(12) Looking for the G Spot
The Regency Campaign (249-1123 to 252-1123)
This file has yet to be fully
This file has yet to be fully
Space has stablized and Nightshade is
comfortably in the Boughene system, transponder running.
The main reason they are here is because this is the other end of the
portal that opened in the Victoria system.
This is a class A starport system, with as much
starship traffic as might be expected from that and the scout base
here. Perhaps they might find a retiring scout who could fill
their open position of sensor operator, but Chuck still insists they
should be looking for a pirate for that.
The mainworld has a corrosive atmosphere, and it
just isn't worth landing there. The main starport is the highport
anyway, for that reason of course.
There is an advisory that G band communications have
interference near the gas giant Komesh, and Shark is interested
to see if Nightshade can find the source. They head
there, and Shark starts his scans. As far as he can tell, the
source is definitely from the gas giant, but he can't figure out where
from here. It could certainly be natural in origin.
Nightshade is really not set up to use
probes. To do their usual technique of fixing a sensor unit to a
missile, they'd have to pull one off the feeding mechanism, shove it
through the maintenance hatches, and bring it back to the engineering
shop for the sensor package, then drop it off the cargo lift.
That's as complex and nasty a task as it sounds, and they really don't
need anything that complex anyway.
All they really need, as Shark points out, is a
sensor package that can be dropped and is buoyant at the right
level. They could almost certainly buy those from the starport
Misha suggests taking the ship into the atmosphere
and doing it directly. Shark is concerned about whether the ship
can stand it, even given Nightshade's special capabilities, but
is sure they can at least go some way and monitor the pressures and
temperatures to make sure they're safe.
Lucas dives Nightshade into Komesh's
atmosphere. Shark isn't able to locate the source at this level.
Lucas dives deeper still. The strength of the
interference is getting stronger, but whether from reflective effects
or something Shark still can't get a location.
Nightshade goes deeper. At this point
they are hailed by a system navy ship in orbit asking if they need
assistance, since they're deeper than normal, but Misha assures them
they are fine.
Shark knows the source is here somewhere, but he
can't locate it. It is, however, not behaving like it's
originating from natural sources. He tells Robert he doesn't
think this is random static.
Robert confirms that it is like static, but isn't as
random as that would indicate. He can't make any sense out of it
with the way it's bouncing around, but he says it's consistent with
being an artificial signal.
Shark then asks Lucas about determining the
extra-dimensionality of a signal source. "Since all your papers
are dealing with theory, let's put them to practical use."
Lucas reminds Shark about the time his pig sort of
folded. That's what he's looking for. He's looking at
secondary measurements, effects on the environment around, across all
That gives Shark something to look for,
inconsistencies in particle flows, wind patterns in a large scale to
see if there's a distortion there. He gets as much data on that
as he can, and will pass that on to Robert to find the multi-path
distortions. He then asks Kalida to fire the lasers out randomly
to see if they can find something that way.
As everyone starts to feed their own contributions
into the systems, Misha on the command dias starts to pull together the
overall picture. It's getting somewhere at last, although he
needs better sensor data to clarify the view. He says there's
definitely something in the lower atmosphere that's causing this, or so
his gut feelings say.
"Lower?" says Shark.
Lower it is.
But the picture still doesn't clear.
It's clear that they're going to need some long term
data. They'll need to set up a lot of sensors, and maybe add
interference data to the picture. Regular Imperial data should be
fine, although firing the lasers isn't helping at all.
Suddenly Robert remembers their first visit to Victoria,
when he picked up some sporadic G band interference near the Ancient
Site on Albert. That reinforces the idea that there's
something here too.
The shields are still holding fine at this
level. Gas giants get incredibly hot and high pressure at lower
atmospheric depths, and while an Imperial ship would be on the point of
failure now, Nightshade is handling it.
Lucas drops them deeper still, and the scan data
pours in from this altitude. They've dropped below another
boundary layer, it seems, and the signal is now definitely above them
and weaker here.
They're lower than they intended, however, and Lucas
is having a lot of trouble with the wind shear. The buffetting is
approaching the ship's maximum airspeed. Lucas can barely keep
control of the ship, as it keeps getting pushed lower. He pulls
up, but can't break through the wind shear level until he just ignores
the wind, points the nose straight up, and thrusts straight in line
with the ship.
Nightshade blasts up out of the lower
levels, and as she reaches the calmer air Lucas takes them back into
The conclusion from the scans is clear: the source
is in the more comfortable levels, but they will need a lot more data
to locate it. A lot of Imperial floating sensors dropped around
the atmosphere should do it.
Lucas pulls them up out of the atmosphere and into
It's been a long hard day. It would only take
them about an hour to reach the mainworld at 6g, but even so Sir Misha
declares they will rest here in orbit for the night.
After dinner, Shark checks the football sensors of
their dive into Komesh's atmosphere. To his surprise, he sees
occasional light sources passing by, although he doesn't have enough
solid readings. Putting together 30-40 football sensors to get
coverage, however, would be the work of weeks or more. There
really isn't any opportunity to do it now. Perhaps if the regular
sensors reveal nothing, they can try footballs next.
Shark idly wonders if the ancients are using Komesh
to power the base on Albert. What with the portal, and
multi-dimensionality, and so on, perhaps the energy in the gas giant
atmosphere could be transmitted? On consideration, however, he
thinks that much power transmission would show on the sensors.
He catches Lucas aside, and tells him he should look
at the log entries of their visit to Albert, and also of the
visit to Adabicci on the occasion of the Silver Ship.
Lucas especially needs to know about the latter, and how to handle it
if something like that happens again.
Also in the evening, Kalida goes into one of her
trances. She and Shark set up in Sick Bay as usual, taking all
the normal precautions.
First she looks for signs of the other end of the
portal. She knows there must be a connection between here and
there, so she looks for it. She notices the hard to see strange
connection that she noticed first on Albert. It phases in
and out, and when she looks at it, she can't see it anymore. The
connection is always here. The more she tries to think about the
connection, the harder it is to see.
She then focusses in on the gas giant. There
is nothing there that does not belong there, it seems, and it seems
naturally part of the system.
Obviously it's hard to see the connection while the
portal isn't active. She tries to see if it has been more active
in the recent past, but although there's certainly something, she can't
see it when she looks at it. From the point of view of the web,
too, the nature of the connection doesn't seem to change whether the
portal is currently active or not.
Not a lot has been learned, but she has come out of
the trance without any side effects. Shark calls that successful,
and there was no football spike which confirms a smooth trance.
Shark wonders if her correspondence course is in
something else, and learning how to control that perhaps is helping her
Kalida says that no spike would be normal for a
smooth trance. She offers to go back in and look for trouble, but
both of them dismiss that as not worth it as presence.
Meanwhile, Chuck's access is still restricted.
His battledress and accessories are in the Armory, but he is pleased
that he has been allowed to keep his case of hunting weapons in his
Shark then sets up an alert for any psionic activity
outside the ship within 100m. It's something he hasn't normally
monitored, but now feels he's filled in yet another gap in his security
After breakfast, Lucas takes them into the mainworld
at a sedate 6g, arriviing at
Once docked at the Highport, Kalida looks for a
vendor to make the sensors to the specifications that Mich has put
together. He's specified off the shelf Imperial parts to keep the
Kalida gets a discount rate of 10k credits per unit
-- 300k for all 30 -- to be ready at 14:00 on 252-1123. The
company is Pixie Technical Systems.
Shark looks into PTS. They do a lot of
contract work with the Scout Base here. He can't find any
evidence they do business with pirates. Actually, he can't find
any sign that the Associated Surplus Distribution Company does any
business in this system at all.
While he's thinking about pirates, he does some
research into the New Berlin. He is surprised to find
that it doesn't seem to have been stolen -- nothing of that size has
been reported missing. While Robin Sherwood has been most active
in Vilis subsector, she's pretty close to this area. That's close
enough to do some research here into the ship.
It's Imperial technology, certainly, and it's a
non-standard hull design. The design, or a similar one, doesn't
even show up in the last few centuries. There is simply no record
of a ship of this type of design. It's a pretty large ship -- big
for a pirate since it's in the 2200 std range -- and there would be a
record if it was constructed in a reputable shipyard.
Shark then notes that the new Robin Sherwood
appeared in just about the right timescale to be Jill, who vanished off
Anastasia in the jump catastrophe. She is of course
assumed to be dead by anyone not as paranoid as Shark, but it is true
that the timing certainly would work out. On the other hand, Anastasia
could not be either the Berlin or the New Berlin --
they know where it was for the former, and it would have showed up as a
standard design for the latter.
This prompts Shark and Kalida to go through all the
TNS reports about Robin Sherwood's activities. Those raids at Saurus
are particularly interesting, with just a single 20t cargo shipment for
the Department of Agriculture taken along with a researcher for that
same department. Shark notices that the raid at Denotam a
year and a half before took 45t of "specialty plant materials" -- since
it was also uninsured, that screams "illegal drugs" to him.
But he really wants to find out who Dr. Farloo was
and what she was researching. That was such a brazen operation,
not only staying in system but attacking a ship in orbit around the
mainworld, that it must have been important. Of course it also
shows up the complete inability of any Saurus System Navy to protect
Shark then investigates Dr. Jiin Farloo. He is
surprised to find
there are no papers published under that name. So either it's a
identity, or something very strange is going on. They will have
visit Saurus to find out. He puts that on their list of
The New Berlin, then, was custom made.
It had to be made in an Imperial based shipyard, but which one?
Almost any high tech enough ship building facility could have put it
together in that time, but it would have to have been, as Shark puts
it, "on the down-low" or it would have shown up in his search.
That brings to mind their long term plans to put
together a black tech shipyard on their asteroid hotel. They
could put some serious pirate ships together with that if they wanted.
Kalida sends off a progress report to Marquis Marcus
Crestworthy through the TAS network.
When the sensors are ready, they pick them up from
Pixie Technical Systems and disperse them around Komesh in an
optimal pattern. They'll come back in a few weeks to see what
they can get from them, and with a little luck locate the actual source
of the G band interference.
In the late evening, Nightshade jumps for Nakege.
This will be a regular jump
to come out in stealth, expected arrival at noon on 257-1123.