(63) Social Intercourse

The Misha Campaign (049-1122 to 051-1122)

059 / 802 local (049-1122 - 050-1122) : Digitis / Vilis / Spinward Marches

    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?"
    "Always pleasure."
    "That must be a long way from home.  Here from Foreven."
    "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, thanks."
    "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 much."
    "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 Janns?"
    "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 do."
    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 kind of..."
    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 here?"
    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 blanks."
    The woman asks, "So where did you hear about this place?"
    "I don't remember," says Helia.
    "It was on our starmaps," says Misha.  Kalida laughs.
    "Lots of things are on our starmaps," says Baba Yaga's captain.
    "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 of Foreven."
    "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 you're drinking?"
    "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 wobbles.
    "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 transparent bottom.
    "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 it.
    Robert muses to himself that he wishes he had some of those bugging devices, so he could find out more about Baba Yaga.
    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."
    "You're not?"
    "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 to be."
    "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 about."
    "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 bugged.
    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.

060 / 802 local (050-1122) : Digitis / Vilis / Spinward Marches

    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 owner wants?
    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, in fact.
    Helia says that their crew is from many different places.  She asks Corinne about the most interesting place they've been.
    "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 like ours?"
    "Probably.  Anything that's ever been pro-actively salvaged you can buy on Attica."
    Robert and Kalida laugh aloud at the phrase "pro-actively salvaged."
    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," observes Corinne.
    "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?"
    "That's Paul."
    "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 get input."
    "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 Imperial format.

    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 his name.
    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 system.
    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 heavily-armed people."
    "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 the astrogator.
    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 game.
    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 it.
    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.

061 / 802 local (050-1122 - 051-1122) : Digitis / Vilis / Spinward Marches

    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 eaten breakfast?"
    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.