Start date: 255-1121.
Jonathan Kettner(Treal's twin brother), having been discharged from the Navy after pleading guilty to drunkenness (which was preferable to what actually happened - Admiral's daughter and limo, She said she was 18!, etc.), stows away on the first ship leaving the Imperium, as the Admiral had decided that since Jonathan was out of the Navy, it was time to settle the score. The ore carrier ends up on Regina. Jonathan had heard of Regina, but had never been there...
Mikie is hired for some actual, honest-to-God detective work, that doesn't involve aliens from another dimension, or spooks. Cool!. Some off planet interests want him to locate a person and confirm their identity. Some one is going under the name of Katya Androchev, and the clients want to know if this individual is in fact on Regina, and if she is who she says she is. A DNA sample of a relative is provided, and there should be @ least a 25% correlation. And be discreet. Mikie brings Ghaer into this. They both wonder Androchev...You don't suppose...? Mikie also gives Ghaer back his wallet and watch (hey, a guy has to keep in practice).
Nicolai is on Up Port, at the Bread and Bean. He had to get away from the neighbor ladies...
Jonathan pays too much money for a use Gauss carbine at MilTech; only one owner, and only dropped once. The few little specks of what appeared to be rust did wipe right off though. Now he's a first-timer on Regina, but at least he's armed (he's also 611 tall, so it's doubtful anyone will give him too much grief). There's no room at the TAS hotel (Jonathan's a member), so he gets a map of the Up Port (along with TAS warnings), and an air tax bracelet.
Jonathan gets into an altercation with some one who offers to show him how to properly carry his wallet, if Jonathan will just hand over his wallet to demonstrate. Jonathan may have just gotten off the ship, but he didn't just fall off the cabbage truck, so he decks Lenny. A cop wanders up, Lenny accuses Jonathan of assaulting him, and Jonathan accuses Lenny of trying to steal his wallet. Lenny pays the fine, so he doesn't have to go to the office, and Jonathan goes and files a counter complaint.
Nicolai sees Jonathan with the cop, and being naturally suspicious of very tall, fit people, he follows. Jonathan finds a phone booth, and looks up private detectives, and decides the Palladium Group looks good, so he calls and makes an appointment. Nicolai uses the booth afterwards, and exchanges a few words with Jonathan. Nicolai calls Mikie, and asks if it's okay to come say hi; sure. So, Jonathan and Nicolai start out going the same direction, and then Nicolai goes off to get some pastries.
Jonathan arrives at the Palladium Group, realizes perhaps he should have found out their fees first (considering how expensive the place looks). Then Nicolai shows up with a box of pastries, and Jonathan figures Boy this place is good! I just have to call these guys, and one of their people follows me. He explains to Mikie what happened, and that he wants to avoid having a criminal record. Mikie figures it should only take a couple of bottles of good booze, and showing up in an expensive suit. So, it's just a 200 cr. Fee.
While Mikie was inside with Jonathan, a small nervous guy comes into the office, and needs to see someone right away. While he's waiting, two really big guys come in and sit down. The nervous man gets really panicked and takes off, after bumping into Jonathan. He takes off outside, and is promptly hit by a car. Jonathan and Nicolai had followed him outside, and tried to intervene when the two big guys (possibly APs, as they both had a small black tattoo on their necks, but no one got a really good look at it). Jonathan is backhanded out of the way, faster than should be humanly possible. The big guys search the (almost dead) body, rip up his portfolio, yell at each other, and then take off. Mikie rounds up Nicolai and Jonathan, and they go back inside. Ghaer checks the surveillance cameras, and sees what's transpired so far, including the small man slipping something into Jonathan's pocket; he tells Mikie about this, and Mikie picks Jonathan's pocket of a Vegan cigar tube as he's escorting Jonathan into the conference room.
In the room, the mess is discussed, and the portfolio is examined. The only thing in the portfolio is the name plate: Dr. Nathan Smith. They are able to find information on a Dr. Nathan Smith, who was a geneticist with Infinity Medical, but the guy who was in the office looked around 40, and the Nathan Smith at Infinity Medical looked to be around 100. Before the contents of the tube can be examined (in a glove box), the big guys show up, storm into the office, slap Claire out of the way (that's it, those guys are dead), and start trying doors. Mikie uses the remote controls, and locks the front door and the office doors, then when they go into the hall, he locks the door between the hall and the reception area, which distracts them as Nicolai and Jonathan pop out at the far end of the hall. Much gunfire ensues, Nicolai and Jonathan are both wounded, and the APs (or whatever) are killed, finally. Unfortunately, when they finally do die, they sort of blow up, spraying some kind of acid and body parts all over, further injuring Nicolai and Jonathan. Luckily, the inside walls, ceiling, floor, and doors are just wood covered flint steel, so no real damage done there.
Clean up takes place, and damaged people are taken to hospital. Claire is bruised and slightly concussed, but not seriously injured; she calls the clean up and resurface company before going home. Nicolai and Jonathan will spend several days in hospital. Mikie waits for Natasha at the office (Claire had sent her out shopping, so she wouldn't just lay around the office staring and looking cat like), and hangs around for the clean up people. After the office is taken care of, Mikie and Natasha go to the liquor store, then pay a visit to the cop; that little problem is taken care of.
A small section of skin is found that has a partial tattoo, so Mikie compares that to the local gang and other groups, and it doesn't match. He takes it to Captain Midnight to search for, and he's almost burned by the incredibly fast and nasty ICE he runs into when he finds the mark - in an Arcadian database. He's not able to actually get to the file, but since most of the APs in the Marches come from there, it's not too surprising. But whether or not it's an Arcadian group that was after Dr. Smith is another matter. It could be APs that are actually looking for whatever the heck Smith had.
Ghaer and Mikie carefully open the cigar tube, which contains a genuine, certified Vegan cigar! Ooh. Using the scope thingie that Blaelok used to check out packages before opening them, Mikie and Ghaer find that something has been inserted into the cigar. They remove it, and it's a very high tech little container (sort of screw shaped). They don't open it, because they wouldn't know what the heck it was that was in it. Sigh.
Meanwhile, back at the hospital, Nicolai and Jonathan are discussing things in their hospital room. Later, after Jonathan has taken his meds and is having a nice nap, two more really big guys (who look rather like the brothers of the first two) show up. Nicolai impales one of them with his IV stand, and when he blows up, he damages his partner, who shoots the oxygen valve, and gets set on fire. The burning one actually gets away - to where, or how far, no one knows. Nicolai and Jonathan are moved to the secure area, under false names, with a police guard. A cop shows up to question Nicolai, and another man in a very expensive suit just sits behind the cop and stares at Nicolai, who tells them he doesn't know who the hell these guys are, or why they are after them. As they get up to leave, the unidentified male gets in Nicolais face, points a finger at him, and says I know you're lying - you know exactly what's going on here. I'll be back, Solomoni.
At the Palladium Group's office, Mikie has put the word out that he wants to meet with Katya. He's at the office, with Natasha leaning over his shoulder, when Natasha asks What are you working on with InterPlex? Turns out that she was made by InterPlex (an Arcadian company), and that she overheard Blaelok talking about being interested in one of their projects. He spent quite a bit of time working on Natasha's specs, possibly as a cover for his interest in something else at the company. Natasha is bothered by the way that Blaelok treats her like a dense child, which is something Mikie would never do. The other thing Blaelok never does is take care of her needs...and she's leaning right up against Mikie when she brings this up. And she would never tell whats-her-name, so Mikie doesn't have to worry about that.
We leave Nicolai and Jonathan reasonably safe at the hospital (especially since Ghaer smuggled in a gun for Nicolai), and Mikies large and small brains arguing with each other in the office.
So, Jonathan wakes up in a different room, shortly after Ghaer is tossed out because visiting hours are over. Ghaer, at Nicolais urging, tries to find a reputable source of Combat (UWD is right out, at least as far as Ghaer's concerned); Sarge (of Old Sarge's) does have some stashed away.
Mikies small brain is winning, when there is a tapping at the door - surprise, it's Theresa! Oh, bugger. Mikie tells Natasha to stay put, and then locks the office door. Theresa wants Mikie to come home, as its 10 p.m. Then Ghaer shows up. Mikie convinces Theresa that he needs to finish up with something, so she will order food to be delivered from a deli, and Mikie promises to be home in an hour. Ghaer escorts Theresa home, after observing both another of the APs watching the place, and Natasha flouncing out while pulling her dress back over her head. Natasha had reacted badly to being locked in the office, and when Mikie unlocked the door, she punted him right in the family jewels (whimper), and then left. Mikie managed to get the doors locked, then started the hideously long crawl down the hall to the ice machine in the kitchen.
Ghaer finds Mikie in the morning, slumped against the fridge, with the automatic ice machine kicking ice into his lap, in his own private universe of pain. Obviously this was a punishment from God, for even thinking about boinking Natasha.
Natasha spent the night at trendy clubs, and then took some one she took a fancy to home (to Mikies old apartment). She's miffed at Mikie, for the way he treated her. Damned cats.
Mikie recovers enough to be functional, and to stop asking Ghaer to please kill him. Some one phones the Palladium Group, speaks with Mikie, and asks to meet him for lunch at the Savoy, to discuss matters. Mikie agrees to meet him, then takes twelve cigars left over from Nathan Andrews, inserts the object into one of the cigars, puts them all back into their tubes, gets 12 names from the phone book, and has Claire mail the tubes to those names, care of General Delivery, with no way to know which address got which cigar.
Before going to the meet, Mikie send roses and chocolates to Theresa at work (since she told Ghaer he was to tell Mikie he was in the doghouse but good), Ghaer takes Natasha along with Jonathan to a separate table at the Savoy, and Nicolai takes up a position in the park to cover the Savoy. Lunch is very civilized, with the gentleman who called himself Mr. Jessup, explaining that he represented the rightful owners of the item, and he wanted to pay for the Palladium Group to recover the item. He showed Mikie a 100,000 credit bearer bond, to show he was serious. He was also willing to pay another 400,000 in addition, for the return of the item. Jessup wants the people involved to agree to MemWipe, as the business he is in is very competitive. A deal is struck, a meeting is arranged for tomorrow evening, at the Laughing Cadaver.
Outside, a young boy brings a note up to Nicolai, as he hides in the park (in his combat armor); he has the kid drop the note, and he reads it after the kid leaves. The note says: You're dead. The predictably destructive fight ensues, one of the APs is killed, and blows up, Nicolais left hand is severed by one APs vibra wire, the second AP manages to survive long enough to blow his own head off with the backblast of the missile launcher with which he shoots Nicolai. Fortunately, the missile does not detonate, but it is in Nicolais leg.
Jonathan, Ghaer, Mikie, and Natasha are leaving the Savoy as the explosions start. Mikie stops to make amends with Natasha, admitting he did not behave properly, but she has to learn that there are better ways to respond than what she did. Mutual apologies, and all will be back to normal, once Mikie regains function in certain areas. Jonathan and Ghaer attempt to stabilize both Nicolai and the undetonated missile. The missile is removed, starts to sound like it's going to blow, and Jonathan quickly tosses it away - right into the open doors of the ambulance. Fortunately, the EMTs had already gotten out of the ambulance, so they just had to send for another ambulance.
Mikie asks Natasha if she recognized the man Mikie had lunch with, and she says yes. He asked her from where, and she said she couldn't say. That pretty much confirms that Jessup is with InterPlex.
The group, minus Nicolai (who is in surgery), goes back to the office and discuss what's happened so far. The meeting is interrupted by the arrival of some one at the office who wants to see Mikie - Mr. Black. He heard that Mikie had come into possession of an item that was causing him trouble, and Mr. Black was going to be kind enough to take it off Mikies hands. Mikie is more than willing to have the problems go away, but. He explains the arrangements that have been made, and he explains what the arrangements are. Mr. Black says Tomorrow at 6:00 p.m., at the Cadaver, nods, and leaves.
Mikie goes to pick up Theresa at work, and apologize (repeatedly). While he's there, a long haired Martel shows up with his retinue, and insists on talking to Mikie. The Martel represents Infinity Medical, who want to recover their property. He has a lot of money in negotiables, and a group of deranged Pikhan mercenaries outside. This is really annoying. Mikie ends up telling the Martel that the item will be at the Cadaver tomorrow evening at 6:15 p.m. The Martel leaves, and calls off he Pikhans, for now. Ghaer finds out that the Pikhans (who have been assembling a huge bloody gun on tracks outside the OmniMart) have been told that some horrible person had stolen medical supplies from Infinity Medical, and the Martel was just trying to recover it.
Mikie takes Theresa out to dinner, with no more interruptions. Nicolai is heading Down Port, when he is approached by a Peter Cushing-esque guy (Jessup) who wants Nicolai to make sure that he gets the item, even though he has already made arrangements with Mr. Griffin. He wants to buy Nicolais friendship, after all, it's not like Mikies Solomoni, after all. Nicolai takes the proffered 1 megacredit bearer bond, and agrees to consider it. One of his divorced neighbor ladies comes over with a casserole and a bottle of Chianti; Nicolai invites her in - what the hell. While she is there, after dinner, Nicolai calls the guy up, and gives him the twelve names on the list, and tells him they will be getting packages at General Delivery starting at 10:00 a.m. the next morning. He's thanked, and told that the mate of his bearer bond would be sent over. Five minutes later, a large olive drab backpack is thrown through Nicolais front window. He tries to save the neighbor and himself by grabbing her and rolling the sofa over them. Then there's a really, really, really big bang.
The paper that Ghaer shows Mikie as they are heading for the shuttle to start picking up the cigars, says that a house on Regina was bombed, and two bodies were recovered. To Ghaer and Mikie, this means that the bad guys have tracked Nicolai home and taken him out. Mikie calls Claire, a man answered, and said Claire who, then hung up. Mikie calls Theresa, in a panic, and she does answer eventually (she was in the shower). Mikie tells her to get dressed and leave NOW. Don't call anyone, just go to the hotel Mikie took her to a few months ago.
Nicolai wakes up, sort of, some time later. He was dead, but they managed to bring him back. Nicolai is not identifiable, and doesn't tell them who he is. He also does not let anyone know that he's alive.
The great scavenger hunt for the cigars takes place, and the ninth cigar, that the recipient is smoking - until Ghaer and Mikie buy it from him (and give him a replacement cigar), is the one with the item in it. The container of the item is slightly discolored around one end from the heat, but oh well.
When Ghaer and Mikie get Up Port, Mikie goes to MilTech, and buys a gun. He ends up with the entire sales staff gathered around, because Hey Bob, Mikies buying a gun!! Good grief. He picks up a small mini revolver Snub pistol, and a high tech gauss pistol that Blaelok had ordered several months ago, but had not picked up. He calls the Cadaver and reserves the back room, and then sends Ghaer on ahead, with the item. Mikie makes a stop at Church, before going on to the Cadaver (just in case).
Mikie gets a coke from Shiv, drinks part of it, takes it into the back room, and puts the item in it. There's a large group of large men, evidently a family reunion, at one end of the Cadaver - twenty of the Aps. He attaches the snub pistol to his side of the center pillar of the table, and waits. Jessup shows up, flashes the bearer bonds, Mikie shows him the item, Jessup checks that the seal was intact. Jessup assures Mikie that Claire is fine, and that he would like to see a long term relationship with Mikie (and the Palladium Group), especially as he has heard about Mikies small harmless act, and the fact that his other partners are conveniently missing. Mikie is noncommittal, but doesn't actually deny anything. Jessup exchanges 500,000 in bearer bonds for the item, and takes his leave. Ghaer joins Mikie in the back room, and all hell breaks loose in the main area, when the Martel's misinformed Pikhans show up in little Pikhan battle dress, and plasma rifles. The APs and Jessup are taken out, as are several Pikhans, and the Martel's associate pries the much sought after item out of Jessups dead hand, and gives it to the Martel, who places it into a little case, gloats about it, and is feeling generous enough to allow Mikie to keep the bearer bonds (that Jessup stole from Infinity Medical). And then a cute little blonde waitress (Mikie and Ghaer had seen her earlier) bumps into the Martel, who throws a fit, and yells at her, causing her to leave in tears. Mikie, however, saw her do a splendid job of switching the item with a duplicate (almost - the tip is not discolored); he figures she's one of Black's people.
Mikie comes out of the back room, doesn't say anything - just hands Shiv one of the $100,000 bonds. She glares at him, and says: I don't know how, but I know somehow it's your fault. She then sends the bartender into one of the other back rooms, with a tray - and a bottle of Créme de Violette.
Mikie gets an invitation to visit the big grey building with no windows, to give Mr. Black a report on what actually happened. Mikie tells him pretty much what happened, including the fact that he thought the female was one of Black's people, and she was very good.
Ghaer gets a visit from the indigent man to whom he had given the leftover cigars earlier. Or rather, he's in Ghaer's apartment when Ghaer gets home, sitting in a chair and enjoying a cigar. The man tells Ghaer that They weren't ready for immortality anyway. Not yet. And he hands Ghaer the little vial thing that everyone has been chasing around. They discuss Ghaer's quest for Wisdom, and Ghaer's concern about not losing the Ball of Wisdom. Ghaer is told that the Ball is not necessary, and he can use it as a focus, or get rid of it. He's also told that he has plenty of time... (Ghaer doesn't ask for a clarification of that - some things are best left unanswered, but...). When the man (Barlow?) leaves, Ghaer takes the vial, gets into his vac suit, and sends the vial into a long, orbit; he can now honestly say he has no clue where the item is. Ghaer is kind enough to not tell Michael about this, ever.
Nicolai comes to in the hospital, with no one knowing for sure who he is, and he'd like to keep it that way, as he'd really rather no one know he's alive, lest they attempt to finish the job. He decides to go to Rhylanor to get treatment once he's stabilized, so he arranges for high passage and a nurse. Nicolai plans on getting some bio-sculpting done to get a few years taken off, and maybe a little bit of changes to make him less recognizable as Nicolai Volkov, for when he comes back to Regina. He arranges for all his remaining belongings (the stuff in the basement did not get blown up - i.e., his armor collection) to be collected from Regina, and moved to a secure location. Ghaer and Mikie find out that some one has taken all of Nicolais remaining stuff, and are not really sure what to make of this. Then again, they never saw Nicolais body, so they are not really sure about anything.