"Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds."--- George Eliot


The important thing is, they've arrived at the Spaniel before dinner. Dr. Jurgen takes a look at the Mustache, and bandages his face, in spite of them being old. When he's done, the Mustache is recognizable as human, but that's about it. He's helped off of the Baron's ship, and onto the Spaniel. Franz raises an eyebrow at this, and he shares a meaningful glance with Dr. Jurgen.

People are pleased the group survived their adventures, and want to hear all about it. Sophie is up on deck, and she starts to take a step towards Geoff when Aunt Patricia stops her. Patricia: "We were most pleased to hear of your good fortune with the pirates." Then she takes Sophie off to greet the count. The man with the title and money. As Sophie passes by Geoff, her fingertips brush Geoff's arm. Oooh!

Lady Patricia drags Sophie off towards Franz, who is too much of a gentleman to roll his eyes. Lady Patricia can be a bit overbearing, and she does go on and on and on. She's just trying to look after her niece's interests. Robert: "Your excellency? Lord, uh, excuse me, Major Thompson asked me to get your assistance with these charts." Franz: "Of course. Excuse me, Lady Patricia, but duty calls." Rescued!

The return of the group is an excuse for a party. As if one were needed. Baron Manstein is introduced, but he's not a people person. Ezbeki elbows Geoff, nodding towards the rigging on the Baron's ship. There are extra ropes up there. Rather noose-like. Lady Patricia: "Oh, Baron Von Manstein! Have you met my niece, Sophie?" Rupert waves her off, bordering on rudeness. Geoff decides it's time to have a talk with Lady Patricia. But first, champagne! Lord Lindsey comes over to get everyone into the festivities.

Geoff goes to talk to Franz about how he should approach Lady Patricia. It's a good time to chat. Ezbeki is taking bites out of the hors d'ouevres and putting them back when he discovers they're fish eggs. Well, yeah. Robert goes off to have a quiet drink to Ariana. Semi-quiet. Marguerite goes over and sits down a bit unsteadily, with two glasses of champagne in her hands. Robert: "Good evening." Marguerite: "What does a girl have to do to get a drink around here?" Robert: "Here." He hands her his drink. She's come over to talk about what's happened over the last couple of days. Marguerite: "We could have been killed. One thing I realized out there, when we were almost killed by pirates, is that any of us could die at any time. There are so many things I've never done. Don't you find danger to be something of an intoxicant? Brings up the blood." She undoes a couple of buttons. Robert: "I'll be right back. I'll go get us a bottle of champagne."

Geoff: <to Franz> "So how does one go about presenting a case, to get permission to court someone?" Franz: "Ah, the lovely young Sophie. Have you instituted negotiations with the guardian yet?" Geoff: "I don't know how to go about that. Should it be done directly, or through an intermediary?" Franz: "I think as we're all about ship, and in an unusual situation, some of the formalities can be skipped. I'm not sure how one does it in Kanaida, but in Fredonia most marriages are arranged well beforehand, by the parents. Then there are the occasions of passionate romantic love. But those are rarely thought out, and marriage should be approached with forethought. Are we speaking hypothetically, or, if I may be so bold, are you thinking of formally courting the Lady Sophie?" Geoff: "Well, yes, but I think since my current state doesn't include vast estates, merchant fleets, or the like, I'm at something of a disadvantage."

Dinner chimes. There are place cards on the table, and after a whisper from Franz, some place cards are changed. Geoff will be seated next to Sophie, with Aunt Pat across the table. Robert did come back with a champagne bottle, most of which was consumed by Marguerite. She ends up sliding off her chair, and is escorted off by the experienced servants. It's the heat.

Sophie is seated next to Geoff, and is flushed just with the prospect. Lady Patricia is looking critically at Geoff. He smiles. Geoff: "So, were you in Brazzaville long?" Sophie: "No, not long." Geoff: "Do you know anything about the area?" Lady Patricia: "We only stayed with people of quality. We did not venture into that horrible little town." Sophie: "It was very interesting, all the little shops, and the people. Some of them were very nice." Geoff steers the conversation over towards plantations for a while, in an attempt to casually mention his, but Sophie wants to hear about the pirates. Geoff tells the story of the pirates, but he makes it humorous. Geoff: "...stumbling into a pirate answering the call of nature..." Lady Patricia raises an eyebrow. Geoff tries to make it light. Franz: "The Major is making light of his contributions. If it were not for him, we would not have been as successful as we were." Geoff: "But Franz, you're missing the humor of it. There were five of us, twenty-five of them, and they were looking for a rock to hide under." Lady Patricia: <catching the first name> "I didn't realize you were on such close terms with the Count." Franz: "Yes, Lady Patricia, under the gun we are all good friends. Brothers in the field. Bullets do not respect social rank."

The opinion of the people at this end of the table is that Geoff is amusing, in a gruff, military sort of way. Franz is having a good time, and in his element. Franz keeps trying to draw a distracted Lt. Kerrie into the conversation, although without much success. Rupert eats like someone who must nutrify his body to hunt pirates. Samantha is considering getting him off planet (if they ever do) and introducing him to Leighton; a match made in, well, somewhere.

It's much lighter at the other table, where Dr. Jurgen, Robert, and Kaeth are. They don't have to deal with as much class stuff. Dr. Jurgen does often seem to be observing Robert and Kaeth, rather scientifically. Robert holds out until the end of the meal. Robert: "What? Have I spilled something on myself??" Dr. Jurgen: "I beg your pardon?" Robert: "Well, the way you were looking at me..." Dr. Jurgen: "Ah. My apologies. Perhaps you gentlemen would care to join me in my cabin. I've located a bottle of late harvest wine, and once the bottle is opened it's never quite the same." They accept.

There's talk of the Baron's offer of his steam vessel to transport people to South West Utuland. The invitation is extended to Lady Patricia and Sophie as well. Rupert expresses his willingness to "protect the innocents. My ship is certainly adequately equipped to deal with pirates."

To Dr. Jurgen's cabin. Dr. Jurgen: "Please gentlemen, you'll find that I'm a much less formal man than the Count." He takes off his shoes, and unbuttons several buttons. Robert and Kaeth sit down and relax. Dr. Jurgen: "I've been speaking with your travelling companion, Lady Samantha. She's been telling me about your um, travels." Actually, all she did was confirm what he'd guessed, but close enough. Kaeth: "So she informed us." Dr. Jurgen: "Would you find it in any affront if I were to ask you a few questions, just in the name of science?" Kaeth: "I don't mind." Dr. Jurgen: "Excellent! Is this your normal appearance?" Robert: "Aside from the clothing, yes." Kaeth: "We're from two of the primary species." Dr. Jurgen: "Have you any paranormal facilities?" What? The Psionic Club for Men? Robert: "Absolutely not." Dr. Jurgen: "And in the matter of... uh... the uh... continuation of the species?" Kaeth: "People are just as confused about that where we come from." Robert: "Doctor, since we've answered your questions, perhaps you would answer some of ours?" Dr. Jurgen: "Of course, if I can." Robert: "I know you said this wasn't your area of expertise, but I am interested in your ancient history, about the colonization." Dr. Jurgen: "Well, the problem is all the information we have is fragmentary, conflicting, and going back many generations." Robert: "Yes, but one thing I've noticed is that your different societies, your countries, at one point were unified." Dr. Jurgen: "That seems unlikely to me." Robert: "And at one point that fractionalized and became what you have today." Dr. Jurgen: "Again, I am neither an ancient historian, nor a theologian." Robert: "Neither am I. I'm just going on what I've read." Dr. Jurgen: "Tell me, what means do you use for travelling through the ether?" He's gotten bored with the history lesson, obviously. Kaeth: "I can give you a layman's answer. It's the result of generations of development work. It's a very complicated system involving a great deal of power. The type of power that is not easily found in this world." And so they get back onto the discussion of electricity again. Dr. Jurgen isn't impressed with it. Dr. Jurgen: "A few sparks, and a bit of show. Charlatans. I've even heard stories of electricity being used to grow back one's hair. Sheer nonsense of course. And I believe that X-rays will be proved to be nothing more than the extension of some known science, perhaps friction." Robert: "X-rays?" Kaeth: "You'd need gamma rays for that. And the diagnostic equipment that can create those, requires upwards of 10,000 jewels." Dr. Jurgen: "Again, I question why you are here?" Robert: "We were shipwrecked." Kaeth: "We came looking for something, and became shipwrecked. As many ships have here." Dr. Jurgen: "As we will be in civilization soon, thanks to the Baron's offer, I feel I must caution you to not say anything about being from another world. There are more than a few cells in Bedlam occupied by people suffering with this delusions. Particularly since the Church has come out against the belief." And how many of the nutcases actually are from offworld? Robert: "Don't worry. We weren't planning on going public with this." Kaeth: "In our society, there are people who believe that planets that have not achieved spaceflight should be protected from contact with planets that have more advanced technology." Dr. Jurgen: "But why? We are not children. We have made many great advances in science. We can cross a continent in three days." Robert: "Can you do it in 30 seconds?" Kaeth: "In our society, the speed of travel is such that you could travel around an entire planet in a matter of minutes." Dr. Jurgen: "Surely you exaggerate, sir. At such a speed the oxygen would be crushed from the lungs." Robert: "The vessels are enclosed." Dr. Jurgen: "No matter. It's a well known fact that the human body cannot survive speeds in excess of 100 m.p.h." Somehow this all ends up with a discussion of the ship crashing, and Kaeth mentioning a parachute, which is a word Dr. Jurgen finds unfamiliar. Kaeth: "It is a device that would allow a person to safely exit a dirigible before it lands." Dr. Jurgen: "When one leaves a dirigible, it is generally because something unfortunate has happened." Kaeth quickly sketches out a parachute. Kaeth: "A safety device like this..." He tries, but the doctor is not convinced. Dr. Jurgen: "What then, as poor sailors of the ether washed up upon our shores? How will you make your way in our world?" Kaeth : "I'm a medic." Dr. Jurgen: "Do you have a degree?" Kaeth: "I'm a medic, not a doctor." Robert: "I'm finding navigating and piloting the watercraft rather..." Dr. Jurgen: <to Kaeth> "I have an extra bone saw with me. It's an excellent tool." They're off into medical discussions. And onto the berries that heal people. They don't grow everywhere, but apparently it isn't a huge secret or anything.

Robert: <bored now> "Well, I really should be turning in." Dr. Jurgen: "I would enjoy greatly continuing this conversation some other time, Mr. Kaeth, but I do have one other matter I wish to discuss with you gentlemen, before you go." Kaeth: "What is it?" Dr. Jurgen: <a bit hesitantly> "Since Lady Samantha is a member of your party...<pause> I have observed some not small interest passing between Lady Telford and the Count." Kaeth: "That's not uncommon." Robert: "And this concerns you?" Dr. Jurgen: "Yes. <pause> The Count is married." <Lengthy pause.> Robert: "I thought he was a widower." Dr. Jurgen: "Not...exactly." What? Dr. Jurgen: "Would it were so simple. I trust that you are gentlemen of discretion?" Kaeth: "Oh dear, it's that bad." Dr. Jurgen: "And I may have your word as gentlemen of the ether, as it were, that what is mentioned here will go no further?" Robert agrees. Kaeth: "I am concerned that the secret would..." Dr. Jurgen: "I wish to save both the Count and the lady. As I said, were it so simple. The Countess may as well be dead. You have heard that the Count had a wife and children?" Kaeth: "Yes." Dr. Jurgen: "Just to keep us from being here all night, I'll get to the point. The Countess is quite mad. She killed their children, and went completely out of her mind. The Count can't have her committed to an asylum, those places are horrible. She's locked in their home, and pretty much tries to claw the eyes out of anyone who goes near her." Kaeth: "Sounds like paranoid schizophrenia. Hmmm, maybe lithium...Was it sudden onset?" Dr. Jurgen: "No. It was gradual." Awkward pause. Dr. Jurgen: "Well, gentlemen, I have patients to look in on, and I'm not sure when I'll return. Please, finish your wine." He leaves. Robert decides to leave also, and goes up on deck. Kaeth does stay to finish his wine, and check out the doctor's Merick's Manual. Some of the stuff is really hard to read, being in the dialect of Fredonia. He looks up the section on blood, and finds several reference volumes. They've done awfully well for not having electricity. No, he's not thinking of them as nice little primitives. Kaeth also finds notes about himself and the others. Names are not mentioned, but initials are used. Oh, thank you Dr. Jurgen! It's in the locked journal, the one that wasn't latched. Dr. Jurgen was writing in it while talking to the two of them. He does only refer to them as "our visitors", not as "space aliens". It's very scientific, almost anthropological. Kaeth makes sure he's just looking for journals last, just in case. He leaves before the doctor returns.

Upstairs, Rupert doesn't last long. He's not much for small talk. "...Until their stain is wiped off the ocean...cutthroats and criminals hiding amongst them, all get what they deserve when they're hung." Thankfully, Rupert leaves. Franz: "I apologize, Lady Telford. May I get you some coffee?" Samantha: "Yes, thank you." Franz: "Cream, sugar?" Samantha: "Just cream, thank you." Warm beverages are acquired. Franz: "Shall I send for a shawl for you, or just bid you good night?" Samantha: "I'm not cold, but thank you." They stand by the rail, looking up at the night sky. A shooting star goes by. Oh-oh. Franz: "Some cultures view that as an auspicious sign." Samantha: "Only if you're quick enough to make a wish." Franz: "Ah. Are you getting on well with the doctor, Dr. Jurgen?" Samantha: "I think so. Why?" Franz: "He made some particular reference to your friends." Samantha: "Like what?" Franz: "Well, sometimes the doctor can be oblique. Nothing important. I suppose you're looking forward to seeing Kanaida again." Samantha: "I suppose." Franz: "You no doubt wish to return to your home." Samantha: "No doubt." Franz: "I must imagine that after such an ordeal, you must be anxious to leave these islands and return to civilization." Samantha: "I can't say I'll miss the sinking ships." Franz: "I'm...Forgive me from being forward." He looks over at a figure in the stern - Lt. Kerrie. Franz: "Now there is a man with a great deal on his mind." Samantha: "What do you mean?" Franz: "I spoke with Lord Lindsey earlier. His captain received a signal from an Albion warship, just over the horizon." Samantha: "And that's not good?" Franz: "The lieutenant has lost a ship. I fear that there will be at least a court-martial." Samantha: "Why? It's not like he mislaid it." Franz: "Of course not, and he did admirably under the circumstances. Unfortunately, they won't take my testimony, as I'm from Fredonia, but I felt you should know he'd be leaving soon." Lengthy pause, as Franz no doubt waits for a reaction he's not getting. Franz: "If you remain out here, you'll likely catch your death of cold." Samantha: "I don't want to do that." He walks her back to her cabin. Franz: "I apologize for being the bearer of what is no doubt distressing news. But I must admit to enjoying your company." He bids her good night. Lisette is inside. She removes the heated metal thing from inside the bed - it's the bed warmer. Since Samantha doesn't require anything else, Lisette goes to her little side cabin.

Robert goes to the galley, gets a big mug of hot chocolate, and goes up on deck to look at the constellations. Kaeth is cleaning his 9mm. Samantha gets ready for bed. After a couple of hours, Robert goes to bed too.


A ship anchors some distance away from the Spaniel, at about 3:00 a.m.

Most of the guests on board the Spaniel are not early risers. Some of the party are though. Lisette shows up early with a croissant, and some hot tea. Lisette: "The purser inquired after you, ma'am. He said that he would call upon you at your convenience." Samantha gets dressed. What could the purser want?

Up on deck, Franz and Heinrich are up too, and fencing. Looks like Heinrich is feeling much better. The blades are whipping at a rather impressive speed.

Once Samantha is ready, she leaves her cabin and locates the purser up on deck. Purser: "Good morning, Lady Telford. I wanted to pass along to you that we have an Albion frigate alongside." Samantha: "We do?" Purser: "Yes, ma'am. They've offered to take on any passengers who wish to return to Albion directly. It was brought to the captains attention that you might want to take advantage of the opportunity. Understandable, given the circumstances of the last few days." Argh!! Samantha thanks the purser. The offer extends to Samantha and her staff, of course. She's on her way back when she sees Lt. Kerrie being escorted by two sailors, towards a launch. Samantha: "Lieutenant?" Lt. Kerrie: "Ah, Lady Telford." Samantha: "Is everything all right?" Lt. Kerrie: "Nothing to be concerned about. I must, by necessity give an account of my actions, and the loss of my ship. Please excuse me." Sailor: "This way, sir." Down, and off to the cruiser. Damn.

Robert gets up early, thanks to Kaeth getting up early and brushing. And brushing, and brushing, and - Robert: "Stop brushing!" Okay, he's up now, time to get out of the cabin. Hey, there's a big, white, riveted ship off to one side. That better not be a pirate vessel. It's okay, it's flying an Albion flag. Robert takes a couple of jogs around the deck, to get the fresh air.

Samantha sees the man formerly known as the Mustache on deck, pacing. Several people know his secret, and only one of them needs to say something before he's in big trouble. Samantha goes over to watch Franz and Heinrich fence. Heinrich sits down to take a breather. Hey, she's catching Franz when he's not wearing his stiff collar. Franz: "Good morning, Lady Telford. I trust you slept well?" Samantha: "Mostly. And yourself?" Franz: "The night passed. You'll have to forgive me for my appearance." Samantha: "Please, you're fine." Robert jogs past, on his way to breakfast. Kip is up too, and a few of the younger, more resilient people. Robert gets two cups of coffee. One he downs, the other he takes with him.

Samantha: "If I'm not intruding, I'd like to speak with you." Franz: "Of course. May I freshen up first?" Samantha: "Please do." Franz: "Shall we say, fifteen minutes?" Samantha: "All right." She goes to get coffee. Robert comes over. Robert: "Sam!" Samantha: "Um." He has the servant top off her coffee. Robert: "Got a minute?" Samantha: "About fifteen of them." Robert: "I had an interesting conversation with the doctor last night. He was asking all sorts of questions. You know. About us. Where we're from." Samantha: "Okay. I did tell you..." Robert: "I know. I just wanted to keep you informed. What's the plan?" Samantha: "There's a small problem." Robert: "I'd say it was a large problem." Samantha: "That depends on which problem we're discussing." Robert: "Well, yeah. Which." Samantha: "We, or I and my staff, have been offered passage on the Baron's vessel." Robert: "I know." Samantha: "And on the Albion frigate." Robert: "Your painting is on the Baron's ship, that's the problem?" Samantha: "I'm working on it." Robert: "Yes, but we're just sitting here." Samantha: "Okay, you have somewhere to go?" Robert: "Yes. I do. But we're also leaving the area where we have the best chance to find out information, without even checking out that ship!" Samantha: "That might be unavoidable." Robert: "I don't want to wait for another falling star." Samantha: "I'm sure they have normal meteors here too." Robert: "I'm sure they do." Samantha: "Don't take this the wrong way. Like I said, I'm sure they have normal meteors here too, which is what last nights probably was." Robert: "You're trying to cheer me up, aren't you?" Samantha: "From what I saw, last nights was just a normal shooting star." Robert: "I'm just letting you know, I'm kind of getting tired of just sitting around." Samantha: "I'll see what I can do about having more people try to kill you."

Franz approaches. Robert: "Ah, Count. Excuse me." Franz extends his hand. Franz: It's been an honor to have known you." Um...? Robert shakes his hand. Robert: "It's been an honor for me as well, sir." Robert leaves. Franz: "Lady Telford, good morning. Samantha: "Samantha, please." Franz: "Samantha. Ah, doubtless you have heard from the purser. The captain of the Albion vessel has generously offered to take some of the passengers off. Any way, before you leave, I have something for you. Heinrich!" Heinrich brings forward a rather nice wooden box. Franz: "Knowing your proclivity to taking care of your own safety, I thought this might come in handy on your trip home." It appears to be a handgun. Nicely made, nicely blued, small tasteful engraving. Similar to a Bergman. A very high tech (for here) automatic pistol. Where the hell he got it is anybody's guess. Samantha: "It's lovely. But I can't help but wonder why everyone's so eager to get rid of me. I haven't proved that annoying have I?" Franz: "No, on the contrary. One merely assumed that you would want to reach your homeland in the fastest, safest way possible, and as...Well, one might assume that as Lt. Kerrie is travelling back on that vessel..." He appears to have run out of words. Samantha: "So, I'll naturally be following Lt. Kerrie back?" Franz: "I apologize. I didn't mean to imply anything improper." Samantha: "I'm not saying you did. I like Lt. Kerrie. I think he's a very nice man. I...Has something happened?" Franz: "May speak freely?" Samantha: "Please." Franz: "It seems that relations between Albion and Fredonia have worsened. I expect that Kanaida will remain neutral or lean towards the side of Albion. I fear there is a war coming. A new and terrible war, a war of machines. Airships and automatic guns, and artillery. Perhaps you would be safest amongst your people. I mean surely your Mr. Kip would suggest that Fredonians are not to be trusted <wry smile> In any case, it would perhaps be best if you were among your kith and kin." Samantha: "That would be difficult." Franz: "If I mispoke, I apologize." Samantha: "No apology is needed." Franz: "I must admit, I shall miss our conversations. They have been most stimulating." Samantha: "There are more things going on here than just the conflict between Fredonia and Albion."

The purser's mate asks Robert and Kaeth if they'll be shifting their luggage, and that of Lady Telford? Robert: We don't know yet." Mate: "Right sir. And the captain has asked if you would be willing to join him on board the Repulse, in order to provide statements at Lt. Kerrie's court-martial." Robert: "What?" Kaeth: "He lost his ship." Robert: "True." They'll go, as will Geoff; Ezbeki wasn't on board the vessel at the time, so he, thankfully, won't be questioned. The women aren't asked for statements, of course, as the topics would be distressing to them. They might get hysterical. The men get to see three grim-looking naval officers who nod occasionally, ask questions, and give nothing away.

Ezbeki reports back to Kaeth that Lady Patricia "is really sick." And this would let Geoff spend time with Sophie. Kaeth: "Ezbeki, what did you do?" Ezbeki: <ignoring him> "I've been talking to some of the crew, and I got the names of some places to go. In Whitehaven." Robert: "Have fun." Kaeth: "There's a limit as to how much shore leave I can fix." Ezbeki: "Well what's a guy supposed to do? It ain't healthy to let it get backed up." Kaeth: "You'll just have to look into other options." Robert would like to not have this conversation, thank you. Ezbeki: "Crew's a little nervous." Robert: "I can't imagine why -" Ezbeki: "There's a fracas coming." Robert: "We don't want to get involved." Ezbeki: "You got a ship I don't know about? Way I see it, we're stuck here until we can build one." Robert: "Hey, the one thing I know on this place that might help we're getting ready to leave behind, without even looking inside!" Kaeth: "Hey, corporal? I'm just thinking out loud here, but " Ezbeki: "Hey, that Roarke babe?" Robert: "Yeah?" Ezbeki: "I was peeking in her - uh." Robert: "You were doing what?" Ezbeki: "Never mind.. She was talking about you. I think she really likes you. But if you're not interested, you don't mind if I...? Like Kaeth says, you go to look into other options." Robert: "Corporal, I don't have any interest in what you choose to pursue." Ezbeki: "Then you're okay?" Robert: "Whatever." Ezbeki: "Great." Kaeth: "I've got to find Sam." Ezbeki: "She's upstairs, with Franz. They were making cow eyes at each other." Robert glares at him. Ezbeki: "Well, he's sure makin' them at her. Not that I blame him. No sir."

Franz: "You're talking about the two most powerful countries in the world going to war. What could be more important?" Samantha: "I didn't say more important, I just said there were more things going on. I don't think I can effect whether or not they go to war." Franz: "Of course not. I was merely concerned about your safety." Samantha: "I know, and I appreciate that." Franz: "I assumed that, should things start to get difficult, you would want to be with your loved ones." That would imply that she had loved ones. But Franz doesn't know that.

Robert: "What has Major Thompson told you about why we're here? Do you know why we're here?" Ezbeki: "I have a pretty good idea." Robert: "Do you know what we came for?" Ezbeki: "I think I know what Geoff is here for." Robert: "Just to make sure we're on the same page, what is Geoff here for?" Ezbeki: "You'd have to ask him. But I've never seen him like this before." Robert: "Jeeze, Ezbeki, not that! Did he tell you about the op?" Ezbeki: "Yeah. Get the Red Lady thing." Robert: "We know where it is now." Ezbeki: "Yeah, but don't you think Baron Von Richtoven there would object to you takin' it off his wall? That guy's majorly uptight. He's really got an insect up his ass. He must shit full metal jacket." Robert: "I don't want to get that close. But you've been talking to his crew, right?" Ezbeki: "Yeah, but they're really tight lipped. At first I thought they were queer for each other." Robert: "Well, be ready, because we may be going on short notice." Ezbeki: "I was born ready." Robert: "Okay. If you come up with any ideas, let me know." Ezbeki: "I've been thinking about that. What about one of those giant balloon things?" Robert: "The pick up would be hard." Ezbeki: "What about that submarine thing? Wouldn't that work? I mean they built one, how hard could it be, they're just monkeys." Robert: <biting his tongue> "I don't know how to build one. Do you?" Ezbeki: "What about this count guy? He's got bucks, right? Big bucks. And he's been mooning over Sam. I bet she'd just have to bat her eyes, and he'd do anything for her. We get the painting, get a submarine, and the rest just falls into place." Robert: "I don't think it's going to be that easy. Besides, that's not for me to say." Ezbeki: "Who's in charge of this chickenshit outfit?" Robert: "That would be Samantha. But that's beside the point right now. You say you're ready to go, we may be going." Ezbeki: "Look, I know a lot about women. I've been around." Robert: "Do I want to know where you're going with this?" Ezbeki: "This count guy, he's really got it bad for Sam. She could wrap him around her little finger. And he's got the money, and maybe the connections. We get one of those submarine things, and we attach a rocket to it." Robert: "And where are we going to get the rocket?" Ezbeki: "You're the pilot! I've thought up the hard stuff. Just make a rocket. A big bottle rocket. I used to make them with my brother. We make one for one person, shoot you up into space, and you come back down for us." Robert: "That's the problem. I come back down, and I end up back here, stuck, with one more mouth to feed." Ezbeki: "Okay, then we'll need a bigger rocket. Maybe we should point Sam at that Baron guy? He's the one with the submarine." Robert: "He's a bit obsessed right now." Ezbeki: "Yeah, but, she just needs to get his attention. Just show him some leg. I'm tellin' you, she's hot. And I know women. <pause> Did I ever tell you about the girl with the ping-pong balls?" Robert: "No! Don't ever tell me about the ping-pong balls." Ezbeki: "Okay, so what are we going to do?" Robert: "We wait for Sam to decide." Ezbeki: "Then tell her to move her butt." Robert: "I already did. I don't know if she's aware that we sail tonight, but I'll let her know. In the mean time, keep trying to find out more from the crew." Ezbeki: "Yeah, yeah. I could use a couple of bottles to help with the memories." Robert: "I don't have any." Ezbeki: "You could get some. From the galley." Robert: "I'll see what I can do."

There's a long, awkward silence. Samantha can see Kaeth just on the periphery, behind Franz. Now the awkward conversation becomes more awkward, with the Vargr listening in with his big ears. Kaeth clears his throat. Samantha: "Um" Franz: "It would appear Mr. Kaeth wishes to see you. If you'll excuse me?" He leaves, the air still filled with words unsaid.

Kaeth: "Miss Telford?" Samantha: "Yes?" Kaeth: "This afternoon they'll be letting us board the vessel. We have no real excuse not to go with them. Besides, our objective is nearby, and escape is nearby." Samantha: "You know something I don't?" Kaeth: "Well, at least a means of getting away from the owner is nearby before the ship catches fire, explodes, or sinks." Samantha: "Ah." Kaeth: "Or we go with the Fredonians." Samantha: "Damn." Kaeth: "My apologies, I should have said something like, that's our painting. I didn't think of it." Samantha: "No, I should have. We weren't expecting it to just show up on some one's wall like that. Or at least, I wasn't." Kaeth: "The Fredonians are more advanced scientifically; it might work to our advantage." Samantha: "Assuming the Baron's ship doesn't sink. Not to mention the difficulty of explaining our turning down the invitation from the Repulse." Kaeth: "I have an idea. You want the painting, right?" Samantha: "Yes." Kaeth: "Do you happen to have anything that proves ownership?" Samantha: "No." Kaeth: "Here's my idea. Apparently the tensions between Albion and Fredonia are heating up. And apparently Kanaida is neutral." Samantha: "I don't like the way this is going, but continue." Kaeth: "You go see the Baron, ask him for the painting. Offer to speak with your grand uncle or whatever." Samantha: "Not a good idea. We don't want to make promises we can't keep, especially when we don't know when we'll be able to leave. I'm working on the painting aspect." Kaeth: "I also have some thoughts on how we might effect our return. I'll see how things pan out."

The purser warns the passengers that anyone who will be going on board the Repulse will need to assemble on the starboard side, lifeboat C. They need hours of warning, due to being foofy nobles and taking forever. Robert, who has managed to score a couple of bottles of alcohol, is almost run down by a speeding Ezbeki. Robert: "Whoa! In a hurry?" Ezbeki: "I've got some interesting scuttlebutt to pass on." Robert: "I got the booze you wanted." Ezbeki: "Day late and a dollar short, sir. Already taken care of. <takes bottles> But I'll save it for later." Robert: "And..?" Ezbeki: "Yeah, definitely things are heating up. I heard a couple of officers talking about Baron Orifice's boat, and how they were sure it wasn't just a yacht, and once the Spaniel got out of the way, they were going to sink her. I think. It was hard to hear through the bulkhead. But that's why their so eager to get everyone who's Albion or friendly on their ship." Robert: "Okay, does Geoff know yet?" Ezbeki: "No, but he's been with Sophie. Do you want I should give Auntie Pat another dose?" Robert: "I don't want to know. Probably not." Ezbeki: "Mind if I ask you something sir? Sam, is she interested in the Count, or that lieutenant guy, or is she available?" Robert: "I thought you were interested in Lady Roarke." Ezbeki: "Yeah, but she's got it real bad for you, and all. Now, Sam..." Robert: "I don't care! If you want to find a corpse and hump it I don't care." Ezbeki: "Hey, I'm not a Squid. It's not like that. I can see where this is heading, she's going to get her heart broken, I just know it. And she's going to need a shoulder to cry on." Robert: "Ezbeki, if she turns to you, then by all means. Whatever." Ezbeki is just concerned about stepping on people's toes. Not a problem with Robert, who just wishes Ezbeki would stop sharing!

Robert goes to find Kaeth, and updates him on the problems. Samantha goes to find Franz. She asks to speak with him privately. Franz: "I see. Would that be appropriate?" Samantha: "More so than having this conversation in public, yes." They go to his cabin. Franz: "Please, sit. How may I be of service?" Samantha: "It's very awkward." Franz: "Please. If there's anything I can do." Samantha: "I need your advice." Franz: "Of course." Samantha: "While we obviously weren't expecting to be shipwrecked, we were travelling into the Brazzaville area." Franz: "Yes." Samantha: "I was looking for something that was lost on a ship previously." Franz: "Yes?" Samantha: "The man to whom it belongs...is some one with a great of real power." Franz: "Do you mean to tell me you're an agent of a foreign government?" Samantha: "No. He's more of the power behind the power kind of man." Franz: "The Masons?" Samantha: "The what? Never mind. I don't know with whom he associates. I'd almost given up on finding it. And then we walked into the dining room on board the Retribution." Franz: "Pray, continue." Samantha: "Among other things, he collects art." Franz: "The painting." Samantha: "The painting. It was on route to him when it was lost." Franz: "And you work for this person? Some sort of agent? Some sort of spy?" Samantha: "I am not a spy. He asked me to do this for him." Franz: "Some sort of mission like that would be an unusual undertaking for a woman of quality." Samantha: "We do what we must, whatever I - we need to do." Franz: "May I ask you something?" Samantha: "Yes." Franz: "Who is Samantha Telford? Assuming that is your real name." Samantha: "It is." Franz: "But there is no prime minister of Kanaida." Samantha: "No. Actually, an Archduke. Marguerite's great-uncle, I believe. Robert was just trying to protect me." Franz: "Your reasons are not important. You require my assistance, I will help. I will speak with the Baron." Samantha: "I'm willing to speak with him myself, I just wanted to ask you -" Franz: <standing> "Please. I will speak with him. I expect that you will want to complete your packing." Samantha: "Thank you." He bows politely and leaves the room.

When Samantha comes out on deck, the purser approaches her. Purser: "Will you be shifting your luggage, Lady Telford, or staying with the Retribution? Of course you're certainly welcome to continue on board the Spaniel, but given the tensions...." Some of the other passengers have all gone onto the Repulse already, including Kip and Rex. Along with Rex's spare liver. Even Marguerite will be going, as well as Lord Lindsey, since the Albion navy is strongly suggesting, for their safety, that they come with them. The people are breaking into two groups. Samantha: "I'll need to check a couple of things, but I'm sure we'll be joining you." Purser: "Very well, ma'am." Kaeth: "Lady Telford?" Samantha: "Cabin." Once inside, Kaeth tells what Ezbeki heard. Kaeth: I don't know if they were joking, but." Samantha: "Did they seem like a joking bunch?" Kaeth: "No, but they might get together for naked games of pony for all I know." Samantha: "Shit." Kaeth: "I've had a thought. I'm not sure how aggressive they would be if they had a goodwill ambassador from Fredonia on board." Samantha: "What?" Kaeth: "The navy is very good at killing people at a distance." Samantha: "Just typical. Idiots on both sides willing to blow each other up." Kaeth: "I'd rather not have the war start over my furry body." Samantha: "Franz is going to see about getting the painting." Kaeth: "We get the painting, we get the Retribution, we get a torpedo up the ass. We get the painting, we get the Repulse, we maybe get away for now. I'd like to go over to the Repulse, see if I can make them see reason." Samantha: "How are you going to do that?" Kaeth: "I'll tell them about the undersea boat." Samantha: "And how would that help?" Kaeth: "Maybe make them look over their shoulder? Maybe stop the bombs from falling?" Samantha: "You're certainly an optimist. At least see if you can find out what's going on with Lt. Kerrie." Kaeth: "All right."

Kaeth goes over to the Repulse, to check on the quarters that her ladyship would be staying in, to see if they're adequate. And to see Lt. Kerrie. He's allowed to speak with him in his little room. There was just a board of inquiry so far, as it takes three captains for a court-martial. They'll do that once the ship reaches Whitehaven. Kaeth: "An anti-piracy vessel, would that be considered a military vessel?" Lt. Kerrie: "Well, anti-piracy vessels could be any one of many types of ships. It depends partially on their armament." Kaeth: "If they were capable of firing, oh, missiles or something then. How well known is it about the Fredonian üntersea boat?" Urr? Lt. Kerrie: "Are you speaking about the submersibles? I know that some experiments have been made with one or two man vessels." Kaeth: "Actually, I think about forty." Lt. Kerrie: "You are suggesting that the Fredonians have a forty man submersible, capable of firing missiles?" Kaeth: "The Fredonians, no. Baron Manstein, with his money and obsession, yes." Lt. Kerrie: "The captain must be told." He calls for the guard, and requests to see the captain. He starts asking technical questions, most of which Kaeth can't answer. He can speculate.

A guard returns to escort Kerrie and Kaeth to the bridge. Lt. Kerrie: "I want you to repeat what you just told me to the captain." Cutler: "What's this I hear about some sort of underwater ship?" Kaeth repeats his story. Kaeth: "...about 70' long, draft of at least three fathoms, forty crew, and the most perfect flywheel ever." Cutler: <to his officers> "You see, that is just the sort of thing I was talking about. Only the Fredonians would be capable of something like this." Kaeth: "Baron Von Manstein is a man of breeding, money, and a nearly insane drive. He blames the pirates for the death and dishonor of his family." Cutler: "So you think this Baron a dangerous man?" Kaeth: "Yes, if you're a pirate." Cutler: <to his officers> "What special madness grips the Fredonians? Are they trying to destroy civilization? First the automatic weapon, then the airship, now the submersible. <to Kaeth> I understand you're Kanaidian?" Kaeth: "My employer is, yes." Cutler: "Then I'm sure your employer will be pleased to know that Albion has negotiated a mutual defense pact with Kanaida." Well, bugger. Cutler: "You will need to get your employer and her other staff safely on board the Repulse. I'll send one of my men to see to it. Who else have you told this to?" Kaeth: "Lt. Kerrie, who did not see the vessel. I was aboard it, rescued from the pirates." Cutler: "And who else was aboard this vessel with you, aside from the crew?" Kaeth: "Lady Telford, and other members of the party. Most were injured, and none would have heard the flywheel." Cutler: "Well, thank you, Mr. Kaeth." Kaeth: "Sir, may I make an observation? You don't have to do anything about the Baron; he's too wrapped up in his own personal quest." Cutler: <dismissively> "Thank you sir. Your input will be taken into account." Yeah, right. Now Captain Cutler has what little excuse he needed.

Kaeth wants to leave, but is prevented from doing so, for his own safety, by two polite, but very large young men. He's escorted to his cabin, and hears the door being locked after he shuts it.

Robert goes to look up the captain of the Spaniel. He's on the bridge. Robert: "Everything okay?" Captain: "Does it look like it's okay?" Robert: "Not from where I'm standing." Captain: "I'm just a simple captain. I just want to get my ship out of here."

The last of the luggage has been taken onto the Repulse, as the purser informs Samantha. Samantha: "I'll be right there." She sees Franz on the opposite railing, climbing up to the Spaniel from the Retribution along with Heinrich. She goes over to them. Franz: "Ah, Lady Telford." Samantha: "Franz." Franz: "I take it you'll be leaving soon?" Samantha: "It appears that way." Franz: "Something to take with you then. Heinrich." A tube is passed up. Samantha: "Thank you." Franz: "Perhaps we'll meet again some time. I think I'd like that." Samantha: <moving in close> "I'd like that too. But unless you are very careful, very quickly, that's not going to happen, because the captain of the Repulse is planning on blowing Manstein's ship out of the water as soon as the Spaniel gets out of the way. " Franz looks at her, his eyes wide. Samantha: "And I would very much like to be able to see you again." Purser: "Lady Telford, your boat's ready." She kisses Franz quickly and walks off, leaving him rather stunned.

As the launch starts to pull away, there's a shout from above. "Lady Telford!" It's Heinrich, and he tosses an envelope to the boat. Samantha and Robert both catch a corner, Robert letting it go as soon as he knows she has it. Sophie is tending to her aunt. Sophie: "There, there, auntie." Then she sits by Geoff, holding his hand and practically glowing. They get on board the Repulse. The ship is under steam, and will be getting underway immediately. For the passengers' safety, they are asked to remain in their cabins. Robert can hear Ezbeki's voice, drifting through the bulkhead wall, telling some sailors as close as the ping-pong balls story as Robert ever wants to hear.

Samantha opens the letter once she's in her cabin. It's a letter from Franz. A long, handwritten, fifteen page letter from Franz. He obviously didn't just dash this off in the five minutes prior to the last launch leaving for the Repulse. After a somewhat hesitant beginning, the letter is open, honest, heartfelt, and very perceptive. (For ALL NEW excerpts, see: Franz's Letter.) Franz confesses his feelings for Samantha, and explains everything about his situation, including about his nut bar wife setting fire to one of the buildings on their estate, with her and their children inside; she survived, they didn't. There's a description of his home estate, where it is, how to get there - should she ever happen to be in the area....

There are loud bangs. Less than ten shots fired, say, eight five inch guns fired into...? A few minutes later, the passengers are told that the Repulse encountered a pirate vessel. Yeah, right. It's all right to come up on deck now. Robert goes up, and asks about the Spaniel. The Spaniel is not burning, it's sailing away. The smoke is coming from a hulk, but a hulk of what, no one want to say. The purser comes around to the new passengers. Purser: "The captain sends his regards, and apologizes for the incident with the pirates, but we should make Whitehaven in three days."

The night is beautiful, with lots of stars. Samantha checks to make sure the painting is in the tube, which it is. She rolls up the letter and inserts it and the painting back into the tube, resealing it. Yes, she's keeping the letter. For now. Could be useful later, or something. No other reason.

215 to 218-1123.

Nothing happens. The Repulse doesn't sink, catch on fire, blow up, or anything. Robert does the hot chocolate and stars thing, trying to will Ariana to stay put "up there". Kaeth works on his parachute design, before he needs it. Geoff works on Sophie and Sophie's aunt. He may not be what she considers a perfect catch, but he's making headway.

There's a knock on Samantha's door. Samantha: "Yes?" Kip: "Lady Telford?" Samantha opens the door. Samantha: "Come in." Kip: "I've heard some things from the crew, and I want you to know that while I had my differences with Count Von Hollenstein, but he didn't deserve that. I wanted to offer my condolences." Samantha: "Thank you." She's somewhat confused about people offering her condolences. It's not like she cares.

She does, however, speak with Kaeth once the passengers are let "loose", as it were. Samantha: "Any idea what the hell is wrong with these people?" Kaeth: "Sweet reasonableness is not a factor in this planet's makeup?" They go into her cabin. Samantha: "What happened when you left the Spaniel?" Kaeth: "I came aboard, told Kerrie, basically tried the submersible card, and Capt. Cutler took that as a good reason to put the 'dangerous armed yacht' on the bottom. They said nobody could make one, I said the Baron could." Samantha: "Two problems here: one, they left witnesses if the submersible was there; two, Manstein may or may not have been on the Retribution when she went down. Either way, Cutler has made some not necessarily stable or reasonable enemies."

Geoff visits with Sophie, trying to find out what she really wants out of life, and he helps nurse Lady Patricia. Oh, and he's told Ezbeki to stop poisoning Lady Patricia, and explained that exposing an elderly woman to a toxic substance that can cause heart problems was perhaps not the best idea he'd ever had.

Samantha arranges to speak with Kerrie on the fantail, where they can be observed, but not heard. (Less improper that way.) Kerrie is somewhat preoccupied over the impending court-martial, but he'd be very happy to speak to her. Hey, since Franz is dead, she'll have to keep her options open. Kerrie: "Lady Telford. How may I be of service?" Samantha: "I wanted to know how things are going for you." Kerrie: "Well, I think. Although one never knows. You know, I suspect, that I am to be court-martialed?" Samantha: "Yes. Although I don't really know what that entails." Kerrie: "Something no officer looks forward to, but I did lose my ship. <pause> And you, are you well?" Samantha: "I'm doing better than whoever was on the ship that was blown up." Kerrie: "Yes." Samantha: "A pirate ship, is the official word, I believe." Kerrie: "So it is entered in the log. And, may I extend my condolences, should the pirate ship have contained anyone for whom you had any affection. May I say that I do not necessarily agree with Capt Cutler's assessment of the situation, but it is not my place to question the actions of my commanding officer." Samantha: "Well there you are. Proof that people are the same no matter where you go." Kerrie: "Perhaps when this is all behind it, I might look in on you, if you would allow it." Samantha: "I would like to see you again, but I should warn you that the last person who asked me that question was in the wrong place at the wrong time." Kerrie: "I understand." He takes his leave, politely. Talk about your awkward conversations! And somebody should be questioning Captain Cutler's decisions.

Meanwhile, Geoff continues to try to win over Lady Patricia, who's being a tad too practical. Lady Patricia: "Would that the world was such that love be enough. But how would you take care of my niece? How would you tend to her needs?" Geoff: "I admit I'm not a wealthy man, but I do have some money, and property. And I have marketable skills." Lady Patricia: "You seem to be a good and honest man, and you seem to be making an effort to make your way in the world. Once you've made your way further, then perhaps. As it is, I would not wish my niece to be married to a man who was off getting himself killed on some adventure." Geoff: "I'm not that impetuous. But your niece may be a different matter." Lady Patricia: "I need to take care of my niece." Geoff: "Perhaps by holding out for the grand possibility, you deny what's real." Lady Patricia: "These are not matters to be decided at a moment's notice." Geoff: "I understand." Lady Patricia: "But, you have my permission to call on my niece." Geoff: "Thank you." Yes! Of course now he has to see Sophie under more strict supervision than during her aunt's "illness", but it's progress at least.


Welcome to civilization. Yay! The passengers are now free to go.

Ezbeki: "Hey, Zoomie!" Robert: "Yeah?" Ezbeki: "You know the guy with the bullet in his head?" Robert: "Heinrich?" Ezbeki: "Yeah. Him. He gave me something. Geoff's busy, and that Heinrich guy didn't say who to give it to." He hands it to Robert, who opens it. It's addressed to a law firm. The letter is from Franz, instructing them to "give any and all assistance to my particular friends, <he names everyone in the group> including any funds they may require." Robert tucks the paper in his pocket. Robert: "I'll take care of it. For the meantime, don't mention it to anyone." Ezbeki: "Yeah, okay."

The group gathers on the docks. They'll need a place to stay. The Carlisle looks nice. There are people paid to open the door. Marguerite: "The Carlisle is perfect. And the last time I was here they had excellent service." Kaeth: "That'll change soon." Marguerite: "You don't really think they'll be war, do you?" Robert: "Now, yeah. Before? Questionable." Kip, Rex, Marguerite, and Lisette are with the group that heads up to the hotel. There's a certain something in the air in Whitehaven, although it's nothing anyone can put a finger on. Even in the bar things are kind of odd. Lisette is looking around. Lisette: "It's so beautiful." Robert thinks it looks like the hotel from The Man with the Palladium Laser. (That's the one that gave SolSec the idea to call their unit Palladium. No, really.)

They check in to rooms on the same floor, and are shown up. For now, it's time to settle in and regroup.