Blaelok has either been killed, or has faked his own death (to prevent one of his enemies from doing it for real). As far as Michael is concerned, he didn't see any body, and if Blaelok was dead, what happened to the M and M "jar", and Blaelok's pets — all of which were gone, along with the Palladium Group's money (the money from the ‘secret’ accounts, that is).

The end result was Michael having to try to figure out how to handle all the misc. paperwork, and ‘leftovers’ at the office. Talk about a fish out of water.

Adding to the frustration of having encoded data crystals and papers, and a TL 15 computer system, were the phone calls from the Solomani consulate, who kept leaving messages for Michael on his answering machine (both apartments, and work), asking for "something" that was supposed to be ready for them.

Meanwhile, back on Regina proper, Nicolai gets one of those high-tech security envelopes from Blaelok. The letter mentions Blaelok needing to go away to "attend" to some things, and that he has already "set things in motion" with regard to several "projects", etc., that he references to "as you already know", and referring to paragraph numbers. Nicolai sees that Blaelok is referencing another letter or note, but this is the only one he has, so he heads Up Port.

Back at the Palladium Group, five men have shown up and are asking for Mr. Blaelok. All are dressed in well-tailored, black, paramilitary clothing. All are well over 6’, and "move like cats". They're wearing gloves, and have Solomani accents (oh goodie). Michael sees them in his office, and the older one introduces himself as General Reed. Michael explains about the "unfortunate incident" involving Mr. Blaelok (not saying that he doesn't really think he's dead). And no, Blaelok did not keep Michael "fully informed". They want to search Blaelok's office — fine w/ Michael (let them trip any surprises). Two of them rip the office apart, and then they leave, after giving Michael a business card w/ a contact number. Blaelok's office is a mess, and the huge, flint-steel desk is on it's side. It was at this time that Nicolai phoned, said he was on his way up, and wanted to see Michael (perfect — some one to help right the desk!).

At Michael’s old apartment, the doorbell rings, and Joe Lee answers the door. It’s the 5 men in black again. One of the young ones just tries to shove his way in, and Joe takes exception to the rude behaviour, and the fight is on. Joe does more damage than would have been expected, but is outnumbered (the partner joins in), and well, they are CRI. Joe is beaten to a crisp, but they are told to not kill him.

When Joe regains consciousness, the apartment has been lightly tossed (there’s not much in it to begin with), and the large men are gone. Joe is concerned about the cost, so he goes to the free clinic, and gets somewhat patched up. Then he goes to the Paladium Group, to tell Michael about what happened.

Nicolai gets to the office, and (with the help of a lever) manages to get the desk upright again. The Solomanis missed the ultra-high tech laptop that sort of melds into the desk, so Michael removes it, and turns it on. Naturally, the damned thing requires a password, immediately, and after 3 tries it will "initiate counter-measures"; this sounds really painful, so after 2 wrong guesses, Michael decides to just take it to an expert — hacker extraordinaire, Captain Midnight. When Nicolai hears about the group that was in earlier, he realises that they were CRI, and their leader was the traitor he has been after. This is probably part of what Blaelok referred to in his letter, but not all of it. Then Joe Lee (or what’s left of him) shows up at the Office, notes are compared, and it’s not looking good. They really want whatever it was Blaelok promised Reed, but no one knows what that is.

After some panic over Theresa’s safety (the large men showed up at her work place — a "we know where your girlfriend is" kind of thing), and sending Joe to the hospital, Michael and Nicolai go to Blaelok’s apartment. Yes, the CRI pack had been there, but were foiled by Blaelok’s incredibly high tech door. Michael has the key, so he could feed the pets and water the plants when Blaelok was gone, so he and Nicolai went in. Besides finding out that nowhere in the apartment would you be out of arm’s reach of a weapon of some type, and that it was designed to be easily protected from anyone entering after you (not to mention the armoured "bolt hole" under the bed, containing the controls for enough explosives to leave a clean, bare, empty apartment), Nicolai found another security envelope on the dining room table. It appeared that the envelope had been hurriedly tossed onto the table, and one corner had sort of snagged on something, so not all of the contents were legible, but enough to let Nicolai know that this was the referenced letter from Blaelok, and confirm that Blaelok was expecting Reed to show up (he had set it up for Nicolai’s benefit).

When Michael took the laptop to Capt. Midnight, it took him 5 seconds to solve the password puzzle (after drooling on the laptop). He did admit that Blaelok had left him with the password, in case Michael came looking for it. Blaelok had it set up to give Michael the info on Reed (he had to lure him to Regina with the information that Nicolai was alive and "causing problems") and friends, and the fact that Blaelok was temporarily "deceased" in order to take care of some things. Also, he gave Michael Nicolai’s command codes (including the off switch, unknown to Nicolai), "just in case" Nicolai became a problem. Fortunately, Blaelok also had hidden a cr/. 100,000 bearer bond inside the laptop, so that will help with the office expenses. Michael was to give the Captain the laptop in payment, but only reluctantly. It’s unsure what else Blaelok programmed into the laptop, because the screen flashed really brightly and Michael had lost several minutes; this will probably come back to haunt him later.

Speaking of codes, Nicolai asked Michael to check his command code, and if it were still in place (it was), to change it so Reed could not use it (done).

Michael allowed Reed to threaten him into betraying Nicolai, by luring him into a trap on Down Port. Nicolai already wanted to get them to a similar place, but all did not work exactly as planned. In spite of their best efforts, Nicolai and Michael were overheard (damn that Rim technology), so the bad guys knew they were co-operating. Michael was taken down (large man, rifle butt), then drugged. Nicolai got involved in a cat and mouse game with the 5 other CRI’s, both sides in combat armour, and armed to the teeth, in an area of the Down Port still under construction, late at night. People skulking about in Chameleon 3 armour, using giant magnetic cranes, missiles, grenades, shoe mines, rifles, etc. Sort of like one of Behrel’s movies, only without the sex. (Well, there was some earlier, but that involved Michael and Theresa, and no guns.)

Nicolai did a fine job of whittling down the bad guys, with some help from gravity and the local police, but it was really expensive physically. When the missiles and explosives started, the emergency services showed up, and since Michael (who had gotten loose when they left him alone, after the appropriate taunting and threats about Theresa) was staggering around looking beat up (which he was) and shocky (not), the paramedics used anti-shock on him, which includes a stimulant, so he was mostly functional again. Nicolai was in considerably worse shape, but being a superior Solomani and all…

The bad guys were down to Reed and one of the younger ones (badly injured), and they followed Nicolai into a baggage pick up area of the still partially under construction starport; Michael followed them. Joe Lee, out of the hospital, and trying to find his friends, ends up heading towards the scenes of destruction and chaos (naturally). When Joe’s cab pulls up, he is planning to help get his injured friends into the cab and to help, when some one he doesn’t know (in combat armour), tries to push him out of the way and take the cab. Obviously one of the bad guys, so Joe takes him on. Joe is injured, but takes out the guy in combat armour rather efficiently.

Nicolai is stopped by the police, who figure it would not go well for them if their prisoner dies, after Nicolai mostly collapses. He is strapped to a backboard in his armour, and then the bad guys appear, and take out the police and paramedics; very messy. The younger CRI has been bleeding profusely, from all sorts of places, and keels over. Reed goes over to finish off Nicolai, and Michael tries to get the surf gun off the fallen CRI, while Reed is gloating and savouring the moment. Nicolai, who is conscious, is trying to figure out if he can reach a weapon, strapped down to the board as he is — not really. Reed is unfortunately not distracted enough by his gloating to not here the slight scrape of the surf gun as Michael tries to pick it up. Reed spins and shoots, hitting Michael in the right hand, then walks over to get rid of the annoyance permanently. At this point, Michael sees (looking past Reed) that the support pillars for the newly constructed area are playing dominoes (too much damage from the earlier fighting) and heading right at the party. Reed sees the look on Michael’s face, just as Michael rolls to avoid the path. The roof basically falls in, fortunately not squishing any of the good guys like bugs; just lightly battered.

When the dust finally settles, Nicolai is able to get his hands on his SURF gun (Reed was also not squished), that just has a slightly bent barrel. The surf gun does more than just fire, it sort of explodes. Nicolai is further injured, but Reed’s leg is blown off (finally he’s down). A familiar voice is heard amidst the rubble — it’s Blaelok, looking no more dead than usual. He’s pleased that Reed is down but alive, and he has a "retrieval" crew come for him. Blaelok is so happy with the results that he pays for the medical bills for Nicolai, Michael, and Joe Lee.


Blaelok is taking Reed back to the Rim, to hand him over to the appropriate people (SolSec?). Blaelok visits Nicolai in the hospital, tells him how lucky he is, and tosses a small, round, incredible high-tech little disk onto the bed — Blaelok tells Nicolai that this is part of the control used on CRI (it’s not just psychological programming, but hardware as well), so now Nicolai is "free". Evidently it’s implanted into an area of the brain that makes it almost impossible to remove without killing the patient, so Nicolai was very lucky.

Blaelok tells Michael that he doesn’t know if or when he will be returning from the Rim, but he’ll be taking the Tramline, so if he comes back, it should be by the end of the year (approximately the same time Nathan Andrews returns from Capital). He left Michael in charge of maintaining the business (and keeping others at bay?), left enough money in the accounts to pay for salaries, rent, and more to the end of the calendar year, and told Michael that the laptop he left with Captain Midnight had a "leech" program that would feed info to the Palladium Group, of everything the Captain did with it (at least until he finds it). Michael also later found an attaché case with his initials on it in his office, containing a high-tech "detective" kit. Blaelok had also evidently arranged for Michael to get fitted for several appropriate suits, and for the damage to the office to be repaired.

Blaelok has his prize, Nicolai has his revenge (and a successful "mission"), and everything is more or less back to Regina-normal.

Closing date of adventure (Blaelok’s departure): 165-1121.