28+ - 1122.
On Rhylanor, Viper gets vetted, and receives a clean bill of health from all four of her doctors, and no lasting effects of what she went through. Viper speaks to the aunts about the rings, and finds out that Grey's great-great-grandfather, Robert, had twin daughters - Annabelle and Annalise. Arranged marriages were in place, so Robert had identical, mirror-image wedding sets made for both of the girls, who were married very young. While Annabelle was married (she was 18, her husband in his forties, from a good, if impoverished family), she ran off with a gentleman adventurer of some sort, and literally disappeared. The family was shocked, and as they were unable to locate her, the story is manufactured that Annabelle had taken ill (one of those inbred noble things), and passed away while "taking the waters", at the tender age of 18. The abandoned husband is given a large amount of money to make certain that nothing was said. There was a funeral and everything, and the late husband took the secret to his grave. Now, the question is, where did Theresa's ring came from? If it was a copy, it would not have the same jeweler's proofmark, which it does. Absolutely no one was left in the area who knew what happened (servants were sent away, etc.). The aunts were the keepers of the secret, and were not going to tell Viper, but she said if they didn't have any information, she'd just have to go out and find the information for herself, so they decided to let her in on it.
As Annabelle was the eldest daughter, and in the Grey family the succession is by the eldest (regardless of sex), this could prove to be somewhat awkward. Even though Grey would not be removed from his position - highly unlikely - it would be very distracting, and very embarrassing.
And then Paolo Astridi shows up. He has heard that Grey is up to something, and has come to Rhylanor to find out what's what. Not to mention the fact that he's found out about Mark Bach and Katerina Zhakirov, so he's not in a good mood. He offers Viper a lift back to Regina on his ship, as oddly enough, her ship and all the other ships on Rhylanor have gone somewhere. So it's two weeks on the ship with Astridi for Viper! Oh joy. Viktor has sent a note with Viper, to his wife. Basically, he's admitting to being way out of his league in the middle of all this political intrigue crap, and could she please help? Maybe if she sends back a copy of "Court Intrigue for Dummies"? Instead, the Countess Dragamiloff packs up herself and her son Vasilli, and will go back to Regina with Viper. And Astridi. And a "mystery guest" - Astridi will smile, and tell Viper - when she demurs about knowing what's going on with Grey -that he "doesn't know anything about the guest". Except that he's Solomani. Astridi is extremely good at getting information, it's what he does, but Viper also has interrogation skills, so no luck for Paolo.
During the stopover en route, to refuel, Astridi's ship is at the same location as Steiner and her troops, so Astridi arranges for some "visiting" (nudge-nudge). So at least Viper gets a break for a couple of days.
Back on Regina:
Corina is busily ending to the matters of her charitable works. Also, she is trying to find money for more of a police presence on Up Port. Seems that Regina Security gets quite a bit of money, much of which is "off paper". So, Corina has a conversation with Black about the budget. She complains that she can't go over the budget because some of the items are classified, and she doesn't have clearance. Black then figures out that she's after Regina Security's budget, and suggests she looks elsewhere. If he "finds the money somewhere", what's in it for him? Corina tries to get Black to "help out", by suggesting it's in his best interest to help her, but he does not feel that way.
Corina feels that Black is getting "uppity", so she points out that Mr. Blaelok was giving her problems, and he's gone now. She is willing to deal with Black - what does he want? By sheer coincidence, Black has prepared a little document: "By my hand, and for the good of Regina, the bearer has done what he has done." Corina agrees, if Mr. Black will take care of the SuSAG investigation; he's already taking care of that. That done, Black makes a call on his cell phone, and asks if the funds have been transferred to the accounts, and they have been; since this morning. Damn he's good! This frees up the money Corina will use to double the salary of the Regina police officers, as part of her and Globber's reforms (more pay, less tolerance for payoffs). Oh, and one more thing - Black wants her to get rid of "that Vargr on her staff", meaning Ghaer. Or Black can do it for her if she'd prefer? Corina will take care of it; it's time for Victoria to be sent to Rhylanor anyway.
Ghaer has arranged for Buck and his sister to get the assistance they need from Corina's charity. To actually get help, and to report back on what is actually done. Everything does appear to be on the up and up, and Corina herself shows up (not on photo-ops) to check up on things.
Corina spends her time mostly working with her charity, and the Times seems to be shifting in her favor. On the other end of the scale, some people are wondering from whence came the money for Free Thoughts to reopen, and with all new equipment. Evidently the BlancNoir holding company funded it, but who are they?
Dirtside, Theresa gives Mikie three weeks, then tells him that's it, quit moping. Bad things have happened, but there's nothing that anyone can do about that, and he has to get on with his life. And it's time to tie the knot. Oh, and by the way, "once we do there'll be no more being friendly on the side, and don't think I didn't know about it". Okay, under no circumstances underestimate Theresa. Ever again. She's definitely a good match for Mikie, and he knows it.
The date is set for the wedding - 47-1122, and Theresa has made most of the arrangements already. Ghaer has agreed to be the best man, and Gav'rouks and Nicolai will round out the wedding party. Now if everyone can just survive the bachelor party, it should be interesting.
Khan is laying low, and really, really, paranoid. He's hanging out at Frank's place, and goes to Kelly at MilTech to ask how he would find out if he's been tagged? Well, he can go to Shadow Systems, if he trusts them, but they might recognize oh, say, something from Regina Security, and just not mention that one. At Kelly's suggestion, Khan takes her out to lunch, and on the way he buys her a flower from a vendor. It's a very pretty flower, and the vendor makes a comment on his "unusual, but excellent choice." Khan doesn't know what kind of flower it is, he just picked it because it was interesting looking. And where would Kelly like to go for lunch? She's decided to go to the Club Zambezi, where she introduces Khan to the owner, Peter Corbett-Bell. Kelly wants to try the new special dish, and Peter makes sure she and her guest get a good table. Two orders of rat are prepared, but without Khan actually knowing what it is, although gosh, it looks rather rat-like... It's not bad, but it's definitely different. Khan compliments Kelly on her choice.
Corina has made arrangements with Viktor to keep an eye on Victoria once she's on Rhylanor. Viktor agrees to keep tabs on the girl, and make sure she stays safe.
Khan and Kelly have a lovely time, and Kelly agrees to go with him to the high school reunion. Of course, it may be that Khan is hoping that the old vice-principal will show up at the reunion - the creepy Mr. Sontag. Kelly remarks that it's odd that so many of that graduating class sort of up and disappeared off Regina, but they'll be back for the reunion, so Kelly's interested in finding out what they were all doing. Khan does eventually get debugged, at least as much as he knows.
Behrel has decided that Regina does not have enough decent medical equipment, especially on Up Port. He makes contact with representatives of Regina Trauma, and sends off one of his people to fetch the stuff from Rhylanor, especially some new obstetrics equipment. Behrel also arranges a Down Port free concert for the refugees - to raise money, and to just give the people who can't usually afford it a night of fun. Per Behrel, he just wants people to have one good day when they can forget about their problems for one night. Corina is invited, and she will help out however she can, like with transport from Up Port, etc. Stern will donate some transports.
Viktor hears about the concert, and Grey suggests he attend. Viktor suggests that perhaps they could assist with transport? Grey agrees this is a good idea, and if anything else is needed, Viktor is to "handle it". Viktor arranges for several transport vessels, and contacts both Behrel and Corina to let them know, although Viktor will not be attending himself. The local brewery is contacted, and they send over a tanker truck. And a good time is had by all.
Ghaer is studying, keeping an eye on Victoria, and not having sex with Krin. She really likes Ghaer, he's not like all the other Vargrs - he's a "nice guy". [Bang head here...] And he's trying desperately to become wise, but it's painful.
Mikie and Theresa will be going back Up Port. She tells him that it's time, and is Mikie ready to face crowds again? Even though it will mean not sleeping under the beautiful sky at night (all that air just ready to escape off the planet...), Mikie agrees it's time to go back.
Ghaer speaks to Theresa's father about the bachelor party, and it turns out a friend of Jake's (or JB, as he's known) left him this cool crystal thing, and it turns out it's one of the Courtesan Stones, not that Ghaer knows what it is. JB figures it will help "warm up" the party. Okay... Hunter is invited, and he will bring Angela and she can bring her friends. Behrel can help with this too. JB decides that they'll use one of the ship bays. The bachelor party is set for 42-1122, which is the same date that Viper will be back.
35 - 1122
More people show up at Behrel's party than expected, much alcohol is consumed, and several mini-riots break out. Eventually, the Down Port police will have to come in and use tranq, and fire hoses. The VIPs are extracted, and Dirk manages to whisk Corina to safety. Since the riot police had to be brought in to break it up, the party is a great success from Behrel's point of view. And all the damage will eventually heal.
42 - 1122
Grey informs Viktor, just between the two of them, that they have "a signed piece of paper". So, it appears they have a treaty...
Viper returns, with Astridi, et al. Corina is informed that the Archduke has just shown up, and asked for permission to orbit his half million ton ship, but that means that there are two Capital ships, and one Zhodani, and that could be awkward. That's not Corina's problem though, all she needs to do is give him permission to dock his shuttle.
Right after they jump into system, Astridi gets his intel from Regina, and he is stone cold pissed. He glares at Viper, and tells her that her "husband is in serious trouble". Viper doubts that, and tells him so. Astridi tells the Duchess that she "forgets herself", but Viper suggests that the Archduke has forgotten that the Grand Admiral never does anything without orders. This is not going to be pleasant. Astridi accosts the first unfortunate he spots on the ship before docking, and informs him that he wants a car the moment he gets on station, and wants to be taken to directly to Admiral Grey, wherever he is, immediately!
Viper arranges to take a fighter off Astridi's ship, and she's trying to get a secure line to Grey en route. She eventually convinces people of who she is, and she tells her husband that Astridi is on his way, and "he has blood in his eye". Grey is rather amused, welcomes Viper back, and invites her to the Savoy for lunch. The pilot thinks this is perfect, as he can connect up to a side access port, then she can go down the access corridor to a side panel, kick that out, and be right in the Savoy. Viper is impressed, and this they do. Boy is that cool, or what?
Corina will take her limo to the port to meet the Archduke. Her driver is quite impressed, and rather distracted, as he accidentally clips Khan. Corina whacks the driver on the back of the head, and makes him stop the car, even though he isn't sure stopping is a good idea. Khan at first thinks the driver is backing up for another shot at him, so he sets his Oyster to record again. Corina calls for medical assistance, and the driver gets out. He believes that Khan is "faking" it, and kicks him, but Khan stands up, announces "That hurt", and stands up - he's much bigger than the driver, who backs up. When Corina recognizes Khan, she decides this is an ambush, rolls over into the front seat, and starts to drive - without realizing it's in reverse, so she runs over Khan (again), and her driver. Then she tries to switch gears, and screws up, damaging the car. Khan has pulled the driver over, and wants to know "what's going on???" The driver responds with a pitiful "I don't know!" Khan asks why are they trying to run him over, over and over, but the driver isn't driving, and he doesn't know what Corina is doing.
Grey is dining alone at the Savoy, until his darling wife arrives. She greets him and gives him a run down on the conversations with Astridi. Forewarned is forearmed. And Astridi has never been known for his restraint, so to speak.
Corina phones Black, tells him that Khan Zephes has "run into" her car, and the vehicle is damaged. Black tells her to stay in the car, and he'll send people right away, as Corina may be Khan's "next target", so she's to stay in the car and lock the doors. Some one tackles Khan, but he doesn't know who it is - oh, it's Jack Armstrong to the rescue! Khan punches Jack, and there is no obvious damage, but Jack is definitely injured. On the other hand, Jack is still definitely in the fight, but Khan gets him in a head lock. Corina sees that Jack is about to have his neck snapped (actually, it's a chokehold, which works, and he'll wake up with one hell of a headache). Corina gets out of the car, gun in hand, Khan says "oh, I know you!" Jack is released, and is dead or unconscious, but Khan tries to tell her that Jack's only unconscious, and "why the hell did you run over me, twice?" She tells him that she only ran over him (and her driver) once, and the driver ran over him once, and "what the heck was he doing there anyway?" He was "taking a walk!" "In the middle of the road?!?" "In the crosswalk! See - little white lines!!!" Oh.
At that point Black and his people show up, guns drawn. Corina is told that she does not have to pick up Astridi, as he had a car, and in fact was in such a hurry to get to the Savoy that he almost ran over several Regina Security people who had been sent as an honor guard. Corina explains what has transpired on the street, and Black tells his people to "take care of these three". "Yes sir!" "No, I mean take them to the hospital." "Oh. Yes sir." Corina will apologize to Khan for the accident and the misunderstanding.
Corina asks Black why Khan was not being watched? Well he was, but he's very good, and managed to slip away. Ah. Khan, Jack, and the driver are all taken to the hospital. Khan is handed an envelope by a nurse, who throws away her nurse's cap on her way out, for some reason.... then Khan is sitting in his hospital bed, he has something under his fingernails, and his boots over in the corner are muddy, and his Oyster has been erased. Damn!! [Note: Khan had scanned the note into his Oyster before reading it, but it's erased now, and evidently it didn't help.] He has been medicked, and Corina is footing the bill, so he's discharged.
At the Savoy. Viper has impeccable timing, as Grey was just about to order. So they order lunch, and there's a bit of a commotion about 15 minutes later, and Astridi stomps over, demands "What the hell do you think you're doing? I'll have you broken for this!!!" Grey calmly invites him to join them for dinner. Astridi sits down, as people are staring. There is some disagreement as to whether Grey has "outstepped his limits", but Grey states that this would be the case, unless Grey had an Imperial warrant... and Grey casually tosses an ornate document onto the table. Astridi turns several colors, then tells Grey that he's "won this time, but I'll get even". Grey feigns confusion, after all, once they return to Rhylanor, Astridi will get all the credit since Grey was obviously acting under Astridi's authority. All the credit for the treaty that restores the original Imperial borders, that is. Silence, then musing. Okay.... Then Astridi decides to not wait until returning to Rhylanor before having his press secretary draft a release. Grey doesn't think that is a wise decision, as the people of Regina might not take too kindly to finding out they were part of the Imperium as a fait accompli. Astridi dismisses his concerns, and takes his leave, although they will "discuss this again".
Astridi meets with Corina, and they discuss who will handle the "reintegration" of Regina into the Imperium. He doesn't want Grey to appoint one of "his" people as military governor. Corina suggests that a military appointment would probably result in a "bloodbath" (oh, and it's been so peaceful under her), and that if the Imperium would see to it that money for repairs and reparations came to Regina, that would probably help considerably. Astridi agrees with her, invites her to dinner later, she accepts, then he leaves to attend to other matters.
As soon as Astridi leaves, General Zuluk shows up, and requests a meeting with her. She's free at the moment, so he pops right in. He thanks her for her hospitality, but unfortunately he must leave. But he would like to come back sometime later, as he's interested in the Epicurean Society. Corina asks if he'd like her to arrange for him to have dinner there, but she's occupied that evening. Zuluk would really rather go with her though, so Corina decides to kill two birds with one stone, calls the Epicurean Society, gets a membership, and makes reservations for three.
Khan checks on Jack Armstrong, to make sure there are no hard feelings, but there certainly are on Jack's part. If Khan is anywhere near Corina again, Jack will not warn him again. Khan returns to his room to get his clothes and etc. on the way out, so he puts on his clothes, and his muddy boots, and gets his box from the closet.... Box? He didn't have a box when he got here? He takes the box without looking in it, but it's a very high tech metal box, and looks like it needs some kind of large key or crank device to open it. He leaves the hospital, with the box, gets the material under his nails analyzed, and finds that it's bloodmeal fertilizer, like for roses. Khan's been to the park, and has seen roses there, so he goes to the park, and some gardeners are complaining about the big flipping hole some one has dug in the rose garden. Aha! And then they find a loose sprinkler head, but it's not actually a sprinkler head at all, Khan sees it, goes over, and eventually finds that 30 credits is the going rate to get the thing. It is, in fact, the key to the box. He opens it in the park, and it's filled with handwritten notes and data crystals. And the notebooks have Evan Sontag's name on them. He seals the box, goes to the No Tell Motel, and gets a room, so he can open the box and go hog wild. Some of the books have the SolSec stamp and "ultra secret", "code umbra", etc., etc., stamped all over them. He tries to read the books, but he can't make it through all the scientific mumbo-jumbo. And he has no clue what to do with all this stuff.
There is a section in one of the old notebooks that he understands, and it has one name per line on all the pages, but half the pages are gone, and apparently the section with the codes that corresponds to each person is what's missing, judging from Khan's entry. And Kelly's name is in there too. He calls Kelly, who has just gotten out of the shower, and is all "wet and glistening", so Khan comes over to speak with her. He tells her it's something really serious, and he wants to make sure that they are somewhere really, really, secure, as he wants to make sure that Kelly is not in danger. She changes into something more efficient, loading up with guns and knives, and Khan asks, sotto voce, if Kelly knows anything about bio-genetics, or if she knows some one who does, that she trusts. They take a walk, to MilTech.
Grey and Viper are discussing Astridi, and what he may or may not do. Grey believes that he will not do much right away, but if it weren't for Astridi's "colossal ego, he'd be a very dangerous man". Then Black comes over to speak with Grey. They have obviously come to an agreement, and Grey tells him that yes, "Regina will have further use for you under Imperial rule." Since Astridi has gone to see the Regent, Grey would like Viper to speak with the Regent, but Viper did not have a good conversation with Regent the last time, so she does not want to speak with her. Besides, she's sure that Corina would prefer to speak directly with Grey. But Grey does not want to be seen meeting with the Regent. Viper suggests "distracting" Astridi, but she doesn't suggest how. Then Grey decides that perhaps he'll send a "representative" to see the Regent, and he looks at Black and says: "I think you know what to do Mr. Black, you do like it on Regina, don't you?" Black nods.
Kelly takes Khan into the far back of the warehouse, into the inside of a CSU. Khan shows her the notebook with her name in it, all sorts of names from their high school class, all with first names that begin with 'K'. He tries to tell her about Sontag and APs, and all, but she doesn't believe him. He tries to make her believe him, as it's really important that she does. Then she pulls a gun on him, and tells him she's sorry, she really does rather like him, but he's such an idiot. Khan doesn't completely understand, but Kelly wants to know what exactly he knows "about this", which is almost nothing. Khan asks if she knows his code, or her own, but she does not. Evidently she has no choice, and the people who are controlling her will want to speak with Khan. She directs Khan to push a button on the control panel, and when he leans over to do this, she hits him with her gun. He feigns unconsciousness until she gets him out of the CSU, then he tries to attack her. The fight is on. Kelly gives better than she gets, and then some, and then several MilTech guys show up to come to her aid. Khan decides to take cover inside the CSU, but he doesn't know how to operate anything, and manages to get the emergency door lock on, and accidentally almost fry Kelly with the commo laser. Oops. Then the command override codes are given, and the CSU starts to power down, so Khan frantically starts pushing buttons, and accidentally fires a 50cm Hellbore fusion weapon. Then he hits the emergency escape button, the armor plates blow off, and Khan goes straight up, hits the ceiling, and is fortunate to be unconscious when he crash lands. Ouch.
Viktor has been visiting with his wife, getting her the intel she'll need to keep abreast of what's up. He also tells her that Grey has informed him that Viktor is one of the people being considered for the appointment as military governor. Then the boom hits and all hell breaks loose. The alarms go off all over the station, an announcement comes over stating that there has been "an accidental discharge". (That's some accidental discharge!) Viktor takes off to speak with the marines, after Grey's call (and he was busy at the time). One of the marines checks it out, and apparently there is a molten tunnel through a section of the Up Port, but no hull breach. The source of the blast is the MilTech warehouse, and it was actually an A.D., just one from a CSU. No major damage to the station, but all the chocolates in Drobérte's have melted, and there's "a really angry Frenchman out here". The marine is ordered by Viktor to render aid if needed, as the MilTech people have at least one injured person, and the marine describes the situation as "a real mess, sir", but the local authorities will have to handle the enraged Frenchman. Viktor reports back to Grey, tells him there has been no hull breach, and apparently it is under control; Viktor is left to handle the rest of this situation as needed. Viktor is observing through the video from the sergeant, and sees Khan moved into the back seat of a car, and then the striking blonde woman drives it away - the sergeant is reminded to get a shot of the license plate, instead of just the blonde (it's Pamela - evidently she was the mystery guest on Astridi's ship). The marines don't have anyone in the direction of the car, but the sergeant tells Viktor they could contact the ISA? Viktor says to do so.
Astridi is momentarily taken aback when Corina is with Zuluk, but Astridi recovers, and Zuluk and Astridi end up getting along famously. They end up swapping stories and all but ignoring Corina. Zuluk and Astridi discuss the fact that the megacorps may be rather unhappy, and in fact one of the Lings has just arrived. That's news to Corina, but it's evidently her uncle. She knew he was coming, but was not aware that he had arrived. There are a few chimes, and people are on their cell phones, but everyone is told that it's nothing to worry about. Corina calls to find out what's what, and is told what happened. She calls Black, to get more of an idea of what really happened. MilTech has already said they would pay for all the damages (damn right they will). And oddly enough, Khan Zephes went into MilTech just 15 minutes before the incident, but is not there any more. A car has been seen leaving MilTech, but within the blast door secured area, and was left at an auto cab stand. Corina leaves the rest to Mr. Black.
Ghaer is working with JB to get the party going, and Behrel shows up, with Kitty (he could go if she could go). Angela has already shown up with Hunter and the party favors, so things are going well. Hunter asks Ghaer "who's the babe?", referring to Kitty (well, she's not showing yet, and Hunter doesn't really listen to music). Nicolai will not be joining the party. Once all is in place, Ghaer and Behrel go to fetch Mikie, who has no clue as to what's up, as he was not informed as to when the party was going to take place. Ghaer says it's a pity he doesn't have a car, but Behrel does - did Ghaer think he would have made his wife walk??? And it's a Daimler, too. Ghaer inquires as to the trunk size...
Zuluk takes his leave from Astridi, Corina, asking that she visit him if she ever has the opportunity. Then Astridi has a little chat with Corina over what's going to happen on Regina. So what does she think of "Corina Ling-Raleigh, Imperial Duchess of Regina"? Corina thinks there is probably a better person for the job, but Astridi disagrees. And much schmoozing goes on, and would she like more wine? There's a lot to be done on Regina Up Port, and on planet, and Astridi thinks he can find quite a bit of funding for Corina's "projects". Of course, she may have to put a different "spin" on things to make her look good, but he has people who can help her with that. Astridi would like speak further with Corina, perhaps dinner tomorrow? A date for 7:00 pm is made. Corina offers Astridi the use of the DukeDome, which he accepts. And Astridi continues to carouse after Corina has left.
Corina contacts Jack, and she will go with him to check out the damage on level 3. Jack will be getting her a new driver, and suggests that he knows some one who can take a leave of absence from the company. From Ling. Not good, especially since uncle Ling is there now. Jack apologizes. He'll drive her for now.
Some one in a dark suit shows up to fetch "Mr. Griffin", and he goes for a ride in a car with blacked out windows. He tells Theresa he'll be back later, expecting another trip to the big grey building with no windows. The windows of the car are blacked out, so he can't see where he's going. The car pulls into the bay, which is darkened, and a very bright light is shone on the door. Mikie is told to step out of the car, which he does, and to walk towards the light, which he does. He can't see much, but then he feels hands on him - female hands.... "Okay, what's up?" And the lights come up, the music comes on, Kitty is blocking Mikie's way, and says "Hello..." Behrel asks "So, did you like my car?" Mikie's response is "Not as much as I like your wife." To which Kitty says "Ooh, good answer! Dibs - I get him first." She looks at Mikie and says that he's "about to find out why Behrel married" her. And the evening gets extremely interesting, in an X-rated kind of way, especially since Behrel has spiked the nonalcoholic punch with the beta version of Eroticon-7 (hey, he's a beta-tester). Later that evening, after the question "Has anyone not had sex with this man?" is answered to the negative (only with regard to the female humans, thank you), JB shows Mikie the stone, asks him if he's seen anything like it, and "it's okay, you can pick it up", which he does. A few minutes later, Mikie returns to awareness, after an indescribable experience.
Khan wakes up restrained to a chair, with Pamela Blaelok in the room. It turns out that Pamela is looking for Sontag's device, which is somewhere on Up Port - she's after the "recording machine", and Khan will help, in return for his "freedom", so to speak. Khan will of course help, since Pamela is obviously too perfect to be anything other than one of Father's creations. Naturally, Khan will help her find the machine, and then maybe Father (okay, so he's delusional), or Fathers' backup tape? Pamela gives Khan his code, and tells him how to change it. She also tells him that he is capable of triggering, in a similar way that CRI do. It's interesting when Khan tries it, although he's obviously going to need practice. He learns that there is a cost involved in this however, as the CRI know, since you take damage when you untrigger. Pamela gives him a very high tech gauss weapon so he's not unarmed until he can replace his guns.
Mikie is taken home, eventually, to Theresa. Theresa is under the impression that the bachelor party would have strippers, but that's it, so she's waiting in some very slinky lingerie. Oh. Thank God for Eroticon, and empathy - Theresa is not disappointed. Ice pack, where's the ice pack?
Turns out one of the females at the bachelor party was Theresa's Vargr coworker, Khirrll , the one who's "a bit edgy". And she and Ghaer do apparently hit it off. She walked up to Ghaer, grabbed his hand, and took him off to one side. Howling ensues. Well, well, well.
43 - 1122
Corina goes to MilTech to speak with their reps. The official story they try to sell is that a cat got into the CSU, jumped around on the inside. Uh-huh. Jack takes one of the salesmen off to one side, and speaks to him for a while. He comes back to Corina and tells her that apparently one of the new guys (the nervous-looking one) was messing around when he accidentally pushed the wrong button. Well, that's certainly better than the cat story. Viktor is there too, and he doesn't buy it either. They later discuss this between them.
Mikie is only semi-human in the morning, and Theresa apologizes for being "so rough" on him. But he was "incredible" last night. Evidently he was incredible three times. Oh my. Sal phones Mikie at 7:30 in the morning, and Theresa answers. Sal asks to speak with Mikie, then all perky-like tells him he just wanted to make sure Mikie got home okay, and that he's giving him the day off. If Mikie weren't engaged, he'd marry Sal at that point.
Ghaer gets some regen-esque stuff from Behrel (who always has this sort of thing handy) to give to Mikie, and he drops it off at the apartment shortly after Sal's call. It's nice to have friends with access to medical equipment. And knowledge on how to use it.
Viktor, after the visit to the "incident site", will stay up until he has the report finished for Grey, who will of course be up and awake right at 5:00 am sharp (Viper hates that about Grey). The report will include information on Khan Zephes, and all the encounters he has had with Khan in the past.
Grey asks Viper why her doctors sent him a letter? She tells him that she had a miscarriage, and that the doctors told her it was a good thing as the fetus would not have been viable. They are not sure why, but they took the requisite samples to test her, and they will need to test Grey, as it could be that he has had too much deep space radiation. Grey is very sorry, and they take some quality time together, so they will be unavailable for a couple of days, while they go riding, etc. And while he has to tell his people where he is, but he will not take his commo.
Grey and Viper also have to figure out what to get Mikie and Theresa as a wedding present. Neither one of them is into the shopping thing, so they're both at a loss. Then Viper gets the brilliant idea of "don't you have a protocol officer"? The protocol officer comes through, as she has found out that Mikie cooks, so they will get them some of the high end cookware. Another disaster averted by the navy.
Astridi and Corina have dinner at the DukeDome, after she "appears" in his room through one of the secret passageways. Astridi is rather amused by this. In spite of Astridi's best intentions, Corina will not boink him, so it's down to business. There is a certain amount of vagueness, but Corina is basically being asked to choose sides between Astridi and Grey, should issues come up that necessitate a choice. Corina tells Astridi that he's going to make whatever choices he feels are the right ones, regardless of what she says, but she is not adverse to his "friendship", and she has not had exactly a great relationship with Grey anyway. And can they have future discussions with regard to this or other business, other than at dinner time? She does have a social life.... Astridi apologizes for monopolizing her time, and he quite understands.
Life goes on, shopping takes place. Theresa and Mikie will buy a wedding band for Mikie to match her set. Ghaer will go to see the Vargr friend of Theresa's at Omnimart. She's sort of cool, but she's at work. Ghaer is, however, charming as ever, and buys something nice for Krin (something that a woman would actually like to receive, rather than what a man would buy for himself to see on her).
Viktor has Kowalski and Smith brief him on the docking capabilities between the naval vessel and commercial liners. No, no, not the quick and efficient way, but the friendly, nondestructive way. Oh. Well, yes, that can be done sir. Not a real problem.
Viper suggests that Grey could take advantage of being down on Regina to maybe invite Corina and Victoria to go riding with them. Grey has not yet come to a decision about Corina, as her past is somewhat "checkered". Viper really doesn't know Corina well enough to make that kind of decision. Grey feels that her past struggle with addiction should not be held against her (him being an alcoholic, although on the wagon for some time now), and she certainly isn't above wanting the power that comes with controlling Regina, but that's normal. So he's not adverse to her being left in power, at least for now. Viper feels that perhaps Grey should at least speak with Corina so that she doesn't feel "slighted". They agree to have Corina and Victoria come down to ride with them, and Viper and Victoria can go off a bit by themselves to give Corina and Grey some privacy.
Viktor goes to see Captain Leighton, who's in the shipyards, on Down Port. They chat briefly, and Viktor makes sure Leighton is has everything he needs currently. He does, and is busily trying to get back to work. Viktor leaves him to it. Viktor likes this man.
44 - 1122.
Behrel buys Eli's gym. Eli is more than willing to sell, and get the hell out of the business to retire. Behrel pays him cash, and a contract is already drawn up, and it specifies that there will be none of those damned idiots in pink tights. Behrel does not want to do anything of that sort. He does contact Joe Lee, as he wants to arrange for free martial arts classes, and wants to know if Joe Lee can help?
Viktor speaks with Ghaer about Victoria. Ghaer tells him his opinion of Corina, which is that he doesn't trust her, and does not feel that she has shown much in the way of honor or loyalty, unless it suits her purposes. This does not make Viktor happy, so they will be make their own arrangements to see to Victoria's safety.
Joe Lee speaks with one of the guys in the J'la Society in the park. Turns out no one has acquired the rights to J'la, so they have made arrangements via the Jai, and now the Society has the rights to market the board. They want to set up a not for profit organization, and use the funds to set up a salle so they do not have to play outside all the time. And even more cool, they have arranged for one of the Sengi rik-aler to give a talk on J'la - he speaks good Galanglic, and he's used to teaching children. They also mention to Joe about the "board of life" on Birabates, so now Joe has something to which he can aspire.
Viktor, Ghaer, and Kowalski meet at Semper Fi, so that Ghaer and Kowalski know each other. This they do.
Corina and Victoria go dirtside, to go riding. Corina doesn't fall off, but she is by no means up to the level of the Greys. Victoria goes off with Viper after the picnic, leaving Corina and Grey alone. Corina tells Grey that Astridi feels Grey is "two-dimensional", but she thinks him leaping into the Denzetti with her and Dirk proves Astridi dead wrong. Grey tells her that he and the Archduke have different ideas as to what is important. Corina's concern is that Astridi wants to set Regina up as either "us" or "them". Grey feels that Astridi is basically a lonely, insecure man, and always feels he has to make some one a friend, or they're an enemy. Grey does not want to cast aspersions on a fellow officer, but Corina wants to know just how vindictive the Arch-Duke is? Grey feels that Astridi will not let his personal feelings interfere with his judgement of what is good for the Imperium, and Astridi's "attention will wander wherever" Grey goes. That may be true, but Astridi indicated that if she does not agree to be on his side, he will appoint a military governor. Well, Grey has been considering the same thing, but he doesn't want to cause major problems with the locals. Regina is "of little strategic importance at this time", so no one is going to post large numbers of troops in the area. Grey would like to see an "Imperial liaison" appointed to assist with the transition back to the Imperium, and Grey sees little need to "tinker" with something that for the most part does work.
Corina's agenda, according to her, is to stay on Regina and help it, and to protect Victoria Aledon. Grey asks what if Corina was not part of the government? Then she would have to leave Regina, as she would not have the necessary backing or funding to protect Victoria, as Corina is no longer with Ling Standard. And speaking of Victoria, would Grey be willing to give Victoria a lift back to Rhylanor? Absolutely, and if she wants, Victoria can stay on the Ducal estate. This will be discussed with Viper, and she's perfectly happy about this, especially since she was already part of the backup plan to get Victoria off planet. Ah. And he might want to speak with Viktor about this too. Gee, Grey is obviously out of the loop, just because he's the Grand Admiral... He bows to Viper's leadership.
45 - 1122.
Corina is visited by Grey, and several other individuals, who give her the oath of allegiance to make her an Imperial citizen again. Anything that might have happened in the interim, is no longer of any consequence.
And then Grey gives her a writ appointing her the interim governer of Regina until such time as the Emperor or his representative elevate her to the status of Duchess, or replace her. This is her chance to prove herself. Or hang herself.
Good. Viktor didn't really want the job any way, but he would have considered it his duty. Grey tells Viktor the news, and tells Viktor he's been "behind a desk for too long". Viktor will be assigned to the 4417th Marine Infantry Division, and he will take over for their retiring commander. He will start up as XO, to be brought up to speed during the eight months prior to the retirement. And he will be bumped up to Major General at that time. Grey realises that "this is somewhat of a let down after the military governership", but he'll have to make due. Yeah right - Viktor is thrilled. Lots of opportunities to resecure the area and get rid of all the pirates.
Hey, and Corina feels that the Regina Anti-piracy league is now a money-saver, as it will not be needed any more. Interestingly enough, the Imperium offers to buy them from the trade coalition that included Regina. What she doesn't know is that Grey has arranged for the ships to be purchased and sold to Leighton as scrap. Grey feels they will have use for an independent such as Leighton.
Viktor tells his wife about his new field command, and she is not really pleased. Argh! After she carefully made sure he had all that "face time" with all the right people - he did this on purpose, so he could go chase pirates! But dear, it was all Admiral Grey's idea, really. Hmmm. Well that's okay then; we must have the Greys over for dinner.
Viper starts digging about the Blake family. Theresa's father, Jacob, is the one who actually brought the family to prominence. JB has done business with Kalugin shipping on a number of occasions, and he came up the hard way. His parents were labourers. As part of her search, she sets up a foundation to work on restoring records on Regina, since much was lost in the last war. And she'll have lunch with Theresa and Mikie, and use her interrogation skills!
Theresa is very friendly, and is sort of still in awe of Viper. Mikie will be busy cooking while the females talk about their respective families (Kalugins and Blakes), and share photos, etc. There is only one photo of Theresa's great-grandmother, Anne, and it's not very good. The photo was taken at a spaceship race, about 1022, on Regina, with a ship in the background. And it looks almost exactly the same as Old Port does now. Oddly enough though, Theresa's dad has given them a vacation on Rhylanor for their wedding present, so Viper may have the opportunity to maybe, get a DNA test....??
46 - 1122.
The rehearsal goes well, and nothing bad happens.
47 - 1122.
Wedding. Black is there, with his sister, and one glare from him stops the single kazoo player from doing anything. All the appropriate things are said at the appropriate time, and no one objects at the wrong time. Shiv is there, looking all demure in her little black dress, gloves, and pearls. Grey and Viper attend, but dressed "down". Mikie's dad does come, but he stays to the back until the reception line. Khirrll catches the bouquet, and Nicolai inadvertantly catches the garter because it's something flying through the air at him; Christie will explain what that means to him later.
Shelly and Irving is in fine form at the reception. And only one thing is out of the ordinary - Pamela is in the reception line, and whispers to Mikie that they have to talk, later. Then she disappears. Only Behrel sees her, but he asks Ghaer about the luscious blonde, and Ghaer is really concerned.
Greys: really nice, professional cook set - i.e., the Calfalon, complete set.
Joe Lee: two bonsai trees in a single planter - a Chinese maple, and a cherry tree, trained so that their branches intertwine. The planter is made with a rock garden beneath the trees, and if you look closely, it's a copy of the J'la "board" from the Park.
Gav'rouks: matching kilts.
Rick Walker: coupon for a free, on demand e-vac, and a medical treatment. And a one-ton cargo container of Jenghe shrimp for the reception.
Ghaer: a stuffed kitten, redeemable for a real kitten once they return from the honeymoon.
Mr. White and the Palladium Group: a very nice cutlery set.
Unknown: a case of miragu berry wine.
Blaelok: the M and M jar.
Junior: the honeymoon suite at the Ambassadore Hotel for the wedding night.
Nicolai: it will happen after they get back from Rhylanor....
Behrel: next time Mikie's in "that kind of situation", Behrel will kill the bad guy for him.
Kitty: (whispered) "If you're ever bored...."
Viktor: matching body armour, spidersilk, very high tech.
Hunter: camo negligée, and a "pouch".
Angela: a nice coffee maker, the kind that grinds the beans fresh in the morning and then brews it.
Then it's off to the honeymoon suite in the limo, and everyone else can party. At the hotel, Theresa asks about that "Pamela woman", and what did she want? Mikie doesn't know, and "why are we talking about Pamela??" Good question. For some unknown reason, Theresa asks if Mikie is "tired of her yet"? No way. "We just got married - you're stuck with me."
48 - 1122
The Greys have lunch with the new Solomani consul, Mr. LaBland. No meat is served, of course. Gosh, it's such a thrill to be in the presence of such a scintillating host. It is absolutely painful to be around this man. He is shallow and petty, and very precise. And he gets way too close, as he has a different idea of personal space. The only interesting thing is they see some one that looks really familiar, and who LaBland introduces as his aid, Mr. Blaelok. He's happy, and helpful, and doesn't remember them. He's been made all better. Really.
And Astridi makes the announcement about the treaty he worked so hard to make happen. The official announcement will be made on Rhylanor, but he has a "special place in his heart for Regina", and he wanted the people of Regina to be the first ones to know. And Grey's office will release the announcement about Corina being made the interim governor, so now Astridi wonders if there is any significance to this.... But Corina had already informed Astridi, as she wants him to at least believe she is his friend.
One jump away, Steiner and her people are being held on standby, but are moved forward to the Regina system, just in case one of the other planets "goes off". The Sengi are kept on the ships for now, but Steiner does find out that Astridi is still in system. She also would appreciate the chance to see Regina again. And since her liege-lord is on planet, she will pay her respects to him.
Berhel finds out that Steiner is on Port, and looks her up. He takes her out to Semper Fi for a can or two of "Old Toad". "Hey, the whole top of the can comes off!".
Ghaer goes to Omnimart, to buy some nice fuzzy flannel pajamas for Krin. He sees Kirrll, who is sort of cool toward him, but that's just her professional "face". Later that night there's a knock on Ghaer's door. Kirrll walks in, takes his hand, leads him back to the bedroom, and without a word she leaves several hours later. Ghaer is left panting and limp on his bed, after an incredibly intense experience. He's definitely not frustrated any more, at least not sexually.