Motes in the Serpent's Eye

Safe Haven (Part One)
Gimme Shelter


Ship’s Log; RES Speaks Softly, Date ? recording.
Blah. Blah. Blah. End entry.


One Sentence Blub.

Session picks up immediately after the events of prior ep

Characters Attending:
Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Ditak Kirrin, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias, Lady Kotonaru

Unable to Attend:
Ereyie Wel, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, RC-880 “Durendal”

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.TBD:TBD I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

After finishing our business on Monschrome, we decided to go to Almer Station. Pei’Fa obtained some coordinates and we set out for the Tarnahan System. Our arrival caused a stir, and several vessels decided to leave immediately. After some debate regarding our welcome, we decided to leave and go to Haven instead. Haven is a forest moon settled by a colony of agrarian gnomes.

Shortly after arriving in-system, we were hailed by Jaeger172. After a short conversation with the night shift manager, a gnome called Galvemore Deg, he went to awaken the mayor and we continued our approach. We attempted a scan, and determined that we were on course to land at the largest of fourteen settlements on the moon. The total population seemed to be around 250,000 humanoids, which was much larger than expected. We picked up electrical power, and some fairly modern technology. They had an older satellite network, and quite a bit of debris, possibly from a collision.

When we were still about 90 minutes out, we received a call from The Right Honorable Tras Jievrarnfor, the Mayor of Haven Prime. He expressed concern that we could be pirates, so we both agreed to turn on our video feed. The mayor was in a crowded room, filled with gnomes, halflings, and half elves. We eventually reached an accommodation. We would be allowed to land, and they would offer us breakfast in the morning, based on their local time.
Once we hit orbit, we tried another scan. This one revealed that the colony is having maintenance issues. There was only one manufacturing facility, and it was not in operation. Their only defenses were old anti-ship batteries which were also not operational. They did have a good sensor array.

We decided that they had been attacked by pirates, and were struggling, so planned to be generous with our trade goods. Once the agreed upon time arrived, we exited the ship with a care package filled with a variety of treats, including Scotch, coffee, strawberry jam, pershalan cloth, and mustard. The mayor rode up on a trike. He greeted us and escorted us down the main avenue from the starport to the town, where we entered the town hall. They had a band to welcome us, and cooked an elaborate breakfast. However, we did notice that no one was out of their homes to gawk at us, and that was unusual for a remote colony.

After our meal, Samai and Elly left to go to the ladies’ room, and their Chief of Security, a consultant named Zed Lassiter also left. A troop of children entered the hall and prepared to sing for us, just as Zed returned. His arrival was evidently a signal, because some of the servers pulled guns from under their robes and turned them on the children. More men crashed into the hall, shooting at us. Immediately, the mayor and Keystone were hit by multiple projectiles. They both went down, and the Captain collapsed from poison.
The crew managed to overcome the attackers in the room, and prevent harm from coming to the children. Zanven Greensleeves, in particular, acted courageously in defense of the youngsters, and should receive a commendation. The science team busied themselves with healing those injured in the initial attack, while the rest continued to fend off new attackers entering the hall.

Lady Kotonaru was able to dominate the weaker minded Zed Lassiter, and ordered him to tell his men to surrender. She discovered while quickly questioning him, that the greater force was attacking the Speaks Softly. A group of pirates, banded together for mutual profit, had taken Haven as their base. There were at least 400 troops on the moon, with two cloaked ships. Three (four?) additional ships were in orbit above the planet, ready to offer support. In command on the ground is a half-dragon calling himself Sir Gracious. In command of the pirate fleet were three Captains: Funny, Blackhate and Dyn’eldi. Pei’Fa and I held the doors while the crew cleared the room, and were able to spot the transport the troops we were fighting used to deploy here in town.

Meanwhile, on the Speaks, the pirates used an EMP warhead from a missile to disable the ship systems. This had the unfortunate side effect of disabling Durendal as well. Kirran went to fight off intruders who were trying to force their way into the ship, while Ereyie guarded the bridge. Keriwar went to engineering to try to get the ship back online.

To Be Continued…

Personal Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.TBD:TBD I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.

Well, I fucked up. I misread the situation completely. There’s no excuse…I should have seen the signs and recognized them. I would have if I hadn’t been trying so hard to impress the Captain. That just goes to show, the minute you think you might want something,
everything goes to shit. We should’ve just gone to Almer Station after all. Yeah, yeah, they might have blown us into the void, but they might’ve let us dock.

Instead, we decided that discretion being the better part of valor, we’d sod off and visit the farmer gnomes instead. What could go wrong there, we said? It’ll be fun, we said. Famous last fucking words.

We got to the system and the moon was just where it was supposed to be. That moon had fourteen settlements, and about 250,000 people living on it. We got a hail from Galvemore Deg, the night manager for the port. He was freaking out, and obviously scared. The Captain was reading a novel on the bridge (in other words, listening closely to how I handled the situation while pretending to ignore me) and left everything to me to arrange. It made me nervous as hell. It would have been better if he’d loomed behind me. At least then I could have been offended.

I decided something about the scene made me nervous, so Ereyie did a scan. There was a satellite, and a lot of debris, almost like there’d been a collision. Then we got a call from The Right Honorable Tras Jievrarnfor, the Mayor of Haven Prime. We were only ninety minutes out, and he was completely panicking. He accused us of being pirates, so we turned on our video feed, and so did they. They didn’t seem any calmer after seeing we weren’t pirates. I tried to make them feel better, but I don’t think it worked. I got Dr. Rose on the line too, and she tried to calm them down. We agreed that we would land, and wait until first light. Then they would serve us breakfast as a welcome.

The Captain asked me my take on the situation, and dammit, I ignored my gut. Something wasn’t right, and we all knew it, but we thought they had been hit by pirates before and were scared. Plus, I saw some symbols of the Creator when they turned on the video. We speculated that they were victims of religious persecution. The Captain ordered us to take the worst end of any trade, since they were clearly struggling.

When we got into orbit, we did another scan and found the colony was having maintenance problems. The only thing obviously working was the sensor array. Again, this all made sense based on the evidence we had. I’m not trying to justify my lack of judgement, but explaining why no one else caught on.

The mayor rode his trike out to greet us. He came alone, which was odd, and led us back to the town hall. We saw people peeking out of windows as we passed, but no one was on the streets. When we got to the hall, they brought out a band and played a song for us. The mayor introduced me to his security consultant, a Mr. Zed Lassiter. Fucking prick.

Then they served breakfast, and it was awesome. We brought two-thirds of the crew, and everyone was really happy about it, because the food was excellent. When Samai and Elly went to the ladies’ room, it all went to shit. A bunch of kids came in to sing for us, and that’s when a bunch of the servers pulled guns from their robes. Pirates came smashing into the room. The Captain keeled over in his seat. That fucking yellow-bellied mayor poisoned him! Zed started yelling commands, and someone shot Doc Keystone.

Zanven turned invisible, and used that to take out the servers who had trained their weapons on the kids. Scrapnik started leading them out of the room and hopefully to safety. Koto used her domination spell to get control of Zed, but unfortunately he was only in command of the attackers in the room with us. Pei’Fa and I took the front door. There were a couple of ranks of pirates coming through the door. Pei’Fa used his freaky mental powers, and I used my breath weapon. It’s a nasty way to die but these assholes had it coming. It’s called “karma”, and it’s pronounced, “ha ha, fuck you”. Next the guy in the transport started firing a Gatling gun at us. So that was a thing that happened.

He missed by a mile, scaring the shit out of his own guys. Pei’Fa and I ducked back out of sight. Koto had been questioning Zed, and found out that the main part of their forces was attacking the Speaks! Their ground commander is a half-dragon calling himself Sir Gracious. He’s got two cloaked ships and 400 troops. There are another three ships in orbit around the planet. There are three captains in charge of this fleet: Funny, Blackhate and Dyn’eldi! By the Egg, the “L” in my luck’s been replaced with an “F”!

We had no idea what was happening back at the Speaks, the Captain and the Doc were out of the fight, although the science team kept them both alive, and Samai and Elly are missing. This whole planet is playing host to a pirate fleet. Because we’ve never seen this before…no idea what that looks like. This is a shitshow. Pei’Fa and I are taking that damn transport. We need an edge against 400 pirates.

To Be Continued…

Welcome to the Jungle (Finale)
The Maxx



Ship’s Log; RES Speaks Softly, Date ? recording.
Blah. Blah. Blah. End entry.

Characters Attending:
Bishop-1, Ditak Kirrin, Dr. Eon Rose, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Lady Kotonaru, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias, and RC-880 “Durendal”

Unable to Attend:
Ereyie Wel.

Session Summary:

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.146:0830 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

Almost as soon as we connected to The Khanniption Fit, the mercenary vessel The Maxx attacked both ships. Thanks to Bishop’s quick thinking, he managed to get the two ships apart so we could both attempt to avoid their torpedoes. Yevon managed to maneuver the Fit away from the Speaks, keeping it between them and the Maxx. Eyerie and Yevon both succeeded in avoiding the torpedoes, and Ereyie stayed between the Maxx and the Fit, which had no shields. In the meantime, Kirrin took over the shipboard weapons and returned fire. He knocked out their shields with the lasers, and then disabled them with four missiles. The Maxx promptly surrendered, since one of their engines was completely destroyed.

We boarded and took the surviving crew prisoner. There was some debate with the Paramour, who initially denied all connection to the mercenaries, but withdrew their objection once we supplied them with communication logs between their captains. Eventually, they agreed to take responsibility for the crew of the Maxx, and we delivered them to the House Gevise camp on Chadra.

We then took the Speaks and the Maxx, and escorted the Fit to Monschrome. The Maxx arrived six days after the Speaks and the Fit, but finally arrived safely. We turned the Maxx in to the Monschrome government in return for prize money awarded for stopping a ship engaged in piracy. The prize money will be divided among the crew, as normal.

Personal Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.146:0900 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

I need to remember to give some kind of extra rewards to Bishop, Ereyie and Yevon. If it wasn’t for their mad skills in a fight, I probably wouldn’t be writing this entry right now. Bishop managed to disconnect the Speaks and the Fit, preventing us from getting torpedoed. Then, between Ereyie and Yevon, they piloted both ships out of harm’s way. I suppose Kirrin deserves something too. He pretty much lost it on the bridge though when his lasers didn’t disable the Maxx. I guess he’s not used to missing.

It was a real pleasure watching the Captain press the issue of the Maxx’s crew with the Paramour. What a bunch of assholes. The prize money from turning in the Maxx is going to bolster the crew’s attitude, and I’m glad because everyone is pissed we aren’t letting them have any shore leave on Monschrome, but I remember what happened last time. This is for the best. Scorch it, I can’t believe I just said that. I guess I’m a little jumpy after having to buy Ereyie back from bounty hunters.

I keep thinking about what the Captain didn’t actually say to me about joining the RES. I’ve been reading some of the things he gave me. The engineering texts are really interesting. I wonder why I never noticed that before. Maybe it was my tutors. Maybe it’s because this ship and crew are growing on me. It would be nice to have somewhere to belong that’s ours and not something Mother gave us. I’d have to be responsible though, and that sucks. It’s just…I like it here. I can hear Koto now saying “You always say that, but it never lasts.” Maybe she’s right.

When we docked, we got a call from the station about Pei’Fa from a soulmech called Plank Kore 37. Pei’Fa left the ship to go talk with him, and Dr. Rose almost immediately started wilting. I tried to get her to send me after him, but she said she had promised him that when the time came, she wouldn’t interfere. Fuck that! I was trying to figure out a way to go after him that wouldn’t drag the RES into a fight with the Noetic Order, when the Captain asked what was wrong. When I told him, he strapped on a weapon and the two of us went for a walk. We found Pei’Fa right away, and thankfully he was fine. Apparently, his crazy laser sword had “called for a ride home”. He’s back on the Speaks and Dr. Rose is on the mend. Now that the Maxx is here, maybe we can get everyone back on board and get the hell out here before the entire galaxy comes calling.

Welcome to the Jungle (Part Seven)
Fallen Titans


The crew of the Speaks Softly finally meet the former masters of Chadra.

Ship’s Log; RES Speaks Softly, 5041.136:0800 I.E.; Chadra; Second Helmsman Zanven Greensleeves recording.
We are currently maintaining a shifting elliptical low orbit around Chadra at 500 miles altitude and 5.1 miles per second, giving us an orbital period of 109 minutes. Rotating sensor probes in geostationary orbit continue to allow us to monitor the Paramour and her activities. All systems are nominal, we have a green board. I am covering for Helmsman Wel, who is piloting the Cudgel on an Away Team mission for Dr. Rose on the planet below. Dr. Rose’s team plans interact with a friendly tribe of native pershalan with whom we have had previous successful contact. She hopes to have assist with healing Gala Dr. Caladriend, thinking that their skill with alchemy and what passes local medicine might prevail where Dr. Keystone has failed. End Entry.

Personal Log; 5041.136:0830 I.E.
I’ve got a real bad feeling about this…

Characters Attending:
Bishop-1, Ditak Kirrin, Dr. Eon Rose, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Lady Kotonaru, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias, and RC-880 “Durendal”

Unable to Attend:
Ereyie Wel.

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.140:0700 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

Captain Ni Shen has issued a general order: Anyone receiving a direct telepathic communication is not to respond to it, and is to report it immediately. Additionally, I received a personal order not to leave anyone on the planet’s surface again, as we did the First Helmsman and Dr. Caladriend.

There was some moderate discussion regarding the drow’s attack on us. We believe that they intended to kidnap Dr. Nodagil for some unknown purpose. While there is risk in Nodagil returning to the planet’s surface, it was decided that he needs to be able to go there in order to do his job.

Scans of the ruins indicated clearly that the giants are living in them, and they are growing crops and keeping domesticated animals there as well. We found no large calcium deposits.

At 5041.127.0930, the team, consisting of Dr. Rose, Dr. Nodagil, Pei’Fa, Durendal, Kirrin, Yevon, and myself arrived at the ruins, intending to make peaceful contact with the giants. We were immediately fired upon, and were forced to land in the fields to the east of the ruins. While we were assessing the damage, we were attacked by a small detachment of giants. Regrettably, we were forced to kill them to prevent additional damage to the Cudgel or ourselves. Luckily, after their advance scouts were killed, they proved willing to enter into trade negotiations.

We traded the jelly cloths that the science team created, along with some glowing beads, for arrow heads. The science team was able to get the samples required from the used cloth. We repaired the Cudgel and returned to the Speaks without further incident.

Bishop and his team were able to make the necessary repairs to the Fit, and some lucky piloting got her back up into orbit. Our navigator is currently plotting a course for the Fit and her surviving crew to follow in order to get back to civilization.

Ereyie and Dr. Caladriend returned to the Speaks. We’ve completed our mission on Chadra.

Personal Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.140:0800 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

Life is weird. I could not make this shit up if I tried.

Dr. Rose was in command of the mission to try to get a “cure” for the drug addled Dr. Caladriend. Even so, the Captain calls me on the carpet to tell me not to leave anyone on the surface again. Apparently, I should have tossed Dr. Rose and Ereyie over my shoulder this time. Then he tells me to issue a new general order to everyone on the ship: Anyone who receives a direct telepathic communication is not to respond to it, and is to report it immediately. What the literal fuck? No explanation though, just the order.

Dr. Rose had a little hissy fit about Dr. Nodagil not being allowed down to the surface. I don’t want to interfere in how she runs her staff, but…oh who am I kidding, I totally want to interfere. He can’t do his job hidden away in his cabin. In the end, we all agreed to try to find a way to keep the drow from locating him. I swear, that woman would wrap her whole team in cotton gauze and stuff them into little boxes. Field work is dangerous.

Then the Captain asked me if I had a datapad with me, which if course I did. He proceeded to send me a copy of the RES regs, ship to ship procedures and some engineering texts, as well as a sample of the RES entrance exam. He does this without a word, and then just tells me to “do with them what I will”. It sure sounded like a job offer. When I mentioned it to Koto, she had a little fit at me. I don’t know why she would object. This isn’t such a bad gig, all in all. We get to be out here in space, and go exploring. That’s kind of fun really. I might just check it out. It doesn’t hurt to do the reading and try the exam, does it?

Koto managed to borrow an amulet from someone anonymous (Zanven) in order to allow Nodagil to use it, so that solved that staffing issue. We loaded up the Cudgel with the recommended trade goods. Dr. Rose wanted Yevon as pilot, and Durendal wasn’t letting Nodagil out of his sight, so this trip we had seven going down once you added in myself, Pei’fa and Kirrin.

Around 1800, Bishop did a sensor check on the ruins to look for the giants habitation and the calcium deposits, and just to see if we can gather more info in general. He found the ruins easily, and it was clear the giants are living in them. They’ve cleared a grassy area around the ruins that they seem to be using for farming and livestock. There are worn paths in the grassy area, which we might be able to use to approach.

We left at 0700 and took the usual two hours or so to get to the planet. Once there, Dr. Rose ordered Yevon to circle the ruins and broadcast a message in giantish, “Greetings, we have come to peacefully trade with you.” So that went about as well as one would expect. They immediately started firing arrows at us. Giant sized arrows. One hit us and went straight through the outer armor on the Cudgel. Yevon did a good job of landing without crashing outright, but we had several hours of repairs ahead of us.

At that point, we had four giants charging at us. Dr. Rose was still broadcasting at them, but they didn’t seem impressed. Durendal exited the shuttle and laid down some suppressive fire. That should have impressed them, but it didn’t. Kirren got out too and started shooting. He really is a good shot, but they still weren’t slowing down. Pei’Fa hopped out and pulled his sword, and I moved into the doorway with my rifle.

Among the four of us, we managed to kill all four giants, which served to impress the others enough that Dr. Rose was able to get them to talk. She told them we wanted to trade glowing marbles and “jelly cloths” for arrow heads. The “jelly cloths” were the latest invention of the science team to get genetic material from the target population. They took some sort of cheesecloth, cut them into large squares, and spread jelly onto them. They were sticky and disgusting enough before giants took them and sucked the jelly off, before handing them back. Guess how I know. Go ahead, guess. Yep, I got to pass them out and collect the “used” ones, sealing them into individual baggies.

The giant leader told us to come get the arrow heads, so Dr. Rose, Pei’Fa, and Nodagil headed off to the ruins. I trailed along behind them with the jelly cloths, hoping to lead the giants away from the shuttle, which was being hastily repaired by Durendal, Yevon and Kirrin. Apparently Dr. Rose almost caused another fight, but Pei’Fa managed to bluff his way out of the confrontation, which was really lucky since there’s no way we could have fought off fifty or more of these big bastards. He used his telekinesis ability to carry the arrow heads back to the Cudgel. By the time I got all the way up to the top step, they were ready to leave, so I missed the ass-puckering excitement. Is that a real word – ass-puckering? Well, it is now.

When we got back to the Cudgel, Durendal told us they still needed another half hour for the repairs. In order to distract the giants and keep them from attacking us, we started up some music and tossed glowing beads at them, like it was Parade Night at the Celebration of Falling Stars. The giants were quick to fight each other over the baubles, and between that and Pei’Fa doing acrobatics, they were occupied until we were able to take off.

Once we got back to the Speaks, Bishop was on hand to see what repairs would be needed now. He seemed slightly peeved with us, but I’m not sure why. It’s not as though we asked them to damage the Cudgel. It took Bishop a few hours to repair the repairs we did and get the Cudgel back in order again. Then, Yevon flew Bishop, Keriwar, Ria Starr and the rest of the Fit crew down to the planet to start on the Fit’s repairs. That took them a full day, and they didn’t get back until 139:0930. Finally, Ereyie told us he and Caladriend were ready to come back, so Yevon flew down to pick them up that night. They got back around 139:2100.

At 140:0700, Yevon flew the Fit crew back down in the Cudgel. Ereyie and Bishop went along to help get her up off the planet. That was some tricky flying, but our boy was up to the task, and they got her into space. We attached the Speaks to the Fit, so that key personnel can come and go. The plan is to have Telliar plot a course for them, so they can hire on more crew, fuel up and make more permanent repairs.

In other news, I managed to gently suggest to Dr. Rose that she resume her breakfasts with the Captain. I told her I thought they were valuable for getting everyone on the crew and the science team on the same page.

Last, but definitely not least, my sister has a date. A date! Apparently, when she borrowed the amulet from Zanven, it was in exchange for a favor…that is taking the form of a real date, at the earliest opportunity. As far as I know, this will be her first date ever. He’d better not screw this up. She’s going to regret making that stupid song and those posters. This is going to be the gift that keeps on giving.

Welcome to the Jungle (Part Six)
Rumble in the Jungle


Wherein Dr. Rose decides that the alleviation of boredom overrides concepts of personal safety.

Aboard the Speaks Softly; 5041.135:0440 (Third Shift)
Xau made his way down to the galley for an early cup of coffee, mildly annoyed that his normal morning workout and run continued to be interrupted by the presence of the Khanniption Fit survivors bunked in the rec room. It was still a few hours before first shift and the majority of the crew was asleep so he indulged in casual clothing and slippers, prepared to defy any crewman he met to say anything about it. He entered the galley and was mildly surprised to discover his XO seated at the table with a mug and a data pad.
He moved to the counter to check the coffee maker. “Mister Nenoic,” he said by way of greeting, using the half-dragon’s name rather than rank to indicate this was not an official meeting as he poured a steaming mug for himself.
“Good morning, sir,” Rwvyan said heavily. He continued to tap on his pad, and then in clear frustration started deleting whatever he had entered.
Xau checked the chronometer and took a sip of his coffee. He leaned against the counter and gave himself a moment to savor that first rush of caffeine. “You’re up early. Or late.” He observed, taking care to sound casual.
Rwvyan opened his mouth and then sighed, closing it again. He set the datapad down carefully and banged his head on the table. More than once.
When he finished, he looked up and said calmly, “I’m having some difficulty with this report, Captain.”
Rather than answering directly, Captain Ni Shen Xau sipped some more of his coffee and raised an eyebrow. He made a non-committal grunt that might have meant “go on,” or just as easily “good coffee.”
Rwvyan accepted the grunt and raised him a yawn, which probably meant “I’m up late, not early” but could also have meant, “good coffee”, and replied “How exactly does one document a total clusterfuck?”
Xau put on a friendly scowl and ruminated over another sip. “I suppose that depends on the type of clusterfuck that we’re dealing with.” He pulled out a chair next to the young executive officer and leaned back into it. “Report writing is a fine art, XO. On one hand, those reading it need to be able to glean the important bits without too much wading through the muck. On the other hand, you don’t want to skip over something that may be important to the reader.” He paused and drank, choosing his next words with care. “Mistakes – honest mistakes – where no one winds up in Medical, no important equipment is lost or damaged, or that didn’t prevent the mission from getting done can be … de-emphasized. If any minor discipline is necessary to remind personnel to refrain from being sloppy, then deal with it yourself. Bring it to me if it’s a big fuck-up. That’s my job to deal with. Does that help?”
Rwvyan replied, "I suppose if you look at it that way, its maybe not that bad. We got the samples. Noone died. Sam…eone got drunk, leaned on the holy tree, and took off their shoes in front of the natives. This person then proceeded to dance, and grab my ass. In front of the natives.” He paused. “In front of the entire ship, as far as I can tell. My sister is busy making posters. It doesn’t exactly feel like a win.”
Xau chuckled. “The little wins never do. But they’re just as important as the big wins.” He sloshed his coffee around and sipped some more, and frowned. “Personally I’ll take any wins right now.”
“I guess the science team is happy. They have some data to play around with finally.”
Xau nodded. “And that is definitely a win,” he said, emphasizing each word with his mug.
“We may have…accidentally…given one of the native pershalans a ride in The Cudgel…” Rwvyan blurted.
The Captain sat forward and rested his arms on the table, hands folded around his mug. “Ah. I see.” He studied the dark liquid quietly for a moment. “And you’re worried about contamination?” He gave his head a little shake, “of course you are, you’ve been reading the first contact protocol.” Xau gave a heavy sigh. “In the end, it’s not going to matter, Rwvyan.”
“First of all, House Gevise and the other looters have been pissing in that oatmeal for nearly a century.”
“What do you mean, it’s not going to matter? You don’t think these pershalans are going to try to make their own ships?”
He shook his head and gave a helpless shrug. “They’re not going to get the chance.”
“Why not?” Rwvyan looked confused.
“Think about it.” Xau spread his hands. “Chadra is a world chock full of treasures – cultural, biological, magical, precious metals and gems. Gevise and the rest have been dipping into that for decades now. But most importantly – its home to an ancient civilization of dragon-slayers.” The captain caught his XO’s eyes. “What do YOU think is going to happen once word of that gets back to the Dragon Court? What is the current Emperor going to do?”
“Dragon slayers? They’re not…” Rwvyan stopped, and his eyes widened as he took in the implications of that phrase. “Oh. Oh! But that’s not…” He trailed off again, and met the Xau’s gaze directly. “Fair,” he finished softly, the word a whisper on his lips.
Xau leaned forward and put a gentle hand on the half-dragon’s shoulder. “This is the last generation for them, Rwvyan. All of them. The Empire won’t leave a tree standing. It doesn’t matter if we file a report or not – word is on its way back to the core. It has been for years. Eventually the Court is going to pay attention to the rumors, so the clock is running out for the natives of Chadra. When the Empire comes it’s going to make House Gevise’s exploitation look like a carnival.” The Captain leans back into his chair and finishes his coffee. “On some level, pretty much everyone on this ship knows what this planet’s future is going to be. Let them blow off some steam, XO.”
“There’s nothing we can do?” Rwvyan asked, and then answered his own question. “There’s nothing we can do. Fuck.” He pushed his coffee cup away. “I think I’m going to be sick.”
“Exactly, XO. Fuck.” Captain Ni Shen Xau frowns at his mug and rises with a heavy sigh. He refills it and moves to the door, but pauses a moment. “Go ahead and be sick. It helps some – I know. Try to get a shower before shift starts.” Xau leaves his first officer with his revelations.

Characters Attending:
Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias, Ereyie Wel, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Dr. Eon Rose, Ditak Kirrin
Unable to Attend:
Dr. Nodagil Maaran, and RC-880 “Durendal”

Session Summary:

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.136:2130 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

At 5041.135.1600, Bishop-1 took a small group down to the planet in the Cudgel to assess the damage to The Khanniption Fit. They determined the following issues exist: main computer core fried, fusion reactor fried, two major hull breaches, Nacelle pylon is twisted, and work needs to be done on the starcaster. Bishop-1 thinks this will take about 80-90 hours of our time to repair. The Captain would like to do this, since it will be easier to do the repairs while we pursue our mission than divert the Speaks to take the survivors back to civilization. After reading the report, he authorized the crew to pursue the repairs.

At 5041.136.0700, Dr. Rose commanded a mission to the surface to meet with the pershalan tribe. Dr. Caladriend continues to suffer from her illness, and Dr. Rose hopes that the locals may have some curative that hasn’t been tried before. The pershalans have agreed to treat the elf, and she will remain in their village for several days while we continue operations.

Personal Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.136:1900 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

After my last entry, I spent some time screwing with Serpy, courtesy of the Captain’s request for into on The Khanniption Fit. It was hilarious. In spite of himself, I think he actually enjoyed it too. I mean, he got to be as much of an asshole as he wanted and I didn’t get pissy and offended. Elly thinks the guy is lonely and afraid to interact with people. What, fear of ridicule? I doubt that. He thinks his shit smells like roses. Even so, he’s probably a little lonely and doesn’t know it. I was actually doing him a favor, if you look at it like that. What can I say, I’m a stand-up guy.

I have to say, I’m surprised that he provided access to the info so easily. In the end Elly got it for me, but I don’t really care. If he’d been less of a dick, and just said it was available, the whole night might have been less amusing. I gave Elly an extra ration of jam for her trouble, dealing with Serpy. What she found confirmed the info I already had, and I was able to provide it to the Captain without a huge delay.

We spent most of yesterday morning getting things caught up and making plans. Dr. Rose originally wanted to visit the giants next, but she’s hatched a plan to take Caladriend to the pershalan village to see if primitive shamanism can fix what thousands of years of the best medical and arcane masters the Empire has to offer haven’t been able to solve…drug addiction. She seems to want to think that if she can fix the pain in Caladriend’s false eye, that she’ll stop taking drugs and be a normal contributing member of society again.

We had a lovely conversation in which I told her that was cute, but idealistic. I also reminded her that we found that mark on Caladriend’s skin. She still wants to try, even if we have to lock the silly bint up after she’s miraculously “cured”. We clarified that she doesn’t expect me to risk my crew going after her if she runs off into the jungle or whatever stupid thing Caladriend comes up with next. As long as she understands that, I told her I would withdraw my objections to the plan. I think I pissed her off a little, but we reached an understanding.

Shortly after that, Bishop asked to talk with me down in engineering. The Captain has asked him to fix the Fit and make it space worthy again. We talked for a while, and then Ditak joined us. The Rook was starting to get mad about having someone in his engineering area, so I distractedTic Tac and we left. We eventually made arrangements for Ereyie to fly the Cudgel down to the Fit. He took The Rook and Keriwar, Tic Tac and Durendal. Ereyie managed to land close to the Fit. The team had to climb up to the other ship, so Durendal had to stay behind. Climbing isn’t really his thing. I heard that Keriwar fell, but Tic Tac caught her, and Ereyie helped her the rest of the way up.

They took a look at the Fit and determined that we’ll have to fix several things if we’re going to get her into space. The main computer core is fried, as is the fusion reactor. There are two major hull breaches that need to be patched. The Nacelle pylon is twisted, and of course we’ll need to reinstall the starcaster. That’s a lot of work, maybe 80 to 90 hours. Depending on how many people we can get down there, and keep safe, we can condense it, but it’s risky. The Rook made enough basic repairs to keep critters out and they headed back to the barn. That’s when they saw the explosion.

It was one of the Paramour’s shuttles. It was tumbling and expelling atmosphere through a hull breach. Ereyie scanned it and found two human life forms (as in still living) and one unidentified life form. One of the humans was fading fast. Then they have to get into a pissing contest with the Paramour, who was trying to order them to stand down and let the Paramour handle the situation. The problem was, the Paramour’s nearest shuttle was several minutes further out than the Cudgel. There was no way they could get there in time for there to be survivors, unless those survivors were suited up.

Bishop and Ereyie made the call and they diverted, turning off their radio. Ereyie caught up to the vessel and matched its velocity while Durendal and Ditak came up with a plan. Ereyie got out in front of the tumbling ship, and Durendal jumped out, landing on the other ship and activating his magnetic implants. He then used a bottle of one of those magical mending oils to close the hull breach. By then one of the humans was dead, but the other two lives were saved. Ereyie drops back behind the ship and Durendal is able to jump back and board the Cudgel safely. During this crazy piloting and heroic maneuvering, the Paramour is locking on weapons and unlocking them. When Ereyie turned the radio back on, someone was screaming at them to stand down.

Of course Durendal recorded everything he saw through the breach while he was fixing it. We had a lot of conversation about the identity of the non-human, but we landed on a native of Chadra, from a race called the Yuan-Ti. Apparently, they worship some sort of snake god, and turn themselves partially into snakes. I’ve heard of one of these guys when we were on Mourngond. Rumor has it that Lord Shul, the leader of the Adamantine Order, is one of them. At least, half of one of them. Not someone to fuck with, not even me.

With that victory under their belts, they came home. Tic Tac wasted no time in creating a video of their masterful save of the ship, and setting it to music. He was kind enough to not only let Scrapnik show it to the crew during dinner, but he showed it to the Captain privately. Then he sent a complimentary copy to the Paramour. I can’t help but think that the Captain authorized it, unofficially. It seems like a lot gets done around here, unofficially. It was definitely a win though. Morale took a big jump after watching that video. Of course, it’s Zanven afterwards who has to ask why we’re fixing up the Fit at all.

After dinner, the Captain came down and took Ria Star back to his office? Quarters? Durendal reported it to me and wanted me to intervene. Uncomfortably aware that Xao might be, ahem, getting to know a reasonably attractive human woman who isn’t actually under his command, I decided to comm him instead of barging in like a waiter when you have a mouthful of food. I told him some crew had seen him walking with her and were concerned for his safety. He was irritated and basically told me to mind my own business, so I was none the wiser. An hour later, he called to ask me to escort her back to the rec room.

On our way down, she said he was a crazy motherfucker, and asked me if I was “in on it”. I didn’t have to pretend not to know what she was talking about, but I told her in my experience, whatever the Captain said, he meant it. She grumbled a bit and went into the rec room. I admit, I totally misused my authority, and used the comms to listen in on their conversation.

Essentially, the Captain told Ria that the ship was paid for, and that the original owners, left it to any surviving crew members, in equal shares. No insurance policy. He then offered to get the Fit space worthy for them, and he would let them keep all that treasure in the hold. In exchange for which, they would need to transport 200 plus pershalans to an uninhabited jungle world, the coordinates to which he would provide. He also told her he had ways of knowing if she spaced the pershalans, and if she didn’t fulfill the contract, he would hunt her down and kill them all. I left them arguing about whether or not to take the deal.

At first I was pissed that he was keeping all this secret, but after sleeping on it, I think I know why. He’s protecting the rest of us. I looked at the regs again last night, and he could be court martialed for this. He’s breaking about an entire section of the manual. He’s going to go out on a limb for a bunch of people he never met, and risk his career, his entire life, just to save 200 people. I’ve never met anyone who would do that before, without taking any credit.

The next morning, we were in the galley for breakfast before taking Dr Rose and her entourage down to meet the pershalans, and Ereyie asked me to come and talk to him. He wanted advice, because the Captain asked him to convince the tribe to board a ship and leave their home planet. Surprise, surprise. He wanted to know how he was supposed to convince them. I said, “What made you leave your home?” and left him to ponder while I got a coffee. Once I was suitably caffeinated, and wandered back to his table and sat down. He replied, “I left for…space.” My response to that was, “Then you need to show the Elders and the Shaman what you showed Mowanaway. Take them into space, and…go fast.

“But they’re just going to end up on another planet.” Eeyie said thoughtfully.

“Come on, man,” I replied. “They’ve got a whole voyage to see the ship, learn how to fly it, and learn about the Empire. Do you really think they’ll stay put?” Before Ereyie could answer, we were interrupted by a rant from Zanven. He was bitching about fixing the Fit.

“Why are we even doing this?” he complained. Several people responded with, “Captain’s orders!” but that just set him off more. Finally, I squared off with him. He pointed out that I was just as new as he was, and asked why I was going along with this. I told him the Captain is playing the long game. This way we don’t have to take them somewhere and show back up on the radar. He was still skeptical, but we got derailed from the conversation when Serpy and Tic Tac showed up. Serpy told him he should “cower”. At that point, I left to board the Cudgel.

We left around 0700. Ereyie flew down, and landed in the same spot. He took Dr Rose, Nodagil, Caladriend and Pei’Fa. I asked Dr. Rose if she wanted me to go or stay, and she said she didn’t want to leave Yevon alone. Yevon said that she likes being alone. Ouch! Then she said it was a joke and she just wasn’t very good at them. I was perfectly happy to get to spend some time alone with Yevon, so I kicked back and let the others go on the nature walk this time.

I did have to carp at them a little bit about getting separated, but they got to the tree without incident. A pershalan came out and talked with Ereyie and then went to get Mowanaway. We listened to them talk, and Ereyie translate for a bit. I tried a couple of time to get Yevon to chat with me, but she can be difficult to get going. Just as I felt her relax, Pei’Fa said, “Guys, I just heard something.” We started scanning and picked up a number of large life form moving towards the tree. We could see through the cameras that everyone had backed up into the roots of the tree, and some kind of 4-legged dinosaurs stampeded into the clearing.

One of them stepped on one of the pershalan guards, and Pei’Fa pulled him to safety, where Mowanaway was able to heal him. Then the predator entered the clearing behind them, and we saw why they were running. It was a huge bipedal carnivore with a massive skull balanced by a long, heavy tail. Just as the dinosaur saw the small, soft edible bits under the tree, and changed course, Pei”Fa charged it. He dodged left and ducked under its legs, confusing it, while he cut into one leg with his sword. Yevon turned to me and said, “Forty credits on Pei’Fa.” My response was, “I’d be a fool to take that bet, but what the hell…” Forty credits is cheap if it keeps Yevon happy with me. I’m just glad she doesn’t seem to be pissed at me over the debacle with Samai. Although it would be nice if she was a little jealous about it. But I digress…

We watched the dinosaur grab Pei’Fa and try to swallow him. As we jokingly cheered for Pei’Fa (and the dinosaur…because come on, forty credits…) suddenly a gigantic drow/scorpion thing teleported right into the fucking ship with us. I’d just muted us, so at least we didn’t distract the rest of the group while we were yelling “What the FUCK?” as it attacked me with its giant front pincers. It also escaped our notice that three more of the things had attacked Dr. Rose and the others. Pei’Fa didn’t notice because his head was still stuck down a dinosaur throat. His hands were a little full.

Yevon and I both twisted around and crouched behind our chairs, trying to get some cover. At least it couldn’t use its stinger in the confines of the Cudgel. Remembering earlier fights with Koto, I barked “Go low!” to Yevon and I drew Singularity. It was difficult swinging her in the cabin, but mostly everything I wanted to hit was above the seats, and the controls were all behind me. I swung once and managed to cleave right through its pincer and chest. It gurgled and turned into gelatinous goo covering the floor, some of the seats, and our boots.

“You didn’t leave any for me?” snarked Yevon in surprise. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I thought it was going to be a lot harder to kill.” Damn, I wanted to impress her, but I didn’t mean to steal her fun. I promised her the next one. Then I said, “That was a summoned creature. Where’s the fucking summoner?” We looked but couldn’t find anything on the scanner. Then we both turned to see what was happening in the clearing.

One of the pershalans was dead, clearly from a scorpion stinger. They were still all fighting their opponents. Pei’Fa had wriggled free when Ereyie shot the dinosaur in the head. He did a crazy backflip and landed on the dinosaur’s head. From that vantage, he was able to stab down through its skull and brain, effectively killing it. Mowanaway summoned a treant from the holy tree, and it was fighting one of the scorpion demons… drorpians…scrow. Yeah, scrow will do. The treant was fighting one of the scrow. Dr. Rose had turned herself into some kind of plant and was attacking a scrow who had been chasing Nodagil. With Pei’Fa, Ereyie, Dr. Rose, and the treant attacking, they managed to destroy the other three scrow.

After that fight, the treant reached down, picked up the dead pershalan and, I shit you not, melded back into the tree with him. A moment later, there were new bones hanging from the tree. That was some of the creepiest shit I have ever seen, and I spent most of my life in Asamet. Apparently, the pershalans agreed to treat Caladriend, and she and Ereyie are going to spend a few days in the village. Ereyie arranged to call when they’re ready for a pickup. I’m SUPER happy that one is Dr. Rose’s responsibility. The Captain is not going to be happy. Speaking of the Captain, I’m supposed to find some way to casually mention to Dr. Rose that he wants to continue their breakfasts together, without telling her he told me to say it. Seriously. I mean, what the hell is that? And why am I in the middle of it?

Welcome to the Jungle (Part Five)
Jungle Booty


In this episode our heroes discover that when it comes to trading, it pays to be a cool cat.

Excerpt from the away-mission logs of Samai “Sam” Victore Wolff, Sensors Calibration & Flight Command Systems Technician, RES Speaks Softly; Timestamp: 5041.133:1022:31.
“I drank what?"

Characters Attending:
Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lady Kotonaru, Ereyie Wel, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa,” Bishop-1, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, and Dr. Eon Rose.
Unable to Attend:
RC-880 “Durendal,” Ditak Kirrin, and Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias.

Session Summary:

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.134:2130 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

We held a short meeting at 16:30 in the galley to discuss first contact protocol. It was agreed that the Third Officer would hold coaching sessions for the science team, and any crew who are not on duty, to be sure we are all well-educated on the documented regulations. We determined a path to obtaining the genetic samples we needed from the native pershalan civilization, and proceeded to make peaceful contact. There were several exchanges of mutual benefit between the natives and the science team and crew. This completed our interactions with the dark elves and the pershalans.

Personal Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.134:1900 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

Even after all the hysteria around Nodagil’s return, we still had a job to do. The science team was spending their time both working on analyzing the data from the drow, and coming up with items to trade to the pershalans.

Around 13:30, we got a message on the command channel from the Captain, saying that Pei’Fa wanted to hold a short meeting at 16:30 in the galley. We were to attend in person unless we were on duty, in which case we should listen on comm channel 7.

That was just after the end of my shift, so I wandered down to the galley and grabbed a snack before the meeting. People started to trickle in, and when most of us had assembled, Pei’Fa stood up and cleared his throat. At which point Underbough’s voice came through the speaker saying, “Where’s my music?” He then promptly disconnected. Dr. Rose brought him back onto the channel while the rest of us snickered.

Once that was clarified, Pei’Fa got started by asking Underbough to keep his bloodthirsty dialog to a minimum because it makes him uncomfortable. I’m not sure what Pei’Fa was taking about, and neither was Koto. Underbough kept asking everyone, “I’m not bloodthirty, am I?” for days.

What Pei’Fa really wanted to discuss was our future and how we interact with other species. He turned to Yevon and said, “How do you feel about being Dr. Rose?” She asked him if he meant impersonating her or taking over her duties, which cracked me the hell up. He also suggested practicing combat scanerios and first contact scenarios that might come up. I noticed Yevon frowning, so I pointed out that first contact protocol is covered in the RES regulations. I know this, because I’ve been reading them damn things. By the Egg, they can’t say anything in 10 words when 500 will do.

Then I tried to ingratiate myself with Yevon by pointing out how knowledgeable she is, and suggesting that she hold some coaching sessions for the science team on first contact procedures. I also told the crew they all needed to attend these sessions if they weren’t on duty. Yevon didn’t seem particularly gracious, so I’m not sure if it worked. The Captain agreed, and then also ordered me to bring Telliar up to speed on RES regs and procedures. Then Yevon asked, “While everyone’s here… what are we doing tomorrow?”

Underbough mentioned a few items of note. For example, he has apparently catalogued eighteen new species of plants. Also, jam and jelly are not the same thing. Thanks the Creator he’s here to point out these things to us. Pei’Fa broke in at this point to suggest that we should get some things on board to trade, like bees and honey. Underbough comes back by pointing out that the science team brought an entire container of trade good for just this circumstance. Koto raced off to inventory the crate, and sure enough it’s full of basic tools, fabric, dyes, leather curing racks, tobacco, uncut gems, glass beads, glow lights and at least fifteen gallons of different types of honey.

Somehow in the course of this conversation, we managed to bring it back around to the ensuing visit to Chadra, and how to get what we want from the pershalans. Pei’Fa had the idea of making what we are affectionately calling “kitty pocky”, using jaala fruit to make lollipops. We can then request the sticks back and gather DNA samples from those. However, we’re going to need more of the fruit.

They make around 20 or so of the kitty pocky, and we gather up some canteens, metal cups, simple utensils, metal fishhooks, two spools of 20 gauge wire, several colors of dye they weren’t wearing, and some cotton fabrics.

This time Underbough was too busy to go down, so it was me, Ereyie, Samai, Koto and Yevon. We went down to Chadra at 0600 on 129, and parked the Cudgel in the same spot as last visit. We set up at the tree like last time, remembering to bow to it when we arrived. Samai replaced Underbough as the second apprentice, and Yevon took the helm. About a quarter of an hour passed and then one of the apprentices came and told Ereyie that Mowanaway is coming. In another twenty minutes, he showed up with both apprentices and another fifteen or twenty pershalans.

They brought out a gourd with some kind of combination of milk and other fermented ingredients. He drank some and then passed it to an apprentice, who passed it to Samai. Samai gave it to Ereyie. Mowanaway told Ereyie it was a gift. Ereyie said it was called Kova, and it was jaala fruit mixed in with brachiosaurus milk. It smelled like it was about 180 proof. In exchange, Ereyie offered up the kitty pocky sticks as a gift, asking for the sticks back so we could make more for them.

Mowanaway brought out more jaala fruit, and dyes in red, blue and yellow, explaining that yellow is very difficult to come by. They had more humanoid spell bones, but this time they had protection spells cast on them. They also offered up some carved artworks and a pot of muskox ribs. Finally, they brought out pickled ovals in a gelatinous sac that were called tovah berries. Upon further inquiry, Ereyie found out they are actually pachycephalosaurus testicles. Ereyie tried one and liked it, so Pei’Fa was immediately on the radio asking us to bring some back.

As they discussed their wares, Ereyie and Mowanaway continued drinking the kova, handing it to their apprentices to hand to one another. When the gourd was passed to Samai, she took a swig. I think she regretted it immediately, because she gasped and made a face. Luckily for us, instead of taking offense the pershalans seemed to find her reaction amusing.

As the conversation was all in pershalan, there wasn’t much to do except watch the scenery, which was filled with happy pershalans, sucking on their kitty pocky. That’s when Samai started to sway. I had to keep one eye on her and one on Ereyie. Things were really going sideways, although the pershalans seemed good-natured enough. Samai was waving her hands around and talking about the colors, so I had serious concerns about Ereyie flying us back to the Speaks.

Finally, it seemed that we had reached an agreement, and one of Mowanaway’s apprentices stuck what I am told is called a Jengtha plant into a large gourd, which served as a hookah. Ereyie and Mowanaway smoked the Jengtha. I muttered to Yevon, “Looks like you’re driving home…” and right at that moment, Samai sat on the ground and started taking off her shoes. Before she could do anything to offend our hosts, I scooped her up and draped her over my shoulder. I had to stand like that for another half hour while they smoked and talked. Finally, an apprentice gathered up all the pocky sticks and handed them to me. I put them in the pouch I was carrying for the purpose, and was waiting innocently for the meeting to be over. Then, in an absolutely mortifying moment, Samai started playing with my ass. If there’s a bad time for a beautiful woman to be putting her hands all over you, it’s in the middle of a delicate trade negotiation on an Outland world. Plus, there was a video feed and audio back to the Cudgel and the Speaks. That shit is going to be awkward when she gets out of med bay.

Anyway, I’m standing there, wishing the ground would swallow me, and hoping that Yevon is still speaking to me, when Dr. Rose pipes up over the comm with “Rwvyan, do you think you can make a musical instrument really quickly?” What the literal fuck people??? A musical instrument? The blasted woman wants me to make a musical instrument. In a primitive jungle. Quickly. While holding a drunk sailor over one shoulder. Seriously? Fuck this bullshit. How the hell did I end up the designated fucking driver? Someone should be dragging my happy ass back to the Cudgel. I replied (pretty calmly I think given the circumstances), that NO, I would not be making any musical instruments, thank you very much.

Ereyie did good. He got enough jaala fruit to enact the plan. He also bargained for artwork for Nodagil, tovah berries for Pei’Fa, samples of the dyes, and a couple of the scroll bones. They also gifted us with a 30 gallon drum of kova. They wanted catnip (still feeling weird about this), canteens, fishhooks and the kitty pocky.

We finally were able to go back to the Cudgel, and we poured Samai into a seat. Koto, wisely as it turns out, gave her a bag in case she got sick. When we got back to the Speaks, we took her straight to med bay and Doc Keystone. After talking with Underbough, who did some analysis on the kova, Keystone authorized a 24 hour leave for her. It seems that shit is a neurotoxin. Pershalans can process it, but the rest of us are screwed if we drink it.

We had to go back twice more. Once to drop off all the kitty pocky and other items, and once to pick up the sticks with the genetic samples on them. The last meeting, Ereyie asked if he could take Mowanaway on a ride in the Cudgel. I agreed, but I can’t help thinking it was a mistake. Did we contaminate these poor bastards? Mowanaway loved it though. All pershalans seem to be speed freaks, and his first sight of his world from the atmosphere…that was amazing. Now I have to figure out how to write all this in a report.

Koto is happily making posters of Samai with a cup in her hand, and is posting them all over the ship. Someone has spliced her voice saying “I could smack this ass all night!”, “This is the best ass I’ve ever seen on a lizard!”, and “I’d wear a glove!” into a popular dance song. Now I’ll admit my ass is pretty nice, but this isn’t exactly the presentation I was hoping for. Shit, even Doc Keystone is singing it. I’m probably going to end up in the shitter over this, and it not fair because I didn’t do anything! Not this time, anyway.

Upon reading a translation of the trade conversation, I discovered that Mowanaway asked Ereyie if I was a mutant kobold!” Fuck my life. I have to keep that shit away from Serpy or I’ll never hear the end of it.

Welcome to the Jungle (Part Four)
You won't get there for free


At which point Captain Ni Shen provides a practical demonstration of unspoken portion of his ship’s name.

Aboard the Paramour; Shortly after dining on the Speaks Softly
Nadira Torell-Gevise entered the conference room of the Paramour with an air of offended dignity and extreme displeasure. The assembled department heads went silent as their captain entered the spacious room, already quite aware that the meeting with the RES captain hadn’t gone well. Torell glowered at her senior staff and seated herself at the head of the gleaming weirwood table. Leaning forward, she placed her fingertips together before her, and spoke crisply.
“Where are they now?”
Lomack-17c, Torell’s first officer, touched a control along the edge of the table, causing a glowing 3D display of Chadra and orbital diagrams to appear over the table’s surface. The endogenous soulmech spoke.
“The RES Speaks Softly has changed orbit. I estimate that they’re aiming for an altitude of 1200 to 900 miles, angling away from us. Loss of Line-of-Sight in twenty-two minutes.”
“Time to re-quire?”
“If they enter my predicted orbit, approximately four hours.”
“I concur,” interjected Karash, the Paramour’s tactical officer.
Torell glanced at the pershala over her steepled fingers.
“Any changes to your assessment of their defenses?”
The pershala snorted and flicked his tail. “We can’t take their shields out without a serious fight, but we can hold easily against a science ship.”
A tattooed, lean elven woman at the far end of the conference table snorted derisively.
“Don’t underestimate them. That’s an RES ship. It’s better armed than it appears. And they don’t staff their officer core with fools.”
Captain Torell frowned at the elf. “And that’s the official opinion of the Hunt Master, Onas? How the hell would you know?”
The elven woman shrugged. “I served in the RES for a few decades. They’re not idiots and won’t go down easily, trust me.”
Torell turned to a thin human with too-blue eyes and short blonde hair.
“Bellan, now that you’ve had time to contemplate your exploratory sortie?”
The noetic mindwalker had taken the time to change back into his simple robes after dinner aboard the
Speaks. He opened his eyes, glancing about the room with his blue, blue eyes, and spoke quietly.
“All of the crew that I … interviewed are highly confident that they can repel a boarding party with ease. The captain is equally confident that he can match the
Paramour in ship-to-ship. They are outfitted with a Science Team rather than Exploratory or First Contact. RES high command is unaware of their position."
Torell smiled waspishly. “Really? Interesting.”
She turned to the Willan, her Operations Officer.
“Where do we stand per our quota?”
The well dressed halfling flexed his hands, activating his fingerdots and typed in mid-air. Graphs and charts appeared above the table.
“We are currently at 67% of quota for exotic foodstuffs, 72% for artifacts – that’s little ‘a’ – and 92% at our ‘fragile special orders.’ We are still in negotiations with Zhelshu, but its looking promising. If we pull out now, we could supplement with pickups from Cediva, but we’d show a 40% or so Loss for the trip.”
Captain Torell nodded.
“Get on the ansible. It’s time the crew of The Maxx earned their retainer.”

Characters Attending:
Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lady Kotonaru, Ereyie Wel, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa,” Bishop-1, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Dr. Eon Rose, and Ditak Kirrin
Unable to Attend:
RC-880 “Durendal,” and Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias.

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.128:1330 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

The crew of The Khanniption Fit is settling in. Pei’Fa has been keeping them entertained with various games and activities while we continue our mission here on Chadra.

At 2200 on 123, we hosted Captain Nadira Torrell, and her assistant Bellan Gouwilh of the Paramour for dinner. After a tense meal, the Captain gave orders to change our orbit so that we were not in the same place when our ship came around the planet again. There was a mercenary vessel moving to attack our previous position. We used our stacaster to avoid the fight, waited until the mercenary was gone, and then returned to Chadra.

We starcast right on top of the Paramour and blew out their shields. They surrendered quickly after that. Captain Ni Shen was able to reach an agreement with Captain Torrell, and we returned to our mission.

Over the past couple of days, we were able to meet with two native tribes. We managed a good enough trade with the second tribe to gather sufficient samples to please the science team. Dr. Nodagil was able to spend a day on planet gathering various archeological data.

Personal Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.128:1330 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

Did my last entry say this was a shit show? Well, it’s a shit show. Complete with fuckery.

Serpy did some research on The Khanniption Fit. They’re an independent outfit, who paid a fee to House Gevise for the “right” to go down to Chadra. They were on planet for two months this time, and it’s not their first trip. Their poor deceased dwarven friend’s remains are stuffed full of treasure. Or “booty” as the Captain likes to scornfully call it. They’re pretty happy to be alive, but we’ve been watching them closely and their movements are restricted to a portion of the middle deck. Since we’ve stowed them in the rec room, none of us are getting our normal workouts, and its making us all cranky.

Directly after my last entry, we got a call from the Paramour, saying their Captain was going to accept our offer of dinner, with a plus one. I covered for Durendal on the bridge while he cooked dinner. We agreed to restrict our guests to the upper deck, and the ready room, where dinner would be served. The Captain picked Tic Tac as his plus one, and we decided Koto would serve, while I handled security. The bridge door would remain closed, with Durendal in command and ready for action should it be necessary. Ereyie was piloting. I woke Yevon and asked her to handle security on the lower decks. She took care of arming the rest of the crew, because we weren’t taking any chances. Dr. Rose made sure that the science team would either be in the lab or their quarters during dinner.

In the meantime, Pei’Fa and Nodagil had dinner with our guests from the Fit and got some useful information. These folks know quite a lot about Chadra. It used to be ruled by giants, and they were rivaled by the dragons. Apparently, they wiped each other out, and none exist today in any civilized form. They asked a lot of questions about the political officer and speculated about the “party being over” on Chadra now that we were here. They lost six crew members, including their half-green, a guy named Logash, who is still down there somewhere. He was sick, and they restrained him but he broke loose. They suggested that he caused a lot of problems for them because he went crazy and took off with most of the heavy ammo.

Promptly at 2200, Captain Nadira Torrell arrives with her “assistant” Bellan Gouwilh. She was an attractive pale woman with inky black hair. Bellan was a slender man with whitish blond hair, buzzed close to the scalp. He had unnatural blue eyes, and seemed unfocused most of the time. That raised my suspicions, so I asked Serpy to see if anyone was accessing the systems. He looked, but he wasn’t able to find any intrusions and got really snotty with me. I mean, I don’t hate the guy, but he is literally the Monday of my life. Finally, we described him to Pei’Fa, who was able to identify him as a telepathic monk from the Noetic Order. Assuming that his absent expression meant he was scanning us, I marched into the dinner and informed Captain Torrell that it is extremely rude to bring a telepath onto an RES vessel unannounced. The whole time Pei’Fa is telling me to shoot him in the head before he has a chance to read me. Koto manages to detect a thought that isn’t hers, prompting her to think about our defensive capabilities. Dinner ended early, needless to say.

As our orbit took us around the planet and out of sight of the Paramour, Captain Ni Shen ordered us to change our trajectory, so we would come up in a very different place than expected. When we eventually made our way back to the same side of Chadra, neither ship was where they should have been. Next to our expected location was a mercenary vessel, and once we appeared it immediately moved to engage us. We declined their invitation by starcasting to the edge of the system.

We were reluctant to depart without completing our mission, and it grated to run from these sneaky bastards. We talked over a number of plans, but eventually the Captain agreed to one that would get us what we wanted.

At 124:0830, we starcast again, but this time right on top of them! We blew out their shields and one engine. They were quick to surrender. The Captain explained our position to Captain Torrell, and they came to an agreement. Then we made new plans to go down to the planet’s surface.

I managed to inadvertently piss off the Captain. He agreed to minimize the planet’s existence in his reports in exchange for being left alone to pursue our mission. I asked him if he was so dedicated to the RES mission statement, why then was he so reluctant to report Chadra to his own organization. He didn’t answer, but got up and walked off the bridge. Yevon told me that he’s conflicted. (As if I couldn’t tell that…) so later I apologized to him for causing offence. Then he told me it was none of my business. That’s not true, but I’ll argue it later. I asked Yevon what she was going to do and she answered, “Whatever the Captain orders. The real question is, what are you going to do?” I guess she’s right. That is the question.

Based on new information gleaned from our unexpected guests, we landed the Cudgel near a large tree in a slightly different part of the same continent we were already exploring. We planned to make peaceful contact with a tribe of native pershalans. Ereyie was the main point of contact, and I went along to be sure he came back. Kirrin, Nodagil and Underbough were waiting on the ship for us to come back. Koto had to relieve Underbough of his “lucky grenades” before letting him on the Cudgel. So that was a thing that happened. I guess I should have searched the science team more thoroughly before I let them on board. Who knew that such a squirrelly little guy would have a bunch of grenades down his trousers? I swear, I like the little guy better and better all the time, even if he can’t remember my name. The look on Koto’s face! I swear, by the egg, it was all I could do not to bust out cracking up!

We took some trade goods out to the big tree, and Ereyie laid them all out on a blanket. We waited a bit and the tribe’s trader came out, with two apprentices. His name was Mowanaway. They wore a fabric of a coarse weave, in blacks, greens, oranges, yellows, electric blues, and deep reds. Ereyie talked with him, and we realized we should have a second apprentice, so we got Doc Underbough to come out and join us. We traded samples of various things, like canteens, some of Ereyie’s silks in red and yellow and some distilled catnip, that we called “shaman’s oil”.

They offered up something called jaala fruit, some berries to use as red dye, and spell bones, which were kind of creepy but useful. They actually carved spells into the bones of other humanoids. Ereyie told them it was a tradition among our people to spit in a little tube upon conclusion of a successful trade, so they gamely did so, but it was only three samples. The jaala fruit smells like rotting meat, but it was really very tasty. I can see why they kept telling Ereyie that “Everyone likes jaala fruit!” We agreed to meet again in a few days, and departed with our samples.

I spent the afternoon and evening reviewing the portion of the RES Regs entitled “First Contact Protocols”, and I’m feeling a little uncomfortable about the catnip. And the canteens. The whole thing really. I think we were flying a bit by the seat of our pants, but since they spoke only pershalan, I can’t be sure. Ereyie must have more experience with this than I do, so I guess I’ll just have to trust him.

The next morning, we went back down to meet with the drow. The survivors from the Fit were earning definitely their keep. They told us where to land and what to do in order to safely trade with one of the dark elven tribes. Relatively safely anyway. In exchange for all their help, they asked for two things; 1) to be dropped off somewhere civilized, and 2) to be paid the standard RES guide fee. That seemed fair, and was within the regs, so we agreed.

Since we weren’t sure that anyone could communicate easily with them, we decided that Tic Tac was the right person to be our front man this time. Caliel certainly never went out of his way to teach us to speak drow, and our proficiency with their secret sign language I attribute entirely to the existence of a similar language used by space and star dragons. That and the eagerness of three young children to know what the adults most want to hide from us.

Ria told us that the drow most want charges for the weapons they’ve managed to steal or take from offworld forces they’ve managed to kill. We loaded up 50 charges to trade. The same crew piled into the Cudgel as before and we flew down to the coordinates Ria provided. Kirrin went out and Bishop went with him to unload since he is immune to poison. We had to wait quite a while before anyone showed up. Finally a male showed up and talked to Tic Tac for a while. They made arrangements for us to come back the next day at the same time. Kirrin left 100 spit vials to be filled by a variety of drow. They pushed for us to leave the ammo we brought and to bring more. So that’s what we did.

This time, quite a few drow showed up, including a woman who was clearly in charge, and probably a priestess. She spoke with Kirrin for some time in the drow language, making the deal for the vials. I watched their body language and felt worse and worse about the situation. Something wasn’t going well. Finally, Tic Tac came over to the ship and said, “She wants to talk to Dr. Nodagil.” And I’ll be cracked if Dr. Nodagil didn’t just get up and walk outside. He didn’t even consult, he just waltzed out into the middle of what was probably a drow raiding party. The next thing I hear is Underbough squeaking, “Did he just trade away Nodagil?”

Kirrin trots back on board and says, “Nodagil is staying overnight. We’re supposed to come back and get him at the same time tomorrow.”

I think I said something like, “WHAT THE FUCK. KIRRIN?!?!” but I can’t really remember. Frankly, its kind of a daze. I do remember him saying something like, “She’s bored with me.” When we got back to the ship, I went to see Dr. Rose and tell her we managed to lose her archeologist.

As I walked into the lab, I passed Telliar coming out. She stopped me and said, “Rwvyan, I need to talk to you.

“Not now,” I snapped. I was, possibly, a little bit surly.

“Where’s Nodagil…” she began, but I cut her off.

“NOT NOW,” I growled and walked away, leaving her in the middle of the hall.

“Asshole,” she said.

“Right back at ya’ sweetheart,” I responded.

I explained the situation to Dr. Rose and asked her to come down to the planet the following day. I had a feeling we should’ve started off with a woman in the first place. She sent me to talk with Pei’Fa, who agreed and said he was coming with her. Then I had to tell the Captain, who was, surprisingly, not pissed. He told me things change fast during a contact mission, and asked me my plans to get him back. When I made a joke about cutting through an army of drow, he advised me to call him first.

Every time I think I’ve got the Captain figured out, he surprises me. He’s a pretty cool guy.

The next day we all piled into the Cudgel, loaded for bear. It was a shock to us when Nodagil teleported right onto the ship. Ereyie immediately reversed, and we hauled ass out of there.

I still can’t believe we pulled this shit off. We got the samples, plus Nodagil. I’m calling it a win, and having a drink.

Welcome to the Jungle (Part Three)
Feel my, my, my serpentine


Join the valiant crew of the RES Speaks Softly as they work together to explore new avenues of personal fiscal enhancement.

Aboard the Speaks Softly; 5041.122:0330 (Third Shift)
Captain Ni Shen Xau wandered down to the galley. The ship was quiet, and even the lounge was empty. Upon entering the galley, he was therefore surprised to see the XO sitting at a table, reading on his datapad.
“Captain,” Rwvyan said, nodding in greeting.
“XO, is something keeping you up?“ He said, making note of the half empty bottle of whiskey on the table. Rwvyan shrugged noncommittally in reply.
Xau let it pass while he made himself an egg salad sandwich. “Are you hungry?”
“No, I’m good,” replied Rwvyan. “Thanks for asking though.”
Xau frowned, and decided to sit down at the table with Rwvyan, proceeding to quietly eat his sandwich. The next time Rwvyan paused to pour himself a drink, he tipped the bottle in Xau’s direction. Xau nodded and Rwvyan proceeded to pour a measure of whiskey into a second glass.
“What are you reading?” Xau asked.
“Oh, um, it’s a book about philosophy.” Rwvyan admitted.
Xau’s eyebrows crept up his forehead. He wasn’t aware that his XO had such sophisticated taste in books. Frankly, he hadn’t been aware that his XO read books. “What type of philosophy?” he asked, curiously.
“It’s called The Rejection of Consequentialism.”
Xau blinked. “What’s consequentialism?” he asked, momentarily startled.
“Well,” Rwvyan said, setting his datapad aside. “Consequentialism is the idea that the morality of anything you do is determined by the consequences. The theory was first posed by Cymreiss Firebreath of House Handor about 500 years ago:
It is the business of the benevolent creature to seek to promote what is beneficial to society and to eliminate what is harmful, and to provide a model for society. What benefits he will carry out; what does not benefit he will leave alone.” Rwvyan quoted from memory.
“I think I understand,” Xau said, “but can you provide a practical example?”
Rwvyan nodded. “Most people would agree that lying is wrong. But if telling a lie would help save a person’s life, consequentialism says it’s the right thing to do. Would you agree?”
Xau nodded. “Yes, that makes sense to me.”
“Ah,” Rwvyan held up a single finger, “but what if economists could prove that the empire’s economy would be stronger, and that most people would be happier, healthier, and wealthier, if we just enslaved 2% of the population?”
Xau frowned. “That’s outrageous!”
Rwvyan shrugged. “That’s the essence of consequentialism.”
“Your book is about a rejection of this philosophy?”
Rwvyan chuckled. “Actually, it’s an analysis of the movement that rejected it, posing the theory that they are incorrect in their arguments.”
“Are you a consequentialist?” asked Xau.
Rwvyan sighed. “I don’t know,” he said, after a long pause. “I don’t think so. That’s one of the reasons I’m reading about it.”
“Is something bothering you?” Xau repeated after a few minutes of silence. He expected Rwvyan to repeat his query from earlier in the day, regarding Xau’s reluctance to report the existence of Chadra to the Empire. Xau had reacted emotionally to the question, and although Rwvyan had apologized promptly, Xau felt uneasy about the conversation.
Rwvyan started to speak, and then fell silent, looking at the Captain with narrowed eyes.
“Go ahead, XO.” Xau gestured for the other man to speak.
“Alright. The doctor’s punishment is bothering me,” Rwvyan admitted.
“What? Why?” Xao asked sharply.
“That woman is a danger to this ship and everyone on it.” The sneer in Rwvyan’s voice was unmistakable. “Not only did you have her moved from the brig to Medical, you made Volund scrub the cells. That’s a punishment in anyone’s book.”
“You’re right, it was.” Xau drew himself up stiffly.
“I don’t understand why. What did he do wrong?”
“He failed in his duty as a doctor. Regardless of Dr. Caladriend’s behavior, he owes her a certain level of care, and he did not provide it.” Xau could tell that Rwvyan wasn’t following his logic.
“Why does he owe her anything? She’s just a junkie. She’s not even crew.”
“She’s a passenger on this ship, and under his care. As a doctor, he has sworn to care for his patients to the best of his ability. Instead, he treated Dr. Caladriend callously because he judged her to be unworthy and undeserving. It was cruel and a betrayal of his oath.” Xao paused, and then continued, “I expected better of him.”
They both fell silent for a time after Xao’s statement. Xao was left to wonder if he confided too much to the younger man. Finally, Rwvyan responded thoughtfully.
“The punishment isn’t about her at all. It’s because he didn’t stick to his own code of honor. Is that it?”
Xau nodded, “That’s exactly right.”
Rwvyan rolled his shoulders. “I get that. We have to be true to ourselves.” He glanced at Xau and pursed his lips. “You make it all seem so easy.”
“What?” Xau asked, genuinely taken aback by the observation.
“Knowing right from wrong.”
“Don’t you? Don’t you feel it in your gut when you’re doing the right thing?” Xau asked self-assuredly.
“The only thing my gut tells me is when it’s time for dinner,” said Rwvyan with a sudden grin. “The rest I have to puzzle out up here.” He tapped the side of his head.
“Didn’t your parents teach you…” started Xau. He broke off at the expression on Rwvyan’s face, remembering Rwvyan’s private disclosures to him about the rearing of the siblings.
“Everyone who had a hand in our upbringing taught us about making the right choices. It’s just that none of them agree on what those things are.” Rwvyan hesitated, and then continued carefully, “That’s why I asked about your approach towards Chadra. You said it isn’t my business but I disagree.”
Xau frowned and shook his head, but didn’t respond.
“If I’m going to do things the way you want me to, I need to understand why you make the decisions you do. If I don’t understand, I need to be able to ask.” He waited a moment, but Xau just studied his drink. Then he shrugged. “If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s cool. But you’ll need to tell me what to put in and take out of my report.”
Xau met Rwvyan’s gaze and said coolly, “You should follow your conscience, XO.”
Rwvyan snorted derisively. “With all due respect, yada yada, that’s a cop out. I don’t give a rat’s ass about the reports. I’m not out here with a mandate to do anything except protect House Golion’s asset. I personally like this ship, the crew and the science team.” He paused. “Except for Serpentce. He’s kind of a dick.”
Xau chuckled in spite of himself. He took another sip of whiskey, and studied his XO in silence. After a moment, Rwvyan returned to his book.
“Why should you dislike her so?” Xau asked, returning to an earlier topic.
Rwvyan looked up, “You’re referring to the Caladriend woman?” he asked. At Xau’s nod of confirmation, he continued, “I’ve got no use for junkies. They’re only ever thinking about the next fix. That makes her a risk.”
“Your reaction tells me there’s more to this than the security of the ship, or the success of this mission.”
After a moment’s consideration, Rwvyan replied steadily, “You’re right. But I don’t know that it’s any of your business.”
“If it affects how you do your job…” began Xau, who trailed off as Rwvyan lifted one eyebrow.
“What’s good for the serpent is good for the rooster,” the XO said, smiling very slightly. “I’ll share if you do. Quid Pro Quo. After all, in the words of the noted philosopher, Aitheidis the Golden, ‘The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.’
Xau paused before responding, “Is Aitheidis the Golden a Consqeuentialist?”
Rwvyan laughed suddenly, “Hardly. Technically, he was a Political Voluntarist.”
“What’s that?”
“Um. It maintains that political authority is will-based.” Xao cocked his head, and gestured for the half-dragon to continue.
“It starts with the idea that all forms of association should be voluntary,” Rwvyan said, warming to the subject. “The term has fallen out of favor in recent academia, but gained in usage among various groups with political agendas, specifically those who opposed the rise of the Houses of Asamet. Its principal beliefs stem from the non-aggression principle.”
“That being?” asked Xao.
“It’s an ethical stance asserting that aggression is inherently wrong, but allowing for forceful defense of an individual or their property.”
“Interesting.” Xau looked at Rwvyan. “What do you think of Political Voluntarism?”
“I think it’s a pretty idea, but not applicable to life in the Empire,” Rwvyan said soberly.
“Shouldn’t it be?” Xau asked. “For example, what gives our Empire the right to interfere with the inhabitants of Chadra, or any other planet?”
Rwvyan started to shrug off the question, and then gave the Captain a sharp look. After a moment of thought, he responded, “Aitheidis the Golden would say we have no right to do so. Phunesthe would argue that ‘Justice is nothing but the interest of the stronger.’ She might even claim that as the stronger society, we have a responsibility to govern them for their own sake.”
“Is she a member of House Mazorgrim?” said Xau acerbically.
“Altara, actually.” Rwvyan said.
“What do you think?” Xau asked his XO, making eye contact.
“I think…” Rwvyan hesitated, “I think that the Empire has a lot on offer.”
“XCrawl?” snarked Xau.
“Ha! Yes, but we also have more advanced medicine, better communications, and safer travel. As a culture, we enjoy the benefits of an advanced society. As a whole, citizens of the Empire are safer and more secure. We have trade and commerce that allow for a higher overall standard of living. We have higher education and an exchange of ideas that facilitates innovation and discovery.”
“Fair point, I suppose,” muttered Xau. Then he drained his glass of whiskey and said, “Although you sound a bit like a recruiting manual. Goodnight, XO. Get some rest.”
“You as well, Captain.” However, when Xau paused to look back, Rwvyan was still staring thoughtfully into the space where the Captain had been seated.
“Yes, XO,” Xau paused at the door.
“I have an ex-girlfriend on Idradon. She was a Perfection addict. She…caused a lot of trouble for us.”
“How much trouble?” asked Xau cautiously, failing away the reference to Idradon for later consideration.
“Enough. We…had to leave.” His voice was gravelly and his tone hinted at darker emotions.
“I see. Thank you for the confidence.” Xau said solemnly.
“Huh. The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” Rwvyan said simply, saluting Xau with his glass.
Captain Xau returned to his quarters, while the XO returned to his book. The discussion gave them both much to consider.

Characters Attending:
Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Ditak Kirrin, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Ereyie Wel, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias, Lady Kotonaru, and RC-880 “Durendal”.

Session Summary:

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.123:1630 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

Received call from Captain Nadira Torell of the MHT-Gevise Paramour for Captain Ni Shen Xau at 0700, with an invitation to dinner.

Landing party returned to Chadra, including myself, Bishop-1, Ereyie, Durendal, Ditak and Dr. Nodagil. We picked up a distress signal from five survivors of The Khanniption Fit. We have brought them aboard and offered various treatments to ensure their survival and good health.

Personal Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.123:1630 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

By the Void that spawned us, today was a shitty day. I think anyone who had my day would say the same. Our last trip down to Chadra, we identified some natives and explored a crashed ship. After we got back, both Serpy and I had headaches. You know, the skull splitting, howling, bashing your head against the walls kind. I went to ask Doc Keystone for a painkiller. Like a grenade. Instead I had people (Dr. Rose, Keriwar) casting spells on me. It seems there’s a curse on Chadra. It makes dragons stupid. At least that explains why green dragons are serving a mounts for the local kobold population. None of the Esmer nobles I ever met would consider such a demeaning task.

Keriwar did her praying and cast her spells, and the headache was gone. They cured Serpy’s headache too. Dr. Rose told me they suspected something because they studied some of the brains we brought back. The kobolds here have four lobes. Four! Two is the usual number. The dragon’s brain we brought back was smooth, like an animal’s.

They checked out the rest of the landing party, but no one else seemed to be affected. Serpy did some digging and found a study someone did on four lobed monkeys on a moon somewhere. It had heavy radiation. Then he started looking for info in the records of The Khanniption Fit, to see if any of their crew had been ill. They had a half-green on the ship. Their records said he caught some disease and went crazy, animalistic even. They had to remove his spellware and optics.

That’s when Keriwar cast a Portent spell. Here’s what she said:
Portent Statement: We plan on making peaceful contact with the natives.
Power is supreme among apprentices bygone; little kith share their ancestors covetous; derogated colossi heed only brawn; erstwile pets are both cautious and curious; warped keepers care for only duty forgotten.

Serpy tried casting some spells on the planet. . I have to give it to him. He’s an asshole, but he’s really good at what he does. It’s got an aura of divine, necromantic magic. The whole. Freaking. Planet. There is some source sustaining it, but he couldn’t tell what it was.
That created some complications for our plan. None of the other half-dragons are willing to risk the curse, even though Keriwar can remove it. We had to do a revised roster for the landing party.

Around 0700 this morning, I was on the bridge delivering Yevon’s morning coffee before the start of my shift, and we got a contact from the Paramour. Captain Nadira Torell called to speak with Captain Xau. That went over like an orc at a dwarvish kegger. She invited him to come to the Paramour for dinner. Captain Ni Shen invited her to the Speaks in turn. The conversation petered out, but I’m sure we’ll be hearing from them again.

We got a landing party together. This time it was myself, the Rook, Ereyie, Durendal, Tic Tac and Nodagil. We got down there and prepared to land in the same clearing as last time, but when Ereyie scanned it, we discovered that the kobolds had been busy little buggers. They’d been hollowing it out underground, so when a ship landed, the ground would collapse.

Instead, we flew back to the crash site of The Khanniption Fit, and did some more poking around to see if there was another spot we could land. We pulled the starcaster, in case it should prove useful. Before long, we picked up power signs to the southeast. We headed there and found five survivors from the crash. We got all five aboard, including the remains of one of their companions. We located some cliffs about 25 kilometers east, but didn’t have time to check them out.

The survivors are a male half-orc called Calgary Deluth, a female human named Ria Starr, a male human named Sammual Tomms, a female lizardman named Kogg, and a male half-elf called Rydeel Redwin. Redwin was unconscious when we loaded him into the Cudgel. They also insisted in bringing their dwarven friend, Morthik’s, body along. Refused to leave without him even though space was limited.

We put them through decontamination procedures in the sick bay, treating them for things like dehydration, poisons, rashes and leeches (Leeches!?!?!?!?!!!). Now they’re bunking in the rec room, which screws up everybody’s workout routine. Pei’Fa is out with them, gathering more information about the planet, and about them. Koto restricted them to specific areas of the ship.

Finally, on my way to bed I stepped in something disgusting. Pei’Fa brought back one of those compys, as a sample for Dr. Rose, except now he’s made a pet of the damned thing, and wearing it on his shoulder. He’s got a lead attaching it to his ear, like a freaking Esmer noble with their little faerie necklaces. It’s shitting everywhere. I mean, what a perfect ending to the day. Typical.

Welcome to the Jungle (Part Two)
If you got the money, honey we got your disease


Chadra turns out to not just be an uncharted outlands world, it is a low hanging fruit being vigorously exploited by the Merchant House Gevise.

Aboard the RES Speaks Softly, 5041.121:0140
As Captain Ni Shen reviewed the Away Team’s latest report, making his own notations, he felt a light touch on his mind. Recognizing the beginning of a of a telepathic contact, Xau calmed his thoughts and centered his attention in case it proved to be an attack. The touch expanded, and he recognized the sender – Rear Admiral Telzron Kimmuren.

Xau. Much concern since you were declared overdue at Aranal. Last two weeks five royal houses have made discrete inquiries regarding your location. Use acumen.

Ni Shen considered the message for a moment. He had a very short time in which to formulate an answer. Admiral Telzron must have sent the message himself, likely doing so because the sorcery involved allowed Xau to be certain of the sender, provided the sender and the receiver knew one another. As Kimmuren was no spell-slinger, he must have used an ansible – a very expensive little magical device. The spell allowed the receiver to reply in kind – a short message limited to 25 words or less.

The Captain of the Speaks Softly composed his reply.

Message Understood

He felt the touch evaporate. Xau leaned back into his chair and sipped his coffee. “And now it seems the game really begins,” he mused. They’d have to be much more careful.

Characters Attending:
Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Ditak Kirrin, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Ereyie Wel, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias, Lady Kotonaru,and RC-880 “Durendal”.

Session Summary:

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.121:2130 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

Once we completed patching up Bishop-1 after his recent maiming on Chadra, we completed an investigation into the assailant who peppered him with poisoned darts. A discreet scrying spell cast by Kotonaru revealed a native dark elf.

Rather than antagonize them further, we selected a different landing zone, and dropped off the APC Adiona. The Speaks returned to orbit, and a landing team flew down in the Cudgel. We created a base camp and implemented appropriate security procedures. We found evidence of kobolds in the area, which entailed running frequent scans to ensure they were not moving around underneath the base camp.

Our next objective was to examine a downed ship that crashed near our landing site; The Khanniption Fit. The heavy undergrowth required a group to approach on foot. The science team and crew split between the two groups. One group remained onsite to begin analysis of samples they gathered near the camp. The other set out to investigate the ship and search for survivors.

We encountered native wildlife on the hike, as well as an encounter with some native pershalans. One of them attempted to kidnap Commander Kirrin but failed and fled the area. As we approached the ship, Dr. Nodagil fell through some foliage into a pit, and sustained some light injuries.

Lord Serpentce was able to extract some portions of the security logs from the vessel, so we could try to piece together the events that caused the ship to crash. The critical event seemed to be a failed attempt to repel kobold boarders. Once we extracted the data, and confirmed there were no survivors at the crash, we returned to camp. The science team loaded their samples, and we returned the Adiona and the Cudgel to the Speaks. We will need to plan another expedition to gather the genetic samples required by the science team, and need to consider our contact strategy carefully.

Personal Log, 5041.121:2200 I.E.

I guess it’s too much to ask the universe for something, just once, to go smoothly. Bishop got his hand cut off reaching for this crazy gemstone, and then he got peppered with poisoned darts. Guess what kids? We’ve got drow. It’s like that feeling you get when your foot itches and you realize after scratching it that you have a fungal growth. Except not nearly as pleasant.

Koto was actually able to scry on them. They’re a lot more primitive than we’re used to, but not unsurprisingly so. There were three of them in a bed together, all naked. They were sleeping rather than frolicking. The walls were covered in writing, some of which seemed to be some form of elvish. There were also larger symbols on the walls, which resembled dwarvish runes. They had skins piled on the bed, and a number of primitive weapons, many made of obsidian. Their clothing had been discarded nearby, and seemed to consist of an odd mixture of skins, pebbly leather and furs. These included at least two different kinds of pelts, and shaped natural substances, like bark, wood, brass or bronze. They had iconography on their skin, the female bearing images of a scorpion, and camouflage patterns on the two males.

We started down to the planet after breakfast. We located a clearing large enough to land the Cudgel, and park the APC. That provided two defensible mobile vehicles as a base camp. We could see scorch marks where a ship had crashed recently, and decided to investigate.

Ereyie landed the Speaks long enough to allow Samai to drive the Adiona out of the cargo bay and get back inside before it took off again. Riding in the APC were the rest of the landing party, sans myself, Koto, and Zanven, who piloted the Cudgel down to the planet. We circled while the Adiona got parked, and landed once the Speaks lifted off again. We had to avoid pteranodons, so that was new.

Durendal handled check-ins to the Speaks every four hours. We also set up an automated hourly transmission to ensure that we stayed in touch. Koto, Bishop, and I set up the perimeter sensors, along with some strategically placed mines. We did a lighting check on the APC to be sure we had 360 degrees of light. I’m sure it all sounds a bit paranoid, but we knew that the other vessel had crashed here, and our sensors could pick up elaborate hollowed out tunnels underneath the clearing.

We wanted to investigate the crashed ship, but knew that we need to set some ground rules for the science team or they would be rushing off into the jungle without a thought for what might be out there. We made it very clear that no one was to go outside the perimeter of the sensors without a combat escort, for any reason. They had to adhere to the buddy system, and stay together at all times. Also, everyone had to have their comms on all of the time, even when taking a piss.

Zanven was sweating like crazy, and was clearly freaked. He started complaining to me that he doesn’t have any experience in this environment, and he should go back to the ship. I ordered him to stay on the Adiona since it has a water processor, and is armored.

We decided that we would start by examining the area around our camp before splitting the group. Tic Tac and Durendal found kobold tracks from about a week to ten days earlier. They also found a nasty pit trap, partially covered by grass. Pei’Fa found an arrow with a bone arrowhead. Dr. Rose examined it and told us it was dragon tooth bone. Of course Koto and I gathered up as many as we could, in case they could be enchanted, and might be valuable.

Now that Dr. Rose had something to examine and analyze (i.e. bones), we decided to set out for the other ship. Pei’Fa and Koto stayed at the camp with Dr. Rose and Zanven. Before we left, Serpentce adjusted some cameras towards areas where he felt something or someone was watching us.

Finally, when we are agreed that the camp is as secure as we can make it, six of us made our way overland toward the crashed ship. The group included Durendal, Nodagil, Ditak, Bishop, Serpentce, and me.

While we were gone, Dr. Rose did a lot of analysis. She even examined a stake from the pit trap, determining that it was covered in mammal blood and shit. The blood and feces came from multiple creatures, and was probably around a week old. I’m guessing someone fell into that pit trap, poor bastard.

It was a long walk through some really rough terrain. We found some cut-ish little lizards, apparently called Compys. They seemed to really like me, and followed me around. I liked them at first, but later they got seriously annoying. Luckily, we smashed a couple of them, and that was sufficient to keep them from swarming us. Then a native pershalan tried to grab Ditak. I’m not sure why she picked him, but it was probably because he was a dark elf. She was really pretty, with a coat like a panther.

Then Nodagil managed to fall into a hole when we were climbing over some trees that had been destroyed when the ship crashed. We got him out of there, but he was hurt. It was during a sudden flash rainfall, so that was a thing that happened.

We finally made it to the ship. It was a private freighter called the Khanniption Fit. Serpy was able to access the security logs, and they confirmed what was obvious to us upon arrival…there had been boarding action. Something had opened up the ship like a can of tomato soup. That something was inside the ship…a green dragon with several small saddles on its back. The entire inside of the ship smelled of chloroform. Not my favorite scent.

Apparently, seven days ago the crew took off in a panic because they had kobolds boarding the ship. The left their exploratory crew on the ground somewhere, and tried to get away from the attackers. Unfortunately for them, the bridge crew succumbed to the chlorine gas from the green dragon, and crashed. The crew was killed, whether before or after the crash wasn’t clear. Many of the kobolds and the dragon were killed in the crash as well.

We gathered up some sample of various species’ heads for Dr. Rose to study, in case there was enough genetic material for her to sample. We also brought back a giant-sized arrow head, as in sized for a giant of some kind, as opposed to just extra-large, which was supposedly used for “dragon slaying”. We found crate after crate of platinum and gems on the hold as well.

Finally, when we gathered as much information as possible, we went back to camp to rejoin the others. After an unsuccessful attempt to communicate with the pershalan natives, we decided to return to the Speaks, rather than spend the night on Chadra. We would figure out what to do next to get the samples Dr. Rose needed back on the ship, where insane dragon-riding kobolds couldn’t attack us in our sleep. Now, I’m going to take advantage of that security to get some much needed rest!

Welcome to the Jungle (Part One)
We've got fun and games


Wherein our inquisitive crew is finally able to settle down for some real science.

Excerpted from the personal logs of Scrapnik Gizsmith Widgetdyne Fritzwhindle, Second Engineer, RES Speaks Softly:
“5041.118:0722. Today is going to be a good day. The repairs on the Speaks is done, the new warheads are loaded, we’ve got the tanks topped off and the windshield wiper fluid refreshed. The old girl is ready to go. We can finally get off this windy piece of culm dump and back into space. I can tell the Captain’s itching to get back on mission after all the gangue we’ve trudged through the last two weeks. New XO is gonna pop, I swear. He had us tearing apart internal bulkheads for hidden transmitters. Yevon is still down in the dumps over her disciplining because of his ‘Lordship’ Serpy Butt-Licker. I told her not to threaten the little shit but, hey, what do I know? From the sound of the scuttlebut, it sounds like the Science Team has decided on a planet, so maybe now we can start some exploring. Almost shift time. Durendal may not be as good a cook as Charlie-12, but his stuff is still damned tasty! Gonna crack open the new season of X-Crawl tonight in the lounge – Sweet! Gotta scoot."

Characters Attending:
Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Ditak Kirrin, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Ereyie Wel, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias, Lady Kotonaru,and RC-880 “Durendal”.

Session Summary:

Personal Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.120.1830 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

We’ve been parked above Chadra for two days now. After talking with some traders on Monscrome, we had a list of possible destinations, and the science team picked this one. The other option was Sedeva, which is apparently a pre-contact civilized world. Chadra is different. Apparently some of the Empire’s more outstanding citizens have been popping down to the surface and liberating various amounts of wealth from the ruins of a great civilization. I’m just as glad there was no reason to go to Almer Station in the Tarnahan System. Even a 2% chance of running into someone we know is too high.

Chadra has ruins, giant gemstones, a dragon graveyard, and dark elves. Ereyie took the Cudgel down and Bishop tried to grab one of the gemstones from the top of a temple. He got his hand sliced off for his efforts, and pumped full of poison darts. So that was a thing that happened.

I think the situation between Yevon and his Syrup-ness is finally resolved. I finally took it to Dr. Rose and asked her to intervene. I hate that my curiosity got Yevon in trouble. If I hadn’t told Eyerie to leave one of the cameras on, Serpy couldn’t have shown the Captain the security footage that backed up his story.

Dr. Rose talked to Serpy, and then to the Captain. After that, the Captain had me escort Yevon to his office. She went back on duty that night, although her weapons access was “restricted” and she is supposed to use the honorific when talking to Serpy. Apparently, she apologized and he accepted. I still can’t believe he went to the Captain with it. Little prick.

There were four ships in orbit when we got here. The biggest, the Paramour is a House Gevise merchant ship. It seems they charge an “entry fee” to go down to the planet. They pinged us but haven’t done anything since.

Hinges of Destiny
Emergent Properties


“Choices are the hinges of Destiny” – Pythagoras

Parvan Star System; Malaval, Throneworld of House Esmer; South Eastern Continent; Whisper Green Provence; 5041.119 I.E.
With equal parts reverance and trepidation infusing his scaled breast, Lord Koldrynth Sonear Di’Shio entered the Nave of Withered Trees. The massive gilded doors of baroque carved darkwood and adamantine slid silently closed, sealing the vestibule behind him. The pathway beneath his talons, fashioned of loosely interlocking flagstones of green jasper and jade, was worn smooth by the passage of thousands of bare feet, and marked the aisle leading up into the Sanctuary. Koldrynth breathed in deeply and began making his way up the aisle, his steps deliberately measured and even, the silk of his robes whispering softly against the stones of the path and dried leaves that crunched quietly beneath his scaled feet. As he paced forward, he used the golden length of his staff of office to tap a rhythmic counterpoint to his steps, his entire approach formal and ritualized. The sharp taps echoed faintly through the vast space, largely swallowed by the arched ceiling dozens of yards overhead. A glorious starscape was projected on the roof interior far above, slowly swirling as if viewing the Serpent’s Eye from an observation point outside the galaxy, shining through the stone branches of the petrified trees that filled the Nave. As he wound his way steadily toward the Sanctuary, Lord Koldrynth strove to ignore the warnings streaming in from his implants, informing him of the dozens of infrared targeting lasers trained on his person, invisible armed drones tracking his progress. After several minutes of pacing, he came to a stop at the far edge of the stone forest, a bare mossy hill rising before him, simulated star field slowly turning above, the path ending at the base of the slope. Ahead of him knelt a score of artfully maimed fey dressed in the simple garb of servants. They faced the hill with heads bowed, and eyes averted, not acknowledging him. To be ignored by such anywhere else would have enraged him, but not here – in the Nave even he was nothing. Here, even Lord Koldrynth Sonear Di’Shio, Eater of All, carefully knelt and bowed his horned head in respect and waited patiently. After a time, a ridge of the hillock split open, revealing a yellow and amber eye the size of a serving platter. The eye blinked slowly then focused on him, gold highlights flashing as it’s huge iris spun and pulsed, fixing him with a gaze that was palpable. A voice filled the space, rich and huge, each syllable falling on its listeners like a blanket of earth on a grave. The fey servants flinched silently at its sound. Koldrynth did not, although his heart-rate sped up uncomfortably.

“Favored Koldrynth. You may speak.” Lord Koldrynth bowed deeply, pressing his ridged skull to the flagstone, then responding in respectful tones.

“Worshipful Duchess, True Blood of Esmer, we have lost contact with the agent placed to observe the Sathoni researcher.”

A low rumble filled the Nave as the ‘hill’ shifted, moving, revealing itself to be a moss covered green dragon of vast proportions, head lifting on it’s hugely muscled neck, swinging both huge eyes, now lit from within by amber fire, to pierce the abased speaker. Small dribbles of dirt and moss fell from the dragon’s head as its jaws opened, showing yellowed, curved teeth the length of swords. Wisps of poisonous fumes seeped from it’s maw, fouling the air. The servants fell on their faces, covering their heads with arms and hands if they still possessed them, silently wailing in fear.

“Explain.” Came the voice, the command cracking the air, sending ravens who had been roosting in the stone trees to cawing, frightened flight. Lord Koldrynth answered, striving to keep his voice calm and his words clear.

“His last communication indicated that the research vessel had been sabotaged. A virus had been placed in the starcaster astronav, causing a mis-jump. The ship survived, finding itself deep in Domain Osorus. They were enacting repairs and determining their next course of action. That was twelve days ago. We have not heard from the agent since.”

“Contact him via ansible immediately.”

“Worshipful Mother, we have attempted this already. His ansible no longer exists. Attempts to contact him directly have also failed. Divinations indicate that he has been terminated.”

A roar shook the Nave, startling drone and servant alike. Overhead, the projected starscape flickered as the colossal hall shuddered and hidden weapon emplacements whirred to action, ready to decimate all who had foolishly angered their draconic mistress. Even Lord Koldrynth’s heart skipped, for a brief moment the terror of his mother’s wrath gripping him. His voice shook as he strove to be heard over the ringing of his ears.

“Blessed Duchess, Chosen of the Reaper, please hear me. We know the vessel’s location as of a week ago. We can still re-acquire them.”

“Fool.” Came the angry reply, a clawed foot stamping in irritation on a slower moving servant, an elf whose eyes had been replaced with exquisitely carved emeralds. “The loss of that agent represents two years of careful planning for naught! We are hardly the only stalkers in this hunt! The sabotage of the starcaster proves this. This is a grievous setback.”

Lord Koldrynth attempted to press his head further into the flagstones. “What are your wishes, Revered Lady?”

The dragon chewed thoughtfully on the legs of the crushed servant for a moment, oblivious to its feeble flailing and ragged screams. “Gather your more competent siblings. Take a fast warship from our personal fleet and go with all speed to the research vessel’s last coordinates. Ascertain its current location. I will contact you with further instructions.” It tossed the remains of the servant to the floor of the Nave, where the survivors quickly gathered it up, dragging it off for delivery to the house necromancers.

“Do not fail me in this, Koldrynth. Do not force me to choose a new Favored.”

“N..No, Exalted Mother. I shall not fail you.”

“Go Now.”

Lord Koldrynth Sonear Di’Shio, Eater of All, quickly rose to his feet, and retreated as fast as ritual permitted, never turning his back on his mother, not actually fleeing until she was no longer visible in the depths of the petrified forest. He did not wait for the vestibule doors to fully open before hurrying through them, as behind him in the Nave of Withered Trees, Hall of the Lady verus sanguis, Duchess Reythliivmaar of House Esmer, Chosen of the Reaper, machinery hummed into wakefulness and gigantic holographic computer displays began to flicker to life.

Characters Attending:
Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa,” Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, and Lady Kotonaru.
With Special Guest:
Reignbowinthedark as Ellywick K. Frothelthimble.
Unable to Attend:
Ditak Kirrin, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Ereyie Wel, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias, and RC-880 “Durendal”.

Session Summary:

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.118:0630 I.E.; Monscrome; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

Crew was given shore leave while repairs were performed on the ship. The Political Officer returned to the ship too intoxicated to walk, and had to be put in bed. There was a small altercation, and some administrative action was required. End entry.

Personal Log, 5041.118:0635 I.E.

Today was a total clusterfuck. Every time I think I’ve got this gig figured out, the universe takes a giant crap, usually on my head. First of all, that insufferable prick Serpentce (if you’ve hacked my log, you utter bastard, just remember that a vasectomy means never having to say you’re sorry…) complained about Yevon and the Captain relieved her of duty, pending an investigation. That means Durendal and I have to pull double duty until this shit gets straightened out.

We stopped off at Persilom, which is supposed to be a shit-hole. However, now five million people live there, and there is a tremendous Mazorgrim presence. That was tricky. We managed to get out of there in one piece, and even bought some X-Crawl videos from the new season.

When we got to Monscrome, the Captain made arrangements for us to get the repairs we need. At least we managed to restock medical and our weapons supply from that destroyer. Plus the gym equipment. I don’t know what Yevon would have done wither her free time if I hadn’t grabbed the gym equipment. Anyway, the Captain told me to give the crew some shore leave. I made up a schedule and some folks headed out onto the strip to do some sightseeing. I thought that was the end of my responsibilities for the day, but NO!

I just happened to mention to Yevon that Samai, Ditak, Pei’Fa and Ellywick had gone out together, and she gave me to understand that this was possibly not a good decision. I decided to go after them, with Bishop-1 and Yevon as backup. When we got to the main concourse where the clubs were located, we saw one bar with a line, and there was clearly a riot going on inside. We figured that out from the arrival of the local constabulary, decked out in riot gear. As we prepared to dive in looking for our people, Pei’Fa made it out, carrying Samai, who was kicking and flailing. Ditak was passed out drunk and over his shoulder, and Ellywick trailed along behind. Samai and Elly knew they were in trouble when they saw Yevon and me standing in front of them.

Koto and Scrapnik showed up right about then, and we all made our way back to the Speaks Softly. Apparently, Ditak got toasted and bought drinks for the entire bar. Samai posed him for funny pictures with a variety of patrons. Eventually, someone said something insulting to Samai which started a fight. They are extremely lucky that Pei’Fa was there to extract them.

We managed to get everyone back to the Speaks, and Pei’Fa took responsibility for Ditak. The girls headed off to bed, and I went to check on Ereyie, Zanven and Nodagil. That’s when I found out the boys weren’t back yet. I tried calling them on their comms, but no answer. Fuck.

After some consideration, I rousted Elly out of bed and asked her if she could track their comm units. She said it was possible but difficult, so I went and asked Serpentce to help her. He was actually very pleasant about the whole thing. It’s possible he was on drugs, or a shapeshifter, but I was too concerned about my missing crew to fret too much about it.

Elly and Serpentce managed to track down Zanven’s comm unit. It was quite far away, so I asked Koto and Pei’Fa to go along. When I went to tell Yevon what we were doing, she volunteered to go as well. We traveled over an hour by rail, and our destination was a pretty run down part of the station. Eventually, we made our way to a small clinic/guard post. Zanven and Nodagil were there. Both had been robbed and badly beaten. Neither of them had any identification, and they were both still unconscious. Security was very glad to see us, since they now knew what ship to charge for the medical care.

We needed them awake so we could get them back to the Speaks. Once we got them up and moving, we asked when they last saw Ereyie. Zanven answered that he was with them the whole time. He and Nodagil recounted that they made a deal to trade some things for items that he thought would be more valuable to the ship in our travels. I suspect he wanted to unload the drugs and pick up something that would get him in less difficulty if someone (like myself) found it. They got to the meet, but the other party didn’t show up. Instead, they were jumped and beaten by a gang. Nodagil was particularly angered by the theft of his family pin.

After dropping them off at the Speaks, and ordering them to stay there, we headed back to the coordinates of the meet to see if we could find a trace of our wayward pilot. The coordinates were even further from the main concourse, and in an even worse part of town. We found the spot easily, but there was no sign of Ereyie. Frustrated, we got back on the rail, and a rough looking human man boarded the car with us. There was something about him that drew our attention. Suddenly, we realized that he was wearing Nodagil’s pin. Pei’Fa grabbed him and slammed him against the wall.

It didn’t take long for him to tell us what happened. He and his friends were hired to capture Ereyie. The kitty was to be turned over unharmed, but they had leeway regarding their treatment of his companions. It took slightly longer to convince him to tell us where to find the people who hired him. Once we had that information, we took the pin and left him on the train.

We ended up at their ship, the Unspeakable Clarity of Purpose, and we knocked politely. There was some playful banter, and then Koto got serious about the negotiations. It turns out that Ereyie had a bounty out on him under another name. A gang known as the “Cold Roses” in Noros territory originated the bounty. The Cold Roses are part of the Black Hole Syndicate. Koto managed to strike a deal with the bounty hunters, offering 40,000 credits to let us take the kitty on the spot. She used her abilities to access Ditak’s credit chip, which was the only way we were coming up with that kind of cash right that moment. They brought Ereyie out, unconscious and wrapped in a containment cocoon.

We raised a few eyebrows on our way back to the Speaks, but we did get back safely. I didn’t have to wake the Captain, and we were all back in time for breakfast. The Captain stopped by the dining hall, and couldn’t help but notice some bumps and bruises. However, everyone, including Yevon, insisted that nothing happened, and he left it there.

Later I had a short meeting with the principal offenders. I reminded them that the order of the day had been discretion, and that someone was trying to kill us. Then I commented that they seemed to be confused about the concept, and put everyone at risk. They assured me that it wouldn’t happen again. Elly was, as usual, downright cheery. On the way out she said, ““Well, I guess the take-away here is that there’s no team building exercise like shared trauma!” I decided to leave it there, at least this time. I’m not sure why Pei’Fa put Ditak in Zanven’s bed, or dressed him in Zan’s clothes. There are some mysteries that are beyond me. I hope that I’ll be able to get some sleep now.


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