(21) Welcoming the Seneschal

The Regency Campaign (275-1123 to 276-1123)

This file has yet to be fully edited...

This file has yet to be fully linked...

275-1123 : Nakege / Jewell / Spinward Marches

    Nightshade arrives at Nakege at 01:00 in stealth.
    Mich has been working on nuclear-tipped ordnance, both for Chuck's gun and for a new gun that he is planning to build based on black tech.  Setting up the tooling for the bullets will take some time still, and the gun will take a lot more work to finish the design.  Mich offers an advanced optic sight to Chuck, but he insists he's just fine with his unsighted gun.

    The Seneschal should arrive soon.  Beatrice Drakenfoll was appointed without Kalida's knowledge, and while it would be remarkably unusual for a noble to override the Noble Commission who acted in the name of the Marquisate of Nakege, she could do so.  It would be a rare circumstance anyway, as most Lands have nobles and staff already in place -- appointing a replacement rather than a first person to fill the role would be a definite matter for the noble Marchioness herself.
    This new Seneschal should of course be resident at the main residence of the Marchioness on Nakege, but that isn't possible here.  The new Seneschal surely tastes like chocolate too.
    They are pretty sure they know where she's headed, but they don't know why she did this.  Whatever she wants to do, she has to do quickly because the Marchioness could undo the appointment with the stroke of a pen.  There's no-one on Nakege who cares whether she's the Seneschal or not, except the Assistant Seneschal of course.
    She will of course have to pass through the Tukera checkpoint, unlike Nightshade, and so she will be passing some information to Tukera -- if only that there is now a Seneschal.
    The question then is what did Beatrice find out?  She must think she knows something that the Marchioness and her entourage don't, some way into the residence and its facilities perhaps.  Misha suggests they perhaps should not be hunting her, but simply observe her for a while and see what she does.  There's nothing much she can do that would hurt permanently, unless of course she could get to the hypothetical deep meson sites.
    She had very little time to research, so she must have run across something that prompted her to do this.  She thinks she can get something.  Kalida agrees it would be interesting to watch her, and since they're coming in stealthily, she has no idea they are here.
    Also, there's the matter of the Gravella.  He's been keeping himself to himself mostly, although he wants to watch their transit through the system and their arrival at the mainworld from the lounge.  He hasn't been told anything about this business with the Seneschal, but then again it probably doesn't matter to him.  Technically it could change who they do business with, but it's not likely to change anything since they deal with the Forest Lodge where the Assistant Seneschal is in charge.  Anyway, they come to Crow via gravcraft, as there's no land-based transportation aside from walking through the forest.
    Kalida is moderately inclined to fill him in a little about the situation.  She doesn't want Beatrice making deals on her behalf.
    Misha says that now the Marchioness is here, then she obviously would be in charge of any deals.
    That applies only while she is here, Kalida points out.  Once they leave, the Seneschal could take over and do whatever she wants.

    Kalida wonders if they could do the trick of shadowing a Tukera ship and grab information from it.  Mostly they've gone after naval ships, not private ones.
    Lucas hasn't seen their close approach and hack method that they used with Helia.  Robert explains to him that they have to get very close to the other ship and stay there for some time.

    The first thing to do on arrival, of course, is to see if they can find the courier.  The system is much the same as they left it, the same Vemene warships in the same places.  There is no sign of the courier -- apparently they have beaten Beatrice Drakenfoll to Nakege.

    Sir Misha tells the Gravella that there might be an issue with the Assistant Seneschal and to deal with the Marchioness directly.  He accepts that without question.

    On the way in to the mainworld, of course, they want to take a course to make it look like they aren't relying on their secret stealth to avoid the Tukera ships.  They have no problem doing that, between Mich's astrogation and Lucas's piloting.  It's certainly sufficient to raise no suspicion on the part of the Gravella.
    They fly in near Crow, then take the Gravella to his hall with the gcarrier.  It's a bright sunny day.  They arrive at 08:00 Imperial Time, which is 18:30 Crow Time, 8 hours before midnight.  He seems pleased to be back on his own world, where heads don't explode and wine sloshes the right way in the glass.
    Misha wants to make sure that nothing significant seems to have happened while they were away.  Everything seems normal here, but of course it's hard to know if anything more subtle has occurred.
    The return of the Gravella is of course a big deal to start with, but soon only his normal closer staff remain.
    Misha recognizes his closest advisor, and asks him directly if anything involving the Imperium or Tukera has happened while they've been gone.  He is assured that everything has been perfectly normal here.

    The Gravella invites them to dinner, but they politely decline.  The Marchioness says she has some business to take care of right away, but that they will be back before too long.  The Gravella thanks her, and says it was certainly an interesting trip -- more interesting than the Marchioness herself expected, she says.

    They return to Nightshade.  Still no courier has shown up; they would expect them at least three hours from now if they came in today, or at the latest they would arrive tomorrow.
    This leaves them several options.  They can go to the Forest Lodge and see what she does when she gets here, of course.
    Misha asks Lucas if he is prepared to shadow a moving ship just 20-30 meters or so away from it.
    Lucas is under no illusion as to how hard that would be.  It would be formidable enough to get into position in the first place, and if the other ship started maneuvering it would get much more tricky very quickly.  He says confidently that he can do it, but if the other ship starts moving it will get interesting.
    Tukera has here one outdated destroyer at the gas giant, a destroyer escort in orbit around the mainworld, and one destroyer escort each in the rough locations a ship would arrive from Mongo or Jewell.
    They'll go first to the Forest Lodge and keep an eye open for the courier.

    Nightshade leaves Crow at 09:00 (19:30 CT), still in stealth, and arrives at about 11:00 (21:30 CT).  It's now night, both suns having set since it's autumn.
    Everything looks normal there as far as they can tell.  It's now night, both suns having set since it's autumn.  Through the windows they can see the Assistant Seneschal and the same staff as before, apparently going about their normal business.  They can't overhear much, but the conversation they do hear sounds normal too.
    Robert hacks into the main computer system.  Nothing interesting has happened in the last few days, although they have ordered some extra supplies and picked up an extra three crates of bourbon from town, presumably to allow for the customs of the Marchioness and her entourage when they visit.
    It's now around lunchtime on board ship, and it's getting near the window when the courier could arrive.  Rather than check the palace now, they decide to wait for that.

    At about 14:00 Imperial Time (24:30 CT), a ship comes out of jump.  It is indeed a courier, and one of the destroyer escorts is moving towards it.  The courier itself is accelerating directly towards the mainworld.
    Immediately Lucas takes them up oas fast as possible, but of course maintaining stealth.
    They intercept the courier at 14:30, with it still two hours out from the mainworld.  It should be about 45 minutes until it performs a turnaround to decelerate for mainworld orbit.  The transponder says it's a civilian courier, registered to a company that Shark tells them is a front for Imperial Intelligence.
    The destroyer escort is headed towards the courier generally, but does not seem to be pursuing it, but rather still covering the jump area.  It doesn't look like that warship is intending to stop and board it.  Apparently not everything that comes into the system has to be inspected, unless this company has a prior deal with Tukera.
    This means they can't shadow the Vemene ship, so they choose to shadow the courier instead.  It should be about 45 minutes until it performs a turnaround to decelerate for mainworld orbit.
    Lucas performs his first shadow maneuver, and he does so perfectly, locking into position.
    Robert immediately hacks into the courier.  The manifest shows a crew of six, and one passenger named Beatrice Drakenfoll.  The only cargo is her personal effects, a one ton allowance.  The comm logs reveal that they talked to the destroyer escort already, and were instructed to go into orbit and be boarded by the destroyer escort there.  That's all the communications they had -- they identified themselves as a courier on Marquisate business heading for the mainworld, but gave no special instructions.
    A personal handcomp has been docked with the ship's systems.  It contains regular information on Nakege -- local officials, culture, time zones, and so on.  It includes the information that they can deal with the Gravella, and he'll deal honestly, but he has no need to know Marquisate business.  It mentions the Assistant Seneschal under the name he's using here.  Basically it's a normal but comprehensive intelligence report on the world, with a focus from the point of view of the Marquisate.
    Kalida asks if he can access the comm logs from when they left Jewell.  Robert digs around some more, and finds that they are under instructions to deliver the Seneschal to the Marquisate of Nakege and do whatever she needs to assist her in taking up her position.  That message came from Imperial Intelligence, not from the Marquisate Offices or the Noble Commission.
    Misha had been assuming that Beatrice left the Intelligence service and was doing this for personal reasons.  He is now wondering if she is doing this under orders.
    That's really all they can get for now.  Lucas backs off to a safe distance, and they follow the courier in.

    The courier arrives at the mainworld and enters orbit at 16:30.  The destroyer escort closes with the courier and matches orbit close by, with Lucas slipping in the way of the tight beam so Robert can monitor it.  The Tukera ship tells them to stand by to be boarded.
    Lucas pulls out from between the ships as they approach, but stays close.
    The destroyer escort launches small craft.  One goes in to dock, while the other stands off a little way out of the direct line of fire.
    Shark tries to run a remote viewpoint sensor into the courier, but doing so on a ship in orbit is much harder and more disorienting than a fixed place on a world.  It's too hard, and he gets up very quickly and heads back to Sick Bay for a rest.

    Half an hour later the first small craft undocks and heads back to the mothership, and the other comes in to dock with the courier.  There has been no communication that Robert could pick up.  He suggests that either they need more inspectors or they're taking booty off the courier.  They'd have to hack into the destroyer escort to find out any more -- and so that's exactly what Robert does, as soon as Lucas has moved them into position, which is a little easier with the ships in constant orbit.
    Robert hacks in.  There had been a message from the first small craft saying that they were heading back, and that the marine contingent in the second craft should hold the ship temporarily.  Internal communications show the Captain being called to the dock, which seems to have irritated him and upset his normal procedure.
    The Captain meets the craft as it docks and steps aboard it.  There's no sound coming from there, and no video to hack into on the craft, but there is the corridor leading in.  The Captain comes back out, looking extremely annoyed, and gives orders to release the ship.
    Everyone is sure that Beatrice has pushed buttons.  She has something she can pull on this Captain.
    This craft returns to the courier, then both return to the mothership.  The destroyer escort returns to its standard orbit, and Lucas pulls clear.

    The courier leaves orbit and sescends to the starport, landing at 18:00.  That's early in the morning Crow Time, 02:30.
    The courier of course will need refuelling here.  A crewman comes out of the ship, walks over to the building, knocks on the door and peers into the windows, then after a while gives up and returns to his ship.

    On Nightshade, they continue to watch, locked into a position nearby.  Or rather, sthe ship watches while the crew takes a much needed rest.

276-1123 : Nakege / Jewell / Spinward Marches

    At some time after 08:00 Crow Time (midnight Imperial), people start moving around at the starport office.  Nightshade wakes up her crew after five and a half hours of sleep.
    Shortly after that someone goes over from the courier, and soon after that refuelling operations start with both ship and ground crew involved.
    Two hours later, a gcarrier leaves courier.  Apparently Beatrice is not taking the train to Crow, but is headed directly for the Forest Lodge.  Nightshade follows them.

    The gcarrier is not in a hurry.  It arrives fours hours later, at 14:00 CT (06:00 Imperial).  It sets down arrogantly closer to the front door than the actual landing pad.
    As Lucas locks Nightshade into position, Shark goes into sparkly pink remote viewpoint on the sensors.
    Two people emerge from the gcarrier: Beatrice, and one in a non-military Captain uniform.
    The Assistant Seneschal comes out.  Beatrice introduces herself as the new Seneschal, and the A.S. is clearly angry.  He storms out a torrent of invective that brings a smile to Kalida's face.  After a short while the Captain stops him, flashing him an Imperial Intelligence badge.  All three go inside.
    Shark follows them in on the remote sensors.
    Further in, they enter what is probably the Assitant Seneschal's office, a place they haven't seen in person themselves.  The continue into a small connecting room, and close a ceramic door behind them.  No-one has said a word on the way in.
    Shark can't follow them.  Robert stays hacked into the computers and monitors them, but he can't find any indication where the three people went.  There is nothing to do but wait.

    Twenty minutes later, the Captain comes out alone.  He walks out to the gcarrier, brings in a fairly large trunk and a couple of suitcases on a grav pallet, and takes them inside.  He dumps them unceremoniously right inside the door, returns to the gcarrier, and takes off towards the starport.

    Meanwhile Robert has checked the sensors they left to look for any communications with Tukera while they were gone.  Apparently the Forest Lodge did not talk with the blockaders during that time.

    A couple of hours after they'd arrived, the two seneschals come out and go to breakfast.  Even though it's mid afternoon Crow Time, it's still only 08:00 Imperial.  They're apparently friendly, keeping up a constant conversation about light subjects: the weather, what to expect as winter approaches, and so on.  Local things, like what harvests are coming up, how often then do a supply run, and so on.  To all appearances it's a perfectly genuine light conversation.
    After the meal, the two of them go on a tour of the Lodge.  They cover everything, including the Assistant Seneschal's area which they haven't seen before.  There is no mention of the extra computer.
    Finally, they retire to chairs on the porch, looking across the landing field and sipping bourbon.  Apparently the new Seneschal likes the local drink very much.
    They've apparently synched with local time now, as they go off to dinner at normal Crow Time.

    With one person staying on watch, the remainder of the crew go to rest.  This will let them sync up with local time too.