most reliable method of communicating with the
ship from the Forest. They're also bringing the two-code one way communicator
running off the ship's power.
Instructions for those remaining behind are easy: "Don't
let anyone else on board. Don't leave."
Suddenly they notice that the Admiral isn't here. Everyone
moans. Misha asks Robert to connect him with Baba Yaga.
"Is our doctor over there?" says Misha.
"Why yes," responds Corinne on the Vilisian yacht, "Yes
he is. As it turns out. I think he's down having a very hearty
breakfast right now."
"I'll bet," mutters Kalida.
"Do you want to talk to him?" asks Corinne.
"Yes," says Misha firmly.
"OK. I'll go fetch him."
After a short while, Bridgehead comes on the line. "Hello,"
he says brightly.
Misha asks, "Are you having a good time?"
"Could you come back to the ship?"
"Well, I suppose I can. Can you wait until I've
There's still an hour or so before they need to leave
to catch the train. Misha says, "You've got half an hour."
Bridgehead assures him he'll be back on time.
Misha closes the channel. He says to his crew,
"He's not going with us on the train, I just want to make sure that..."
"He's here and stays here," says Kalida.
Helia laughs, "He's not going to stay here. He's
going to go get laid again."
"She's right," says Kalida.
Helia continues, "The Admiral is a goat, and he wanted
to get laid and he did. He's going to go back and get laid again.
Not that I don't... regret him his pleasure, but I think the absence
of a woman to make his heart grow fonder has made him rather blind when
it comes to doing his duty. He's incompetent. Mentally incompetent
at this time."
Misha laughs, "What do you mean, 'At this time?'"
"The little head is in charge."
Misha tells Robert that when the Admiral gets back,
he's to check him for bugs, then bug him.
Indeed, when the Baron returns to Nightshade
-- in an air/raft driven by Sharon Hatherly, which he directs her to land
on the port patio -- he checks out clean for bugs, much to their surprise.
Shark will continue Robert's work of checking everyone
for bugs when they come aboard, and administer planting bugs as required.
Robert suggests just leaving Baba Yaga's bugs on him, and simply
pick up the broadcast from them.
So Bridgehead, Callisto, Korwin, and Vonish will stay
behind, while Misha, Shark, Robert, Mich, Helia, Kalida, and Teri go to visit
the Sheriff. Time to leave for the train.