Bothered and Bewildered.

104 -1122

En route to Rhylanor, Will decides to express his feelings for Bunny on paper. Will's a bit shy, and he was worried he would not be as eloquent verbally.

Viktor sends a letter to Globber, detailing a new 'mission' for the Commissioner. Viktor also informs Ghaer that he is to prepare the report and he may want to send it on to Grey... But not before Viktor gets a chance to read it and sign off on it. Ghaer may want to send it on his own, but Viktor will not allow someone to take this risk for him.

Ghaer has received a letter transferring him to the 8061, as the Glimmer Drift Reaches have need of experienced NCOs (things are hotting up). Viktor had reactivated Ghaer, his file became active, and there were people doing the search for people with combat experience, and since he's not an admin officer, he's obviously being wasted. Ghaer is to report to the troop carrier Lansing in six days, with full kit. Well. This means Viktor, when he returns from a few days off with his family (dirtside), has to either promote Ghaer, or something, or lose him.

Treal Delgado is worried. He's just gotten back to Regina, and has found that his father (Falcon) is missing. He finds out about the trial and all, and manages to track down his dad's friend Jim, who is house-sitting. Jim is very evasive, but does say that Falcon is all right. When Treal presses the matter further, Jim tells him that Falcon is in hiding somewhere, and is looking after some kid, who is wanted for murdering his parents. Oh is that all?

There is a pounding on the door, and Treal answers the door. It's the IBI! Oh joy. They are looking for Falcon, and want to know if Treal knows where his father is? No, he doesn't. Treal is asked to "come downtown" to answer a few questions, and to assist in locating his father, who is an accessory to a double murder. Treal declines the invitation, since he is not under arrest. Then he is asked if the small plastic packet of white powder on the floor is his? No, it is not. Just as the IBI guy is about to pick up the packet, both the IBI guys jerk repeatedly as they are shot. Then several guys in black, with balaclavas pop inside, and attempt to beat Falcon's whereabouts out of Treal. He doesn't know, so he's beaten and kicked a bit, and left for unconscious (or dead). Then the bad guys turn to Jim. He's roughed up a bit, but is only able to tell them that Falcon took the kid somewhere on planet, and took his fishing pole with him. Jim is knocked out, then shot. The secondary bad guy asks "Why'd you that for?" " Because I felt like it." "What about him?", indicating Treal. "Make sure he's dead. I'll be in the car." He leaves. The second bad guy points his gun at Treal, and says "Sorry buddy, nothing personal." Treal turns suddenly, not being unconscious at all, and the fight is on. Treal is unarmed, but manages to do some damage before he is shot in the left shoulder by the bad guy's large caliber suppressed handgun. Ow. The gun goes flying across the room, knocked away by Treal, and he dives for the IBI guys, in the hopes of getting a firearm. Both of them are armed, but the guns cannot be drawn without the correct fingerprints, so Treal decides to get the hell out while he still can.

Mikie is coming out of Curl Up & Dye, after getting something done about the bald look. Fortunately, his hair is normally cut short anyway. Treal barrels into Mikie, staggering. As Treal falls, he rips off the newly repaired hair. Mikie says nothing, just turns, goes back in, calls for an ambulance, and gets the hair thing done. Again. This time he goes for just a short buzz cut. The bad guys chasing Treal decide to not do anything around that many people, so they leave.

The police and ambulance arrive, and Treal tells them about the down (dead?) IBI guys, and what happened. Treated at Regina Trauma, Treal finds out that the round that hit him was 10mm, a very high tech type of ammunition, and only available to the IBI. So the cops have assumed that Treal was wounded by the IBI guys, who he then killed. Treal is not about to have this conversation without a lawyer.

Ghaer is on liberty until his report date. He can have a last hurrah, pick up some interesting social disease so the ship's doctors have something to do, get a new tattoo, or whatever. A newly minted butterbar (lieutenant) shows up to replace Ghaer, who is happy to see him. The lieutenant warns Ghaer that he shouldn't get too enthused, as the 8061 is stationed on Tulane, and it's "not a happy place". He also suggests Ghaer pack his parka. Lt. Berbache Vlickelplesterb, a Martel, is certainly more qualified than Ghaer for the admin position, having been a lawyer in civilian life. Ghaer will bring him up to speed.

Since the lieutenant is there to take over, Ghaer removes his personal effects from the desk, and informs the SAG captain of what's going on, after asking if the lieutenant has qualified with his firearm recently? Lt. Vlickelplesterb understands where he is, and is not concerned. Ghaer goes out to find out about Tulane - temperature variation is from 50 degrees Fahrenheit to about -60. Ghaer will be buying a parka, and long underwear. The planet has huge supplies of ice both on the planet, and in it's rings - and ice is a very valuable commodity for starships.

Mikie goes home to change his shirt. It says a lot for their relationship that Theresa doesn't get overly upset seeing Mikie covered in blood. He seems fine, and tells her it's not his blood, which she assumed already. It's a step in the right direction that he's covered in blood but it's not his. Theresa asks if it' s "possible to go for a whole week without getting into trouble? Just for the novelty?" Mikie isn't really sure that is possible, although they had no trouble on their honeymoon on Rhylanor, or on the trip there and back. Good point. Then the phone rings, and it's Ghaer, so Mikie does answer, even though Theresa would really rather he not.

"Hi Mike. I may, or may not be leaving in six days, on a very long trip." Mikie asks "Do I want to know why?" Ghaer explains. And then announces that he's going shopping. Mikie asks if there's anything bad currently happening, like Ghaer being shot at or anything? "In theory, everything should be okay."

Treal's lawyer show up, and inform the police that the only way they are going to talk to his client without counsel is if they declare martial law. So they cut Treal loose. Reluctantly. He has been medicked and is much better, but not fully healed yet - that will take some time.

Ghaer appears to want to bond or something, so Mikie agrees to meet him at the Bread and Bean for coffee. Since Blaelok is off planet, it should be reasonably safe to meet there. Ghaer mentions that Pamela is still on Regina, but Mikie already knows that. Before leaving home, Mikie tells Theresa what's going on with Ghaer, and suggests she let Khirrll know. Theresa will speak with her, and doesn't think it's fair for the military to ship Ghaer off like that. "The least we can do is see that he gets a proper send off."

Treal has decided that it may not be safe to go to his own place, so he goes to Will's apartment, using his own key. As soon as he comes through the door, he sees some one across the room lighting a cigarette, who says "Well, hello there", and some one else just inside the door swings a baseball bat or something right at Treal's stomach. Treal tries to duck back out of the apartment, but is hit in the knee. OW! Treal decides to close, grapple with the batter, since he's not going to be able to run off. And yet another person is whacking Treal on the back with a bat during the fight. Will is hit in the elbow, really hard, and loses consciousness.

Treal wakes up some time later, to find himself taped into one of his brother's cheap synthe-leather chairs while some pockmarked guys smokes a rose-scented dopestick. Two other greasy big unpleasant guys are nearby, and Treal can tell that the trio didn't stop hitting him after he passed out. Treal is wondering just who this set of bad guys is? He sees that on their upper-class thug suits, the goons have identical buttons, with some kind of fancy logo. Treal pays particular attention, so he can try to draw the logo later. The smoker comes over and informs Treal "You better stay away from her, Delgado, or this is going to be a regular occurrence." Will asks who "she" is, and gets slapped for his trouble. He tries to protest that he'd like to avoid trouble, but needs to know what it is he isn't supposed to do. "Very funny. Just remember what I said." They depart, after the boss places a newly lit dopestick between Treal's legs on the chair.

Treal manages to tip the chair and break out of it. He goes to the bathroom, sees the work the goons have done - oh my - and heads back to Regina Trauma, this time to the urgent care end, not emergency. The damage is painful, but not life-threatening. After getting worked on, Treal gets a hotel room, and pays cash for it, as he does not want anyone to bother him for a while - he needs sleep. Before he nods off though, he calls InstellArms and orders a 10mm (NOT the police model!), two boxes of ammo, and a concealment holster, to be delivered to the hotel. And some body armor. Oh, and a cutlass. Not a problem.

At the Bread and Bean, Mikie meets with Ghaer. No Blaelok, no Nicolai. Gee, it's so calm here. Ghaer is chatting about all the recent events, much of which Mikie is not aware of, and doesn't necessarily care. Then a lovely female voice asks if she can join them? It's Pamela. Ghaer and Mikie stand, being the polite people they are, and Pamela takes a seat. She comments to Ghaer about his leaving, boy is she well-informed. Then she tells Mikie she really came to speak with him. She leans very close to Mikie and whispers "Now that Chris is gone, there's no one here to protect you. I know what you did to me before. [*] Payback's a bitch." Shit. "Oh look, there's Theresa." Pamela pulls Mikie into a kiss and embrace, one there is no way he can break out of (her being all enhanced-like and all). After a few breathless minutes (doesn't this woman need to breathe?!), Pamela drops Mikie, literally, to the floor, steps over him, pauses briefly by the fuming Theresa (if only looks could kill) to comment "Not bad", and leaves. Ghaer helps Mikie up, and he goes over to Theresa. She just looks at him and says "Do I want to know?" Mikie tells her Pamela saw her coming, and apparently this was an attempt at humor. Theresa points out to Mikie that his lip is bleeding, which it is, but fortunately it's only a popcorn hull sticking into it. The really disturbing thing, besides Pamela, is that Mikie can no longer psionically read Theresa - he is apparently no longer psionic, thanks to Black's "surgeon". Oh f---.

Treal is woken up by the pounding on the door, eventually. It's the gun delivery guy. Now at least Treal has a weapon, which he unpacks and checks out. He's trying to figure out what female he's not supposed to see, and realizes that he has been with a number he didn't really know well, and he better cross off most of the names in his little black book, just to be safe. Unlike his brother, Treal has had a rather active social life. And while he's at it, he tries to reproduce the logo on the button. Looks good to him. Pity he's not an artist.

Ghaer wants to go speak with Irving, so he, Mikie, and Theresa go to Discarding Sabot. Irving is tending bar, apparently in his sleep. It seems that Sal is off doing something, Mikie has been away, Fred called in sick with a bullet in his lung, and Irving has been working either in the bar or on the low-income project around the clock. Mikie tells Irving he'll look after the bar, so Irving can get some sleep. Before he collapses, Irving tells Ghaer that some guys were looking for help with some terrorists, and he told them Ghaer might be able to help; they're over at one of the tables in the corner.

Ghaer is about to go over, but the ranchers (as it turns out) saw Irving nodding their direction, and they head over to the bar. The ranchers explain that they have 200,000 head of prime naugas, and these are premium naugas being raised for their hides, and that's just one ranch, and there are a bunch of off-planet anarcho-vegetarian terrorists giving them grief. They have killed another rancher and some others already, and people are getting really concerned. The local authorities are not a lot of help (they don't want to go out into the brush), so the ranchers decided to get themselves some professionals. Ghaer agrees to help, since what the heck, he is on leave. Maybe he'd like to spend six days kicking ass before he ships out.

Ghaer agrees to help. He will check out the ranchers, and their story, and see what information he can get on the location, and the terrorists, etc. The ranchers are looking to hire people for a short term contract, and they are willing to pay cash and nauga hides, and in fresh meat as well.

Mikie is not about to go off into the middle of nowhere on planet, but Theresa announces that she's going. What??!!?? Theresa informs Mikie that he doesn't have "any right to complain, and you're not the only one who gets to go off an do things." Mikie's a bit taken aback by this. "But.." Theresa is not about to be talked out of it (Mikie should know better than to try by now), as it's a chance to get some premium nauga hides, plus she can wear the cute safari outfit she bought. And while Mikie is pretty much hopeless away from a starport/city environment, Theresa grew up hunting, fishing, and camping with her father. Mikie isn't going to let her go by herself, so he'll have to go to. Oh, this should be interesting...

[*Note: Pre-game notes, Pamela Mark1 was killed by Mikie, using a needler loaded with purple. He did this after Pamela led him to believe she had kidnapped Theresa. The needler was provided by Blaelok, but he was unable to kill Pamela himself, although he wanted to, because of his programmed compulsions that allowed Pamela to control him. It was sheer luck that Mikie was able to shoot Pamela, and actually hit her; he knows this.] <continue>