Hellhawk – Episode 20

Tinturn Copse

After discussions with Investigator Wain about his investigation into the hijacking of the Hellhawk, the group recovers the Hellhawk.  They establish the precedence of their warrant from Walston, and the authorities on Flammarion Orbital have located the Delta Rae hijackers in place called Tinturn Copse.

Location: In Flammarion Orbital, an O’Neill habitat orbiting the world of Flammarion.

Date: 176-1110

Characters

Crew

Characters

  • Martin Clairmont (Pete Cooney) – Security – Marine Lieutenant C65645 Age 30
  • Gaetan Boucher (Billy Lenoir) – Engineer/Navigator – Retired Navy Captain 835B8F Age 46
  • Drusill Telyn (Robyn Nixon) – Pilot – Navy Lt Cmdr 3455BB Age 42
  • Steac Malabru (David …) – Captain/Owner Hunter 9A88B8  Age 42
  • Kafla Thingvellir (npc) business executive Age 48
  • Shaki Khuudaarma (npc) – Commander – A79798

Crew

  • Kninaae ‘Chief’ Saghzror (npc) – Second Officer and Chief Engineer – 685845
  • Hephestus ‘Hep’ Tsizkaear (npc) – Engineer’s Mate – 796766
  • Taezllo Ouzra (npc) – Navigator – 565976
  • Ensign Asheaar Kamidaa (npc) – Pilot – 796778
  • Urkoksou Kharrghse (npc) – Security Detail – 89A654
  • Gzanggvek Kangso (npc) – Security Detail – A89565
  • Lloa Kferr (npc) – Steward – 123456
  • Azkorr Kferr (npc) – Steward – 123455
  • Director Earla (npc) – Administrator – 5A799D

Arrival at Tinturn Copse

After leaving the Hellhawk, the group passes through the security check points for the station.   There are written warnings in several languages about weapons.  Investigator Wain waves you through all these checks.  Then you reach a final gateway monitored by quite a few security personnel some of them wearing turbans.  The gateway is plainly labeled: “Psionic Scan”.  The signs warn that Everyone is scanned, and those with Psionic talents must register.  Even though the gateway is large, and there is no need to line up to pass through, there are quite a few people waiting to enter.  They are considering paperwork and talking in small groups.  Investigator Wain says, pointing to one group, who appear to be Zhodani, discussing the gateway, “Don’t tell them, but the turbans are a bit of security theatre.  It cuts down on arguments with the Zhodani if they think the person they are talking to is noble.”  The group passes through the gateway without incident.

There are two air/rafts from the Flammarion Security Service waiting just outside the last security checkpoint, the drivers snap to attention when Investigator Wain approaches.  He quickly divides everyone up between the two air/rafts and the group departs into a cityscape.  The air/rafts move clear of the tall buildings and other obstructions and allow a view of the entire station.  Far in the distance, at the other end of the cylinder, there appears to be another city almost lost in the haze.  Between the two urban areas is a rural landscape of rolling hills and lakes.  It’s hard for even the most jaded of space travellers not to be overcome by the enormity of the station.

The air/rafts approach one of the few wooded areas within the station.  It is on the crest of a hill, near the ruin of some large building.  There are several other air/rafts gathered there already.

Immediately on landing one of the group already there approaches Investigator Wain and updates him.  He says, “They are in a compound on the other side of this hill.  We have reconnaissance bots watching the building.  Here’s the video of the suspect, Bernard Smith leaving the building.”  He hands Wain a small computer that displays a video, obviously taken from a long distance away, of Bernard emerging from a building and into a small courtyard.  He stretches and yawns, enjoying the outdoors.  He has an assault rifle slung over his shoulder.

Someone else quickly comes outside and pulls him back into the building.  Searching the skies for signs that they are being watched.  Inspector Wain says, “It’s hard for someone not familiar with this station to grasp, that you are always being watched.  There is no outdoors here, although the woods and lakes give the illusion, there is always something overhead.”  He looks to Steac and Shaki and says, “It’s obvious they are armed.  I have a strike team ready.  How would you like to proceed?”

Steac: “Cautiously at first.  Monitor by surveillance bots and identify heat signatures in the building.  We should be able to identify who has weapons and who does not.  If we have luck on our side we’ll find them on a (the) lower floor.  Divide the building by quarters and assign and englobe quarters to the strike team.  When in place, upper floor breach on 2 sides with explosives.  If they’re like most animals, they’ll bolt out and they could be taken out by as they do.  Preferably stunned, kneecaps are acceptable targets.  Shaki, what do you think?”

Shaki agrees, shaking his head.  He says, “Let the strike team take the building.   Using non-lethal force if possible.  Do they have stunners?  Then we can see what’s found.”

Steac: “Investigator Wain, if you are in agreement to this plan, particularly the non-lethal approach, let’s get to it.”

Investigator Wain turns to one of the security officers there and says, “Captain, you can take the compound with non-lethal force.”  This man in turns issues several orders over a comm link, that are intentionally difficult to understand, but are obviously for the strike team to proceed.  He gives several commands like, “Alpha team, you are green-light.  Notify me when you have reached rally-point Bravo.”

He turns to a small command post setup beside the security services air/raft that he arrived in.  He begins watching a screen that streams camera footage from the strike team as well as scanner data from the surveillance network.

He makes no attempt to hide the information being displayed, and begins to explain it to Investigator Wain and everyone who is watching.  He shows what appears to be a large compound with several buildings from a distant vantage point.

The captain says, “We have identified about 10 people in the building.  He switches the view to a densitometer scan of the area.  This is a large complex, and we may have missed someone.  This is a very noisy environment for these sensors.  We’ve tried to keep from alerting them, should they be watching.”  It’s apparent from the scans that most of the people are near the center of the largest building.  There are two people, that are in one of the outlying buildings separate from the others.

Over several minutes, two groups of 4 people can be seen approaching the building from opposing directions.  The groups seem to arrive at their rally-point and stop, shortly after the Captain receives radio confirmation that they are in position.  I looks to Investigator Wain one last time for approval.  Investigator Wain nods and tells the captain, “You may proceed.”

The captain tells the strike teams to proceed over the comm link, and the two groups approach the building.  They both seem to be moving towards the building where the larger group is currently gathered.  The captain confirms this by saying, “We are going to take the larger group first.”

The strike teams set charges around the windows and doors that they will use to enter and ready themselves to enter the building, the captain says, “It’s time for a calculated risk.  I’m switching to active scanning.”  He makes adjustments to the densitometer and suddenly the scan can see many more details.  It is possible to see what people are doing and determine where the furniture in situated in the room.

It is a large room, and 3 people seem to be circling between the windows on one side and the doors at the other end of the room.  There are two seated in a small sitting area.  3 others seem to be clustered around a computer console.  A few moments after this picture emerges, everyone’s behavior in the room changes.  The 3 people circling the room seem to stop, 2 of them focusing their attention on the windows and one of them positioning himself behind furniture watching the door.   The 3 at the computer all rise and move toward a edge of the room, away from windows and doors.  One of the two seated figures rises and then sits back down.

The Captain curses and says, “They are obviously expecting us.”  He contacts the strike team and says, “They are expecting you.  There are two watching the windows and one on the door.  Go!”

The charges bring the door and window down, giving the strike team access to the room.  You can hear shots transmitted by the strike teams cameras, followed by the discharge of stunners.  You can see the defenders at the door and windows fall.  Then the sensor data from the densitometer suddenly loses a lot of it’s detail.  The captain tries to make adjustments and finally says, “They have some type of counter measures.  I was not expecting that.”  He contacts the strike team and says, “I no longer have a reliable sensor feed.  Tell me when the room is secure.”

The radio chatter of the strike teams continues for a few moments, as they try to safely subdue the room.  Then one of the strike team says, “We’ve got a teleporter!  He just left the room.”  Someone else responds.  “Two of them have gone down a hatch in the floor.”  The strike team leader checks with his team and says, “We’ve secured the room, but it appears three of them got away.”  Video from the strike team cameras seem to confirm that two of the 5 captured in the room are Kafla and Gasizu.

Gasizu appears to be unconscious, and Kafla is conscious, but looking haggard.

Shaki asks, “Is it safe, can we get down there now?”

Steac: “Mr. Wain, is the area secure?”

Steac: “The room… secure…  Have some of the team bring the people out, I don’t want us in the room, not with teleporters.”…..   Steac and Shaki make their way near the the building and points out two individuals to the Alpha team lead: “That one lead the kidnapping of our patron and the other is our patron…  She is probably a psion, so watch out! … psi shield for them?”… “Gasizu… It’s Steac, Steac Malabru.  We finally got you, you frakkin witch.”…
“Shaki, take the lead in dealing with our captured…”  Shaki immediately begins to move toward the Alpha Team Lead and Steac stops Shaki with a firm hand on his shoulder and adds a frustrated “how the Hell can you retrieve the other 5 terrorists when they just pop in-and-out?!”  Not expecting an answer, Steac shakes his head in irritation, turns around and crouches next to his Patron, Kafla.  “Kafla, how are you?  What in Tionisla’s Graveyard is D. Rae up to!?”…

Steac listens to Kafla’s dazed recolections.  “Let’s see to getting you back to the Hellhawk so Inspector Wain and Shaki can deal with the captured D. Rae.  Mr. Wain!”  With a raised arm and gesturing emphatically, “Mr. Wain.”  Inspector Wain works his was around strike team Alpha’s members.. “With your permission, I’d like to get these two back to the Hellhawk with an armed escort and allow Shaki to continue with securing the scene and the capture of the remainder of Delta Rae.”

Kafla suddenly stiffens and comes to his senses, as if he suddenly remembers something important.  He says, “They have a vid recording.  They recorded me telling about…  telling about… saying things that weren’t true.”  He seems to be searching for something, he sits up and scans the room.  He does not appear to see what he is looking for.  He turns to Steac and says, “Get me that recording.  I’ll double your pay, just keep that recording from being released.”

Steac takes a deep breath at the thought of hunting the remaining members of Delta Rae, meets Kafla’s eyes with slow smile on his face. “It was here?, well, I want you back on the ship Kafla- return with the escort and get out of the line of fire.”  Steac turns to Shaki, “I’m out of my element here, but we can make good on this safari after all and get back to our lives as hosts!”  The thrill of the hunt courses through Steac’s veins. “Inspector Wain, change in plans here,  I want these two out of dangers way, escorted back to the ship.  I also want the these others taken back to our ship; I’m sure Dru… Sir Telyn can take care of extracting something from Gasizu, and I’d like to continue with your search for these criminals.”

The Inspector seems mildly surprised at Malabru’s sudden change of heart.  “Of course you can be a part of this… but what’s changed?”  Steac wastes no time with his reply. “They’ve propaganda vids forged by flame with their mind games and have used Kafla and likely many others to funnel lies to the masses by vid.”  Another deep breath and, “I’ve other business I’d love to get back to with Kafla here, but he’s been manipulated to lie for D. Rae and wants his name cleared from their coffers.”  Steac flexes the muscles in his lower right leg as to feel the hidden hunting knife and smiles, “Kafla wants me to hunt.  So I hunt!”

Inspector Wain raises an eyebrow and gives a look of approval.  “Well, that’s absolutely reasonable and we of Flammarion Orbital will continue with our assistance.  We will escort the Psions and your patron back to the Hellhawk.  We will dose the Psions with inhibitor drug and insure that those who take custody are prepared to deal with her ‘talents’.”  He says.  After consulting with the captain, he returns and says, “The one subject who teleported from this room was apprehended upstairs.  He was putting on a vacc-suit.  He may have had intentions of teleporting out of the station, but I don’t think he would have been happy with the station defenses outside.  We did not find any vid crystals with him.  The remaining two left by more conventional means.  It appears that they fled down the access hatch here.”  He points to an improvised access hatch on the floor.  “This is not a standard maintenance hatch, but it does lead to the underground levels of the station.  I will grant you access to those maintenance levels.  You can leave whenever you like.”

“Great” adds Steac in a hurry to wrap-up his troubles, grabbing his long-range comm, “Gzang? Gzang, cop…” Steac’s comm replies before fininshing the sentance, “Steac? Gotcha, what’s up?”  “Gzang, key onto this comm location, I want Urko and you to come to Tinturn Copse, this location with the following equipment…” Steac pauses running through his equipment choices and Urko interjects, “Steac, what’s up?” Steac smiles, “Our Patron has a bonus detail for us for double-the-credits… locate and capture a vid from the Psions.” another pause, “I need the two of you here with the following; Psi Shields for yourselves, 4 chameleon suits, LR comms for yourselves, and… hang on a moment.” Steac takes a look around.
Steac spots inspector Wain, “Inspector, here!”  “Yes Mr. Malabru?”  “Can my men and myself borrow 4 stunners?  “Yes”  Steac smiles, returning to his LR comm, “Urko, Gzang?”  “Still here Steac…”Come here ASAP with the list I just provided along with 3 sets of IR goggles… no extra weapons, our prey are looking at cage-time only.” Smiling, “We’ve Stunners here to use… on the double!”  Urko, “We’ll be there shortly, out!”

Gaetan’s communication devices chirps, signalling him that someone is sending him some information.  He looks puzzled for a moment, then says, “You’ll have to go on without me.  It looks like I have something to deal with.  He begins listening and fumbles with a way to record the conversation.”

continued below…

…Meanwhile on the Hellhawk

Drusil is going over the ship diagnostics readying the Hellhawk for quick departure if needed.  He oversees the refueling and begins programming a course back to Walston for the Hellhawk and the Urutu.  He communicates with Ensign Kamidee to coordinate the travel of the two ships in system, to provide cover for each other if necessary (you never know when pirates will strike after all).  Drusil works especially diligently to ensure that no data bombs or virus have been uploaded into the Hellhawks computer core, using the Urutu’s computers to verify the integrity of the Hellhawk.  Drusil knows by using the Urutu in this way will speed the process of verifying the wholeness of the Hellhawk, and will shorten its re-fit/refuel by hours.

Drusil,  Kninaae ‘Chief’ Saghzror, Hephestus and Ensign Kamidee crawl all over the Hellhawk and tie hard communication lines between the two ships to aid in their task.  Hours pass in the mens work.  Drusil is under the console of the Hellhawk with his electro-scanner when suddenly there is a call from outside the main airlock.  Someone is requesting access to the ship.  Drusil crawls out and up from the console where he had been following the communications console where he had been working and following the comms of the capture party.  He looks over at the video monitor and is shocked to see his handler Baron von Weiss in the monitor along with two other uniformed Naval Officers.    Drusil rushes to the portal to welcome such august visitors into the ship’s bowels.  “What the blazes is he doing here?  I had thought I could get Gaetan away before they showed up.”  Drusil looks a mess in grime covered overalls as he greets the gentlemen at the lock.  “Greetings brothers, you are a long way from home!”  He looks over at the two uniformed men with the Baron, trying to understand their purpose with the Baron,  where they simply escorts, bodyguards or the Baron’s thugs.  Drusil taps his leg, and feels the hard plastic of the stunner that he had used in the fight with the witches.  Would he need it?  He waits for the Baron’s answer to see if he is inviting in a friend or having to battle an enemy.

The Baron answers Drusil’s greeting with a stern look and a seemingly simple statement, “We need to talk.”  The Baron doesn’t wait for Drusil to invite him aboard, but steps onto the ship with his two escorts.

Drusil allows the Baron to bully his way past, but blocks the way of the two escorts “You had better stand watch out here to ensure that our conversation isn’t interrupted, and immediately shuts the portal in their face before following the Baron, while directing him to the ships crew area.  “To your left Baron and straight ahead.”

The Baron stops and turns abruptly, ignoring the instruction to step down the hall.  He says, “It’s become apparent to me that you have lost sight of your mission.“

“And what would that mission be, my lord?”  Drusil asks  “My reports have been regular, and accurate, we only arrived at this system less than 3 hours ago.  I was always told to be discrete in my transmissions to the Order.”

The Baron says, “It’s not your transmissions that are the concern.  Gaetan and the House Duur-Dirza appears to be on the increase.  That’s not what the Order of the Phoenix is about.  Duur-Dirza and all of his high noble ilk need to be beaten from the ranks of the galactic leadership.”

Drusil descreatly activates his wrist com to pick up the conversation, and transmit it onto a private frequency that he and Gaetan frequently share when working on shipboard functions.

Drusil speaks “I understand that Baran von Weiss.  I had thought that the Order of the Phoenix would be happy that one of the son’s of an Arch-duke was toiling in obscurity.”

The Baron’s face is flush, and his response is just short of shouted, “I would hardly call overthrowing governments toiling in obscurity.”

“Well I expect that the fly in the ointment of your plan was the Orders collusion with the terrorist group Delta Rae!”  Drusil looks angry, instead of intimated.  “How could you, my Baron have allowed or supported such action within the Imperium or its client states?”  Drusil accuses the Baron.  “I almost died in that incident by the way!”

The Baron stops short.  He says, “You have no proof of that.  You can’t.  We would not involve ourselves with such petty thugs.”

“So is the Order simply in league with the Zhodani then, and the use of Psions?”  Drusil presses the question  “Just how far would the Order go to ensure the overthrow of the House of Duur-Dirza?”

The Baron says, “It’s not just House Duur-Dirza!  It’s House XXXX, and YYY an ZZZ.  It’s all the noble houses.  Rank and leadership should not be inherited.  It should be earned.  You are like me.  I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth.  I had to fight for every advancement I received.  It makes me sick every time I see what they have, just by the benefit of birth.  I would do anything to see them discredited.”

Drusil steps back as if stunned!! “You would bring down all the major houses of the Spinward Marches?  Are you mad?  Do you realise the collateral damage of such an action?  The worlds that would go up in flames, the citizens on all sides that would die?”

Drusil seems spine seems to stiffen “I understand what you say about earning privilege, but I have worked with this man ‘Gaetan’ for over a year now, and he shows Noblesse oblige.  He has earned my respect!  The words of oath for the Order of the Phoenix were to bring honor from the ashes.  Hasn’t this man Gaetan already been driven into the ashes and exemplified the high ideals of our order?  Shouldn’t we be recruiting this man, not trying to tear him asunder?”

The Baron seems unmoved by Druil’s passionate words.  He looks at Drusil for a long awkward moment then says, “I’m not certain you are right for the Order of the Phonenix.  You obviously misunderstand our mission.”

Again Drusil looks stunned “What are you asking of me Baron?  Be straight!  I’m a little slow when it comes to court politics it seems.”

The Baron seems to relax a bit and says, “That’s a better attitude.  Are you really prepared to help the Order achieve it’s goals?”

Drusil is confused by this shift in tactics by the Baron.  “I have a question first:  did you or the Order expedite our landing on this planet?”

The Baron answers, “We didn’t know you were coming.  How could I have expedited your landing.  Last I heard, you were headed for 567-908.”

Something itches at Drusil, he thinks to himself, “So who did expedite our landing and our warrant?  I hope Gaetan has some friends in system, we are going to need them.”  He responds to the Baron:  “You lay it out.  Up to this point I’ve been your eyes, what are you wanting me to do now?”

The Baron says, “That’s better.”  He seems to adopt a more conciliatory tone, but something about it leaves Drusil cold, “I think I need to meet this Gaetan.  Why don’t you arrange a meeting.  There is a park inside the city, near the Debarkation Terminal, called Barkley Square.  Bring him to the park in 3 hours.”

“Follow me to the bridge and I will call him,  he is on a hunt right now”  Drusil pushes past the Baron and heads for the Bridge.  He looks back to see if the Baron is following, and when he sees him coming, he proceeds to the comm console.  “What excuse can I use to break him away from his hunt?  That’s a good idea to call him now, as this will separate him from the rest of the crew.”

The Baron nods for Drusil to call.

Upon reaching the console  Drusil activates the normal comm channel on the panel to page Gaetan “Drusil to Gaetan, come in please.  Priority Orange!  Gaetan come in please.”  Drusil runs his greasy hands through his hair.

Gaetan comes on the comm channel after a moment and says, “This is Gaetan.  Is everything okay Drusil?  We weren’t expecting to hear from you.”

“Gaetan I just received the strangest information from one of the ground crew here.  It seems that another trader from Walston arrived planetside here and the things they are saying, I should tell you in person, not over the comm channel.  I’m tied up in refueling for the next few hours, how about meeting me in 3 hours,  lets see, let me look at a map…..how about … there is a park inside the city, near the Debarkation Terminal, called Barkley Square.  I don’t think you should come back to the ship, and you might want to get away from the rest of the party.  Trust me on this Gaetan, ok?”  Drusil thinks to himself “Gods, I hope Gaetan got the other transmission.”

Gaetan says, “Okay, I’ll meet you there.  We have a bit more to wrap up here.”

“Drusil out”  Dru looks over at the Baron “Will that do or do I have to hold your hand there also?”  Drusil has a disgusted look on his face, that the Baron can easily see.

The Baron looks satisfied with himself.  He says, “I think I will recognize Gaetan.  You can stay here.  I know how to reward those who are of service to the Order.  You have done well.”

Drusil looks beaten as he escorts the Baron out of the ship and sees him and his escorts leave.

The Baron leaves quickly, taking his two escorts with him.

Drusil doesn’t say anything more, but goes back to the bridge and begins an intense search, finally he finds it.  The small listening device that the Baron discretely placed on the bridge to see if Drusil made any further calls.  He nods to himself and thinks “Smarter than the average bear boo boo!”  and says out loud “Good that little arch duke wanna be will finally get what he has been moping for!”  and Drusil goes about his work until he is finally clear of the area that the Baron had visited.  Half an hour later he finally calls Gaetan from the Urutu’s bridge.

Speaking to Gaetan “Was that enough for you?”

The Hunt for Vid Crystals

Steac and the others climb down the ladder into the labyrinth of tunnels under the landscape of Flammarion orbital.  The tunnels are dimly lit, and stretch off in two directions.  The air has a faint metallic smell, mixed with ozone.  The piping and other conduits are all labeled in large block letters.  The numbers an symbols must mean something to the ships engineers, but just add to the stark artificial landscape that contrasts with the surface, just a few meters above.

Steac quickly locates fresh foot prints in the condensation from the nearby duct work that leads  to the right.  There is a partially closed bulkhead door about 50 meters ahead.  Urko and Gzang take the lead, holding their stunners ready, they move to the bulkhead door and carefully swing it open.  Steac and ??? follow behind.

The passageway widens into a room here with several exits.  There is some equipment and tools here used in maintenance of the equipment in these underground levels.  Steac is hot on the trail, he quickly locates the tunnel that the Psions used to leave this area.

Opening the door from this area reveals a long corridor, similar to the one before.  The corridor is about 100m long and ends in another bulkhead door.  As if to confirm the Steac’s tracking is good, on opening the doors, the group hear a door clang shut ahead.  Urko and Gzang look back for approval, before bolting down the corridor in pursuit.

They reach the end of the corridor quickly and open the bulkhead door.  The door leads back outside.  The door is in a small ravine, surrounded by plants.  It takes a moment for Urko and Gzang’s eyes to adjust to the outside light, but they quickly begin scanning for the Psions again.  They both have their stunners ready.

Steac whispers, “Chameleon’s on.” and follows suit activating his.  Steac motions to the two, Gzang to vector off to the right, Urko vector to the left; quietly.   Steac quickly looks above and scans.  Having moved from the center, Urko, left, scans to the right and Gzang likewise to his right.  Moving forward slowly, Gzang is the first to spot the two remaining Delta Rae members to the right of the group and hand-signals all to stop.  In unison, the group slowly crouches and takes aim at the fugitives.

The two remaining members are uncovering a concealed air/raft.  One of them is familiar; it is the dark-haired woman who stole the Hellhawk.  The other person is not familiar.

They seem to be trying to flee the area.  Steac notices that this site is not far from where the security services have their command post setup.  It’s almost as though he has gone in a big circle.

Steac fires his weapon and hits his target!  At the same time, Urko’s and Gzang’s ears are down flat to their heads, nostrils flared, pupils drawn tight and fixed on the kill, and jaws closed tight.  Both Security personnel quietly position themselves and take aim on their respective targets.  Both hear the quiet “tik” as Steac pulls his trigger and the Vargr do the same.

The two remaining Delta Rae respond in the only manner they can to the assault and they drop rather quietly to the ground.  Steac’s face starts to relax as he lowers his stunner while the two Vargr lope with open jaws toward their “kill”.  “I like a consistent universe.” Steac says to no one in particular and follows suit with his security detail.  Steac walks up behind a busy Gzang. “Pardon” Steac says as he removes the LR Comm out of Gzang’s hip-pack.  For his part, Gzang glances back, having caught Steac’s scent and exposes his neck briefly as his comm is removed.

Steac activates the comm while tabbing the kill switch on his Chamie’ suit.  Urko and Gzang are  both trussing the two stunned criminals as Steac busily Adjusts the comm, speaking loud enough to *hopefully* be heard by by the nearby Command Post, Steac announces, “Inspector Wain?  Inspec-”          “Well, my detail and I wouldn’t mind some assistance corralling the pair of D. Raes we’ve got…”

“Hey!” directed to the two security men.  “Urk!  ‘Zang!”  The two kneeling over the D. Raes and panting, look questioningly up to Steac.  With a deep laugh Steac adds,  “Turn off the Chamies, no more play today.  Time to start packing our bags and do some real hunting!”

Urko and Gzang take the stunners the two women carried.  They also find a small case, containing several data crystals, possibly the recordings that Kafla wanted retrieved.  Investigator Wain answers on the comm channel, that he’s sending a few officers to retrieve the Psions.  Several plain-clothes officers arrive after a few minutes.  Once the officers arrive, they revive the Psions and cuff them.  As they lead the women away, the dark haired woman turns to Steac, and with an icy stare says quietly, “This isn’t over.”  As the two are lead away, the indicator on Steac’s Psi-sheild warns him it’s been activated.  Immediately you can hear one of the officers leading the women away say, “That will cost you ma’am.  That’s a violation of the Psion Protection laws of Flammarion Orbital.  Minimum punishment is 5 years of hard labor on Flamarrion Down.  I would suggest you don’t do that again, or we will be forced to sedate you.”

Steac is standing next to the partially uncovered air/raft, holding the data crystals and it occurs to him that there is a crystal reader and vid screen in the air/raft.

Steac leans his elbow against the air/raft and throws his body over the side of the vehicle, coming to rest in a crouch inside.  Making his way over to the reader/screen, he inserts the crystal into the reader slot and leans back to watch this most valuable show.

The video begins, showing Kafla sitting in the chair on the Hellhawk.  He looks well, but a little less animated than you know him to be.  Not anything that would be noticed by someone not familiar with his personality.  He begins by saying, “I’m Kafla Thingvellir, chairman and CEO of Sterilon LIC.  Sterilon is a medical products company.  I’m responsible for the day to day operations of the company.  I make all the important decisions.  I would like to relate something that has been weighing on my conscience.”   Kafla proceeds to describe an accident that occurred in the Trane System in the Spinward Marches.  He describes an industrial accident that killed several hundred workers.  He confesses to the destruction of great swaths of the ecosystem on that planet, and a conspiracy to cover it up.  He gives names, dates and times and other details that could be verified.  If the details are true, it would make it difficult for his story to be a fabrication.

On returning to the command post, Steac, Urko and Gzang find Gaetan discussing something with the Investigator.  Gaetan turns to Steac and says, “It looks like there’s one more thing I need to do before we can leave.  I have a meeting with a Baron, in a couple of hours.  I suspect his intentions are anything but diplomatic.”  Gaetan points to the investigator and says, “Mr. Wain suggests that I just avoid the appointment.  I’m inclined to agree.  Do you have any suggestions about ways to meet with the Baron and find out his intentions?  We’ve had trouble coming up with a way to insure the meeting is safe.  He wants to meet in an open area, a park.  There could be snipers or people hiding in any number of places.”

The question remains hangs there for a few seconds, unanswered.  Then almost as an answer everyone hears the familiar whine of grav-plating trying to check the acceleration of an approaching vehicle.  Everyone turns expecting to see another air/raft arriving, but is surprised to see a gravitic armored personnel carrier approaching.
The turret is occupied and the vehicle seems to project all the menace it was designed for.  You hear investigator Wain mumble, “Who let that thing in here.”  One of the officer responds, “I can’t imagine what would happen if they actually fired that thing.”  The APC settles to the ground near the command post, and the access door swings open.  The turret scanning the ridges and valleys around you.

Gaetan sighs, wishing he could hide behind the air/raft and the APC would go away, but he stands his ground.

Two fully armored and armed marines step off the vehicle.  They scan the area and move toward the command post.  The visors of their armor obscures their faces.  They are resting their Plasma rifles across their arms as they approach the group, searching for the person in charge.  Investigator Wain steps forward and asks, “You look as though you lost something.”

The marine asks, “Are you Investigator Wain?”  Wain nods and says, “Yes I am, but why would that be of interest to the Imperial Marines?”  The marine asks, “Is the area secure?  Are all the suspects in custody?”  Investigator Wain nods again and says, “Yes, but you’ve not answered my question.”  The marine pauses, for a long second, then says, “I’m sorry Investigator, I’m not authorized to answer those questions.  I’ll leave those answers to someone else.”

Gaetan mumbles, “This is where I’m taken into custody.”

Two other people step off the APC.  One of them a marine in armor, but with his helmet removed.  He is a young man, talking to the older man beside him.  The older man is wearing some body armor he’s obviously not accustomed to, but is not nearly as armored as the marines.  The two people turn towards the group, and you get a good look at them.

Gaetan gasps audibly when he sees the face of the older man.  He says softly at first, “Uncle Ilashii.”  He then repeats himself more loudly as if he’s trying to convince himself that’s who it really is.  The old man, still 20 meters away, looks up and smiles.  Gaetan says with pride to the group, “That’s my uncle… No he’s not really my uncle.  He is an advisor to my uncle.  It’s Ilashii Kaundaash.  Perhaps it’s a little childish, but I’ve always called him Uncle Ilashii.  I can’t imagine why my real uncle would have sent him.”

Ilashii steps up to the group and says, “Good Afternoon.  I hope you’ve had happy hunting.  I’m Ilashii Kaundaash and it’s a pleasure to meet you.”  He insists on being introduced to everyone, beginning with Investigator Wain.  The marine beside him tries to object and he ignores it.  The second time the marine attempts to interrupt, he turns and says, quite sternly, “Captain, while I have given you broad latitude regarding security, there are still some things you are not in control of, you need to hold your enthusiasm in check, or I will have a new security officer.”  He turns back to the group and says, “You’ll forgive Captain XXX.  He takes his security mandate a bit to seriously sometimes.”  He continues with the introductions.

Steac:  “‘Pleasure and an honor to meet you,” extending his hand,  “to meet you Advisor Kaundaash.” Steac’s eyes glance at the Imperial Marine and Tank.  “Can I offer the hospitality of my ship for refreshments and conversation?”

Ilashii seems genuinely interested in the invitation.  He thanks Steac warmly, but insists that the Captain’s security concerns might make it difficult to visit there.  He offers the room he has rented here as an alternative.  He apologizes, saying “It’s not what I would consider comfortable, but it would be a good place to talk.”  Once the introductions are done, he invites everyone to follow saying  “The captain will give you directions.”  He pauses before returning to his APC and say, “Gaetan you will ride with me.”  Although he says it with a smile, the firmness of a command is implied.  He turns to his APC and Gaetan follows.  The captain offers instructions back to the city where Ilashii has invited you.

After Ilashii leaves, the Investigator says, “I would not miss this opportunity.  The directions he’s given are for an exclusive part of the city.  I’ve only been in that part of the city once or twice, and always while investigating crimes.  My suspicion is that he’s not living in simple quarters.  I would like to see how the other half lives.”

“Hhrmpphh”  is the only answer Inspector Wain receives while Steac tugs his pants up and adjusts them and brushes real and imagined dust from his shirt.  As Wains patience is stretched to it’s fullest… “I suppose your right.  Besides, if I can’t look after him in the safety of…”  Steac pauses to look directly into Wains eyes to impart the utter sincerity of the following words. “…our ship, then I best look to him wherever he is.”  Steac looks toward the APC and runs his hand through his hair.  “Lets do this Wain, you’ve got a ride?”  Wain nods as he …..         ….  Steac smiles broadly;  “Good.  ‘Cause I call Shotgun!”

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