(24) A Little Bit Of R&R

The Mora Campaign (049-1120 to 091-1120)

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049-1120 : Adabicci / Lunion / Spinward Marches

    The H.M.S. Third Eye comes out of jump into the Adabiccisystem.  Helia Sarina reads the astrographic entry and immediately decides she wants her photo taken next to the famous sculpture at the entrance to the Naval Base.  She looks up the TNSentry for the event it commemorates.
    Misha Ravanos asks Marquis Marcus Crestworthy about the Duke of Adabicci.
    "He's the father of my friend," replies Marquis Marc.  "His youngest son and I served together.  He reports to the Archduke.  He's a war hero, and in favor with Norris because of his role in the peace with the Zhodani."

    The situation in the system seems to be normal.  There's the usual traffic one might expect for a class A starport near the Imperial border, with normal Naval traffic for a system with a base.
    Helia takes the ship in to the mainworld.  Meanwhile Marquis Marc sends a message to his friend, Sir Geoffrey Karennia.  The reply comes back telling him to come on over, and land on the lawn at his place -- coordinates are provided.  The site is a good way away from the downport, around the planet from it.  They'll be arriving late evening local time in the 34-hour day, about mid-day Imperial time.
    Ed "Shark" Teeth intends to pick up a couple of catbots -- a large one for himself, and a small one for Helia.
    Marc carries out public data searches on Professor Benshani Farol and their intended destination of Digitis (1212 Spinward Marches, 0402 Vilis; E53668A-5).  Neither search brings out anything new.  There's nothing new on Robin Sherwood, either.

    Helia brings the ship in to land on the white X on the lawn in front of the large mansion.  Marc will be spending his time here with Sir Geoffrey, but he invites the crew to take the air/rafts if they want to travel.

    Marc steps out onto the grass.  Sir Geoffrey walks enthusiastically across the grass towards him -- he's dressed casually, with  a bright purple smoking jacket.  They exchange small talk while Geoff admires Marc's ship.  Sir Geoffrey invites Marc's crew to come and join them on the patio for drinks and snacks.
    Several of the crew come ashore -- Misha complete with ceremonial sword and jherig, Helia, Mich Saginaw, and Sagan.  Marc mentions the rest of his crew, including an excellent cook (Vonish Kehnaan) -- Geoff says he might just have to steal him away!
    Geoff of course left the Navy some time ago -- when Marc did, right after they were both awarded the Starburst for Extreme Heroism -- and now has an interest in archeology.  He's planning a mission to some asteroid belt somewhere, probably next year.
    Marc says he's on a zoological expedition to Digitis, to collect interesting fauna and so on.  He mentions Pimane, and asks Geoff what he knows.  Marc tells him nothing was going on there -- no rebuilding or anything like that.  Geoff suspects they might be waiting for someone to bid on the contract, or for money to be raised for the project.
    The conversation turns to their time together in the Navy.  Marc asks Sir Geoff about the 248th Squadron, but he's never heard of it.  Marc says it's sitting there in Pimane, with an old prison ship (sort of halfway pretending to be a rescue ship); he mentions the mostly airless world, and the large crack with critters at the bottom of it.
    Geoff asks Marc, "I know it's classified, but did you ever figure out where we were?  Just wondering, if you ever find out, I'd be curious to know..."
    Marc shakes his head, and adds, "Well, I can make some guesses:  An Amber or a Red Zone, no more than 40 parsecs from Five Sisters, and it might not even be an Imperial holding."
    Geoff says, "I figured it had to be somewhere where there weren't many people, and it had to be somewhere in Foreven -- but you'd pretty much worked that out from the stars.  I don't know anything about that area."
    The pleasant conversation, good wine, and good food, while away the warm night...  The Marquis invites Sir Geoffrey to brunch tomorrow.

    Meanwhile Robert Morris has been checking the Imperial Navy message traffic.  Nothing unusual seems to be going on, just routine operations.  He intercepts some encrypted messages, but it seems to be only about routine border patrols coming in and leaving.  The situation is clearly relaxed at present.

    Edward plans to contact some "friends" here -- he sends out a message and sets up a meeting for lunch tomorrow.

050-1120 : Adabicci / Lunion / Spinward Marches

    Shark takes one of the air/rafts to town.  He backs out of the ship, causing only a small divot on the lawn in the process, and then locks it into the planet's traffic control system.  On arrival in the city, he buys a couple of locally built catbots -- one large for himself, one small for Helia.  He follows that with a trip to an electronics supply store, and picks up some extra memory modules, microphones, batteries, and so on.  He then wanders around the malls to kill time until lunch.
    At lunch, Shark asks about the 248th Squadron, any further information on Robin Sherwood, and so on.  The squadron is one of the Archduke's personal squadrons -- a special operations unit for rapid deployment inside the Imperium.  They could start the Pimane operation rapidly, and then hand over to a follow-up unit after a couple of months.  If they're still involved, it would mean that something else would be going on that required their presence.  The something else in this case would obviously be the antimatter explosion on the planet, says Shark, but why haven't they relocated the people to another system?  His friend says that one they're through on the planet, there wouldn't be any danger of anyone realizing it was an antimatter explosion, so they can just resettle it.  But why haven't they started construction?  They must be waiting for something else, expecting some other event.
    Shark also files a report to be sent back to appropriate places.  It will include all activities of the crew and guests aboard the H.M.S. Third Eye, but excludes any activities revolving around greater than the fifth sense.
    He then asks to peruse their programming database, to add to his newly acquired toy.  You never know when that'll come in handy, he observes.  He has the programs installed for him.
    Shark then returns to the ship.

    Meanwhile, back on Sir Geoffrey Karennia' lawn, Vonish serves an excellent brunch for their host.  Geoff compliments Vonish's cooking, and asks what it would take to steal him away from the Marquis' employ.  Marc replies that he's signed on the Third Eye for the rest of this trip.  Geoff tells Vonish that if he ever wants a job here, there'll always be one open for him.
    Marc thinks it would be fun to do some equestrian riding, while they're here.  Geoff is glad to provide him a mount from his stable, and accompany him too.  Sir Geoffrey and Marquis Marc will take the opportunity to enjoy some pleasant noble company, and the two old friends will be spending the next few days on Sir Geoffrey's estate, doing noble sort of things.
    Once brunch is over, the Marquis turns on his special data recorders, and leaves them on for the duration of the visit.  To his disappointment they don't record any activity.

    Misha suggests that they could do a trip into town.  The Marquis would like him to check out Navy gossip and so on, and Helia wants to see the sculpture, and surely others would like some shore leave.  Misha suggests spending a day or two at the city.
    Sagan will remain at Sir Geoffrey's estate, soaking up noble culture and behavior, and looking out for any more interesting stories.
    Helia wants to go on the trip to Downport City, but doesn't want to drive, so Robert will fly the air/raft.  Mich and Misha fill the other two seats.  Like Ed earlier this morning, he immediately hooks into the traffic net and they complete the trip on autopilot.

    Edward returns with his air/raft to the Third Eye.  Rather than risk any problems (his launch wasn't too elegant), he parks on the lawn and asks a servant to move the air/raft to the hangar for him.

    Once in town, Misha puts the word out on the street that he's interested in any information on Pimane, and wants to talk to local snitches, crime bosses, and so on.  Mich will help him connect with the Navy underground -- there are some bars near the Naval base that fit the bill.  All four of them visit a bunch of lower-class bars to that end, spending all day drinking and enjoying themselves; sightseeing will wait until later.
    Misha is wholly successful in his mission.  He slips into the underground of Adabicci's Downport City like he grew up there.  Unfortunately there is nothing about Pimane at all.

    That evening, before it's dark, Helia takes them to visit the famous sculpture at the entrance to the Naval Base.  It's certainly imposing -- it's a 30 m bronze globe with a cratered texture to it.
    "Bronze!  Oh!  Bronze is the planet, get it?" exclaims Helia.  "Don't tell me that's the planet, they just brought it back here, shrunk it!"
    Circling the globe is an intermittent light source, that spins and has weird rolling motions within it.  At intervals a stream of light shoots out of it and hits the globe.
    Misha takes a perfect picture of Helia in front of the sculpture, just as the ball of light shoots its ray at the surface.
    The plaque at the base of the sculpture describes the event briefly: on 168-1107, an Imperial force struck at targets on the Sword World planet Bronze, which contributed to peace on the Frontier, resulting in the Treaty of Quar.

    The day is quite hot, with the temperature into the 30's.  It's summer.  The day is long, and the crew is tired before night falls.  They find a small family dining establishment, that they noticed during their pub crawl earlier in the day.  It is exactly what they wanted.  Following that, they go out drinking.  Unfortunately there is no gambling on Adabicci.

    In the evening, Misha calls up Marquis Marc to confirm what information he was interested in: Pimane, Robin Sherwood, Digitis, the 248th Squadron, and Professor Benshani Farol.

051-1120 : Adabicci / Lunion / Spinward Marches

    Misha continues his bar-hopping, checking on all the other topics too.  There's nothing on the Professor or the 248th Squadron, nothing on Digitis, and not much new on Robin Sherwood.  There's surprise that Sherwood popped up again, since she'd been gone for a good while, and surprise that she was now apparently trying to give pirates a good name.  When she was around before, she was raiding Zhodani -- this time she's raiding Imperial ships.  Also, the Zhos said she was blowing up passenger liners and so on.  Maybe only her name and the name of her ship have remained the same?
    Misha also polls attitudes about the local Duke.  He's popular, and his high profile from the Sword World crisis brings in good tourist money.  He is also perceived as being well thought of by the Archduke, and as using that to look after the interests of his world very well.  His youngest son is not in the public eye much, but is thought of as a bit of a playboy -- but then again, the Starburst for Extreme Heroism isn't handed out for social standing, it has to be earned, so he carries a lot of respect for that award.  The SEH was apparently awarded for foiling a mutiny, so the story goes, and holding out until help arrived.  The location is unknown, but was probably outside the Imperium.  Unusually, the actual details are classified -- the location, the ship involved, what it was doing -- all those are omitted from the official story.
    It is fairly common for the Imperial Navy to go outside the Imperium, but that's normally the duty of the Scout Service.  Nowadays, of course, the Treaty of Quar requires that such activities are cleared beforehand, and normally there'd be an observer with the fleet too  Then of course there's that Zho fleet that just vanished outside the Imperium -- but there's no information about that fleet either.  There is, however, a rumor that there is an Imperial fleet involved in joint exercises with the Zhodani outside the Imperium.  The speculation is that the lost fleet was that one.

052-1120 : Adabicci / Lunion / Spinward Marches

    Robert Morris flies the air/raft back to the Third Eye, still parked on Sir Geoffrey Karennia's front lawn.  The rest of the day is spent in pleasant relaxation.

053-1120 : Adabicci / Lunion / Spinward Marches

    Time to leave -- Helia flies the Third Eye up to the Highport in orbit, where they refuel.  They then proceed out to the jump point.

054-1120 : Adabicci / Lunion / Spinward Marches

    In the early morning, Helia jumps the Third Eye towards Rabwhar.

060-1120 : Rabwhar / Lunion / Spinward Marches

    It's going to be a long voyage.  Considering that, the Marquis decides that they'll run with minimum turnaround, two days at each stop, and go via Arba, into Vilis subsector at Tavonni, then Ficant and Mirriam.  From there it's a single jump to their destination on Digitis.

089-1120 : Mirriam / Vilis / Spinward Marches

    More than a month after leaving the Marquis' friend on Adabicci, the Third Eye finally arrives in the Mirriam system.  Here the news catches up with them: entries dated 001, 031, and 050.  There's more news about Robin Sherwood, who apparently celebrated the new year by having a party on board another ship.  The civil war on Ianic seems to be over, as it has rather suddenly reverted to a Green Zone.  The latest item seems to be posturing by the Federation of Arden.  Of more interest in that item is the mention of former (late) crew member Akim Gavrolovitch, bringing out a rumor that he was assassinated by the Federation because of secrets revealed in his forthcoming book.
    The Federation of Arden is fairly nearby -- this news item came from the Vilis subsector capital at Frenzie.
    They are well off the beaten track here, and off the xboat routes.  No news items later than 050-1120 have arrived yet.

    They still know very little about Digitis.  Here on Mirriam, the class E starport is not a good source for information.  Misha is somewhat concerned that they could be going into trouble.
    Marquis Marc describes what he knows of their destination from the message that carried the rumor: "It's a pleasant enough place, there's farmers, there's forests, there's a city that actually has a directory, called First City, and there's critters that do magic.  Something that eat only carnivores."

    Helia has been playing with her small catbot.  She has managed to get it to wiggle its butt when she comes into the room.

    During these jumps, the Marquis' birthday passed.  He's now 46.

091-1120 : Mirriam / Vilis / Spinward Marches

    Helia takes the Third Eye up from the small starport, and heads out of the system.  They jump for Digitis.