Currently there are five crew on the HMS Third Eye:
The new TNS entries are interesting. The Anastasia folks notice that not only did Baron Bridgehead get his promotion, but Fostraides is now married (to the Scorpionis Marine Lia Gerrata) and a Count. Now they know where "that letter" went...?
The whole crew discuss the TNS entries, particularly the Pimane red zone, with Baron Bridgehead. They find the reference to domed cities (in the plural) interesting. The conclusion is that it's journalist error.
The Marquis addresses the ship's personnel and introduces their new First Officer, Misha Ravanos.
Baron Bridgehead buys himself a new wardrobe appropriate to his station.
There will be two anthropologists and three zoologists on the expedition to Gorram. Their equipment, along with that requested by Robert and Mich, is be loaded onto the ship.
Avon notived that the dog's horns have grown since he's been on board -- they weren't that long to begin with. Marc and the Baron also discuss conducting intelligence tests on it.
Robert searches the networks to find out about the new scientists. They have no special requirements, and are all human. One each of the zoologists and anthropologists are on the faculty, the remainder are graduate students. They all appear to be who they say they are. All started out as undergraduates at the University of Mora. Robert follows their career back into high school and so on, and their record is complete and consistent. All those coming have done field work before. Now of the Anastasia crew there's three listed as ex-Naval: Mich and Baron Bridgehead were Imperial Navy, whereas Avon was system Navy; Teri is supposedly ex-marine, but there's no records on her, supposedly because she's from outside the Imperium. Here at the Domain capital, more information is potentially available, but security is much higher.
Marquis Marc discusses the crew with Misha. Crazy Bob of course will not be on board the ship. Marc puts together a dietary requirements and preferences questionaire to send out out to everyone. They also intend to celebrate any birthdays that occur during the trip (planned to be around three months duration).
Marc then reviews the rumor about Gorram. No-one has studied the creatures yet. Baron Bridgehead points out the similarities to the dogs on Pimane. Marc explains that the planet is red-zoned because someone claimed that there is a low-level society there, and he has no more information on that. Misha would really like to see the Scout report that led to this; the Marquis suggests that Robert might be able to find out about it for him.
Misha asks Robert about Gorram. Robert just tells him what he found out earlier. Misha is determined to find out as much as possible about it, though. The Marquis wants to use his noble contacts to get stuff from the scout database, but it's mainly a bureaucratic base here, and the person he did know here has been promoted further into the Imperium.
Baron Bridgehead uses his sources (Naval and otherwise) to check on any studies on psionic animals. There are no records of that sort of study. In the public records, there is a generally held opinion that animal brains would not be able to support psionics -- it requires an advanced mind. There has been no other real research in this area, as was a dead end. Checking on Gorram, he finds no information on the supposed primitive race. His Naval contacts have never contacted the race either.
The Marquis checks the astrographic maps for scout bases on or near the route to Gorram. Resten would be on the route, but that's also very close to the base at the subsector capital on Lunion. There is also a base on Mercury, also on the way. He asks Robert for permanent personnel lists for the scout bases at Mercury, Resten, and Lunion. This data does require combining and matching data from various sources, but it's all available from public data. The Marquis notes that Adabicci, where his friend the Duke lives, is very close to Lunion; it's likely both of them know people at the Scout Base there.
Robert has been checking into the data on the Third Eye's computer systems. He finds all sorts of interesting information in there...
Robert finds the original Scout report on Gorram. It's sketchy and contains very little detail. It's based on three days of survey orbiting at the planet. During that period there were found signs of rock-built shelters in patterns which indicate intelligence rather than instinct. There are signs of areas being cleared and possible primitive agriculture. The report contains a recommendation that the system be red-zoned pending further investigation. The report includes no information on what sort of creatures might be involved. The report also suggests that the inhospitable environment might provide more evolutionary pressure for the rapid development of intelligence. The preliminary investigation has a project number, but not much budget has been assigned to it. A docking station has been established in orbit, and occasional visits every two or three years from the scout base at Resten. The rest of the time the station is unmanned. Reports and measurements on conditions, temperature changes, some mapping, but nothing more on the inhabitants. The docking station would have been established about 50 years ago.
That's the best information so far; Misha reports this to the Marquis. Everyone else's investigations have revealed essentially nothing. No-one has set foot on the planet, except for the red zone violation by the free trader Donsharid. No-one else has actually landed.
The celebration for the Baron's new title goes off extremely well.
The head of department at the UoM is in attendence, eager to meet the famous
Grand Admiral doctor. Bridgehead asks him if there any creatures
that might have psychic capabilities -- the professor suggests asking the
head of the zoology department. So the Baron asks the Zoology head,
who replies, "Sure. Have you ever noticed that when a cat enters
a room, it goes straight for the person who's allergic to them?"
The question of the quality of the Third Eye's medical facilities
"This ship is surely state of the art," says the medical Professor, "It's what, two years old?"
"Of course it is," replies the Baron, "I sometimes like to jest with my friend here."
"It's nice to realize that doctors can have a sense of humor too," the Professor replies.
The evening passes, with a final toast to the Grand Admiral Baron Bridgehead (no first name).
At some point, Alice mentions to Avon that she'd noticed that Pimane has been red-zoned. He says it happened when he was planetside, and it's a special arrangement. The report mentions about solar flares... Avon says, "Yes, non-existent solar flares." Al:"It doesn't say non-existent." Av:"That's not general public knowledge." Al:"OK. I mentioned it because there's a system out my way that's red-zoned because of solar flares, and the rumors are that the Imperium is testing a tactical Star Trigger out there." Av:"Well in this case it's because they're retrieving a ship that's crashed in a lake."
The Marquis will turn 46 on this flight; Vonish will be turning 40.
They jump for Moran. They're planning to make it a fairly quick trip, with minimal stopover time.
They jump for Mercury.
Robert opens a channel for Marquis Marc to the Scout Base. Marc gets through to the senior officer -- not someone he knows -- and introduces himself. He explains that they're on a research mission to the Gorram system, and wonders if there's any updated data the base can provide. The officer checks, but nothing has been updated.
While here, they find some new TNS entries. The first, dated 226-1119, announces that the evacuation of Pimane has been completed. The second is dated 228-1119. It's also from Pimane, and states that a solar flare has destroyed the Naval freighter Paul McGann, which was lost with almost 200 personnel aboard.
Sir Bridgehead is suspicious. He thinks they intentionally destroyed the ship. Avon's suspicion is that the report is completely bogus and is to prevent anyone from looking for the ship. Amazing how things happen just after they leave...
They do a two-day layover to refuel and to give the pilot a chance to recover.
Today is the Marquis' birthday. He's now 46. They have the celebration after they enter jump for Resten.
Baron Bridgehead and Mich both notice that 200 is rather a lot of crew for a 25kt freighter... The Baron wonders if their ship was on that freighter and they blew it up, but why the 200 people? Mich points out that they know the first one about flares was faking, so perhaps this one has been too. Another possibility, suggests the Baron, that they accidentally triggered the Anastasia's nukes, and it blew up the freighter, and they has to come up with some story to cover it; perhaps the 200 people was because they were all working on the ship.
It's the middle of the night (Imperial time) when they arrive. The Marquis didn't leave orders to be woken up, so he's still asleep.
Resten is a fairly cold planet orbiting a gas giant. There is not much in the system, but there is the important thing they want -- the Scout Base.
The ship lands at the starport while the First Officer is on watch. When the Marquis wakes up, he asks if the "eye" was cleared from the front of the ship. It wasn't, as it was not in the orders to remove the eye when entering any populated areas; it will be shortly.
After the usual excellent breakfast, Marquis Marcus Crestworthy asks Robert Morris to do two things: open a channel to the Scout Base, and (without getting caught) find out as much as possible about their destination.
Since they're off the normal trade route, there won't be any more news here about the events in Pimane.
Robert finds out that someone visited Gorram last year and was gathering weather data. There's a maintenance mission scheduled for the docking station early next year; that mission is also intended to do some surface mapping. A couple of years after that, a long-term mission is planned to man the docking station for quite some time, to have someone there through the full range of temperature changes.
Meanwhile the Marquis talks to the Scout Base: "I am Marquis Marcus Crestworthy, HMS Third Eye, on a scientific research mission as authorized by Imperial authorization note IN-RZ-421-9032. We're requesting any information you can give us on Gorram. Is there any history or research data that could help our scientists?" Scout"Sure, we'll check your authorization code and give you what we've got." MMC:"By the way, is Greg Hardin on duty this morning?" Sc:"No, he's not here now." MMC:"If he gets in within the next day or so, please tell him his old friend the Marquis is here." Sc:"No, he's been transferred. He's working out of the main base at Lunion now." The Marquis thanks him, and signs off.
Marc asks Robert for a current staffing of the Scout Base here on Resten, if he can get that too. He provides it immediately. Unfortunately, the Marquis doesn't recognize any of the names.
The data is made available to all the researchers, and they have until this evening to decide whether they want more gear. They don't; they already are prepared for all feasible temperature and weather extremes.
The Marquis decides to leave tomorrow. That gives their crew extra time to rest, and gives David more time to run preventive maintenance.
In the evening, a ship enters the system and hails the Third Eye.
They ask if Baron Bridgehead is on board, and say they need to send someone
over with a communications packet for him. They'll land right by
them, and should be there in about four or five hours, around midnight.
Robert informs the Baron, and of course the Marquis. In turn, Misha
will be expecting the visit.
The courier arrives and enters the ship. BB:"Good evening, sir!" Co:"Baron Bridgehead?" BB:"Yes. Speaking." Co:"Good. This is for you." BB"Thank you." and gives him the special code and informs him of their journey so far. The co says he's returning to his ship, and if the Baron needs to reply he should let him know, otherwise they'll leave shortly.
The message is a sealed envelope. It is addressed to "Grand Admiral Baron Bridgehead." The Baron opens it, and finds a small hand-written note from the Seneschal:
"The recovery of the Anastasia went as planned except for one thing. The freighter carrying your ship was destroyed in an explosion on achieving orbit. Obviously we expect foul play but we have no clue at the moment as to who was responsible or how it was achieved. The explosion originated in the engineering area, and we think it was an antimatter bomb. If you have any clues I would be very grateful if you would send them by returen courier."Bridgehead shows the note to Mich. "Do you have any idea what could have happened?"
Avon wonders whether it was the engineering section of which ship.
Mich replies, "The antimatter generators on the Anastasia generates
the antimatter and consumes it almost immediately. There is no storage
facility for the antimatter. The fusion engines would have had to
have been active to generate the antimatter in the first place."
BB:"The freighter was taking it back to Mora. they would have not been working on it on board. You know what strikes me about this -- remember the missing crew members?"
Mi:"Jill in particular?"
BB:"I'm wondering if that could have anything to do with it. I suggest we mention the fact that there was the air-raft and the gcarrier gone. Jill was missing, but so was Brock, Joe, Vana, Varda, and a lot of the marines. It may be that the sabotage operation was done by people that we were essentially friends with on the Anastasia. Why they would do it is beyond me. You all have any ideas? It not just who, but that whoever did this was willing to have 200 people die in consequence of their actions."
Mi:"Well, 200 people is a large number for that type of salvage operation. It's about twice what I would expect."
Av:"Marines are not exactly known for their unwillingness to sacrifice lives if it seems like it's useful."
BB:"I'm just trying to figure out who else could have been behind that.
Av:"It's either them or somebody that they told, because otherwise nobody knew about it. So that's the place to start."
BB:"The other possibility is that it was done intentionally by the Imperium."
Av:"That would be stupid. To go to all that expense of evacuating 9000 people and then blow up their ship?"
Mi:"Maybe they didn't blow it up, but they now have it for themselves and it's no longer under our own control."
Av;"They could be lying. That was my first thought."
BB:"Maybe the ship is alive and well."
Mi:"That is a possibility, and the antimatter is trying to be a cover for something plausible. But I know that the antimatter generators in the jump engine would not be able to do that. They were not operational, the don't store antimatter."
Av:"But it could have been in the engine area of the other ship."
BB:"Would any of the people that were on the ship have had the expertise to build an antimatter bomb?"
Mi:"WE KNOW NOTHING ABOUT JILL. WE NEVER HAVE KNOWN ANYTHING ABOUT JILL. Yet we took her in and believed everything she ever had to say."
BB laughs:"We didn't believe anyone else, but we believed Jill."
Av;"She seemed nice enough, in her own way."
Mi:"I never believed Jill."
Av;"Yeah, actually the circumstances where we took her in were quite a bit suspicious, now that I recall them."
Mi:"That's what I've been trying to tell you for the last year and a half!"
Av:"It wasn't my decision to take her in. It was the Captain's."
Mi to BB:"Well you backed her up 100%."
BB:"Not me. What did I say? I don't remember having any input into this."
There is a pause.
Mi:"Jill was odd. She wasn't coming clean about anything. Now she did come apart in some battledress..."
BB:"Well I hope I didn't make a big mistake with Jill."
Av:"How did we get Jill in the first place? Remind me..."
Mi"She came with Jack. We found her on some planet away from anything."
Av:"Jack we were looking for because he was mentioned in the original letter."
Mi:"We had evidence that Jack had been mentally tampered with, and everyone that Jill came in contact with had evidence of being mentally tampered with. She was mentally tampering with people, which is why we were wearing the helmets when she was around."
BB:"Well I guess that we didn't really trust her after all... I think we need to put this information in a document to send to the Seneschal. It's at least going to let him know what we suspect. There is the possibility that this was done intentionally by the Imperium, that they had the ship and they just don't want us to get it."
Av:"We don't have to tell him that, because he's the one behind it."
BB:"No, no. If that is the situation then there's nothing we can do about it. So assuming that isn't the situation, this seems this is the most likely alternative."
Av:"We have to trust someone. We have less reason to trust Jill than to trust him."
Mi:"I thought you gave him full disclosure about Jill and how you reanimated her."
BB:"I didn't say anything about who Jill was. Anyway, we need to tell him these possibilities in light of what we now know."
Bridgehead writes a longhand reply, laying out what their suspicions
are about Jill, and that they assume that the bodies have just not been
recovered, and so on. He adds the suspicion that Jill had been tampering
with people's minds, and that they didn't really know who Jill was.
He closes with a note that the Seneschal can consider them at his bidding.
Av:"Just don't explain that we were idiots. Why did we do that? Next time we need to listen to Mich more."
BB hands the reply to the courier (called over from his ship), and says they'll be at Gorram for the next three months, and they can contact him there.
BB:"This is so sad that we've lost our ship. That medical equipment
Av:"A lot of things in that ship were irreplaceable. You know what both of you should do, since you worked so much on the advanced equipment? You should write down anything you can remember about how it worked in every detail, since all the records you had before were probably lost on the ship. There's a lot of technology that could be lost for a long time again."
Mi:"We've got a starting point. Professor Farol has all the details on the ship and the modifications and so on."
Unfortunately BB has no such record of the medical equipment. There was never any record of where it came from, aside from the General Products plates.
Mi:"If they actually did recover the ship and are just making excuses so that we don't get our hands on it, the jump drive technology... there are extremely few people in the Imperium who could understand what they have their hands on. Three people as far as I know: the Professor, Fostraides, and myself."
Av:"We've filled the Marquis on some of what happened...?"
BB:"I think we ought to tell the Marquis that the ship has been lost. One thing is that he's going to find out anyway sometime, and if we don't tell him it seems like we've been withholding information."
Mi:"We can tell just him that the flares destroyed the ship."
BB:"All I'm going to tell him is that the ship was destroyed in that freighter."
Mi:"We don't need to let him imply that we sent the freighter to recover the ship. We didn't mention that to him."
Av:"Look, we don't need to make it so complicated. We just need to tell him that we got reliable information that the ship was destroyed."
The courier ship leaves.
BB:"Marquis! Our ship has gone. We have lost our ship.
That's what that message was about."
MMC:"An asteroid fall on it...?"
BB:"We don't know exactly. The transmission is lacking in details, but the Anastasia is no more."
MMC:"I'm sorry to hear that."
BB:"So am I."
Misha:"So how was it destroyed?"
BB:"I don't know."
Av:"Well, the news says there's solar flares."
BB:"Supposedly it had something to do with the solar flares. I don't know exactly how it happened."
Av:"So we don't have another ship to go to."
MMC:"You're on a perfectly adequate ship."
Mi:"You're right, it is an adequate ship."
Av:"In case I wasn't perfectly clear, if you're looking for additional ship's crew there's no longer a ship to which I might be getting attached."
MR:"Well that's sort of the question I was getting to, was does that change any of your plans?"
Av:"It eliminates most of our immediate plans, actually."
BB:"We are currently lost in space."
They don't even need to visit Spirelle -- their money can be wired back to Mora.
So there's six from the Anastasia. There's Brdigehead,
Mich, Avon, Aclice, Teri, and Jenny. Misha asks if they're all still
interested in going to Gorram. That's fine by them, but they
do all want to return to Mora -- BB wants to talk to the Seneschal.
BB:"I would like to submit myself as being chief medical officer of your crew, and also to assist in doing research."
MMC:"For the duration of this mission? As far as pay goes, though, I'm not sure I can afford an additional six crew members."
BB:"Let's put it this way. I don't need pay as long as I don't have to pay for passage."
As a noble, of course, MMC could be expected to have all sorts of extra people on board. He does point out that he knows very little about them. Avon says he can pilot, and is good at gunnery. BB says that the Marquis won't find a better engineer than Mich, and won't find a better doctor than BB. Neither Teri nor Jenny have anywhere to go. Teri in particular is a long way from home, and has no reason to go.
MMC:"Well, we will have a crew's meeting tonight at dinner, and we'll discuss it then."
MIsha is concerned about the security of having too many guests, and if they have some reasonable assurance of their identity... The Marquis suggests asking the Communications Officer, Robert. He says he'll try to see what he can dig up, and let Misha know in a couple of hours. In a couple of hours he tells Misha what he did look up back on Mora... full service records for Avon, Brdigehead, Mich, various records of where they're known to have been (with the year or so gap) and they look like straightforward Naval folks, two Imperial and one system Navy. Of the others, there are no records: all three were picked up outside the Imperium; two of them claim to be citizens of other places (Teri of a place that no longer exists as a political unit). Jenny claims to be an Imperial citizen, although Robert hasn't found any records on her.
Jenny wants to leave the Third Eye at Mora, and seek other employment, with a letter of recommendation. Mich might want to leave at Mora too. Even Avon might leave, perhaps to find employment as a mercenary -- but his main priority is to find out what the plans are for dealing with the cockroaches.
David Markland has cleared the drives for use. The Third Eye
is ready to take off.