Ethan discusses the night's attack with Charlene. He tells her about the person he and Mikie were sent to retrieve, and an odd-ball plan is discussed, centering around Ethan being lowered down from a modified logging dirigible, snatching Lila (if she's there), and then being winched back up really quickly. Good thing Ethan's an adrenaline junkie.
The people under siege are rather shocked to discover that the food has suddenly become not only edible, but actually good! And it has flavor!! Happy eating noises abound. At least this way Mikie doesn't get volunteered for the deranged mission, or into too much trouble with the geeks.
The luddites are planning a major assault tomorrow, after tonight's festivities, and Charlene does not believe her group will be able to keep them out. If some major damage to personnel and morale can be done tonight, perhaps the good guys will have a better chance. Ethan wants Mikie on the ground, in case things go badly; Mikie prefers this to being in the balloon troupe. He's to keep a building between himself and the amphitheater, but at a point between the techies' building and the amphitheater in case Ethan needs help. Charlene believes that the best bet for getting off planet is to get to the Institute of Technology about a couple of hundred clicks away; her group has not been able to get away and get to the Institute, what with them being outnumbered and surrounded and all.
People rest up during the day. Ethan and Kirk (one of the techies) go out in the dirigible, and Mikie and Natasha sneak out and into backup position. Fortunately, the luddites don't know to look up, and their night time security sucks. Thank God for small favors (or, so far so good).
Lila really is the headliner, and Ethan is flown at her at a high rate of speed, almost clearing the stage (ouch). Natasha keeps stifling laughter. Ethan gets on to the stage, heads for Lila, with the peasants in full attack with clubs. Lila parries the auto-injector of tranq with her guitar, Ethan is lightly beaten, but successful. The rail gun is fired at the stage, creating massive havoc, a shock wave, and not as much damage as hoped. Kirk didn't drop the bombs, but that's a good thing since Lila and Ethan were stuck 250 feet or so below the dirigible. Lightning strikes the dirigible, knocking off an engine. Kirk is somewhat stunned, and then somewhat flat after he plummets off the gondola. The good news is the gondola is lighter now, and it gets even lighter after the bomblets fall. Oh well, it could be worse, it could be - oh. Never mind.
Mikie and Natasha get back to the techies' building, and round up Rex. Paul's too engrossed in the research, and would be ready to leave in a couple of weeks. Charlene understands that they want to go after Ethan, but can't spare anyone to help, and she's commandeered the car. With Natasha's help, the car is obtained, and the chase is on.
A grav vehicle full of marines in non-specific, non-tagged clothing picks up Ethan and Lila, then Rex, Natasha, and Mikie. Then the area around the campus is disinfected. Boom today, and a big one. They are taken to the Institute, where it's strip, scrub, and the usual all over again. When it comes time to be given auto-injectors of anti-biotics and mem-wipe (not that the people in charge would admit that), Mikie manages to make the tech inject the stuff beside his arm, and did the same for Ethan (not that Ethan knew exactly what happened or why). Then they are shipped to Extolay, and kept in a ward for three days, where they are later told they were very ill for a couple of days, and it's understandable that they don't remember things. Right.
Back to Regina. Lila's parents pay Mikie $500, 000 for the job. Mikie pays Ethan $100,000.
Blaelok returns, as the Solomani ambassador, much to Black's dismay. This puts Black in a truly foul mood, so everyone on Up Port is in deep trouble. The reporters are hounding Mikie, because of all this crap about the Palladium Group and SolSec, and psionics, etc. Theresa convinces Mikie to go down to her father's cabin to get away from the mess for a week or so.
Blaelok does stop by to say hello to Mikie, and to poach Claire (the bastard!), although she will stay long enough to get a replacement, so that Mikie isn't left stranded. Blaelok also mentions that "some shareholders" will probably be showing up at the Group, but he won't tell Mikie who or what, although Claire says that some gentleman who did not leave his name but said he would "be in touch" showed up at the office. Claire did not recognize him, but he definitely had a foreign accent.
As for the future on Regina Up...the game is definitely afoot.