George, Sir Arthur and Corto head off with the dismembered parts of Rosenstein to see if Angus’s crew can do anything; Angus has a crew working for him and is probably the best hacker in the Sector and possibly Five Sisters. On the way, some Teamsters are beating up Yandi’s men, and burn down a Ramen restaurant. “Make sure Yandi knows she has to pay the ransom”. Fire brigade extinguish it. At Icebox, reception says we should go to the stacks and see if they have time. Lynn will take us into the stacks.
Head back through lots of security, guard, into a Nemo room inside a big frame where consciousnesses are uploaded. Into a sticky warehouse. Opening in wall with bench in. Lynn asks if someone has time. Wired guy comes up, takes job for 8k for him, 7k for boss, will send him back once fixed. On way out, pass Cryo storage vault with space for fork lift truck. Corto gives requirements for Drones, specs. Asks the guy to make him “feel like he’s flying”.
George notifies us someone is watching us. Guys in a blue jacket. Sit down to eat, view of foot traffic. Blue go moves, checks us, and swivels back to docks.
Meanwhile, The Marquis and Armitage head over to see Angus at Canyon Heavy Market. On our way in, the Market is set up as 4 globes. Angus is busy, come back in 2 hours. Armitage checks in with the 2 ruffians we hired, will meet at 20:00 at Sim’s Bar. After the call, Armitage notices 5 low lifes loitering outside with intent. Don’t seem to be watching us directly. Meet Angus, advise discretion, he will do work for 24 hours and we check in to see if it is useful. Incidentally, they are trying to hack the Imperial Admin on Iderati “for fun” - need the right person to get the Trojan in (as his glance lingers on Marquis). He asks us to help Riedma out, bad for business.
Marquis calls Yandi’s office. She will be at Sim’s Bar, probably Heaven, tonight around 21:30-22:00.
As we leave, explosion, O2 drops, stabilises. Damn “Hung Lungs”, get their point, but losing support.
Dr N’tesh says Aarnivalkea, the tree of life might work, but prefer to try something else first. Rumoured to cure any disease. You could go to the ESC (Evangelical Solarian Church). Pushed to meet the Head Gardener - he couldn’t as delegates from different Religion visiting. Polyeistic star worshipping religions, wouldn’t admit who, but did find it worrying.
Ezra Falcom, leader of Strathmire Syndicate, not talking. Usually money flows…but this time no.
Armitage meets Huey and Loey. People know Armitage are back and are taking an interest…could try and find out more? Armitage gives them 1k each and 2k for expenses. Authorises 5k for further investigations into Strathmire’s, quietly. Asks about “Hung Lungs” - some kind of organised resistance in Dog Town. Anarchists or agenda?
The Marquis meets Yandi, she offers the assassination of the Strathmire head again for 15m. Difficult situation, usually they’d negotiate, not this time. Odd
Rosenstein comes back. Explains rock guys goons jumped him, set up the trap. We start to analyse the rocks using the equipment from AFZEB.
Waiting on Angus’s report.
Ucas comes to talk to the Marquis about the jump drives. When fixing the drives, Ucas did some non standard repairs, re-routed, bypassed etc. Jump circuits are now operating at 350% efficiency…we go faster in jumps.
Calls, says he has an urgent job. We go over. Cracked part of the codes already off the Garretson’s drive. Had to scan it to ensure it isn’t gibberish….called straight away. Want to go time and materials, or all in. He runs an Information connection brokerage thing, bit like Section 43 under Baron A’Vorta.
Hands us a printout. Comms to Captain Dnash of Garretson. Series of directives explaining that he has to expand area of ops, as adamantium deposits more widespread than anticipated. Work over subsector and a half. Factor in refit before next deployment for extended operations away from major starport. Expect to have contact with the Zodani (not clear if friendly or no friendly). Logistics info, conveying info, mining equipment and workers to the sites, leading convoys of 6-8 ships, have another 2 small warships for those convoys. Once transition period established, run system security over several systems with a larger fleet, due to security and restricting info flows.
Later comms, notification of planning estimate for that exceptional ops tempo required for 3 months before guarantee system security assured by larger forces at border of sub sector - looks like it would be 3 months from a date about 12 weeks from now. Now at near final definition of these plans, operational.
One of Armitage’s contacts comes by and to meet him at Keller’s Jump Humpers. Drop Marquis off, Morle, George and Armitage.
Armitage sees an eyeballs every 30 frames on the Vidscreens. Makes him on edge. Cannot shake the feeling.
Long, thin guy. Looks like people looking for us. Fair amount of scrutiny on how Prospero’s Dream operates. Not been the best of times. Two syndicates that have the biggest deals w Yaandi in town. Been some interest. Not sure, but think there has been interest from Minders of the big guys - slips a newspaper across table. Recognise this guy? (Zubengenubi boss) Morle asks what they’ve been after - 2nd, 2rd hand, lot of questions asked about activites on Prospero’s Dream, lots of money floating around, what are we doing - assumed observed at all times? Also want to know where been for the last couple of weeks - if there is a weak link, don’t let them off the boat. Asked about Armitage specifically.
The Boss was instrumental in their comeback. He gets a couple of goons to walk us back, some focussed eyes. Non descript.
Find ourselves back in the Salamander, trying to avoid Vidscreens.
Morle also slept with the Boss Man’s Mistress
Corto is a passionate geologist, and breaks out the equipment to analyse the rocks the guy gave us. Unique composition, probably more like a calling card.
Crystals indecipherable. Don’t seem to be primarily mineral. Not really organic? Some solid chemical compound? Artificially created, fabricated. Probably highly dense energy source.
Adamantium: Tought metal Cavourite: Energy source?
Angus says Rocks found typically found in asteroids, maybe 12 systems. 11 not very important, but the 12th is a huge red flag. It’s found in a small number of asteroids in the asteroid belt around Karin. Doesn’t seem like a coincidence. Found in Glisten sub system, which is closer, then further away.
More info from Angus - some messages originated in a Zhodani trade delegation. Allowed to go to Regina.
Loshi says we have a visitor. Declan Rondano. Haven’t met, some compatriots tried to contact you on Iderati. Travelling incognito with the Solarian Evangelical Church. Becoming critical we found the old Archstargzer, we know you did it. Not interested in retribution, but need to know where he is.
Armitage asks Why?
Not mine to say, protected for generations. It’s something that could potentially lead to billions of deaths in the Imperium. A group of individuals stopped a potentially catastrophic discovery becoming a potentially catastrophic commercial application. The domain of the Terran extend across tens of thousands of systems. hundreds of thousands of worlds, billions of people. All but the smallest need to support their own food supply - impossible to transport. If there is a catastrophic event creeps up on systems in the same decade, no possibility to prevent, hence war or starvation. This is what we have been working for generations to prevent.
Why the stargazer? Chosen from among faithful to preserve this mission. Orchestrated replacement cannot be trusted to have organisations interest at heart. All allies need to be working to prevent this disaster. Why current? Someone has found portion of the puzzle and seems to understand too much.