"Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victims he intends to eat until he eats them."--- Samuel Butler

187 to 188-1123.

While in the hospital with Sparrow , Dwayne gets himself checked over. Good thing, as he's going to need some work - that'll teach him to get shot through the chest. He'll be out of commission for a while.

Max, Amanda, and Tavi are still on board the Bonaventure, in the common area. Dr. Corbett has been talking with Donald in the next room. Suddenly there's a blur, the hatch opens and Dr. Corbett staggers in. Corbett: "Oh dear. Apparently Donald's run off." Max: "What!?!?" Tavi goes out and takes a look at which direction Donald's pinballing off in. Corbett: "He was discussing what happened on the planet, quite calmly, and then he just panicked and ran..." Looking at Dr. Corbett, Donald apparently ran right over him on his way outside. First Sparrow goes missing, but they found her, now Donald's AWOL. It's just one joyous surprise after another around here. Taking a commo unit, his handgun, and a small bag of cookies (Tavi's suggestion), Max takes off after Donald.

While at the hospital waiting, Duane decides to get his hand looked at since they won't discharge Sparrow for another twelve hours. They'll take care of that nasty injury. Nurse: "Here, just put your hand in that box...." High tech medicine. It's a wonderful thing.

Meanwhile, Treal Delgado is on planet on his way back to Regina. Having some time to kill, he hunts down a nice blue collar club. Live music, people having a good time, darts, billiards, etc. There's a bit of a commotion when a semi-clothed, panicked person comes charging in. He runs up to Treal, who tries to get him to slow down and calm down. Donald: "He's coming! He's coming!!" Treal: "Who's coming?" Donald: "We have to get out of here!" Treal: "It's okay, buddy. Who's coming?" Treal decides to not let the unhinged young man get away. Treal's a big boy, and fairly strong, but the scared guy is tougher than he looks, and quite upset. Treal: "Calm down, it's all right." A tall man comes in and says "Hold that man!" Treal: "Who are you?" Man: "I'm with the Psychiatric Institute. This man escaped." Donald is struggling in Treal's grip. Treal: "Can I see some ID?" The man takes out an ID card for the Boughene Psychiatric Institute and shows it to Treal, who doesn't want to hand Donald over until after calling the Institute and checking on the credentials. Man: "Look, this man is dangerous. I've got to at least calm him down." He takes out an auto-injector, unlabeled. Treal: "No. I don't know what you've got in there." There's a bit of a tussle, and the man deliberately injects Treal in the shoulder with the auto-injector. Treal releases Donald, and goes for the so-called doctor while yelling "Call the police!" Treal hits the man in the abdomen, but he's been using that Ab-tronic machine a lot.

[We'd like to take this moment to point out that Tavi did not go chasing after Donald. Donald isn't the pilot, the navigator, or the owner of the ship, and therefore isn't important to Tavi's life plan. ]

Back at the club, it's a long fall for a 6'8" Treal. Max arrives after the main event, but in time to see Donald dart out the back door. Max follows. The bad guy leaves Treal on the floor to go after his main target out in the alley way. As Max is running, the man kicks him from behind in the back of the ankle. Max goes sprawling, his gun goes flying. Damn. [New rule: do not unfasten the full flap holster, there's a reason you use one, you idiot.] As Max is getting up, the man reaches over and slams his head into the alley wall - hard. Max is stunned (and bleeding) but lunges for his gun. He's then grabbed by the back of the neck, and his head slammed into the floor. Now very stunned, and not really thinking clearly, Max grabs for his assailant's leg. The man is not even dodging. Man: "It's fortunate for you that you're not ready yet." Then he kicks Max in the ribs. Max goes down, still conscious (just), but feigning unconsciousness as he tries to wrap his mind around the "It's fortunate..." statement.

Bartender: "Hey buddy, are you all right?" Treal: "What? Oh, he stabbed me with that auto-injector!" He sits up, mostly. Bartender: "You wait here. Should we call for an ambulance?" Treal: "No, but I should see a doctor. Did you find the injector?" Patron: "Yup." Bartender: "You just stay still." He goes to call for the paramedics.

Out in the alley, the confusing man leaves. Max crawls over to pick up his gun, which now has a scrape along one side where it slid. Bugger. He hears the police car and then the ambulance arrive. After taking 5 minutes to replace the weapon in his holster, Max uses the nice wall to get slowly back to the bar. He sees the police, and the EMTs looking at the body on the floor. Oh wait, not a body, he's sitting up. Then he's taken out on a gurney, protesting that he can walk out on his own.

Patron: "Hey, look at this guy! <to Max> Are you all right, man?" The police turn around and see really bloody man sort of standing there. The paramedics stop. Treal: "I can sit on the bench if you need the gurney for him. EMT: "That's okay, we can take two." They get out the second gurney, which isn't quite as fancy as the first one. After shining really bright lights in Max's eyes, he's put in the top rack and off they go. An IV is hooked up to Max, who's pretty out of it what with the depressed skull fracture. Perhaps Amanda was right about never leaving the ship.

Treal is taken off for a blood panel and the like. The auto-injector is a standard sedative, but they don't want to take any chances. It tests out to be a fairly standard tranquilizer that paralyzes your peripheral nerves. They'll keep Treal there for a few hours to make sure he doesn't suffer from any unforeseen reaction to the drug, but he'll be fine.

Meanwhile, in the other exam room. Dr. Tyler: "Yes, skull fracture..." The police want a statement, which the doctors are willing to allow if Max agrees (he does - he's concerned about Donald), and if the cops behave. Officer: "In your own words, explain to us what happened." After some false starts, Max manages to get most of the story out. He's able to describe the man as wearing a grey two piece suit, double-breasted, with a dark turtleneck. Officer: "Did you recognize the man?" Max: "No. I don't know who he was, but he was chasing Donald." Officer: "Donald...?" Max: "I don't know his last name." Officer: "You say this man has been a passenger on board your ship since Menorb, but you don't know his full name?" Max: "I could make up a last name if you like." Officer: "No, no. That's all right. Do you have a picture of him? Something recent?" Max: "Um, I think I can get you that, from the ship's security camera." Officer: "That would be helpful." Max now has to call the ship to let them know what happened, and to arrange for the photo. He turns off the picture on the vid-phone, just in case Amanda answers, which she doesn't. Tavi answers. Tavi: "Bonaventure." Max: "I have got to change that name." Tavi: "It's yours to change." Max: "Is Amanda nearby?" Tavi: "One moment please." Max: "No no don't get her." Tavi: "Not a problem. She's not in the same room." Max turns the vid on. It looks more or less like Max would, after being run over by a rhinoceros. Max: "Where are the others?" Tavi: "Last I knew, Duane, Dwayne, and Sparrow were still in the hospital. Did you find Donald?" Max: "Briefly."

Speaking of the others, Duane has found an attractive nurse to pass the time with. She's 5'10", chestnut hair, and is off at midnight. Nurse: "You could pick me up. We could go out for coffee." [No, no - don't go out for coffee on this planet.] Duane: "I'll make sure I get off." She goes back to work, smiling. Duane hears a familiar voice and walks over to where Max is. Tavi: "Is something else wrong, Max?" Max: "I've found Duane." Duane: "So did you get the license number?" Looks like a truck hit him all right. Tavi: "Anything I can do for you?" Max: "The police need a picture of Donald." Tavi: "I see, it's been that kind of day." Max: "Yeah. Someone was chasing him." Tavi: "Then I recommend you stay with Duane and Dwayne and Sparrow, since you're probably safest there for now." Max: "Make sure Amanda's all right." Tavi: "Currently she's fine. When do you expect to be back?" Max: "I don't know." Tavi: "When you hear more, let us know. When you want a pick up, call." Nurse: "They're just about ready for you in surgery, so we'll get you ready. <to Duane> You can wait in the lounge; we'll advise you when he's out of surgery."

Back on the ship, Amanda shows up in the room just after Max gets off the phone. Tavi: "Max just checked in, and he hasn't found Donald yet, but he's at the hospital with Duane and Dwayne and Sparrow." Amanda: "Okay. Fine. How are they?" Tavi: "Duane and Dwayne and Sparrow are all right, but Dwayne is getting that hole in his chest fixed." Amanda: "Okay. I'm just going to go sharpen the knives in the galley." She locks herself in. Tavi can get in if she needs to, if she decides she wants to.

Duane goes to check on Sparrow, who's mostly coming down. She tells him about Ted, and the strange questions. Duane: "Well, pretty much everybody who's left the ship has ended up here." Sparrow: "Who else?" Duane: "Max is here." Sparrow: "What happened to him?" Duane: "He got bounced by some one who was chasing Donald. The ship has been locked down. Tavi and Amanda are the only ones left on board." The doctor comes in to talk to Sparrow, and informs her they did find a drug in her system when they performed the toxicology test. Duane: "She was drugged?" Dr. Benson: ": "Are you a family member?" Duane: "Yes. Her brother." Dr. Benson: ": "Yes, originally we thought it was an allergic reaction, but she was in fact drugged." Duane: "Is there a counter-agent for it?" Dr. Benson: ": "It will wear off." Sparrow did tell Duane that the bad guys gave her something that counter-acted it. Nurse: "You're doing well, Miss Sparrow, so we're going to move you to a recovery room. The doctors want to check on you before you can leave."

Max ends up on the other side of the partition post-surgery. Duane is able to find out that Dwayne is being held over for observation, due to an infection in the site of his gunshot wound. Dwayne apologizes profusely for letting everyone down. Max comes to with his head and face feeling tight, but much better. Just drooling a bit, as he wakes up. Of course the right side of his face is black and blue, but all things considered, pretty lucky. Duane: "Good evening, sir." Max: "Evening?" Duane: "Evening. About 10 o'clock." Max: "Oh great." Hey, time flies when you're concussed.

Tavi goes to check on Amanda. She's sharpened all the knives, and laid them all out in a perfect row. All rightie then. Tavi smiles, avoids eye contact, and backs out of the kitchen, having fulfilled the checking on Amanda duty.

A doctor comes in to check on Max, sending Duane back to the waiting room. Dr. Tyler: "How are we feeling?" Max: "I'm feeling much better." Dr. Tyler: "As well you should be. A skull fracture is nothing to trifle with. So I think what we're going to do, pending our tests of course, is to discharge you tomorrow morning. Do you have any other questions? No? Good. We're going to add some nutrients to your IV, along with Regen during the night, and you'll be up and around by morning. The police are interested in talking to you, but I've told them they'll have to wait. You were lucky you weren't hit in any vital areas." Just his head. Dr. Tyler: "We're going to move you to a room, and I'll tell the nurse you can have some solid food, perhaps some jell-o. " Max: "Thank you."

Post move, a nurse informs Duane "your friend has been asking for you." Duane goes to see Max, who is potentially a client, and his ride home. Duane: "What do yo need, sir?" Max: "Just Max is fine." He describes the truck who beat the crap out of him - big guy, broad shoulders, short hair, partially bald. Duane: "Doesn't ring any bells, sir." Max: "He was after Donald. I have no idea why. But he said something that doesn't make any sense. Granted it was after he'd slammed my head against the wall, but I don't think that's why." Duane: "What did he say?" Max: "It's fortunate for you that you're not ready yet." Duane: "Must have been because he'd hit you on the head, sir." Max: "I don't think so. He could have killed me. He didn't." Duane: "Okay. Do you want some one to stay here with you?" Max: "What's going on with Sparrow? They're going to let her go in a couple of hours." Max: "Get Sparrow back to the ship, I'm more concerned about her and Amanda." Duane: "Okay." Max: "Talk to Tavi. See if between the two of you, you can figure out a way to track down Donald, but I don't want Amanda and Sparrow left alone on the ship." Duane: "That will be kind of difficult, if you want us out looking for Donald. I suspect if we lock the ship down, search it, then lock it down really good, they should be fine on the ship. Unless they do something stupid like let some one in." Max: "I don't want Amanda and Sparrow left alone on the ship." Duane: "Then we're not going after Donald." Max: "We need more help."

In another room, another doctor shows up to speak with Sparrow. Dr. Benson: "Well, Miss Sparrow, how are you feeling?" Sparrow: "Fine." Dr. Benson: "We'll go ahead and discharge you. You should follow up with your regular doctor." Sparrow: "I will, once I get home." They have some paperwork, but since Dwayne had said he would be "sponsowing hew tweatment", she doesn't have to pay. Sparrow makes due with the traction socks until she can get to her shoes on board the ship. Duane picks her up when she's discharged, goes with her into the cab, and Duane lets Tavi know they're on the way. He'll call again when they get to the ship.

Sparrow just wants to get changed into her own stuff and settled back in. She goes to her cabin, leaving Tavi and Duane to talk. Tavi: <to Duane> "So, you look reasonably in one piece. What's the word?" Duane: "He wants one of us to look for Donald, and one of us to stay on the ship." Tavi: "I prefer we both go looking for Donald." Duane: "Max does not want Sparrow and Amanda left alone on the ship." Tavi: "Well, if we're not going to leave them alone on the ship, we're not going." Duane: "A: Max is our ride home. B: Donald is not." Tavi: "Ah." It's not like they're attached to Donald or anything. Duane: "If, after Max gets out of the hospital, he wants to stay on the ship while we go after Donald, that's fine."

Treal is discharged. He wants to know if the person who stabbed him was actually associated with the Boughene Psychiatric Institution. He makes inquiries. There appears to be some confusion. He's shown pictures of doctors, and none of them is the man he tangled with earlier. Then they show him a picture of Max. Officer: "This gentleman was also injured at the scene. Do you know him?" Treal: "No." Officer: "Had you seen the man who claimed to be with the institute before encountering him in the bar?" Treal: "No, it was basically at the point I told him I was going to call the police and the institute to verify his identity that he stabbed me." Officer: "That's very interesting sir. We'll keep you informed, and thank you for your cooperation."


Max is released. He's still sore and bruised, and he's to come in right away if he experiences headaches or blurred vision, that sort of thing. He goes to the police station to check on the search for Donald, which hasn't turned up anything yet. Max is worried that Donald will panic if not handled properly. Officer: "We're doing everything we can. We understand your concern. The police will not just gun someone down in the street, this is not Regina." Max understands that. But he's heard the "we're doing everything we can" line before, and it's just not terribly comforting right now.

Treal is approached by a couple of police detectives. One of them identifies himself as "Detective Rosemont, of Homicide." Treal: "Homicide?" Rosemont: "Yes, we're following up on a case. According to your statement to the police yesterday, ... Unstable individual named Donald?" Treal: "I didn't know his name." Rosemont: "Is this him?" A photo of a deceased Donald (his face) is shown to Treal. He doesn't know what the man's name was, but "yes, that's the guy from the bar".

When Duane, Sparrow, and Max arrive back at the Bonaventure, there are police officers waiting to speak with Max. Homicide cops. Max: <thinking> "Oh God, not again." Detective: "Mr. Rhys-Fairfax?" Max: "Yes." Detective: "Could you come down to the station and assist us?" Max will go down to the station, but Tavi will go along. When they arrive, Treal is there too. Hmmm, how interesting.

The police want to go over everything Max can tell them about this Donald person, considering how he died. Yes, they only have a partial body to identify. No, they don't make Max look at a head on a gurney. They're civilized here, unlike Menorb, and he only has to look at a photo. Of a head.

The police did discover more of Donald's remains, near the body, and that's what has them disturbed. At first they thought rats or something had gotten to the body, but the body shows signs of having been partially boiled off the bones. As far as they can tell, someone decapitated Donald, dismembered him, gutted him, cooked him, and dumped the remains. The head and bones, with some meat on them, were all that was found. This means there is a considerable amount of Donald still missing and presumed cooked. TMI!

Detective Rosemont: "I'll need a complete list of your passengers, and anything you can us about them. Is there anyone on board your ship who boarded on Menorb?" Max: "Only Donald." Rosemont: "Well, we can rule him out." Max will give them a list of passengers and crew. Max: "I do have one request though." Rosemont: "All right. But we didn't have any cookings or beheadings until your ship landed, so all of the passengers and crew will be interviewed. Don't leave town." Max: "Look. I need to speak with my fiancée, the ship's captain, first. She was abducted on Menorb, she's been through a lot, and she hasn't been willing to leave the ship since then. I'd appreciate it if she could be interviewed on board the ship." Rosemont: "We'll consider your request."

Based on the amount of information they have, they can narrow down the time of Donald's death to within a few hours. Not that they'll be specific. Many interrogations follow. Many. Max has to tell Amanda what happened to Donald, something he's not looking forward to, after negotiating an agreement that the police talk to Amanda on the ship. He'll be polite about this as long as he can, but he's not going to let her be traumatized further.

Back to the inaptly named Bonaventure. Max: "Amanda, I need to talk to you. About Donald." Amanda: "What about Donald?" Max: "There's no easy way to tell you. Donald's been killed." Amanda: "How? What happened?" Max: "I don't know exactly what happened. He was killed. It may have been the same person who killed Tim, but I don't know for sure." Amanda: "How did this happen?" Max: "When he bolted from the ship, I went after him, but I wasn't able to catch up with him in time. I'm sorry." Amanda: "The least we can do is see to it that he gets a decent burial." Max: "And we will. The police have his body right now, because of the investigation. I'll find out when they're going to release the body, and we'll take care of it. I promise. " Amanda: "Okay." Max: "The police are going to want to talk to you. They need to talk to everyone. They'll come here to talk to you, you won't have to leave the ship. They're going to ask questions about where you've been since we got here, that sort of thing. If you don't want to talk to them any more, you can stop when you want to. Okay?" Amanda nods, but she's really upset. Max on the other hand is merely under a flaming metric buttload of stress.

When Sparrow is questioned the cops decide that she's a bit hinky. The detectives really don't like her. Treal gets into it with the cops too - it's a personality issue. About the same with Duane, but he's got an attitude. Tavi has no problem, and Max gets the friendly detectives (then again, he really isn't hiding anything).

Rosemont: "Miss...Sparrow, is it?" Sparrow: "Just Sparrow." Rosemont: "So you're claiming no knowledge of his murder?" Sparrow: "I have no knowledge of his murder." Rosemont: "You don't seem to be too upset by it. Why is that?" Sparrow: "I'm from Regina. I'm used to people being murdered." Rosemont: "That's interesting, because that's not what your ship's navigator, Mr. Rhys-Fairfax told us." Sparrow: "Yeah, right." Rosemont: "Look, we already know you're involved. One of your group has already implicated you. First one gets the deal..." Sparrow doesn't fall for it, and is eventually allowed to leave when she refuses to play.

Amanda is questioned, and the cops allow the lawyer Max hired to be present, but just the lawyer. They're in the common area of the ship with Amanda for a while. The lawyer looks confused when he comes out. The cops are looking at each other rather oddly. They questioned her about Donald's murder, and she claimed to know nothing about it. Max talks to the lawyer, who tells him Amanda "was kind of twitchy, and nervous, and the police have the impression that she was hiding something. You might want to talk to your partner. If she's holding back something, even something that isn't really important, it's not going to be helpful." Max: "I'll speak with her. Thank you."

It takes a while, but Amanda lets Max in. Max: "Amanda?" Amanda: "Yes." Max: "What's going on?" Amanda: "What do you mean? Nothing's going on." Max: "What did you talk to the police about?" Amanda: "They asked about Tim, and Donald, and they asked about what happened on Menorb." Max: "What did you tell them about Menorb?" Amanda: "I didn't tell them anything. Nothing happened on Menorb. Just leave it alone." Max: "Okay. That's fine. I just want to make sure you're okay. Can I get you anything?" Amanda: "No, I'd rather just be alone for right now." Max: "Are you sure?" Amanda: "Yes. I'm tired. I just want to get some sleep." Max: "Okay." Slam - click.

Treal goes out for dinner, post interrogations. Some nice little ethnic place. He feels like some local cuisine. It's local carniculture (don't ask, it's tasty). He gets a huge filet mignon that's not hideously expensive, and it's really delicious. Comes with sautéed mushrooms, sauce Bernaise, grilled over an open fire. Very nice. About the time Treal is having dessert, some one sits down at his table. It's a big man in a grey suit, but he's not balding so it's not the man who sedated Treal and beat up Max. Man: "May I sit down? I was wondering if I may have a little chat with you, and I'll recompense you for your time." Treal: "Go ahead." Man: "I'm interested in information on some people you may have bumped into." He lays down flat photos of Duane and Dwayne, Sparrow, Max, and Amanda. Treal looks at the photos, then goes back to eating. Treal: "Sorry. Don't know anything." Man: "Maybe this will help." An envelope of $100 credit notes is tossed onto the table. Treal: "You know, I can't help you." Man: "Can't, or won't?" Treal: "You sat down at my table, I've been polite, don't make me angry." Man: "That almost sounds like a threat, Mr. Delgado." Treal: "Don't make me angry. I've already had to deal with the police asking a lot of questions I don't know the answers to. Unless I was going to be a total crook and I was just going to take your money and screw you over, we have no business here." Man: "I appreciate your candor. My apologies. If you do happen to find out anything, please give me a call." Drops off his card, and pays for Treal's bill on his way out. Treal: "Well that's nice." He has a berry cobbler. And some coffee. Then he goes back to his room. Treal does have the nagging feeling one of the men in the photos was familiar, but oh well.


After everyone has gone to bed, multiple alarms go off. There's a fire in engineering, the hatch has been opened (and closed again), and Max can't find Amanda in her cabin or on bridge. Tavi heads for the bridge. According to the instruments, it's a small localized fire - a valve on one of the hydrogen tanks is open. It can be shut from the bridge, which Tavi does.

Duane: "We have one person off the ship?" Max: "Yes. Amanda, apparently." Duane: "You want a retrieval team?" Max: "Yes." Duane: "Sparrow?" Sparrow: "Right." She grabs her staff and off they go. Max checks on the damage in engineering. The hydrogen feed line looks like someone has sawed it off and bent it. Not much damage, just to create a distraction. On the floor nearby is a hacksaw, and a torch lighter. Nothing else.

Treal is walking back to his hotel, and practicing his streetwise. He notices a blonde female, moving furtively, and looking very scared. Aha! An opportunity to do good. Treal: "Excuse me, ma'am, may I help you?" Amanda: "No! Stay away from me, it's dangerous. He's after me." Treal: "Do you want me to call the police?" Amanda: "The police can't help." Treal: "Why?" Amanda: "Please, stay away from me, I don't want you to get hurt." She doubles over in pain. Amanda: ""It hurts, it hurts." She drops onto the ground. Treal picks her up and runs over to the nearby communicator. He suddenly feels extreme pain in his shoulder - she's biting him - like a rabid weasel. Treal doesn't put her down, but pushes the call button and requests police and medical attention. They're on their way.

Treal: <to Amanda> "Would you cut that out? Stop biting me!!" It's like dealing with a wild animal. Treal tries to at least keep her away from his neck. Then she doubles over again and screams, and drops off of him. Treal literally has had a bite taken out of him. (To be specific, several smaller bites, and one big one.)

Duane and Sparrow are out looking for Amanda when they hear a woman's scream of pure agony. They arrive to see Treal looming over Amanda, who's on the ground whimpering. It's not well lit. Duane charges in to scoop up Amanda, but Treal (not realizing Duane's the cavalry) tries to attack him. Duane tries to bowl Treal over to get him out of the way, and they really get into it.

There's a flag on the play for biting the defender, then another one for a late hit, as the play had been whistled dead by the time Duane hit him. The police are about a block away. Treal takes offence, and hits Duane on his freshly healed hand. The bugger. Sparrow checks on Amanda who's curled up in a ball and whimpering. Sparrow: "Amanda, it's Sparrow. Are you okay?" Amanda snaps (literally) at Sparrow, who keeps her staff in the way for her to gnaw on if necessary, while trying to figure out how she's going to tell Max about this. Not that Sparrow blames Amanda for going feral, after what she's gone through.

A few feet away, Duane is beating the crap out of Treal. Or trying to. Treal cheats and fights back, but rather ineffectually. Then it's squealing tires, shouts of "Freeze! Police!! Hands in the air! Let me see your fucking hands, right now!!" Treal: "Hey, I'm the person who called you guys. The woman who's laying on the ground was hiding in the bushes, she said that some one was after her. Then she collapsed. I picked her up and she bit me, and then these two showed up. I don't know why they're chasing this woman, or why they're trying to get her." Being the police, they will round everybody up and sort them out later.

The previous mess is being picked up by Tavi, who has been monitoring Duane's commo unit this whole time. Tavi: "Max, the police are involved again." Max: "Does it involve Amanda?" Tavi: "Unidentified as yet." Duane: <over commo> "She's the captain of the ship I'm head of security on." Tavi: "It's Amanda. They're all there." Since the cops don't know what's going on, they're just going to handcuff everyone, take them in to the hospital, and work it out from there. Tavi: "Max, you're going to have to fix this."

Once more, back in ER. Treal: "I don't suppose you have one of those punch cards - pay for three, get one free?" Dr. Michaels: "Good grief, what happened to you?" Treal: "It's a bite, okay? A human bite. Give me one of those big shots of broad band penicillin." No doubt. The bites, the cracked ribs, and the other pummeling damage can be attended to. Amanda's still curled up, but she's snapping and scratching at people. They'll pump her full of drugs and put her in the special ward.

Max calls Det. Rosemont, tells him that Amanda ran off. Rosemont: "What was her frame of mind before she left? Did she seem panicked, or afraid?" Max: "I don't know. She took off after everyone had gone to bed. She seemed a bit upset earlier, after being questioned by your officers, but not so badly I thought she'd run off."

Sparrow tries to reason with the authorities with regard to the altercation in the park. Sparrow: "The captain of our ship, the woman the paramedics took away, has been through a trauma recently. She took off from the ship, and we were looking for her when we heard her scream, found her with that man that Duane got into the fight with, and we had no idea what was going on." Cop: "Oh, completely understandable." Sparrow: "Any way, he was bending over her, and she was on the ground, and Duane just assumed the worse." Cop: "Other than the biting part, it appears to have been a misunderstanding." Sparrow: "Yes, absolutely." Cop: "Well, as long as no one presses charges, there shouldn't be any problems." As it happens, Treal has been treated and discharged, and arrives back at the station to sort things out. An agreement is arranged.

Cop: <to Duane> "As long as you are willing to take care of his medical costs, he'll not press charges. Which I think is very reasonable. You may not have seen the man, but with those injuries he'd have a really good case in a civil law suit." Duane agrees to this, reluctantly. About this time, Det. Rosemont (on temporary assignment to this precinct) shows up and asks what's been going on. What isn't? He's given the condensed version by the officer, then speaks with Treal separately. Rosemont: "I see. Ah ah ah. Just a minute, Mr. Flett, Mr. Delgado. You two seem to run into each other, at least peripherally, all the time. Why is that?" Treal gives his story, again, about Amanda hiding in the bushes, etc. Treal: "...And then the fight is on, and I basically get the shit beat out of me, and then your men arrive." Rosemont: "And why do you suppose she attacked you, if you were trying to help her?" Treal: "She told me some one was after her, and they were going to hurt her. My perception was that she came to when I was carrying her, and thought I was one of the people after her." Rosemont: "I see. There have been a number of incidences relating to the people you just happened to run into, again." Treal: "Who are these people?" The ones from the cursed ship. Rosemont: "Well, we're investigating some deaths. Do you own a gun, Mr. Delgado?" Treal: "Yeah, I do. Should I be carrying one?" Rosemont: "If I were you, I would be." Treal: "Okay, do you think they've got it in for me?" Rosemont: "I don't know that they're actually involved with this, or if it's just incredibly bad luck on their part. How did you come to be involved in this tonight?" Treal: "There was this guy who came up to me at dinner, and he had pictures of the woman, and the man who attacked me, and some other people. He asked if I knew them, and I told him no, since I didn't then. After I left the restaurant, I found the woman, and you know the rest." Rosemont: "I see. Thank you, Mr. Delgado, you've been most helpful."

Time to check on the other participants in the brawl. Rosemont: "Ah, Miss Sparrow." Sparrow: "Hello detective." Rosemont: "Well, things have gotten interesting. Are you sure there isn't anything you want to tell me?" Sparrow: "I don't know anything! Why doesn't anyone ever believe me? Is there any reason I can't head to the hospital and see how the captain's doing?" Rosemont: "Are you asking if you're under arrest?" Sparrow: "No, I'm asking why no one believes me when I can't tell them things I know nothing about, and if there's any reason I can't go to the hospital to check on a patient?" Rosemont: "You're free to go. For now."

Next up, Sergeant Flett. Rosemont: "You're Flett, aren't you?" Duane: "Yes sir." Rosemont: "You have a temper problem, don't you?" Duane: "No sir. I never lose my temper." Rosemont: "Don't you find it odd that a passenger on board your ship was killed and cooked?" Duane: "He was cooked?!" Rosemont: "Oh, you didn't know that?" Duane: "No." Rosemont: "And now your captain turns up, having gnawed on some man." Duane: "I wouldn't know anything about that, sir." Rosemont: "Well, before I let you go, here's something for you to think about. It might interest you to know that the captain of your vessel had twelve ounces of human flesh in her stomach." Duane: <to himself> "Okay, that's more than she bit out of that guy..." Rosemont: "You're not under arrest at this point Mr. Flett, so you're free to go." Duane: "Thank you, Detective." Rosemont: "But if you think of anything, give me a call." He hands Duane his card. Duane: "I will.

Sparrow walks to the hospital, which she can see from the police station. She hears footsteps behind her. She glances over her shoulder, seeing nothing in the fog. She continues. The footsteps are coming closer. A confident, snappy step. She glances around for cover or concealment, but nothing is obvious, what with the closed shops. She decides to just duck into an alleyway and wait for the footsteps to go past. They go past, stop, then she hears someone literally sniff the air. Footsteps turning, coming towards directly towards her. A figure in a grey overcoat. He stops, looks at her, gives a wry grin. "Hmmm, delicious." Not. He's drawing a blade, but Sparrow has her staff in her hands. She goes to swing on him and catches the staff on the fire escape. Oh shit. He's pulled out this long, curved blade, that gleams in the light. He swings on her, and cuts her staff in two. Okay, now she has two hard sticks. He stabs Sparrow in the abdomen, all the way up to the hilt. In the front and out the back. It really hurts. She hits him in the general lower torso with one of her sticks. It's a decent hit, and she's not fighting quietly.

Treal is on his way to the cab stand when he hears Sparrow. The one recessive gene in his brain that recognizes this is how he always gets into trouble is ignored, and he runs that way. A moment later, he realizes he's running with Duane. Treal: "A woman's scream." Duane: "I heard." They continue.

The slasher just smiles at Sparrow and turns and lifts the blade while it's in her. There's an inhuman scream, she's coughing up mouthfuls of blood, but she still hits him on the side of the head. Not much effect. At this point Duane and Treal arrive, see a small figure literally with her feet off the ground, and a big man with a huge knife. Duane attacks the man, slicing him on the side with the vibrablade, and drawing blood. That really hurt. The slasher flings Sparrow off the blade, and into the wall, where she slides down limply, leaving a bloody smear. Treal runs in an hits the man, but not to much effect. The slasher turns, looks briefly at Treal, then decides on the man with the knife. The gleaming, bloody blade goes past Treal, and into Duane's neck. Duane stabs the bad guy in the eye, which actually gets a scream. Treal grabs Sparrow and runs toward the hospital. They're passed by the slasher, charging away.

On the ships, Tavi calls 911. Tavi: "This is berth 81. Again. My associate's commo has just gone dead, after a fight. Could you send some one out there, please?"

Much running around, yelling for plasma, etc. Max, who's been waiting in the hospital for word on Amanda, needs to get closer to check on who that was, and sees Sparrow on the gurney with her abdomen opened up. Treal phones the cops, tells them about the man in grey, then commandeers two orderlies to go after a second, male victim. Max follows, and sees Duane staggering their way, holding the sword. They get Duane to the hospital. The cops show up, Treal tells them what happened, and shows them the scene. Rosemont: "We'll have to get him soon, before he gets a chance to feed." He's playing with a ring on his finger. Then he leaves. Undoubtedly to apprehend the man.

Max tells the admin person that he will cover the medical bills for Sparrow and Duane. Then he asks about Amanda. Nurse: 'Uh, she's restrained." Max: "She's my fiancée. Is there someone I can talk to?" Nurse: "Dr. Carmichael is in ER right now. She attacked him." Max gets a pat on the shoulder from the nurse. Treal has left to go back to his hotel room, figuring the guy with the sword was on combat or something. The phone rings. He gets out his gun, then answers. Treal: "Hello?" Man's voice: "He's vulnerable until he feeds, and he needs to find the right food." Treal: "Where can we find him?" Man: "He'll be after the crew of the Bonaventure. They're the only ones with the right meat." Click. Wait a sec...crew? The only actual crew members are Amanda, and Max...

Max is in the waiting room, waiting. Intern: "...Yeah, did you hear about Carmichael?" Resident: "No, what happened?" Intern: "Some psycho bitch attacked him. Bit his face half off." Resident: "Jesus. Hey, is that the chick who had the human flesh in her stomach?" Intern: "Yeah. I'll tell you one thing, I am not driving home alone." Max just sits there.

Treal returns to the ER, in combat armor, with a gun, a rifle. Treal: <to nurse at desk> "I need to know the names of the two people I helped bring in a few minutes ago, the stabbing victims. So I can notify their friends that they're here." Nurse: "They were brought in unconscious." Max overhears this. Max: "Excuse me. I know the people you're speaking about. We're off the same ship." Treal: "Whoever went after them, is coming after the crew. I'd hire guards." Max walks outside to use the commo, Treal following.

As the inner airlock opens, Tavi's commo unit rings. She keys it open, says "Hello?" and then Max can hear gunfire as Tavi shoots the charging man in the foot. He lunges for her. Treal: "Let's go." Max follows him to an ambulance that Treal borrows. Treal: "Tell her to not let him bite her." Max relays this bizarre request, knowing full well that Tavi wouldn't let someone bite her, regardless. Tavi is busy. The big guy has grabbed her arm, and Tavi fires through him with her gauss carbine. Then she shoots him in the hand (pretty much blowing it apart), just as the man (crazed lunatic) tries to gnaw his way through her visor. Tavi can see the teeth and the visor crack, and the tongue come through. Now that's impressive, in a really sick sort of way. The ambulance pulls up to the sound of the final gunfire as the man bleeds out. Treal and Max go in to find Tavi, in fractured combat armor, prying the corpse off her. They help.

Treal: "I wonder if this is a virus that causes this?" Max: "Causes what?" Treal: "You need to get to the hospital." Tavi: "Why?" Treal: "You were injured." Tavi: "Just a scratch. <to Max> Sorry for the damage down range." Max: "I don't care." Tavi calls 911, again. Max calls Rosemont and fills him in, sort of. Rosemont: "I'll be right there."

Rosemont comes speeding up to the ship, minutes later. Rosemont: "What the hell's going on?" Max: "I don't know." Treal: "The dead guy is the same one who attacked the two people in the alley. He came here looking for his next victim." Rosemont: "How did you know to come here?" Treal: "I got a call saying that he was targeting Bonaventure members, and after the two I took into ER, I figured they must be from the same group. The woman I took to the hospital earlier said there was something after her, and she didn't want me to get hurt, and she may be crazier than a loon, but it sounds like she knows more than we do." Rosemont: "You think it might be on to something. I got a call from the boss warning me that it was some escaped psycho, and I should shoot to kill." Treal: "You need to see if there's any kind of virus in his system, because if she really had human flesh in her stomach, maybe there's something that turns people into cannibals." Rosemont: "We don't want to let word get out about that. It would cause widespread panic, and more people killed by panic than the actual threat. Right now, you talk to no one. And I want to take you into protective custody." Max: "I'm going back to the hospital." Rosemont: "Fine. We'll all go there. Let me take a quick look around and secure this site first." Max checks out the captain's cabin. There's an electric portable cooler under her bed. It's got some cooked meat in there. Not much. Some ribs, some chunks of meat. He comes out and gets Rosemont. Max: "There's something you should see. In her cabin." Max sits down against the wall in the corridor as Rosemont checks it out.

Rosemont comes out a few minutes later. Rosemont: "Let's go." He gets everyone into his car, then retrieves the cooler and puts in into the trunk. They all go with Tavi, to the emergency room. There's a uniformed officer there. Rosemont: "Keep an eye on them."

Sparrow hears people talking near her as she mostly regains consciousness. Man: "Is she going to live?" Rosemont: "I think so." Man: "And is there any sign of the change?" Rosemont: "Definitely." Man: "What are we going to do?" Rosemont: "I don't know, but it's gotten way out of hand." Man: "Have you found Ted?" Rosemont: "Not yet." Man: "Maybe we can use them to eliminate Ted, and our problem." Rosemont: "What are you thinking?" Man: "I'm thinking of telling the truth." Rosemont: "And you think they'll believe you?" Man: "I think so, after what happened to their captain." Rosemont: "What if they decide to blab?" Man: "Who would they tell? Besides, we can always suggest they're carriers. You'd be amazed at what people will do to protect themselves." Rosemont: "What do I do with Rosemont?" This is confusing, coming as it does from the man Sparrow knows as Rosemont. Man: "Shoot him full of Jumble tomorrow and let him go. And see that our friends here are given the best medical care possible. If you know what I mean." Rosemont: "All right." Some one pats sparrow on the shoulder, and then footsteps leave. She opens her eyes, but can only see backs. She only recognized the one voice.

Max is allowed to see Amanda. Dr. Spencer: "She's somewhat disturbed right now." Max: "Okay." He's taken to look through a little window. There's a person in a little room, restrained, screaming "Feed me, damn it!!!" and thrashing around. It's not a pretty sight. Max: "Do you know what's wrong?" Dr. Spencer: "No, it's not something we can determine in a short time. She's exhibiting signs of dementia, and schizophrenia." Max: "Is there anything I can do? Dr. Spencer: "At this point, no, I don't think so. But we will keep you informed."

Tavi is happy to be somewhere with high tech medicine. She's not really hurt, but it's good to get her scratches looked at. The cop who was watching her and Max gets a call, then leaves. Tavi calls and has a new faceplate sent to the ship, which has been cleaned up by the time she returns. Tavi is at the ship when a person shows up in an ImpEx [Imperial Express] uniform. Tavi: "Yes?" She answers through the hatch door, closed, with her gun out and beside her. Courier: "I have a package for you." Tavi: "Fine. Put it there." Courier: "You have to sign for it." Tavi keeps a pistol in one hand, and opens the door a couple of inches to sign the clipboard. He leaves. She then gets the thin package. It's addressed to the "Captain of the SS Bonaventure". She flings it onto Max's bed. Duane and Sparrow show up a bit later, and everyone just sort of collapses in the common area, trying to decompress.

Max: "Can I try to talk to her?" Dr. Spencer: "If you're sure you want to." Max: "Can it hurt?" Dr. Spencer: "Good point."

A bit later, there's a slight tang, like something's burning. Duane tracks it down to Max's room. The courier envelope is starting to burn up. A label on it (that Tavi missed) reads: Dated material. Must be opened by: Now, it appears. Duane opens it. There are documents in the envelope that talk about some sort of project. A super war drug. Reference: Palladium. Talks about UpPort on Palladium, like it's a place, and some project developing an ultimate war drug. References go back to see Ovid, legends of ancient Regina, pgs. 60 - 82. The pages are blackening as he reads. It talks about this book, then Project Goalkeeper, Achilles, and makes reference to a Dr. Ives. Menorb is mentioned too. Duane flips through to some pictures, and can make out a man who looks sort of like Ted as described by Sparrow, a couple of big guys including the man who tried to hire him on Menorb, a picture of some sort of drawing on a hide, then a trade name and a huge organic compound formula and the scientific name of a plant. It crumbles into dust. He takes a piece of paper, writes down everything he can remember, folds it up and puts it in his pocket. Then he calls Rosemont. He gets a voice he doesn't recognize, saying "Hi, this is Detective Pete Rosemont. Leave me a name and number, and I'll get back to you as soon as possible." Uh....

Duane goes to find Tavi. Duane: "Um... <lengthy pause> We either need to get Max and get out of here, or we need to just get out of here." Tavi: "So what was burning?" Duane: "Documents." Tavi: "Hmmph." She brings up a schedule of ships departing for the next couple of weeks, just so she has some options. She prints up a couple of copies - one for Duane. Duane: "I'm going to go to the hospital and see Max." Tavi: "Are you going to carry something other than a knife?" Duane: "I always carry something other than a knife." Tavi: "Just checking." Duane leaves for the hospital, taking a side trip to the TAS office to pick up this month's ticket. Tavi calls the hospital to inquire about her blood tests. Nothing odd, just a lot of stuff to indicate she's been travelling a lot.

When Max goes in to see Amanda it doesn't go well. She doesn't recognize him, but as soon Max walks in the door she lunges to the end of her restraints, yelling about "Food!" Max backs out of the room. Dr. Spencer: "Just to be totally honest with you, Mr. Rhys-Fairfax, I wouldn't expect any sudden improvement. Whatever happened, she's snapped. We'll do what we can, but we need to make sure she's not a danger to herself or others." Max: "I understand." Dr. Spencer: "Look, I know what you're thinking. You're not responsible. It could be a chemical imbalance. There's nothing you could have done."

Duane finds Max in the waiting room of the psych ward. There's another person in the room, a man reading a paper. Duane goes over and pulls down the paper. It's Detective Rosemont. Rosemont: "I thought I'd come here and warn you. You're food now, and they'll be looking for you." Max: "What?!?" Duane looks, and Rosemont is wearing a sort of class ring, with a large blue stone in it. Duane: "You gave us the disease, where's the cure?" Rosemont: "I didn't give you anything." Max: "Somebody caused this?" Duane: "You can give us something now. The cure." Rosemont: "You think there's a cure?" Duane: "No one makes something like this without a cure." Max goes for Rosemont, grabbing him by the throat, taking him over the coffee table. Rosemont is completely taken by surprise, as is Duane, no one ever expects the Navy guy to go off. Rosemont pulls Max's hands off his throat. Rosemont: "Stop! I'm not like them. I can be killed. And right now I'm the only friend you have." Duane: "Well, then, you better start helping." Rosemont: "Water....cough... cough." Max has relaxed his grip, but that's it. Duane walks over to the water cooler nearby, takes the whole bottle off (the cups were too small?) and brings it to Rosemont, trailing water. Rosemont: "I take it as an example of the intelligence we can expect in the Marches?" Duane: "This is an example of the kind of treatment you can expect in the Marches if you try pulling this sort of crap. Now, you will tell us what you know." Rosemont: "I'd say that would be more of you hope I will." Duane: "No, will." Rosemont: "I might be inclined to help Max, if he were to let me up. <pause> Wouldn't it be awkward to be found here with your hands around the throat of an officer of the law? Or with his body?" Max: "I just saw my fiancée in the psych ward. I've had very little sleep, and I'm under a lot of stress. I don't know what happened, I guess I just snapped." Duane: "Yup. I'm a witness. And if he doesn't finish you off, I will." Rosemont: "If you want my help, you better put your ego in check." Duane: "It's not my ego you need to worry about." Max releases Rosemont. Max: <to Duane> "Pull him up." Duane does, shoving Rosemont into a chair, then checking out his ring. Rosemont: "You don't want to look at this ring." Duane: "Oh, I think I do." Rosemont: "Didn't your mother tell you not to ask questions you don't want answered? There are things you don't want to know." Max: "And not knowing has served us so well up to now." Rosemont: "I don't know all of it. I told you. There's a guy, working on a project. It's related to another project. It's plugged into a megacorps. It's plugged into a new drug." Duane: "A new war drug." Rosemont: "The ultimate war drug." Max: <to Duane> "How do you know so much about this?" Duane: "Well, if you'd ever bothered to come home...<he takes out the paper> Project Achilles? <to Rosemont> Mean nothing to you?" Rosemont shrugs. Rosemont: "Like I said, I was just a courier. I heard things." Duane: "For someone who's just a courier, you seem to have heard a lot." Rosemont: "There's this guy. They call him Ted, or Teddy. Theodore Ives. He's out here working on a project with some megacorps." Max: "Where do we find this Dr. Ives?" Rosemont: "I don't know. They were following up on some legend from around here. Expanding strength, perception, life even. They found something. This part, I don't know how true, but I heard...the research camp, they were isolating something from a plant dna strand, whatever. They couldn't isolate it. The camp got cut off, snowed in, they ran out of food. One of the men dies of malnutrition. You can see where this is going. They ate him, and got better, stronger." Max: "And they were exposed to this plant?" Rosemont: "They were around it all the time. Turns out it needed the human body to convert it into what they were looking for." Max: "But the effects weren't permanent?" Rosemont: "It wears off after a time. It develops into a craving." Duane: "And right now we're meat. And our flesh is infused by this plant." Rosemont: "I don't know, but this is beyond the pale. It's one thing to develop new drugs, but this is eating people, turning them into food." Duane: "We need to find this Ives guy, and make him give us the cure." Max: "You're assuming he wants one." Rosemont: "You're assuming there is one." Duane: "People don't make things like this without making antidotes for it." Max: "That's an incredibly naive belief. <to Rosemont> What happens if they don't feed?" Rosemont: "I don't know. But I know a bit about this legend, and whenever you eat the flesh of a human infused with the plant matter, you get stronger, and it gets more addictive." Max: "What happens when you don't feed?" Duane: "Max, I think you already know." Rosemont: "Look, I've got to get out of here. They may already suspect." Duane: "Run fast, run far, because if they don't get you, I just might." He shows Rosemont the front door. Duane: "Max. I have the trade name they were referring to it by. I don't know if it will help Amanda, or what, but I have the name." Max: "What is it?" He gives Max the name. Duane puts the water bottle back on the cooler.

The ring Rosemont is wearing has a blue star sapphire with something written around it in odd letters on it. Max and Duane write down on paper the letters as best they can, for future reference. Max: "I need a computer terminal. He finds one in the hospital library, and looks up the name Duane gave him. But it's not in there.

They check in the morgue, and the body taken from the ship was cremated. The personal effects were claimed by a relative. The papers have a story about an unidentified man being killed in the starport. It's the man they knew as Rosemont. The real Rosemont has been found, having suffered some sort of amnesia or aphasia. Fancy that.