216 - 1122.
Corina makes contact with the Pikhan hunter, Stewart Pondoro Granger, about the escaped "brain bug" things. She puts it into the context of a contest between him and Peter Corbet-Bell, to see who can bag the most (of the missing five). And yes, these things are dangerous, as Corina explains - "I do know they can take control of a person's body, so I'd say they were dangerous." The purse will be $10,000 cr and the honor of being Regina's Great (Whatever) Hunter.Well, since this is a contest, the kills will have to be witnessed in order to count, per the rules of the Regina Hunt Club. But does Boone and Crockett have a listing for these things?
220 - 1122.
Down on Regina proper...
Jenessa Degrandmont, recently come to Regina (with a small package trader) in pursuit of 'opportunities', finds herself in the middle of nowhere on planet. A great bargain, except for the additional $10,000 credit fee to take her the remaining 20 kilometres. Not. She's resourceful, but she is a city girl. Hmmm. There is a road like thing up ahead, so she heads that way. It doesn't take long for her to realize that maybe $10,000 credits wasn't so much money after all, but it's too late! Oh, and it's raining now. Really hard.
Also on planet, oblivious to all the death and destruction his friends have been in the middle of, Ghaer is heading up the hunt to track down the missing senator, last seen gone all feral and fur-covered in the woods of Regina by Anders and Cena. This makes them the logical choices to help find him again, so they're going to meet Ghaer. And Anders has recruited Chuck to come along too; he has all sorts of good outdoorsy skills, and besides - why take two doctors when you can take three?? Besides, after dealing with all the casualties on Up Port for the last few days, Anders, Chuck, and Cena really need to get away. A shuttle is taken Down Port, and the infamous Terrainasaurus is picked up. Maybe the feral senator will recognize it, as they did toss him some food and medicine as they went by on the last trip (in pursuit of the missing and pregnant Kitty Bitch - see gamenotes). Ghaer has been led a merry chase by the senator. The senator has evidently taken to this living off the land thing, and seems to enjoy taunting Ghaer.
Things have cooled down on most of the planet, but the outer areas still have problems with looting and bandits, and partisans. So, it's still very interesting. Anders explains to Chuck about the senator, etc. en route. Chuck came in his full barbarian regalia, so he's quite the picture on Up Port (several Sengi give him the once over, as they stand guard at the hatch to a ship).
Jenessa, in her clever disguise as a drowned rat, makes the road. Well, it's mostly a road. It's packed, oiled dirt that's been driven over by tanks and trucks, repeatedly. Her trendy, high tech boots are not really made for slogging through the dirt and mud and water, while swearing a blue streak.
Ghaer is sitting in his little hide, in the rain-soaked forest, laying in wait for whatever is making noise down the road (maybe the senator?), when the radio (which has been silent for days) suddenly crackles to life. It's Anders making contact. Ghaer answers with "Do you have anything dry?" Anders: "We do until you come in." Cena: "How about a nice chablis?" Very funny. Ghaer gives them his position, and the party heads that way. Cena hunts for a tape to play, and after weeding through the Mantovanni and Perry Como recordings (Pikhans!), she finds a Kitty Bitch tape that Behrel left behind. Cool.
Along the way, Jenessa is developing hypothermia. Her survival skills allow her to buy popcorn at the zoo, but this is a bit different. She thinks she hears something, but is not sure. Then the Terrainasaurus hits her. Oh-oh. Anders wasn't going very fast, and she hit the breaks really fast, but...
Cena leaps out, followed by Chuck, who uses his cloak as a rain cover. Cena checks for pulse, etc., and she and Chuck take spinal precautions as they put Jenessa onto a back board. She's a bit mouthy, but hypothermia does that. They get back into the vehicle, using the rear ramp. At this point, Anders hears some knocking from under the seat. She moves away, and a small Pikhan in pajamas sleepily emerges. Apparently, he was hired by "this Behrel guy to do some maintenance - lube job, knock out some dings, and upgrade the stereo system." Oh great. Anders explains to Ford Tessla where they are, which means that Ford won't have all the parts to finish the stereo yet, thank God.
Cena and Chuck check out Jenessa, who is just bruised, hypothermic, and has very unhappy feet. She gets cleaned up, wrapped up, packed with heat packs, and given broth. Much happier now. Introductions are made all around, and Ford chats Jenessa up. She tells him that she's recently come to Regina, and that she makes jewelry. Ford brings up a heat lamp to help warm Jenessa up, and it works great, especially after it's turned down below the "cook big potatoes" setting.
Ghaer moved after making radio contact, and then observed his old hide from a distance. A little while later, a pair of neo-dogs checks out the site, and then they radio some one. Hmm. Potentially bad. Ghaer discreetly contacts Anders, to make sure pick up is on the way, which it is. The neo-dogs dart away just before the Terrainasaurus arrives. There is some confusion when Chuck and Cena see the gone mostly Barlow Ghaer, but everyone gets past that.
Ghaer is starved for information, but now is not the time, so he gets just a few brief comments about the Ambassadore exploding, and the fusion lamp being broken, which leaves the park area and levels 1 and 2 pretty dark; Ghaer is concerned about the park's bear, but Anders figures he'll just hibernate somewhere. Ford is still interested in Jenessa, who's from Rethe. Ford: "Oh, you're from Rethe? Do you know Bob?" Egad. After speaking a bit more, it turns out that Ford's friend Bob was missing some of the sparkly things he used to collect - things like carborundum and the like. Hmm. Maybe Jenessa does know Bob after all. (Expensive sparkly things tend to disappear around Jenessa, not that the rest of the party knows this, yet.) Ford gives Jenessa the Pikhan interpretation of life on Regina - the climate's great, and all the stories about crimes and thieves are probably just exaggerations about people 'borrowing things'. Jenessa seems very interested in things like the local crime rate, how much things are worth, etc. Ford helps to confuse the issue by making comments like "What's money?", and by telling Jenessa that the party is apparently trying to capture a "feral centaur"; Ford then explains what a centaur would look like. Welcome to Regina, please check your sense of reality at the door, thank you.
Off in pursuit of the senator and, coincidentally, the neo-dogs. The rain has finally let up, so Chuck gets out and starts tracking. Ghaer takes the top position, and uses the thermals, etc. to keep tabs on things. And watch Chuck's back. Oh, and Ghaer finds out that Ford qualified as expert on the bazooka when he was in service (as maintenance crew), and he does have his own, handmade one with him. Ghaer suggests he may want to keep it handy.
Chuck follows the neo-dog prints, until they stop. He is able to determine that they very carefully backtracked, so he starts to head back, while switching to his axe. The neo-dogs leap out of the grass to Chuck's sides, Ghaer takes a snapshot at one of them, hitting it as the neo-dog gets to Chuck. One of the neo-dogs grabs Chuck's chest, and one goes for the family jewels. Ghaer's shot wounds the one on Chuck's chest, and Chuck hits the other one in the leg, breaking it. The neo-dog Ghaer wounded yelps and limps off, but the other one just tightens his jaws (the dogs are in armor, and obviously have enhanced jaws). Cena takes out the one still on Chuck with a shot to the head, and the ricochet only nicks Chuck.
One neo-dog down, one running off limping into the woods, with a somewhat berserk (literally) Chuck in hot pursuit. As Chuck runs full tilt into the trees, he sets off a series of boobytrapped lines that fire flares. This results in some unwelcome artillery fire into the area, so the people still in the Terrainasaurus seal up, strap down, and head off after Chuck.
The vehicle catches up, but Chuck isn't listening when Ghaer tries to get him back on board. After some discussion, Ford gets his net-gun and uses it to take down Chuck. Ghaer and Cena, with the help of the winch, get the now calmer Chuck into the vehicle, where he cuts himself loose with his axe. Ford isn't too happy about that, as it's the only net he has with him, but oh well. Cena medics Chuck, which helps his disposition considerably. Fortunately, he was not seriously injured (but boy, did that smart!).
Given all the noise and action in this area, it's decided to look elsewhere for the elusive senator. Ghaer leads the group to the farthest end of what he has been able to establish as the senator's "hunting grounds". Ghaer spots a row of small sticks with rabbit skulls and bones on them along one edge of the forest, so this is where the search will start. An outdoor grill is set up, and Cena gets food on (bacon, eggs, steak, pancakes, coffee), in case welcoming smells might help lure the senator out. Besides - everyone's getting hungry.
Chuck decides to go into the wooded area to see if he can find or maybe flush out the senator. Chuck is being very cautious after the neo-dog incident, and when he hears a noise he turns, and sees a man in a beautifully cut wool suit that has seen better days, and is augmented with strategically placed bunny furs. The man also has a long pole with a split MontBlanc pen barrel on the end, a bandolier with tufts on the ends of sharpened pen refills, and a blowgun. This would be the elusive Senator William Wyatt.
Wyatt speaks with Chuck, in a voice that is obviously hoarse from lack of use. The senator is apparently only willing to speak with Chuck because he doesn't look 'military'. Chuck offers the senator some food back at the vehicle. Wyatt: "Got some toilet paper?" Chuck: "Back at my vehicle." Wyatt: "I've got some fine skins I could trade for some toilet paper. You didn't see any of those military types did you? You didn't lead any here?" Chuck: "No, but I did see some neo-dogs." Wyatt whistles, and the wounded neo-dog limps over to him. Oops. The surviving dog is named Rex, and evidently they were Wyatt's animals. Chuck apologizes, says "we sort of surprised each other." Chuck knows that Cena is qualified to do veterinary work, so he suggests maybe she can help Rex out. Wyatt will go with Rex to the vehicle, after Chuck reassures him that he hasn't brought any military forces with him. Wyatt: "Don't want to get caught by those military types. Don't want to get shot." Chuck calls out: "Cena, do you have your vet kit with you?" Cena: "Never leave home without it."
Cena is in mostly nondescript clothing, as is Anders, and Chuck gives Ghaer one of his leather shirts to wear so the senator doesn't get spooked. Cena patches up Rex, and sedates him. Chuck puts some tranq into the pitcher of orange juice (one thing the senator really did miss having), and he nods off. Ford drinks some of the juice too, but he's been a bit of a pain, so no one who knows about the sedative tells him. Ford is in the middle of showing Jenessa a new type of grenade that his cousin designed, when he falls asleep. Um. Jenessa finally, after some prompting, tells the others that the grenade-like device is showing a readout on her side that says "Armed", and "30". Cena: "Is the number staying at 30?" Jenessa: "No, it's going 29, 28 -" Cena grabs the grenade, yells "Fire in the hole!", and tosses the device away from the vehicle, and Ghaer (who is checking out the senator's hide). It's not a loud boom, but it's quite effective. The blast is directional, with some collateral damage. There are a couple more of the hockey puck shaped things near the now sleeping Pikhan, at least that Jenessa can see. None of them are counting down though. Maybe they're worth something...
No more surprises, so the group motors back to Down Port. Ghaer, who is a tad miffed that the senator is found a few hours after these guys show up, when he's been looking for the guy for weeks, but he isn't about to complain out loud. Ghaer sends a full report to Corina, and off to the 10th Naval District (to Viktor). Ghaer suggests that whoever picks up the senator, or is around him when he regains consciousness is not in military gear. Also, Ghaer has made a note on the identification tattoo on Rex's lip, and he would like some one to check on where the senator got the neo-dogs - has he had them for some time, or did they just 'appear'??
The Pikhan has woken up by the time they hit Port, and he's a bit worried about Jenessa. Ford: "Oh, you don't have any gear. That's dangerous." Ghaer: "You can wear this for now. At least it will keep the 'flies' off." He hands her his flak jacket. Jenessa: "How nice. And heavy." At least it's warm. Chuck stops in to get his armor fixed. Ford is really concerned about Jenessa's lack of equipage, but he'll help her get some gear once they get Up Port. Chuck: "Regina Up Port is a constant, ever-changing crime scene." Ford: "You'll need some place to stay. There are some good places, and some not so good places, and some cozy places. The cozy places are my favorites. " Jenessa decides to go Up Port with Ford, and check out the 'cozy' places - he takes her to one of the drawer hotels, which is fine, at least for now. And it's cheap. Ford will stay in the drawer below hers for now, and he'll help her get some stuff tomorrow.