(12) Difficult Departure, Easy Arrival
The Nightshade Campaign (186-1122 to 194-1122)
Everyone is back on board Nightshade.
Helia Sarina flies them out of the Rock's military hangar and out into
space. They are now ready to continue the journey to Mora.
Or, rather, they would be ready if the hangar door
had shut behind them. Robert Morris and Mich Saginaw had set the
systems up to close the door and shut down, but
apparently something went wrong. They will have to go back and
Helia moves them back into the hangar. None of
the docking systems are working -- in fact, nothing in the hangar seems
to be working at all. Robert speculates that the power ran out
before shutdown was complete.
Of course the rail transport between the hangar and
the ship section of the Rock is not working either. The only
practical solution would seem to be to repeat their first exploration
here, and go in the original airlock with the hand cranks. It'll
be slow, but it's the only reasonable way if all the power is indeed
Helia pulls back out of the hangar and moves the
ship over to the original entrance, locking Nightshade relative
to the ground and extending the ramp to the Rock's airlock.
It's already the next day Imperial time when
the team goes
back into the Rock. Mich has built a motorized unit to
operate the handcranks, which will save them a good bit of time and a
great deal of effort. The team will consist of Mich and Helia to
work in Engineering, and Robert and Kalida Siena, Marchioness of
Nakege, to operate the consoles in the control room. Kalida of
course uses her battledress, while the others stick to conventional
vaccsuits. As usual, Mich supervises the vaccsuits while Teri
Cralla checks Kalida's battledress.
The descent into the bowels of
the Rock is straightforward. They close the airlock doors
properly behind them. The place has not yet cooled down at all,
while air is not circulating it is still fresh.
Once in the control room and Engineering, the four
get to work. The power system is on full standby, and so Mich and
Helia must bring that up first before the console room can be made
operational again. Once that's done, Robert finds that the power
plant shut down too soon, before the hangar could be closed.
There's no way to remote trigger the shutdown, which would be
the ideal solution. Robert and Mich decide that they'll shut down
from here, and then go back out manually as they came in.
It's a simple procedure to close the hangar door,
then perform a controlled shutdown of all the Rock's systems into full
standby mode. Then it's just a matter of going back through the
corridors and now-manual airlocks to the ship. Robert is the only
one to have trouble with the microgravity -- he misjudges a launch
across a room and lands hard on his shoulder. It's nothing the
Doc will have to fix, but it will hurt for a while.
Once everyone's back on board, they can finally get
ready to leave. Nevertheless, it's taken several hours to do the
shutdown trip, and on top of the work they did yesterday that leaves
several critical crew members exhausted. Misha Ravanos, as
captain, decides there is no harm in waiting a day or so until
everyone's rested and back on the Imperial clock cycle. They'll
be more secure, though, in free space in stealth mode. Helia
pulls Nightshade away from the Rock and out into clear
space. The ship is parked. Everyone rests.
Now that the crew is refreshed, it's time to head
for Mora. Mich runs a quick diagnostic, then goes into
sparkly pink mode for the jump
transition and beyond.
Unfortunately the exhausting time at the Rock has lingering effects,
and three days into the jump Grand Admiral Baron Bridgehead pulls Mich
out for supervised rest, and he doesn't resume sparkly pink for the
rest of the jump.
Nightshade comes out of jump 3 hours early,
When they visited Mora last time, they left
Marquis Marcus Crestworthy with a ship power signaler attached to his
puter. It stopped being received when they went into jump, and
indeed it does not restore the connection when they jump in. Once
the linked unspace holes have been broken by one end being pinched off
into separate space, the connection is irretrievably lost. They
make a note to never leave the ship's launch behind in a system...
They discuss where to land so that they'll be
safe. They consider diving into the ocean like they did in their
last incognito visit, but on balance decide they should not really be
at risk just landing at the starport. They'll stay low key, but
come in as an above-board private yacht.
Now they can't tell the Marquis anything more about Nightshade
than they have already told him; he is not a member of the crew.
They could hire him on and then tell him, but right now they can't tell
Dropping out of stealth mode, Helia flies in towards
As usual, Nightshade handles all the
interaction with the local starport
and traffic control
authorities. Their transponder (simulated, anyway) says they're a
private yacht registered at Dulu / Scorpio
/ Foreven. They're
a ship carrying a landed
noble (the Marchioness of Nakege is the ranking noble
on board), and so get a prime landing spot appropriate to her
station. Here in the capital the landed vs. honorific noble
distinction carries more weight. They are now in the
part of space that thinks the Baron is dead -- news of his life is due
to arrive here on 218-1122, 24 days from now, so to avoid unwanted
attention he's going to stay in the background. Even just being a
few weeks ahead of the news would get more attention than they want at
On landing, they hook up directly to the local
net. Robert hasn't had access to something like this for quite a
while, and is in his element.
One more issue while they're here is to become
affiliated with the University of Mora team that's going to be working
on the Ancient site
Perhaps Marquis Marc
will be able to help with that.
Hooking up with Marquis Crestworthy is easy -- or,
rather, hooking up with his office is easy. He's out of the
office right now and is expected to return in about two weeks. On
hearing that the Marchioness Nakege wants to contact him, the secretary
tells her that he's at the Ling Standard
Products yard. His new
ship will be coming online in about a week. The secretary gives
them all the information they need to find him, and tells her that he
will be informed about her intention to visit him there.
Rather than take the ship's launch to the LSP yards,
they decide that hiring a limo is the least conspicuous way to
Accompanying Kalida are Mich, Edward "Shark" Teeth, Misha, and Helia;
outfit successfully echoes elements of the Marchioness' melon colored
ensemble. The Baron doesn't mind staying behind -- not only does
he not want to attract attention, being dead, but he's never liked
being on Mora because of the gravity.
Helia has no trouble flying around in this gravity,
especially with the dense atmosphere. She seems remarkably nimble
in the air; Shark notes the readings on his football sensors as she
takes off and performs the tighter maneuvers.
The trip takes several hours. They finally
arrive late afternoon Imperial time, about 4 pm. Kalida has
called ahead and made sure the yards know they're coming.
On arrival they are met by an LSP escort to take
them to Marquis Crestworthy, who apparently will be expecting
them. The yards are of course enormous. Ling Standard
Products does a lot of construction in orbital and space facilities,
but the small production run of the specialized Zodiac class is done
planetside. A lot of smaller high quality ships are built on
On the trip to the construction sheds, their guide
explains that LSP builds three Zodiac class ships a year, and this
year's production is due to be commissioned on 203-1122, nine days from
now. One ship is going to NOW!!! Safaris, operating out of Trane / Glisten; one is for
Marquis Marcus Crestworthy; and the third is for the Duke of
Adabicci. This is the Duke's first Zodiac class ship, although
his son Sir Geoffrey owns one already. The Duke has ordered a lot
of special construction modules to be delivered with his ship.
The ships are being constructed in the same
facility, but isolated from each other. They will only be
permitted into the workshop containing Marquis Crestworthy's
ship. The guide explains that the majority of this class are
built for government, especially universities. Helia implies that
the Marchioness might like to see what's available in this type of
ship. The guide replies that she could organize a tour of the
full size mockup for her ladyship, if she would like that. She
also adds that Marquis Crestworthy might like to show her his, since
it's almost complete. This year's production run is unusual in
that it is being sold entirely to private buyers; even though the
Marquis is affiliated with the University of Mora, it is to be his
Helia asks if the Marquis' crew is here. The
guide replies that crewing is a matter for the Marquis himself, and
that he alone is present here overseeing the final details of his
ship. This time the ship is being built specifically for him, so
he has had a lot of input into the design of the module section. H.M.S. Third Eye had a
generic module, being one of the first ships of the class built.
The Zodiac class is designed so that the ship crew
and scientific crew can be completely independent. The idea is
that a university (for example) can set up a module complete with
scientist staff and supplies and just plug it into the ship (retaining
the operations crew) when it comes in between missions. The
module can be self sufficient. This way downtime is virtually
eliminated and the science section can be optimized and rehearsed for
the specific mission. NOW!!! Safaris uses the same principle for
different environments and game, and different clientele requirements.
Marquis Marc's new ship Witch-hunter is hull
number 29. Construction boards indicate that it is ahead of
schedule, and should be complete in about three days. Mich in
particular finds the name very amusing and appropriate.
The guide introduces them to the construction
foreman, who tells them that the Marquis is supervising the final
interior equipment details. As the foreman takes them on board,
that's certainly backed up by what they see. All the interior
seems to be complete, and Mich notes that the build quality is
The Marquis is on the bridge, engaged in a fast
paced discussion with a couple of engineers. As the team
approaches, it becomes apparent that the subject of the discussion is
the placement of the bridge coffee machine.
Helia, in a raised voice, says, "It should be within
reach of both the pilot and the astrogator."
At the sound of her voice, all three look
around. Marquis Crestworthy is delighted to see Helia and the
Helia says, "Shall I show them where, sir?"
Marquis Marc nods, and Helia immediately gets into
the discussion. It doesn't take long before the matter is settled
to everyone's satisfaction. Helia follows up with asking about
the candy dispenser, and concludes that by saying she'll send over a
stocked one for them to install. She plans to send over an old
fashioned glass candy jar. Mich, meanwhile, goes off to inspect
engineering with its zuchai
Witch-hunter is remarkably similar to H.M.S.
Third Eye in the operations areas -- where it differs is in the
scientific module. Marc introduces Mich to the technicians as the
person who designed the special sensors he has had installed.
Marquis Crestworthy is well. Gavrolovitch's
book is being a great success; there have been no threats or harassment
about it since publication. Marc asks if they've been getting his
journal, but he's told that it stops as soon as they jump and so
there's not much point in setting it up again. Mich does want the
special equipment back, though.