Treal Delgado is still in "protective custody" with the Imperial Navy, as Viktor and then Ghaer took off for Jewell. Eventually, a lieutenant demanded to see the paperwork for Treal, which was no where to be found. The proffered explanation was that the paperwork was lost in a "shuttle crash"; oddly enough, the same crash explains the absence of all sorts of stuff - a couple of jeeps, a few personal weapons, etc. Right.
Treal is cut loose, to forage for gainful employment. He decides to see if he can find out where his father (Falcon Delgado) has gotten to with Calvin. He checks out Falcon's place, which is where he was staying before running into his brother's love life. At Falcon's place, Treal spots some people outside the apartment, beside a van, putting on black jumpsuits. This doesn't bode well. At that moment there is a knock on the door. Treal throws open the door, grabs the young man with the Regina Starport Authority badge, and drags him into the apartment.
Once Detective James Weseli has been pulled inside, Treal points out the men outside, and asks if Jimmy knows who they are? "The Imperial Bureau of Imbeciles" is his response. They duck out the back door, which is flanked by two really large members of the RSTA, who are a tad disappointed when they have to leave before the IBI guys bust in, which they do.
Treal is able to find out that some one high up in Delgado Shipping has been shuffling things around and making sure that Falcon's house is looked after, etc. Still no sign of Falcon though. Treal files a complaint with the police after seeing the IBI break down the door to his father's place.
138 - 1122.
After the Pikhan shows up to makes the repairs to the door, Treal receives a visit from a couple of Martels. They're from the IBI, and they want Treal's statement. Treal informs them that he has already made a statement to the local authorities, and other than that, they can speak to his lawyer. Period. Treal and his lawyer (well, his father's company's lawyer) end up having a chat with the two IBI lawyers, and Special Agent in Charge Rollings. Rollings has been having a bad year any way, and he's on a short fuse. The men who shot the IBI agents in Falcon's place some weeks earlier were probably off planet shooters, and may have been one or more of the dead bodies found recently in the park or other areas around Regina of late. So, Rollings has no one he can blame for the blemish on his "spotless record".
Rollings loses his temper repeatedly, and Treal takes great glee in baiting Rollings. It gets bad enough that the IBI lawyers end up looking embarrassed, and the "interrogation" is called off that evening before Rollings goes completely postal.
139 - 1122.
Treal has a conversation with the Pikhan about installing some additional security in the apartment. Then Treal gets e-mail from a friend of his who had signed up for a job but was unable to take it, and since he knew Treal was looking for work, he forwarded it along to him.
Treal checks out the job. It's a trip to help with the refugees who had fled other planets for Dinom, which was a tech level 3 planet, not a strategic target, and not really equipped to handle all these extra people. And the locals couldn't make much of a fuss any way , what with their primitive weapons, etc. A group of mostly nobles are attempting to do good works, and have been recruiting all sorts of people for a one month trip. Treal signs on.
140 - 1122.
Colonel Carl Shaw (Imperial Marines, retired) is approached by a man after taking an administrative position with the relief group heading for Dinom. Harold McCafferty is looking for his daughter, Caroline, and she may be on Dinom. She was with her mother (Jessica McCafferty, née Hohanstauffen), after a very bitter divorce, and the mother was reported as missing and presumed dead on Jewell. She left Caroline in a boarding school on Jewell, and the remaining students were moved off Jewell with other refugees, and ended up on Dinom. Caroline would be 12 years old now, and McCafferty (her natural father) wants her found. He has old pictures, as well as medical and DNA information. McCafferty wants Shaw to look for Caroline, as the other members of the group will have other concerns, and there's a Baron Hohanstauffen looking for Caroline, who may not want her to be found alive, as she could be a threat to his title, as the child of his older sister (the Baron is without issue). In exchange for later information and assistance from McCafferty, Shaw agrees to this. McCafferty provides some extra high tech equipment for Shaw, to help spoof the group's computer system, so Caroline doesn't show up as herself.
Shaw researches Jessica and Caroline. He is able to find mostly society stuff on the mother, and he's fortunate enough to find some refugee records on Caroline. She is listed under Caroline Smith, as she is apparently suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome, and God knows what else. Interesting.
Hunter hears about the little project, and decides to go along, since it sounds like a milk run, and they're paying really well. Besides, he might be able to pick up a little side action. Harold McCafferty then approaches Hunter, and hires him to provide security, and he's given the same story about the daughter, etc. Hunter's not too keen about baby-sitting, but a cool $250,000 convinces him to say yes.
Shaw also researches which of the megacorps is involved on Dinom. Most of the major corps have some kind of action going on there, to one degree or another. LingStandard has some people there, under the auspicious of Xavier Ling (interesting personal interest on the part of the director). MilTech is of course selling weapons, to everyone. OmniMart has put up a few sweatshops, etc. SternMetal is there so Stern doesn't feel left out. Shaw also receives word from McCafferty that he has hired some "lowbrow merc", so he should perhaps keep on eye on him.
At the Jasmine Club, some of the staff have volunteered to go along on the mission to Dinom, in various support positions. Kiffin Brevette decides to go along to help out, as a steward, especially since it's an opportunity to travel off Regina for the first time. And the trip departs tomorrow.
141 to 148 - 1122.
The group going to Dinom includes:
A medical team comprised of Dr. Wentworth, a psychiatrist; Dr. Shelford, a GP; Dr. Tang, a dentist and oral surgeon; Dr. Raller, a trauma specialist; and Dr. Oboto, a pediatrician (and Virushi). Col. Shaw will be acting as the medical/hospital administrator for the group, assisted by Sisters Mary Xavier Vebelplester, and Sister Catherine Ann Beblknik, who are nurses as well as very experienced in admin (not so much actual nursing any more, due to their age).
The support staff for the mission as a whole includes Mr. Torgwen, Mrs. Greene, and Kiffin from the Jasmine Club, all stewards and the ship's crew. And a six-pack of nobles out to do the right thing.
Jennifer Hortilez-Nakamura is the only noble people are concerned about, as she really means well, but has all the common sense and instinct for self-preservation as a philodendron. She has taken the obligatory firearms safety class, and is fairly good with computers and admin. And she likes camping.
And a passle of mercs which includes Hunter and Treal. They love the spacious accommodations, only four to a room, and the nicely packaged steward. Terry Cassidy is one of them; she's a former Marine Commando instructor.
And the group gets all acquainted like while in jump. Nothing really bad happens, no one explodes or anything. Treal teaches Kiffin how to play poker, which she catches on to it really quickly. Jennifer already knows how to play poker, and bridge, and she's really cutthroat about it, which surprises everyone.
One of the female nobles is Dr. Shelford's new wife. Laura Crenshaw-Shelford is much younger, and of a very good family. Marcus Hohanstauffen is also on board. And he's the Baron's nephew. Seems like a nice-enough chap.
Hunter is his usual charming self, but he's on a job, so he's not too rowdy. Treal is friendly in his normal way, and generally enjoys the trip. Col. Shaw is very efficient, and doesn't rise too much to Hunter's little REMF comments. Kiffin politely declines all the "invitations", but she enjoys being around people and always remembers what they drink.
148 - 1122.
The ship arrives safely on Dinom. The planet looks like it's seen better times all right. There's a merc operation on the south continent, and that's Xavier Ling's little project, but nothing obvious like that near the main refugee camp. There are a lot of tents, etc. The mercs are sent down first, to make sure the area is secured. Shaw takes overwatch on board ship, to provide tactical intel as needed.
Hunter gets to meet some of the locals who are going to be his neighbours. They are not the friendly type. They inform Hunter to keep "those scum" (i.e., the mercs) on the other side of the fence. And he can tell the "bleeding hearts that they don't get their people back until they've served their sentences". Hunter bonds with the ringleader over the horrible fate of having to deal with the annoying snooty nobles. Hunter actually views this guy as "some abo with a rifle", so the locals are no hell either as far as Hunter is concerned, and the only people that really matter are his "boys". But Hunter knows how to deal with this sort of people.
Hunter gets to recon, and get some info on the local "warlords", etc. Charming place. And he spots but does not share the security shortfalls of the neighbours. The ship will be landing on the remains of the old starport, which is not difficult to secure. Treal notices with some amusement that the guy who is speaking with Hunter is armed with a silver-chased revolver, and AK47, and a sword; the sword appears more serviceable than the AK. Shaw informs Hunter about the local equivalent of artillery over the hill; Hunter is aware, and will share intel once the ship is down.
The locals take off from the immediate area when the ship comes down. Hunter wants to set up a burm around the ship, as it's the best cover available. He sets up the security perimeter. Some people show up to scope out the situation in high tech Hummers; from a distance. Definitely not locals. After a few minutes, they come closer to check up on the operation. Hunter chats up the spokesman of the bunch, and Hunter gets his card: Ian MacGregor. He's the local vendor of MilTech and InstalArms. He asks if they have any room on the ship, as he believes the local operation may be "rolled up". He's invited in to have a drink with Hunter. At the same time, some of the locals try charging the camp. Treal shoots the driver of the front jeep in the foot. This stops the charge, as they have to replace the driver (with some one who eventually remembers what a clutch is), and then they move back to about 1,000 metres.
Hunter decides to call Terry over, to "show the grunts how this is done; and to make sure they know not to get too close." The locals are setting up their machine guns. Hunter admires the fact that Terry has her own shooting mat; it's so cute! Hunter asks that she try to not kill anyone. She hits one of them in the leg, then Hunter steps up, and let's Terry call the shot. "...left leg". Hunter hits who he's aiming at, in the foot. So, both of their targets drop. Treal gets bored listening to Terry and Hunter discuss ammo, and goes back to digging the burm. Hunter will takes his turn digging also.
Hunter invites MacGregor to dinner, and introduces him to Kiffin, who Hunter thinks is very cute, but a bit young. MacGregor is a great source of local info. Marcus is in charge of making contact with the refugee camp, and he will speak briefly to the group. One of the things he says is that "her Imperial Majesty has asked that I come to her old sector, and try to make things right." There are several pictures of the Empress among the group.
Hunter sets up a couple of teams, and they will go out to gather information about the locals. Treal speaks to old adventurer named Nicholas Van Horne about the situation, and makes sure the refugee camp has signal flares in case the locals get out of hand. Shaw is busily trying to find out exactly how the local factions wear their colors, so he can assemble his disguises. He asks Van Horne for help in acquiring the right color fabric; Van Horne will see what he can do. The refugee camp is remarkably well run, given the conditions. The hospital is clean, but under equipped, with that "third world" look. No one in the camp looks fat, but there are children in the camp. Either working or in school when the party arrives to check out the site. Shaw wants to see the school, and intends to go there on his own until Treal points out that he does not want to have to go looking for one individual in a camp of 27,000. Shaw does not see Caroline when they go into the school; he asks to see the school records, but he'll have to wait until they get to that part of the "tour".
Miss Margaret is running the "office". And she runs it like a dictator. Shaw gets into the records, trying to find a record of Caroline Smith. There are a lot of Smiths, even one Caroline Smith. In theory, some of the Smiths are actually really people named Smith.
While Shaw does the paperchase thing, Hunter, Treal, and the other 3 members of the two recon groups are doing their job. Hunter catches a glimpse of a man on a horse, speaking to one of the "technicals" Hunter and Terry shot at earlier, and the rider looks back (also with binocs). He looks like some kind of plantation owner to Hunter, and the horse looks like good barbecue fodder. Hunter is interested in the high tech rifle on the saddle. The rider meets up with another mounted group, who fall in behind him; they are also carrying higher tech weaponry.
Shaw tracks down Van Horne, who has found the fabric ribbons he requested. Shaw passes him a 10 Neut coin, which is very useful, as it's specie, not just paper. One of the problems is the local "economy", which has pretty much deteriorated down to barter, so any kind of hard currency, especially specie is very highly valued.
Treal stops a woman who is trying to get to the new arrivals. She's not hard to stop, as she's at least undernourished. "What about my daughter? And the others? They're being held hostage by those bandits; Gustafson is the worst." Shaw tries to get control of the woman, but Marcus wants to speak with her, as this is one of the reasons he's here - to help Imperial citizens. The woman's 12 year old daughter, Caroline Smith, is one of the children being held for ransom; this is not Jessica, Caroline's mother, but Alice Smith - the 'adopted' mother. Marcus will speak to people about this.
Shaw's attempt to get away from the administrative work by delegating it all to the sisters so he can get on with his personal agenda, but the databases won't import properly. He ends up having to spend three hours fixing it to the point of being workable before going off. An admin guy who doesn't want to be bothered with admin work?
Shaw finds Hunter, and lets him know about the potential lead on Caroline. It figures that she would not be easily available; if it weren't for bad luck they'd have no luck at all (or at least that's Hunter's opinion.
Hunter decides to go into town with Treal, to see what he can find out about the locals. He and Treal will make a stop at the local bordello, as Hunter figures "the girls are usually plugged into the local scene". Shaw asks to come along. Hunter is absolutely thrilled about taking Admin Guy along, but oh well. When Kiffin is told to go into town to see if she can locate some fresh produce (along with the senior steward, Mr. Torgwen), a large number of the mercs offer to go with her; Hunter puts an end to that by telling Terry to go with Kiffin. Treal suggests that they just all go together, which is what they do.
The party is stopped at the edge of town, to be given the speech about "the rules". The rules are that long arms must be checked in at the sheriff's office, but no one in the group brought long arms. And "don't mess with the guy in the blue coat" - he's the sheriff, he's very good, and he has an Aslan for a deputy. Right-oh.
There are in fact two bordellos in town - Candie's, and Miss Bertha's. Candie's is flashier, and Bertha's is more low key and has a restaurant attached. Hunter and Treal go to Candie's, where Hunter buys Treal a good time ("Yes sir!"), and heads for the bar. Shaw goes to Bertha's, along with Kiffin and the other steward. Terry is supposed to keep an eye on Shaw especially, lest he get himself into trouble.
The low life local Hunter spoke with earlier sees Hunter and come over to discuss the dumb nobles, and the fact that the only entertainment on planet is when some of the refugees try to get out. "The old ones you just turn over, but the cute ones you got to search real good, make sure they don't have anything hidden anywhere..." Hunter falls into the necessary patter to keep in good stead with the creep and his friends, all of whom are with the orange faction (it's evidently "Orange night" in town - best to keep the factions separated, especially since the last altercation). Hunter hears all about how tough they are, and how cheap the local baron is, etc. Hunter eventually begs off to go see one of the ladies, pays for some more booze, and leaves the table; given the amount of alcohol consumed, these guys will not be a problem.
Hunter is looking for a female who is experienced, and not "in the bloom of youth" any more. He meets up with Flossy, who is in her thirties, and is obviously not a bubblehead. Hunter buys her some champagne, and they talk the talk, as only two experienced players can. Hunter is obviously in his element.
If gunfire breaks out downstairs, Treal should be able to crawl out to help. The ladies do know their trade. And they want to make sure Treal gives them a favorable review to his shipmates. Once he's able to form coherent sentences, that is.
Shaw sees MacGregor come in to Bertha's bar after a while, and he meets with some of the well-dressed locals, in a back room. Shaw has a napkin delivered to MacGregor: "I'm looking for something, and I think you can help me find it." Followed by '$$'. Shaw waits, and is polite to the girl who comes over to visit, although he doesn't intend to partake of her services.
Hunter and Flossy take it upstairs, where a good time is had, by people who know what it's about. Then they can chat about the local situation, like who to avoid, and the fact that you can end up as slave labor unless "you're pretty". Hunter asks "how far does 'pretty' extend - to kids?" Flossy has a low opinion of that type of 'man', but yes, that does happen occasionally. After a few questions, Hunter finds out that Gustafson, who lives in a castle with his bully boys, is the one who snagged some of the kids. She's a bit worried about getting Hunter into trouble, and Gustafson is definitely trouble.
Before he leaves, Hunter asks Flossy to help him with something. He wants her to buy him a dress - not for him! It's for Terry, who he describes to Flossy. He wants her to find something nice, and have it delivered anonymously to the camp; Hunter doesn't want to screw with morale, but he doesn't "know a woman who doesn't appreciate getting some flowers or a nice dress". Flossy know what to get.
MacGregor comes out, and speaks with Shaw, who basically feeds him a line about wanting to acquire some "servants" for some clients (for "servants" read "slaves"). MacGregor doesn't really want to get into that kind of thing, now that the Imperium is back and the Marines have started showing up. But MacGregor is willing to maybe get him in touch with Gustafson, who's the head of the orange group, and they can provide what Shaw is after. MacGregor tells Shaw that he needs some items transported off planet, so "for transport of 5 tons of cargo, and 4 people, I'll get you an intro, and let you borrow some of my people, in case Heinkle gets touchy." Heinkle is Gustafson's main sidekick; a gunslinger with a major rep as a badass, and a phenomenal shot. This is one of the people Flossy warned Hunter about as well.
Kiffin is talking to the cooks in back, and finds out where to go to get good local produce, while bonding with the kitchen staff. Recipes are exchanged, snacking occurs. Kiffin goes out the back door to get cooled off, and some big guy accosts her, calling her "Tiffie", and making unpleasant comments about "liking it outside", while grabbing bits he was not given permission to touch.
At about this time, Hunter has dragged Treal away from the cold pitcher of beer he was holding on his lap, and they head over to Bertha's. Shaw and Terry go through the kitchen to fetch Mr. Torgwen and Kiffin.
The goon is getting turned on by "Tiffie's" struggles, and Kiffin is getting a bit panicked. Hunter and Treal see a couple of figures down the alley, hear a female voice say "NO!" and block the larger figure's hand. Hunter thinks this is a perfect end to a great evening - sex, booze, and know some one to beat up on, and heads that way. A man steps out to block Hunter and Treal, and suggests that they "don't want to go down there". Treal looks all eagerly at Hunter, and says "Oh, can I have him?" Hunter responds with "Take care of it, corporal", and heads down the alley. Treal displays his cutlass skill, and manages to not kill the guy (such restraint), although he does have fun. He drags the wounded, unhappy gentleman out onto the boardwalk and hands him over to another "orangeman", who helps to toss him into the back of their truck, and then threatens to take the guy to see "Miss Hattie" - this is not received well by the injured man.
Hunter, meantime, has sauntered into the alley, and racked the slide on his shotgun. The big guy turns to Hunter and yells "How about a little privacy, you pr**k!" Hunter keeps coming, the big guy grabs Kiffin's shoulder, and shoves her away. Shaw and Terry open the kitchen door (destroying everyone's night vision) as Kiffin starts to make a move, stops after the guy's hand is off her, then she hesitates, looking a bit confused; Shaw sees this - how odd... Hunter arrives at this point, and the fight is on. Hunter and the other guy get into it big time. Shaw first hits the man in the back, but he's wearing armor (the bugger!), then he shoots him in the leg with a tranq gun (not loaded with tranq at all actually, but with Curane).
Treal eventually joins the fray, after Hunter takes out the guy's knee, then rides him down to the pavement. After Hunter is levered off by the man on the bottom, Treal grabs the guy by the collar, and pulls him back down the alley towards his compatriots; this is not hard to do, as the man's leg is not working too well, what with the rearranged knee cap, and the Curane hit to the same leg. He too is tossed into the back of the truck, for transport to see "Miss Hattie". The desperate pleas of the injured for mercy go unheeded as the truck bounces off into the night. People will later claim to have heard the anguished cries of some animal, evidently caught in a trap and trying to gnaw its leg off, at about the same time as the vaunted Miss Hattie is resetting the one man's knee.
Hunter is moderately annoyed at having the object of his beating hauled off - Hunter wasn't done with him! On the other hand, Hunter has gone a bit banged up himself, and is thankful the group has an oral surgeon on board. ("Just help me find my tooth, it's around here some where...") Kiffin is undamaged, but shaken up. Treal asks her if the man knew who she was, just grabbed her because she was there, or if he thought she was some one else? It was the latter, but he was too drunk to tell the difference, or to listen to Kiffin's protest that she wasn't "Tiffie". So there will be no unpleasantness later, should the drunken idiot believe it actually was Tiffie he was with, Treal goes into the kitchen and explains to the staff there what happened; they do know Tiffie, and the twit, apparently, and will make sure everyone who needs to know does.
The now reunited group returns to the ship, as it is fairly late at night. Shaw wants to contact Van Horne, but everyone except the sentries are asleep in the refugee camp, so he'll just head over first thing in the morning. Hunter gets his tooth replaced, and he feels much better; especially after throwing up. Lovely. He'll be slightly hung over, and sore in the morning, but otherwise okay. Mrs. Greene gives Mr. Torgwen hell for not looking after Kiffin, who is a bit rattled, but not harmed physically.
Everyone retires for the night, to rest up for the next day's activities, and dream their little dreamy-dreams.