Week 23, Regrouping
While the repair and recon is going on, we decide we need to investigate the last three JAS units and make sure they really are not functional. We find them still packed in oil and Charles Simson, the Sim, checks them out to make sure they can't sneak up on us. Eventually they will have to have their memory audited and possibly wiped.
Part of the group worries about the factory's security system and begins shutting it down. Alag patches the blown airlock with ectoplasm. We recover as much equipment as we can and search for loot in the ship.
We contact the Jack to see how their mop up is going. We are informed that three of their prisoners are dead, possibly by suicide or something. Since we have seen these minions of Rashid die when interrogated, we're not surprised. Jack communications are pretty much back and they expect interstellar communications to be back within an hour or so.
Suddenly warnings go off in our ship. There are interstellar ships coming in at a very rapid rate heading for the Jack. Six small ships are dropped off, two of them head for us and the factory. It is Grissom who contacts us over the radio. He informs us that we want to talk to him. He and the two ships are heading our way. These ships then drop two smaller ships which reach the factory.
It turns out that KaiSen is with Grissom to help out. This makes it very nice, but very touchy. KaiSen is effectively another country, and we might want to delegate the whole mess to KaiSen, but we really shouldn't. We decide (along with Chang, our superior :-) that the Jack Patrol proper should come out to take control of the factory and hold it. It appears that, all in all, we handled things very well.
We head down to the Jack with Grissom and KaiSen on his ship and get filled in on what's been going on elsewhen.
We spend the next few days helping the Jack Patrol clean up the mess in the Jack. Alag goes off to CORC (who have a macrometallizer) to get a second katana macrometallized for himself. He also gets some high-tech nunchucks, a macrometal sword for Chris and another macrometal knife for Jake.
Grissom tells us that this ship is ours (After all, he did promise us one.) and is about 2000 years ahead of its time. It can do a one-shot time travel, but then will need to be overhauled. Expensively. For emergency use only. But even for conventional travel it is much faster than any around today.
Chris works at signing the AIs that were on the ship with us to help prevent disflorger information from leaking out too quickly. Grissom, who congratulated us on how well we handled the emergency -- for a time he could watch, but couldn't help -- also raises an eyebrow at the disflorgers. We dance around the issue, and he lets us.
Steven Eames visits Cantrel a few days later and needs his promised rejuvenation moved up and done faster, if he is to stay down on the planet and handle things there. We agree to it.
We get a note from Waverly which succinctly states, "Damn your eyes." Someday we may learn what this means. We hope that it only means that we are making his paperwork difficult now.
We spend a lot of time on figuring out how we are going to swap personnel around to maintain a base here on the Jack, one on Helene in the other continuum, and one group to go off on Hisradish's quest. It is decided that Chris and Sophie will stay in mainline handling the politics, and such, of CT in the Jack. Gene will also be on that side. Lorelei, Tom, Victoria and the kids will be on Helene in the Co-Dominion universe. That leaves Jake, Ashleigh, Jeremy, Marsina, Glorian, Gerard and Hisradish to go off with Cantrel and Alag.
Alag and Cantrel bugcheck at the idea of leading a band of all newbies off on an adventure to an unexplored (actually, unfound so far) planet. (Neither Cantrel nor Alag is known for his ability to lead people).
Ashleigh volunteers to lead Hisradish's expedition, and after they have a private talk, Cantrel and Alag decide that if they're going to not lead, they need to not lead, and agree between themselves not only to let Ashleigh lead, but to let Ashleigh lead.
Before we split, we do a lot of training and research on the Hierowesch and the Fauns and stock up the ship for most contingencies.
After we take off for this unknown planet and are out less than a day, we pickup that someone is following us. We drop out of hyperspace and there is a hail coming in over several frequencies. We analyze the signal coming through and finally get out of the rather uncooperative bit of our copy of the pantope's serving system a couple of images and a translation of the signals.
At sight of the signal, Hisradish disappears and only comes out when he learns it is not 2-way viewing. He says it is a TiHen, he thinks, but they have been extinct in his universe for a long time. Cantrel recognized the image as a "hellcow" from the Instrumentality adventure.
This is "Untranslatable Proper Name" of the Kendorini, our old friends from the crystal site. They demand we stop and allow them to board us. We don't think this is a good idea in general and politely decline. They don't recognize human law and the treaty of Weber's world does not speak to this point. They say.
A long chase ensues. We speed up, and they speed up. We start heading back towards Helene. When they start getting closer, we speed up again. We can still get away by abandoning the hulk and just taking the shuttle, but we really don't want to do this. Just in case, though we start moving important things like the time machine and lab into the shuttle. When we are maxed out in speed, they are still able to sort of barely keep up. This makes us think they may be pushing their engines beyond capacity and we may have a chance. We send out a distress message and get a response from a Co-Dominion starship. Since we are moving much too fast for this time, we can't let them know our speed and position but hope they'll get here anyway.
When the starship comes into range, we start to slow down. As we get closer the TiHen still follow but finally peel off. The starship captain, Johansen, is apparently very curious at our fantastic speed and offers to send over his engineer to take a look at things. We can't afford to let anyone look at our engines. We refuse to let them on board and head towards Helene.
As we get closer, we get a message that Representative Ortega wants to talk to us. Ortega says the Helene will back our right to refuse Johansen and since we "found" this ship it is protected under Helene's salvage laws. Ortega and Johansen argue and Ortega heads out on a ship to meet us.
We put the time machine and Hisradish in a room and prepare to block/glamour it away if necessary. We talk to our lawyers. Adventuring through time and space didn't use to need lawyers. Sigh.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.