(8) Construction Zone
The Regency Campaign (216-1123 to 225-1123)
This file has yet to be fully
This file has yet to be fully
Nightshade is making an insystem jump from
the wreck of the Wandering Pearl to the curious world - moon
system in orbit 11, due to arrive in stealth at 06:00 on 221-1123.
Kalida Siena, Marchioness of Nakege, has been
studying medicine under Edward "Shark" Teeth's instruction, and also
working on her self study plan. Shark himself has also been
working on his pistol skills. Captain Sir Misha Ravanos has been
continuing his literacy studies.
Mich Saginaw has been working on shortening regular
jumps even further. With his expanded understanding of jumpspace,
he now thinks he can get it under five and a half days. He
believes he can do something with the resonance of jump space
interacting with standing waves in the ship's jump field. He
believes it should be possible to get it down to five days.
Robert has looked over "Fred Walker"'s fake ID and
determined that while it wouldn't pass near Capital, it would work
pretty much anywhere out here. It's a good fake ID.
Shark points out that if he's right where the Wandering
Pearl came from, then he's made a hundred or so jumps to get
here. He's done that without scheduled maintenance, and has
probably skimmed fuel rather than paid for it. He's navigated
that many times, maybe misjumped and got lucky, and hadn't
crashed. He's either very, very lucky, or moderately good.
Still, Shark would like to know what was so
important that the ship was hijacked. They could just dump him on
the planet and let him walk to a town, of course.
Sir Misha would really like to find what's on the
computer of the Wandering Pearl. They can do that after
they've done their survey of the outer system, since they were planning
to come back and check its trajectory anyway.
"Fred" himself has been relaxing in the insanely
large stateroom of non-Imperial design. There's always a guard on
his door and he is not allowed out without permission of the watch
officer, but compared with his ship and its failing life support this
is total luxury. Two standard Imperial transit luggage containers
contain what are now his entire possessions.
Over breakfast, they talk with their rescued guest.
Mich tells Fred that he found his physics papers
rather interesting, about the 42 dimensions.
Fred says that's the way it is.
Mich asks how it would relate to jumpspace and
Fred says he hadn't considered any practical
applications. "It doesn't matter if there are any applications,
it just is," he says. "It's up to engineers and stuff to figure
out what they want to do with it."
"Well," says Mich, "We want to get from point A to
point B as quickly as possible. With jumpspace we pretty much..."
He trails off, realizing that any way he can explain it in normal terms
is incorrect. Jumpspace For Dummies would seem to be
talking down to a physicist, surely. "And it's different from
unspace, that's totally different."
"What's your definition of unspace?"
Mich is silent. He's explained it to Jack in
simple terms, but Jack was a crew member. He can't explain it to
Fred because it's black tech. He eventually says, "Well, let's
not talk about unspace now, we can talk about that later. Let's
concentrate on jumpspace."
"But they're two different things?"
"Yes, totally different."
"So how do you relate jumpspace to this space?"
"It's kind of a translation. Jumpspace...
well, you can see it out there." Mich gestures at the
window. He has quickly figured out that Fred's jumpspace
knowledge is no more than standard astrogation training.
Outside the ship, jumpspace in its maddening
greyness is clearly visible. So is the ship's dynamic jump grid,
several meters off the hull and constantly shifting. "That's very
cool," says Fred.
Shark changes the subject. "So, you've been a
scout pilot for long?"
"A few years," says Fred.
"I was in various services for 20-odd years."
"Just a few years," says Fred. Looking like
he's in his late 30's, he's definitely a youngster compared with Shark.
Misha asks him about the ship that attacked.
Fred says it was a 300 std gunnied escort, Fiery
class. It called itself the Raptor, and the transponder
said it was owned by the Associate Surplus Distribution Company out of Dekalb
This sounds familiar to a couple of the crew.
Mich was on board the Hermes six
years ago on 014-1117 when it encountered the Raptor on the
way out of
Ianic / Lunion. Its captain was Ed Williams back
then. Mich says, "And what was the name of the ship?"
"The Raptor," says Fred. "The captain
called himself Ed Williams."
Mich laughs. He's definitely met that ship
before, he says, at Ianic. They'd figured the Raptor
was going to jump them back then, but talked their way out of it.
Shark too recognizes something about this. The
ASDC was running the Lonely Teardrop that left Kalida behind on Caloran
/ Vilis. He tells Fred about it this one too. What the
Associate Surplus Distribution Company mostly distributes is surplus
Fred doesn't know where either of those places are,
but accepts the validation of at least part of his story as plausible.
Misha asks who the passenger was.
"A guy who wanted passage. Picked him up on Dinomn,
he wanted to go to Dinom."
Shark asks Fred if he's published any scientific
Fred says of course he's published.
Shark says that Mich is published on gravitics, and
several jump theory and power systems papers. He adds that, "Our
previous navigator... has been published, at some time, although the
actual timing of that is... interesting."
Misha asks where Fred was headed.
Fred says he was headed here, to drop off his
passenger. "After that, he said if I dropped him off safely he's
probably have some cargo to take to Extolay."
"Where are you headed eventually?" asks Misha.
"I'm just, you know..."
"Wandering. Wherever the cargo takes me."
"So, can you tell me the story of the attack?"
Fred again repeats his story. "I was attacked
immediately on exiting jumpspace here. Well, when I jumped in,
someone was waiting for me, Ed Williams and his pirate ship. He
hailed me, told me he just wanted my passenger. I took a chance
and tried to escape, and he shot me. He said if I locked myself
up on the bridge and let them take the passenger, they'd leave me
alone, and so I did that. I figured maybe I could hail someone
insystem, or some traffic would come through, but no-one's been here
for the past week and a half."
"Did they take anything other than your passenger?"
"Nothing of mine. I don't know what the
passenger might have had."
Shark asks, "So how long were you on Dinomn
before you got a passenger?"
"A couple of days."
"And how long after you got the passenger did you
"We jumped as soon aas we made our agreement.
He was in a hurry."
"You came out, they hailed you, and said, 'We want
"Didn't ask you if you had a passenger."
"They obviously knew I was coming."
"That's my point. You talked to him, he said
he'd pay you this much money to leave now, you walk out of the bar, go
to 100 diameters and jump. They don't have time to set something
up. They weren't waiting for you, they were waiting for the next
"Yeah. They weren't interested in me
personally, just the passenger they knew would be going there."
"Did you talk to him?"
"He wasn't very social. I wasn't going to pry."
Misha asks, "Do you know what luggage he brought on
board? Two suitcases about the same size?"
"And you're sure they didn't take anything off your
"I have no idea, I was locked in the bridge, staying
away from pirates."
"In addition to taking the passenger, they took
nothing of yours?"
"Yeah, they took nothing of mine."
"So what are you going to do now?"
"I have no idea. I don't have any ship
Shark says, "Do you want us to put you off here?"
"Here? God no!" Fred is quite sure of
"Well, what reason do we have to take you anywhere
else? I mean, our legal requirements are to put you on a
habitable world with some chance of getting somewhere else."
"If you put me here I'll never get out of here
again. This place doesn't get much traffic."
Shark says, "Robert got off a planet much like this
at one time, didn't you Robert?"
"And how did that happen?" asks Fred.
"We took him off," says Shark.
"There you go!" says Fred.
"Mich crashlanded on him, that's what happened, and
in the investigation of that he came on board. And so did the
world's best cook, that the Duke took away from us."
Misha says, "We like to stick our nose in where
other people don't want us to. It gets us in a lot of
trouble. So being on our ship is a little bit dangerous.
I'm not saying that you haven't been through worse, or that you aren't
in a spot right now. I'm just saying you might want to calculate
that into how long you want to stay aboard with us."
Sir Misha considers it isn't necessary for the guard
in the corridor anymore. Teri happily takes him at his word,
although Shark is perhaps a little less convinced.
Later, Shark does a search for Fred Walker and
physics papers. He isn't surprised not to find anything -- it's
unlikely they would have that information if he's really from so far
away -- but it was worth a try.
On a hunch, he then looks for keywords from Fred's
"previous paper" that is mentioned in that abstract. They did
pick up a lot of papers because of Helia's and Mich's research, so
there is a chance of it. This search hits gold: the name on the
abstract he finds is Doctor Lucas Fuentes. It's in a physics
journal from the Old Expanses in 1115, which doesn't narrow down his
homeworld but is in the right place of the Imperium. That's a
heck of a long way from here. He shares the name with the Sir
suggests they not use it yet.
Nightshade comes out of jump at 06:00 near
the mysterious P11. A moon of the same size as the mainworld
orbits close in, while two more of the same size orbit further out and
pass within a very short distance of each other quite frequently.
This should not be a stable configuration.
There is still no sign of any other ships in system,
although the research station on P11 is sending out regular radio
Shark starts work on detailed scans of the mainworld
first, with Mich piloting.
The mainworld didn't reveal anything strange, so now
they move on to P11-6.
It's obvious even from "Fred"'s cabin that it's a
strange approach. They seem to be headed in to land at the moon.
Shark says that they're heading closer than he wants
for his sensors and Mich needs to back them off.
Mich starts, obviously unaware that they were
heading for a crash into the moon. In fact, he notices it right
after Shark tells the Captain about the impending crash.
In the pilot's seat, Mich makes some urgent
corrections. It's not a crash course anymore, but it is a really
eccentric orbit. At the closest approach there will be some
atmospheric drag and the orbit would eventually decay, but they aren't
going to be here that long.
When Misha asks Mich about what happened, Mich
simply says, "This piloting job's hard."
Shark's scans make it clear that the world is not
following the path that the orbit would dictate. It must be under
thrust to keep it on this path. The moon is being deliberately
Mich is certain there is no black tech doing this or
the ship would notice, and the same would probably be true of silver
tech based on their last encounter.
Shark observes that they know white tech opens
portals large enough to move planets, and that they can hide rooms so
that they simply do not appear to be there from sensors.
Mich adds they also had holes in the middle of
Shark's report to Misha says that this moon and the
world should be destroying each other, and the same is true of the far
two moons. The scans have not revealed anything strange about the
worlds themselves. This is not black tech because they would have
detected that on this scale. Something is keeping them apart, and
stopping them tearing each other apart. There is nothing the ship
is screaming about, so it's probably not silver tech.
Misha asks if something odd about the physics of the
area is what messed up Mich's piloting. Mich leaps on that and
Shark also says that this moon and the main planet
are not of the same composition, and neither are the atmospheres
similar. The moon and the planet did not originate in the same
star system, he says. They'll examine the other two moons here
and that should get them more information, and perhaps another world in
this system too. Unfortunately P10 is around the other side of
the star, and so only practically accessible by jump.
On the first meal after taking up orbit, "Fred" asks
about their strange orbit.
Shark says they were just joyriding, and deflects
further questions by bringing up a holodisplay of this moon and the
world. He is apparently oblivious of there being no holodisplay
equipment, and goes on to say that the moon is clearly being powered to
keep it from colliding with the world. He points out the large
lounge window, saying they are the same size and far too close to each
other to be stable.
He then brings up a comparative holodisplay of the
world composition, showing that in orbits this close they could not
originate from this system. Also, this orbit could not have
naturally originated from a captured moon.
"Fred" agrees it's interesting.
Shark and Misha talk about what race could have done
this. Shark explains they believe there are three ancient races,
two are basically human sized but they don't know about the third.
"Based on...?" asks Fred.
"Our... data that we've collected," says Shark.
"Our special relationship," grins Misha. "So,
Mich, there's no Imperial tech that could do this?"
Mich says there is not.
Shark adds, "It's not black tech. That would
glow in the dark."
Allowing for the "odd physics", Mich takes Nightshade
out to P11-40. This moon is different in composition from the
other two, and this one too must be powered to avoid the outer two
moons crashing into each other. In fact, at least three of the
bodies in this orbit would have to be powered. But again, nothing
strange shows up on the scans.
Now it's time to investigate P11-45. This one
turns out to be a fourth composition -- none of these moons or the
world came from the same system.
There are other orbital anomalies in this system
too, orbit 13 for example.
Shark says, "Somebody built this system. And
then there is the tiny mainworld all by itself in orbit 7, the smallest
body in this system." It definitely isn't black tech here, and at
Albert it wasn't either -- they couldn't even pick up the rooms
that they knew were there. They couldn't figure out what made the
lights or the gravity, or indeed anything about it at all. Is
this the same tech? It's not black tech, and the silver ship set
off alarms as soon as it moved.
That raises another question: was that ship alone
there, or was it just a watchdog chasing off a threat? Would it
be dangerous to the planet if they scanned for it or Kalida did her