"Well used are those cruelties (if it is permitted to speak well of evil) that are carried out in a single stroke, done out of necessity to protect oneself, and are not continued but are instead converted into the greatest possible benefits for the subjects. Badly used are those cruelties which, although being few at the outset, grow with the passing of time instead of disappearing."-- Machiavelli


Dragon goes off (with Tim) to find Professor Arturo Augusta. He's in the garden, with his apron, bow tie, and gloves. Dragon: "Professor Augusta?" Augusta: <not looking up> "You're in my light." Dragon moves. Augusta: "Thank you." Dragon and Tim wait patiently for the professor to finish.

Eventually, the professor finishes his gardening, stands up, dusts himself off, straightens his bow tie, and acknowledges the presence of other beings. Augusta: "May I help you?" Dragon: "Yes, I've been reading your articles in the paper, and I went to the university and found out that you'd been unfairly forced to take a so-called leave of absence. I looked you up in the phone book and decided to try and find you." <lengthy pause> Augusta: "I see. Who sent you?" Dragon: "No one really sent me, I just thought you'd be the person to understand." Augusta: "And what is your interest? You're obviously an offworlder, were you suddenly overcome by altruism as you passed by my garden?" Dragon: "I've been through this sort of thing before." Augusta: "Well, come in. Shall we have some lemonade?" Dragon: "That would be very nice, thank you." The professor guides them into his house and out into the glass enclosed back porch. Augusta leaves briefly and comes back without his gardening apron, and carrying a tray with glasses and a pitcher of fresh lemonade. He pours the drinks then sits down with them.

Augusta: "Do you want to go through my involvement chronologically or just that which relates directly to my current situation?" Dragon: "Maybe I should give you my background first. I arrived on planet just a few days ago. The captain and co-owner of the ship I travelled on was abducted, apparently by the rebels. I did some research to see what the chances were that they'd cough her up if we paid the money. And I'm not so sure it was the rebels who took her." Augusta: "I see. What makes you say that?" Dragon: "She was kidnapped a few hours after arriving on planet, and the kidnappers seem to know everything that involves contact with the police. Besides, another passenger on the same ship was the victim of an attempted kidnapping yesterday. One of the passengers, Dwayne Fairhaven, was with her when she was abducted and said she was coshed on the head by a woman in a babushka. The woman turned out to be a man, who I followed." Sitting at the table in the sun room, Dragon looks beyond the glass and sees, coincidentally, the very man she's speaking of to the professor. What's he doing here? Why cocking his sub-machine gun, of course! A Thompson sub-machine gun, suppressed, with a 50 round drum magazine. Dragon shoves the professor to the floor while yelling "Tim! Down, Tim!!" Many rounds are fired promiscuously into the room, shattering glass and tile. After what seems like an hour, the gunfire stops and there's the sound of a car driving away quickly.

The professor gets up carefully, brushing bits of glass and tile off himself. Augusta: "It's nothing to worry about. Just another attempt by the government to silence me. A warning." Dragon: "A warning?" Augusta: "Well, no one was killed." Dragon: "Only because I saw him first!" Tim is looking very white and shaky. Augusta: <shrugs> "It's not the first time. Last time it was a bomb. A man must stand by his moral convictions however, or the ruffians win." They adjourn to the library, Tim being directed to the bathroom by Dragon.

Dragon gives the professor a run down on what happened during Sparrow's abduction, including the information on who the man with the bushy mustache is, and what he does for a living. This is news, as the professor didn't know his name. He writes it down. Augusta: "So. Captain Mendoza is the head of the vaunted anti-terrorist unit, is he?" Dragon: "He's also the man who coshed Sparrow and tossed her into a car. She doesn't come from a wealthy family. Now, it might make sense to kidnap Amanda - she has family who might be able to pay for her return, but Sparrow?" Augusta: "I think I should make a call." He goes over to the phone. Augusta: "Richmond-679. Yes, thank you...Ah, Roberto!" This is followed by rapid fire Spanglish, which Dragon doesn't understand. Augusta: "Si. Si... <hangs up, turns to Dragon> There's some one I think you should speak to." Dragon: "Is it safe? Don't you think they're tapping your phone?" Augusta: "Oh, of course. But we have worked out a code. Would you be free this evening? Say about nine? You can meet me here, and we'll take my car." Dragon: "That will be fine. Should we make sure we're not followed?" Augusta: "If you think it's necessary. I'm not really into the cloak and dagger stuff." Dragon and Tim leave and go back to the ship.

On her way back to the ship, Dragon checks out the borderline between the Imperial side and the planetary side of the starport. About 50% of the people crossing are searched thoroughly, the rest get a cursory check at best. The least secure area is behind the ship docking area. There's a 40' tall cyclone fence with razor wire, a mowed open grass strip or armorcrete on either side, and some blackened and twisted shapes like long earthworms interwoven in a few areas on the fence. Look like snakes, only barbecued. Hmmm. Electrified fence. Dragon takes her grenades and firearms in the jock bag, tapes it up into as tight a ball as possible, and tosses it over the fence. She then notices the young boy watching her. Boy: "You aren't supposed to do that. You'll get into trouble." Dragon: "Not if you don't tell anyone about it." Boy: "You're not from here. Are you some kind of a rebel? Or are you a spy? Do you know Dick Salamander?" Dragon: "I'm from Regina." Boy: "Really?" Dragon: "Yes. I saw them filming the last movie on the UpPort." Boy: "Are you the beautiful but deadly Valeria?" Dragon: "Maybe when I grow up." Boy: "No, you can't fool me, look!" He takes out his Dick Salamander comic and shows her a drawing of Valeria that really does look like Dragon. Boy: "Are you on a mission?" Dragon: "If I were Valeria, I couldn't tell you, now could I?" Boy: "Can I help?" Dragon: "Sure. Do you live nearby?" Boy: "Yes, over in that apartment complex." Dragon: "What number?" Boy: "25." Dragon: "I'll be in touch with you later." The boy leaves, Dragon picks up Tim, and they leave the starport by the usual way. They are checked thoroughly, but of course have nothing illegal. They go through and wander around for a while, then Dragon heads towards where she tossed her bag.

Oh-oh. A border guard with a dog are over by the fence, looking at something on the ground that is probably Dragon's bag. Damn. Dragon approaches. Dragon: "Excuse me, I left my bag over here. It has a bunch of duct tape on it." Guard: <pointing> "Is that it?" Dragon: "Uh, no." Guard: "Then you better step back. The dog smells explosives. It could be a terrorist bomb." The guard returns to the guard house and radios a request for a bomb disposal unit; they'll be over eventually. Guard: "So, can I offer you a cigarette?" This is after Tim has been asked to take a walk by Dragon, but didn't. Tim: "Hey buddy, she's with me." Dragon: "Oh please. Sorry. My brother's a bit overprotective." Tim: "Your bro-! <pause> Fine." He stalks off. Guard: "So, want a smoke?" It looks like it was rolled by some one with a tremor, using recycled components. Dragon: "Here, try one of mine." She offers him a dopestick, which he takes. Guard: "Hmm, smooth. So what brings you out here, you and your brother? Kind of overprotective, isn't he?" Dragon: "Well, you know what it's like." Guard: "Yeah." Dragon: "What do you do here all day?" Guard: "Look for smugglers. Watch the starport so no one carries it off." Dragon: "So what happens if some one is smuggling something that wouldn't hurt anyone, something like oh, these." She holds up the package of dopesticks. Guard: "Those aren't illegal here, why would anyone smuggle them?" Dragon: "Well, if some one didn't realize they weren't illegal..." Guard: "Hey, wait a minute. That's your bag, isn't it?" Dragon: "Yeah. But since there's nothing illegal in it, I'll just go pick it up." She starts to walk towards the bag. Guard: <coming out of the guard house> "Hold it. The dog smelled explosives." Dragon: "Of course the dog smelled explosives. The bag's been around." Guard: "Halt!" Dragon keeps on going, and there's a grunt and a crack! Dragon turns around to see Tim grappling with the guard. Tim doesn't have a lot of skill at this, but he is trying. Unfortunately he's not doing a good job of controlling the weapon, and Dragon is almost hit as she darts forward and scoops up her bag. Tim screams like a girl, having been grabbed from behind by a furry thing with teeth. Tim drops the guard. Dragon hates doing this, but she takes out her wrecking bar to hit the dog. The dog dodges, Dragon barely misses and hits Tim. Tim: "Ow!" The dog and Dragon square off. Dragon: "Tim, run!" She doesn't have to tell him twice. The dog wishes it were a chameleon, because it's trying to watch both people at once. The dog is very conflicted. "Human with weapon... Human running = prey - human with weapon - prey running - human with weapon - prey!" He takes off after the prey, Dragon in pursuit. The dog catches up and pulls Tim down by his elbow. He's gnawing on Tim when Dragon catches up, then the dog switches to the armed person. Dragon and the dog exchange slashes and blows as Tim lays on the ground tucked into a ball protecting his face and throat. Finally Dragon connects with the side of the dog's head solidly and the dog goes down. Dragon goes over to get Tim, who's on the ground and pointing back at the guard who is now up and pointing his weapon. Many shots are fired, but neither Dragon nor Tim are hit. And there's a jeep approaching the guard. Time to run into the jungle. <insert ominous jungle noises here> Tim is not happy about much of anything right now, especially the bleeding and running into the jungle bits.

When we last left the Bonaventure, Bernie the eating machine was across the street making a call to his superiors about the problem with the tape deck. He eventually returns to the ship, where Max is beating his head against the wall, mostly figuratively. Max: <thinking> "I'm a complete idiot. I couldn't have screwed this up any more if I'd done it on purpose.." Bernie: <to Max> "Captain Thompkins, my supervisor, is on his way. <lowering his voice> Look, how well do you know the other members of your crew?" Max: "The crew consists of three people, including myself and Amanda, and the other person has been sent off planet to take care of some matters for me. [Note: Joe has been sent to deliver a letter detailing what has been going on to Max's family - just in case.] The others are passengers. I don't believe any of them have any connections to the local rebels." Bernie: "I thought you said you didn't think it was the rebels. It could be a new group. They could have an inside man." Max: "Okay, look. My ship isn't the only place that might have been compromised. Your department isn't secure either." As Bernie begins to argue about this, men in dark suits, and one man in a dark, rumpled coat enter the docking bay. The latter is Thompkins. The others are well-dressed cops, being led by Captain Mendoza. From bad to worse.

Max calls Dwayne, gives him a message for the bank, and asks him to go arrange for the ransom money to be made available. Dwayne is happy to be able to contribute, and goes out through the cargo exit, heading away as the others, minus one man left at the entrance to the bay, continue towards the ship. As Dwayne approaches, the big man closes the sally port. Dwayne: "Excuse me, I have business to attend to." Cop: "I'm sorry, but this is police business. I'll have to ask you to stay, Mr...?" Dwayne: "Faiehhaven, Bawon Faiehhaven." Dwayne recognizes the make and price range of the big man's suit. My, the local police must be paid well here.

Max closes and dogs all the hatches once Dwayne is out. Bernie: "Look. Something's going on here. This tape machine has been tampered with. I can't do this alone. You've got to trust me." Max: "I might trust you." Bernie: "Are you going to eat that?" Max: "What?!? No." It's not that Bernie has a short attention span, it's just that he can only go without eating for so long before his brain switches over to feed me mode; the man has the metabolism of a hummingbird!

Dwayne compliments the cop on his expensive suit, excuses himself again, and tries to pass. The cop grabs him by the arm. Dwayne: "Unhand me, sih!" Cop: "Look buddy, you stay put or I'm going to have to mess you up!" He's thumping a large finger on Dwayne's chest as he speaks. Dwayne: "You awe being vewy, vewy, wude!" Cop: <smirking> "Oh, I'm being wude, am I?" Dwayne: "And just what it that cwack supposed to mean?" Cop: "Listen, Mr. Fruit. You behave or I'll mess you up so bad your boyfriend won't recognize you. Take your limp wrist over there before I get wough." That's it. Dwayne hits the man in the face, once. Dwayne only looks small and puny. He's actually small and very, very tough. (There's usually a reason why the runt of the litter survives.) But never hit the bones with your hand - that's what sticks and rocks are for. Dwayne is shaking his bruised hand and saying "Dwat!" a lot.

Thompkins: "Open in the name of the law!" They're pounding on the main hatch, and Dwayne can see the cops have guns out, hidden behind their backs. All except for Thompkins, who's in the front. Dwayne takes the Beretta he picked up off the unconscious man and fires above the men's heads. There's a spang as the round hits several feet above them. Close enough to get their attention though.

Inside, Max calls the Starport Authority. STA: "How can I help you? <aside> Hey Bob, what's a nine letter word for insect?" Max: "This is the merchant ship Bonaventure, in docking bay 9. There is gunfire inside the bay, and men firing at each other." STA: "We'll contact the local police, sir." Max: "No. I want Starport Authority here." STA: "Okay, they'll be there in a couple of minutes." The cops have retreated from the hatch, and are crouched down. As they return fire, Dwayne sees one of the well-dressed cops turn his gun onto Thompkins and shoot him in the back of the head. This raises the stakes considerably.

An incredibly thin female and a rather rotund, middle-aged male, both in STA uniforms pull up. Female: "Starport Police!" As the STA vehicle rolls up the cops put away their guns, and two of them start yelling "Come on, you can make it!" to the obviously deceased Thompkins. The female rushes up to render aid. Cop: <pointing at Dwayne> "That man shot Captain Thompkins!" The older STA cop, Galishie, goes over to Dwayne, who has already put his borrowed firearm on the ground. Dwayne: "Be vewy caweful. One of those men shot his compatwiot in the back of the head." Galishie: "That's a very serious accusation, sir. We'll get this sorted out." He walks over to Mendoza and greets him all friendly like. Galishie: "Ramon, what's going on here?" Oh great. Is anyone on this planet not on the take?? Mendoza: "We were here on official business when we were ambushed." Galishie: "Look, Ramon. We're going to have to take charge here. You understand." One of the cops helps the female bag up the alleged assailant's weapon. Or does he? Dwayne: "That is not my fiweahm. My fiweahm is thehe." He indicates the Beretta beside him, and describes a chip missing on the handle. Ramon: "That doesn't mean anything. A man like you must carry a throwdown. Besides it's either that, or the whole planetary police force is involved in a conspiracy." Maureen: "Wait a minute, aren't we supposed to take all the firearms into custody?" Why, yes, they are. This makes Mendoza's men a tad nervous, especially the one who shot Thompkins. Cop: "I'm not sure where my suppressor is, it must have caught a round and flown off." He's looking nervously at Mendoza, who has the "Well, he may have to be sacrificed" look. Ooh, that's the career dissipation light all right.

Mendoza: "Keep me informed of everything." Galishie: "Oh, of course, Ramon." Mendoza: "I hope we'll be seeing you and Madeline tomorrow night?" Galishie: "You bet. Wouldn't miss it." Lombard Galishie is the ranking STA officer, and the crossword addict. He's a GS16, and he's here because his wife loves this planet. He signs papers and schmoozes. The ranking actual working STA officer is Chardig Vernishlick. He's an expert on Imperial tax crimes, and a well-rounded Martel. Dwayne is escorted in and has a nice little sit down chat with the acting magistrate in his office. Judge: "If I can have your assurance as an officer that you are not going to leave planet until the investigation is completed, I see no reason not to release you on your own recognizance." Dwayne: "Why natuwally. I might have to leave the stawpowt, but that would be only bwiefly, and only if necessawy." Judge: "Of course. Use your discretion. I'm sure we'll get this misunderstanding taken care of." Mendoza is not happy about this, but tough. The judge is a political animal, and has much more in common with Dwayne. They discuss the local golf course, and others in the area. Mendoza is getting redder and redder. He stalks out, shutting the door rather brusquely.

Back to the Uni-mog crew in the jungle. Jameson: "More lemonade?" They're passed by a man on a burro as they jerk and thunk along. Jameson: "There it is, the shining metropolis of San Cristobal." It looks like your typical mining/shanty town with a hand scrawled sign on the way in. It's not the most desolate place in the universe, but you can just about see it from here. Tavi and Duane get out and spend a few minutes getting used to not bouncing, and look back at the road they just traversed - it looks like it's made up of Z's and W's. Jameson: "I don't know about you, but I could use a drink and a bath, not necessarily in that order." Tavi: "Is there somewhere clean here to do that?" Jameson: "Yes, there's Jacomo's over there. I think food, a drink, then a long hot bath with a friendly backscrubber."

They enter Jacomo's. There's a brief pause as they enter and their eyes adjust to the lighting in the tavern. It's made up of several former cargo containers, and is quite spacious, if not up to Tavi's taste in lodging. A tall, thin, cadaverous man comes out from behind the bar to greet the newcomers. "I, am Jacomo." Tavi: "You have poor taste in towns." Jacomo: "One goes where one is needed. What may I provide for you tonight?" Tavi: "Good steak, better bourbon, a room later. If that's possible." Jacomo: "You are in Jacomo's, and all things are possible." He has them seated at a table, and soon a waiter comes out of the kitchen with a huge tray. Large porterhouse steaks, fresh hot bread, fresh butter, and beverages are brought over. Jacomo: "You have what you require?" Tavi: "We may require something more later." Jacomo: "You are in Jacomo's! To get what your heart desires, dear lady, you have only to ask for Jacomo!" He exits, stage left, with a flourish.

Dragon and Tim eventually stagger out of the jungle, a few miles away from the starport. They are met by an older, concerned local. Man: "Good heavens, are you all right? You shouldn't go into the jungle." Dragon: "We're not from here." The man offers to help them get to a hospital. Dragon: "No. We can't do that. One of the border guards sent his police dog after us when I turned him down." Man: "A police dog? Oh, those border guards. It wouldn't be the first time they've sicked the dogs on an innocent person for their amusement." He takes them to his home above his bakery, calls his friend the doctor, and takes care of Dragon and Tim.

Post-police debacle, Mendoza couldn't find any way to keep Dwayne or anyone else from the ship in custody, but the entire bay is cordoned off as a crime scene so no one can get on board the ship. The marked map is on Max's person, not on the ship. Sparrow: "Could we ask the nice police to forward the calls from the ship to our hotel room?" Max: "I can arrange it, but not through the police." They get a suite in a hotel. Then Max goes to visit the Imperial Bank's manager. It's a lot of money, but they can have it in 24 hours, in piasters. It's a lot of weight, and Max requests that it be separated into six cases.

Maureen, or Mo as she's called does get around to interviewing the people involved, at the hotel. Max: "...The police showed up at the ship, there was a shot fired, then the gunfire started in earnest, and that's when I contacted STA." Mo: "So it didn't seem that the police were doing anything out of the ordinary when they were shot at?" Max: "I was inside the ship. The only thing I could see through the view port in that hatch was Captain Thompkins and people crowded up close behind him. You have Dwayne's account of what happened; he had no reason to wish Captain Thompkins any harm, and he has no reason to lie." Mo: "We can hardly just take his word for it. I mean it has been suggested that a highly placed member of the local police department is responsible for the death of a fellow officer." Max: "I can't speak to that; I wasn't outside at the time. If Baron Fairhaven says he saw one of the officers shoot Captain Thompkins, then I'm inclined to believe that's what happened." Mo: "You're talking about a man's career. Even a hint of a scandal could be devastating." Max: "It seems to be the only thing with which your people are willing to concern themselves." Mo: "We have twelve officers on station, I'm sure you can understand that there's not a whole lot we can do." Max: "I understand that. I also understand that there's a difference between not being understaffed, and doing nothing. The local police don't seem to give a damn." Mo: "But that is a different issue... isn't it?" Max: "I don't know." Mo: "This Baron Fairhaven, how long have you known him?" Max: "A few weeks. He's stayed to help out after Amanda's abduction." She asks a lot of very specific questions, and is very, very careful. She's not a skilled investigator, but she's trying to do the best she can. Sparrow is next, after a couple of hours. Sparrow: "Why are you not looking at the videotape?" Mo: "There was a problem with the camera shortly after the police entered the bay - it was apparently damaged by a stray bullet. Besides, it wouldn't necessarily show the whole bay. Tell me, what brings you to Menorb?" Sparrow: "I'm sort of a tourist, and I was on the other planet and I was told this was an interesting place, but I don't know why." Mo: "You know, you look very familiar. Have we met?" Sparrow: "No, I don't think so." Mo: "Do you have a dog?" Sparrow: "Oh, I've been doing some volunteer work with one of the local animal shelter, walking dogs and that sort of thing." Mo: "Do you have a friend over in the Broadhaven area?" Sparrow: "That's where I was walking the dog." Mo: "That's where I know you from. It's terrible about the murder, that's where it happened, near where you were walking. Kind of goes to show you that things like that can happen anywhere." Mo leaves, promising to be in touch.

Max gets a call. Male voice: "Mr. Fairfax?" Max: "Yes?" Voice: "I just thought I'd like you to know - don't expect to see your girlfriend again." <click> F---.

Jameson, Tavi, and Duane eat. Jacomo: "Do you require anything else?" Tavi: "Yes, safari gear." Jacomo: "Ah, you would like the special menu." Tavi: "That's right." Jacomo: "Perhaps you would like to tour the wine cellar?" They go down some steps of wood, then more steps cut into rock. Jacomo takes a torch from a sconce in the wall. They go past crates of beer, canned things, a couple of large casks. Jacomo: <smiling> "Amontillado." This is lost on Duane and Tavi. Then they get to the reason for the trip down here. Racks and racks of guns and stuff. Yes! Blocks of C-4, grenades, shotguns, handguns, etc. Tavi is looking for a handgun, automatic. They don't want anything exotic. Duane wants a shotgun, but can't get an auto, just a pump action. It holds eight rounds, and there's ammo. Duane takes it and a whippet gun.

Back to Dwayne, Sparrow, and Max. Dwayne has been told that it will probably take a few weeks to sort everything out, but it will give him the time to play a few rounds of golf with the judge. Sparrow can't help but notice Max paling after the phone call. Sparrow: "What's wrong? Who was that?" Max: "I don't know who it was." Sparrow: "What did they want, 'cause you don't look so good." Max repeats the phone message.

A few minutes later, Mo reappears. Mo: <to Max> "I just got a message from some one saying you wanted to change your statement." Max: "Who told you that?" Mo: "I don't know, I just received a page. I assumed you or one of your people called." Max: "I didn't call. And no one from my ship called you - we're all here. Whoever paged you is probably the same person who called here to inform me I shouldn't expect to see Amanda again. They apparently feel that will make me change my statement. It won't." Mo: "Oh, I see. I'm sorry there's nothing I can do. <pause> You know, between you and me, there might be something to what you say. I did some checking on my own." Sparrow: "Oh, you're not long for this world." Mo: "What do you mean?" Sparrow: "I'll bet you haven't even filed your report yet, have you?" Mo: "Well, no." Sparrow: "What did you find out?" Mo: "Well, like I said, just some stuff doesn't make sense." Sparrow: "Like what?" Mo: "Some of the operations the anti-terrorist group has taken over. They've got a pretty broad mandate, and some of the cases they've taken charge of don't make sense." They've taken care of all the evidence in these cases as well - money, drugs, etc. How convenient. Sparrow: "They haven't taken over the case of that corporate guy who was murdered, have they?" Mo: "Of course, it was the work of terrorists." Sparrow: "Uh-huh." Sparrow is distracted by the newspaper that was delivered to the room earlier, as it has an interview with Captain Mendoza about the incident in the docking bay earlier. Mendoza is trying to make Dwayne out to be the bad guy, and it looks like the reporter was eating it up. Mendoza: <quoted> "...this Dwayne person, who's a reprobate and has something of a reputation off planet..." Nothing is a direct accusation, mind you, he doesn't say what Dwayne's reputation is for. Sparrow's attention is drawn by the picture of Mendoza in his office. There's a shelf behind him, and it has a cat figure on it. It appears to have been painted black, but it's exactly the right size and look of the jeweled cat missing from the dead man's house. Such a coincidence Mo: "...I've been working on the individual members of the team, and I think some of them are ready to crack. One in particular has agreed to speak with me privately. I'm meeting him when I leave here." Sparrow: "You say that the camera was hit by a round and is suddenly not working. What does the camera show before that?" Mo: "Not much. Just the approach to the ship." Sparrow: "Was Dwayne in the picture?" Mo: "No." Sparrow: "Then he couldn't have shot Thompkins! Check out the angles." Mo: "Look, I'm doing the best I can here. It's not like I'm getting a lot of help. I'll know more once I've had my meeting." Sparrow: "Don't tell me you're considering meeting with this guy on your own?" Mo: "Who am I supposed to trust? My partner? He plays cards twice a week with Mendoza for God's sake. They go hunting and fishing together. Mendoza is his daughter's godfather. Look, I'll be careful." She leaves, but moments before Sparrow darts into her room and uses her disguise skill to change her appearance into that of a teenage boy. She follows Mo, who even once asks Sparrow for directions. They end up in the new multiplex theatre. It's all the rage.

Sparrow sees Mo walking, and checks to see if anyone else is following. Nope. They arrive at the multiplex, then Mo looks around, walks up to a car, and gets in. Argh!!! No! Bad Mo! Sparrow strolls past the car like she's walking to her own. It's dark in the car, until Mendoza lights his dopestick. Sparrow keeps walking by, as Mendoza lights up Mo's dopestick. Shit! Either Mo is out of her frelling mind and is trusting Mendoza, or she's already working for him. Sparrow walks past, then Mo gets out, followed by Mendoza. Mendoza: "You are such a beautiful and intelligent woman. Be careful, my dear, these are very clever criminals." Mo floats away. Sparrow makes a phone call to Max. Sparrow: "She met with Mendoza. Get out of the hotel." <click> Max stands up, grabs his bag, and motions to the door. Dwayne picks up the bare minimum four suitcases after leaving a note on his clubs with $20 credits, asking that they be stored until he returns. They take the stairs down. Dwayne: "Why are we leaving?" Max: "Mo is working with Mendoza. It's not safe here." Dwayne: "We've been chased about too long. We must take action! What about Spawwow?" Max: "What? Who?" Dwayne: "Spawwow! Spawwow! She might be in dangeh!" Max: "Oh. She's the one who called." They walk out of the ritzy area, and find a sports bar in the working class section nearby that's open 24/7. Sparrow has returned to the area and spots the boys en route. The men enter the bar. Sparrow waits a few minutes before following, and sees several fire trucks go by very fast. Then she goes inside, spots Max, makes eye contact and keeps walking. Max gets up and follows, and Dwayne follows him. In the alley, they stop to compare notes, and Sparrow briefs them on what she saw, and the fire trucks heading towards the hotel.

Sparrow: "Here's the problem as I see it. STA, completely corrupt. Planetary authority, mostly corrupt. That leaves the megacorp." Dwayne: "I'm not impwessed with the leadehship. They ahe absolutely iwwesponsible!" Max loses it after all the stress and the missing R's, and has to spend the next couple of minutes choking back hysterical laughter.

The three decide to find temporary lodging before taking the discussion further. Sparrow locates a hotel of the hourly sort not too far away, but definitely not in the neighborhood anyone would look for Dwayne. A man in a sweaty T-shirt, reading "Catholic Schoolgirls in Bondage" is behind the front desk. Sparrow: "We need a couple of rooms, for at least a night. Do you have any with adjoining doors?" Manager: "Yeah, sure sweetheart. Maybe you'd like a suite." He has to look up the daily rates, but they do have them. Manager: "Cotton, satin, or rubber?" Sparrow: "Cotton would be fine, thank you." Manager: "Need anything else?" Sparrow: "No, but I'll be sure to let you know." Dwayne asks for a set of rubber sheets (he's thinking of useful material - nothing kinky), and pays for them. Manager: <to Dwayne> "Hey, I don't think I've seen you before. I don't think we've met. My name's Pete." He extends a moist hand, which Dwayne takes politely. Pete only has eyes for Dwayne, who he would like to meet later, perhaps. He leans back and puts his riding boots up on the desk, showing off his leather breeches. Whoo boy.

They've got two rooms that adjoin, so they can play some sort of nasty three person game. Not. Pete can just wonder. Sparrow goes in and tries to find a non-porno channel. She eventually lucks out and finds the news coverage of the hotel they were in earlier, in flames. Announcer: "By the time the fire trucks arrived, the fire had gotten out of hand, and the people are being evacuated by grav-vehicle." Dwayne: "That's what we need! Spawwow, we need a vehicle. A twuck would take too long, it must be a gwav-vehicle." Sparrow suggests they could nick one from the parking lot of the multiplex she was at earlier, but the last thing they need is an encounter with the cops, and what they really need is a way off the starport. Sparrow: "Problem is, I don't have any contacts here, no one I can use as a source of information on where to get what we need." Dwayne: "We need a souwce then." Sparrow: "Well, why don't you ask your friend at the front desk if he knows one?" Dwayne: "That's a good idea! He does seem like something of a wascal, ow even a scoundwel." Sparrow was actually joking, but what the heck. He goes downstairs to find Pete has changed into his leather jacket to go with his riding breeches and boots, and the jacket is open. Dwayne: <conspiratorally> "It seems we have wun into a small pwoblem. We may need to leave foh a few days. You wouldn't happen to know where we could find some pwotection against the cwiminal element? Some people ahe so jealous!" Pete: "I don't, but I have a friend. He's a top, and he's into that sort of thing. Let me make a call." He steps to the back, makes a call, then returns to Dwayne, waiting up front. Pete: "Yeah, Reggie said he'd love to meet you." Dwayne: "Now we weally do have to get out of town." Pete: "I understand. He says that he could help out with that." Dwayne: "I appweciate all youh help. <taking the paper with directions> By the way, I think the pehson who's looking foh us is still way in the closet and is pwobably weally touchy, so be caheful. I'm suhe you can tell."

Dwayne returns to the room and fills Sparrow and Max in on what transpired downstairs. Dwayne: "Shall we go togetheh? I'm not suhe how to pwoceed at this point." Sparrow: "I'm not sure it would be a good idea to break up the group." She suggests Dwayne and Max go first, and she'll follow close behind.

The little group makes its way the mile or so to The Stockade. The type of establishment is easily gleaned by the man outside wearing black leather chaps, an open leather jacket, and a leather cap. Doorman: "Good evening." Dwayne and Max enter, since they have to. Sparrow enters a few minutes later. A tall female strolls up. "Hello there, darlings. <to Dwayne> Hi there, I don't believe I've met you before." Dwayne: "Actually, we'we looking foh Weggie." Natasha: "Well, come and see me later. My name's Natasha. I'll see you after the show." She (?) points out the big man with the flatop behind the bar. That would be Reggie. They head over to the bar. Dwayne: "We were recommended by Pete." Reggie: "Pleased to meet you. Bob said you'd be on the way." Dwayne: "We'eh in a bit of a pickle." Reg: "Pete said you may be in need of some help. Something about an unhappy acquaintance." Dwayne: "I wouldn't want to be neah the waging queen when she finds out. We may need something for self-defense." Reggie: "I'll introduce you to Jacomo." Dwayne: "Is Jacomo a purveyor of fine weapons, by any chance?" Reg: "Jacomo is a purveyor of anything people pay money for." Dwayne explains that they need a ride, ASAP, and continues on (quite happily) with his story of the jilted, repressed lover. Dwayne: "...vewy, vewy defensive, the whole Pwotestant thing." Reg understands. They have a couple of hours to kill before their ride can leave, and Reg suggests they take a table, have food and watch the floor show. Sparrow is able to flirt very androgynously with either sex; she's had practice. Max isn't homophobic, but he's low on sleep and high on stress, and this place is very surreal.

After the show, Natasha comes over and tells them that Reg told her they need a ride. She can take them as far as San Cristobal. She takes a few minutes in the back, and comes out as Nathan. He's under contract to Menorb Mining, but he can take them along on his run. They follow him outside to his grav-rig. Nathan: "There's a jumpseat there in the back. <to Dwayne> You can sit up here with me." Sparrow and Max take the back seats, and they move off in the grav-truck with Madame Butterfly playing on the stereo.

After a couple of hours, they reach their destination. Oh look, somebody knocked off the top of a hill and strip mined around it. How attractive. Nathan lands, wishes "Bob" good luck, and gives his card to Dwayne. A manly handshake is followed by a big hug, then Nathan takes off. The party heads for the indicated "Jacomo's". It reeks of ambience. (Or something.)

As they enter, a pneumatic woman bounds downstairs and greets the newcomers. When asked, she takes them to Jacomo. Jacomo: "Mademoiselle, Monsieur, <to Dwayne> m'Lord." Jacomo kisses Sparrow's hand, then signals to a waiter. Jacomo: "Bring some glasses and a bottle of my private reserve for my fine noble friend. May I suggest some fresh coffee with just a touch of brandy and some heavy cream?" Dwayne: "That would be lovely." Jacomo seats them at a table. Jacomo: "How can Jacomo make your visit in his establishment more enjoyable?" Sparrow: "A beer. I'll let you recommend one." Jacomo: "We have the local beer, and import. I wouldn't recommend the local." Sparrow gets an import. Jacomo: "And for you sir?" Max: "Scotch." Jacomo: "From your tone, should I just bring the bottle? You won't be flying tonight will you sir? You have the look of a pilot." Max: "If you bring the bottle, I might drink it. I think a glass for now." The drink is brought, along with dessert for Sparrow and Dwayne - hot pie with ice cream, and Jacomo brings hot beans to grind at the table for coffee. Dwayne: "Unfohtunately we ahe in a bit of a wush." Jacomo: "Will you be travelling at night? I wouldn't recommend it. What sort of vehicle do you have?" Sparrow: "We don't know yet." Jacomo: "Ah! Jacomo can provide whatever is required, but I would really recommend you wait until daylight. Will you require a room? I'm sure you'll find that whatever your situation it will look better after some sleep." Max: <muttered> "Yeah, right." They finish they're drinks and go up to sleep, or not sleep as the case may be.

Back in the city, Dragon and Tim have been medicked and rested. They go meet professor Augusta. Augusta: "How far are you willing to go to see justice is done? You realize that the rebels are, according to the government, criminals." Dragon: "I've been in prison. For opposing the Imperial government. For not wanting to take part in the killing indigenous people by Imperial troops." Dragon having established her rebel "cred", as it were, the professor agrees to take her and her boy Tim to the meeting. They take a slow drive down an unpleasant road, to meet the prof's friend halfway, while listening to the same pan-pipe tape over and over again, while Augusta sings along. Dragon turns off the tape and asks about gardening. This thankfully keeps Augusta happy and he refrains from inflicting more sonic torture.


After driving all night, or most of it, they arrive in a horrible little town. Augusta: "This is what people are forced to live in. And this is better than most have. This is a city where businessmen come to do business. My friend will be here at first light." Dragon: <to Tim> "Now this is an adventure." Dragon and Tim follow Professor Augusta into Jacomo's. Yes, it is pretty much the only show in town.

Upstairs, Flett, Duane, Sergeant, one each, is up at oh-dark-thirty. He knocks on Tavi's door. She grabs her gun and answers the door cautiously. Duane: "It's morning." Tavi: "Of course it is." It's dark outside. Duane: "I'm going downstairs." He does so, Tavi returns to bed. This is the last time Tavi works with a morning person.

Down in the main dining area, Tim slumps over asleep at the table. Professor Augusta is sipping coffee from a China cup.

Duane comes downstairs, sees Jameson at one table drinking Bushmills and coffee, and Dragon with a dead or unconscious Tim at another table with a tall grey haired man. Duane goes to join Jameson. Then he hears "Good morning sir, may I get you anything?" "Some stwong coffee, thank you." Duane is beginning to develop a persecution complex. Waiter: "Monsieur Jacomo thought you might like to look at the paper this morning." He sets it down. It's the society section, and it has a picture of Dwayne along with "Missing - Among the 130 victims of hotel fire". Dwayne, figuring that Duane and the others might be travelling undercover, only makes discreet eye contact before concentrating on his coffee.

It's not clear what the noise is, but it involves giggling, running around, and thumping. Apparently in the room between Tavi and Sparrow. Tavi is awake now, and in a really foul mood. Sparrow gets up too, but in a less cranky mood, and goes to get breakfast. As she leaves her room, she sees a familiar looking female, looking blearily down both halls. They recognize each other, but Tavi isn't awake enough to care. Sparrow leaves Max to sleep; he's been through a lot and could use the rest.

Downstairs, several tough, swarthy men in camo come in. They are followed by a distinguished man in a well-fitted uniform. He goes over and greets Professor Augusta warmly, and is introduced to Dragon and the unconscious Tim. Roberto: "Your friend is not well?" Dragon: "It was a rough trip, and he was mauled by a police dog before we left." Roberto: "It seems that the same dog got you as well." He indicates the bandage on Dragon's face. Dragon: "Only one bite. I do know that the dog got the worst of the encounter." Roberto: "But what brings you all the way out here? Arturo said you wished to speak with me." Dragon: "The ship that I came on in, the captain was kidnapped and it was blamed on the rebels." Roberto: "We are not kidnappers." Dragon: "I know that. I was researching..." She explains about the attempted kidnapping of Sparrow, and how it involved the head of the AT group. Roberto: "Mendoza! That dog. He still lives." Dragon briefs Escobar on what she knows. Roberto: "If you have crossed Captain Mendoza, it is not safe for you to be on planet." Yeah, like Dragon's going to run from a fight. To a fight maybe.

Duane is concentrating on the bottle he started on when he heard Dwayne's voice. Sparrow decides as she comes down that of all the people there Dwayne is the friendliest looking. She joins him.

In his room, Max wakes from an uneasy sleep with a start. No, Amanda's head is not in his lap. It takes a few minutes for him to shake off the nightmare and get moving. Tavi has taken her coffee back upstairs just as Max staggers out of his room. Tavi: "Let's go back in. We have a situation." Back inside. Tavi: "Dwayne's downstairs, Duane's downstairs, Sparrow's downstairs, Dragon's downstairs, Escobar's downstairs, the other Escobar's probably nearby....Why are you here?" Max: "We needed to get out of the city." Tavi: "I can understand getting out of the city. Did you come here for a reason?" Max fills her in on Mendoza, Mo, the hotel fire, etc. Tavi: "So, Captain Mendoza is likely to be here any time. Do you have a goal, a purpose, that you're willing to share? And Sparrow and Tim are only partially in one piece." She hands Max her triple espresso, deciding that he needs it more than she does. Tavi: "I don't know what they do to it here, but it doesn't come out of a little machine." Max drinks the coffee. Tavi: "Do you have weapons?" Max: "Yes, I have a firearm with me." Tavi: "Good. If they left theirs in their rooms, bring them down, they may need them." Max: "Okay. Roberto Escobar is downstairs." Tavi: "Yes." Max: "I want to talk to him." He walks out and downstairs.

Just about every head turns as Max walks in, completing the set. He takes a look around the room and sees a man sitting with Dragon who looks like the newspaper pictures of Roberto Escobar. Max heads towards that table, as Dragon is telling Escobar that other members of the ship's crew are here too, although she doesn't know why.

Tavi is in a defensive position. Max stops by the table. Dragon: "Hi Max, this is Professor Arturo Augusta, and Roberto Escobar. Max is the co-owner of the ship." Roberto: "Ah, I do not have your ....what is it, your fiancée or friend. I'm sorry, but I cannot help you." Max: "I believe you can help me find Amanda." Roberto: "I see." Max: "If she is still alive, and that is in some doubt, I believe I know where their camp is. As far as we know, this is all connected to Captain Mendoza of the anti-terrorist unit, who I'm guessing is not a friend of yours, so we have a mutual enemy." A raven-haired beauty comes in, whispers something to Roberto, and then walks back out again. Roberto: "And there is some way I can help you? As you say, Mendoza and I are long time adversaries. Is whatever you wish my help with likely to cause Mendoza embarrassment or harm I hope? What do you intend to do?" Max: "If he's the man responsible, then my intention is to see him destroyed." Roberto: "Then you must come with me to my camp. We must hurry, even in our camps there may be government spies."

Duane goes outside with Jameson, to "check out the vehicle". Duane is keeping an eye on Carmen. Jameson: "What are we really doing?" Duane: "I though you didn't want to know." Jameson: "But I'd like to know when it's something I don't want to know." Duane: "You don't want to know." Jameson: "Right." The raven haired woman, Carmen, is chatting with a couple of men, while about a half dozen men keep an eye on the perimeter.

Inside, Escobar is making his farewells to Augusta and Dragon. Dragon: "I'd like to go with you." Roberto: "Why? This is not your fight." Dragon: "Captain Mendoza took the captain of my ship, Max's fiancée." Roberto: "Well, we will do what we can to help. If you wish to come along, then of course you may." Dragon rousts Tim.

Outside, Carmen has spotted new meat, er, Duane. Carmen: "You're new here. You don't look like a miner. You must be a smuggler or some other kind of rogue." Duane: "Must be." Carmen: "How fortunate for you that I like rogues." She gets close and does a bit of fondling. Carmen: "My you are a big man." Tavi: <thinking> "Bitch." Duane: "Where have you been hiding out since I've been here?" Carmen: "Here and there. I bet you have a big...gun." She's running her hands over him. Tavi gets up into the truck and unpacks the rifle, setting it under the seat. This Carmen chick is trouble any way you look at it.

Carmen continues to fondle Duane. Carmen: "I'll bet you can't spend any time talking about ore and veins, and deep core drilling." Duane: "Why should I?" Roberto comes over at this point, and pulls Carmen off of Duane. Roberto: "Come, we go now." Duane: "Hey! I was talking to her!" Roberto turns and glares at him. Roberto: "You - stay away from my sister." Carmen glances back at Duane as they get into their jeep. Dragon gets a lift with Roberto, and pulls Tim along. Max and the others can get a lift in the truck. Dragon introduces herself to Carmen. Dragon: "Hi. My name's Dragon." Carmen: "My condolences." Roberto: "Don't harass the poor woman, Carmen. Unlike you, she has a cause. The only reason you're here is because you're my sister."

Duane: "How long would it take us to follow them on foot?" Jameson: "A bit longer that it would take to get there in the vehicle. It depends on where we're going." Duane: "Wherever they're going."

In the back of the truck, some of Escobar's men are talking about Mendoza and what Escobar has told them about the passengers. Man: <to Max> "The police took your woman? That is intolerable! If they had taken my woman I would cut their balls off. I will lend you my own knife to cut off Mendoza's balls." At this point, Max is willing to do just about that. After a period of bouncing all over the "road", they pull into a really big cave. Roberto: "This is a good place to talk. It is not our main camp, but I only just met you. I am a cautious man by necessity." They set up a temporary camp in the cave, which has obviously been used before.

Duane and Jameson, having left just a minute before Escobar, lose visual contact fairly quickly. He then has Jameson drop him off, and he gets out to backtrack. The convoy appears to have disappeared. Bampf! The road is covered with rotting vegetation, and it's hard to see tracks. He can't hear the trucks either. He can hear animal noises in the area, and sets up a blind.

Roberto: <to Dragon> "Now that we're alone...Arturo mentioned a little bit about you. You're here to rescue your friend?" Dragon: "I have other reasons to be here." Roberto: "Do they have something to do with the Society?" He's looking at her dragon tattoo. Dragon: <thinking quickly> "Yes." Roberto: "Well as long as what you're doing here has nothing to do with me or my men, I am not an enemy." Dragon: <nodding towards Carmen> "How come she's here if she doesn't have a cause?" Roberto: "She's family. She's blood." Dragon: "Just because she's a relative doesn't mean you want to hang out in the jungle together." Roberto: "I know, but she's made enemies of her own, and I promised our mother that I would take care of her." Darn. He looks at Carmen. Roberto: "She has a good heart, and I believe that somewhere under there is the little girl I used to know. She may look the corporate whore, but deep down I know she hasn't changed." Dragon: "Before coming to this planet, I was a member of the Imperial military. I made it three years before they threw me in prison for refusing to follow an order to kill innocent people." Roberto: "Dragon. I look at you, and a dragon is a hard, vicious, scaly animal - that is not what I see. <glancing at Tim> Who's your friend, by the way? Is he anyone special?" Dragon: "Well, he's a very nice young man, but I'm sure we shared nothing in common from our backgrounds. But he's 19 or 20, and he's never been off his own planet and hadn't seen any other cultures or places and I just had to rescue him..." Roberto: "I see. A travelling companion then. And you? Do you have somewhere you have to rush back to?" Dragon: "Not really. I'm here for as long as I want to be, and I can take care of myself - Mendoza doesn't worry me, he wouldn't last long where I come from." Roberto: "What, are you from Regina or something?" Dragon: "Yeah. But on Regina, it's fair. Everyone gets treated the same way. It doesn't matter if you're a megacorp exec or a street punk, if you're walking down the street and get rude to someone, either way you might end up with a gun in your face..." They continue, deep in conversation.

Duane is in his little blind, and eventually sees some movement. A woman in a black jumpsuit comes out and gets a dopestick. One of the sentries is either covering her or planning on putting her out of his misery. Carmen heads for a creek. Duane sneaks out of the blind and heads that way. Carmen is off to the pool by the waterfall, for a little nude bathing. The sentry moves much closer, puts down the scope and takes out the binocs. Yeah, she's done this before, and is putting on a show. The sentry is on his stomach, and keeps adjusting himself. Duane sneaks towards the sentry.

Inside, Roberto notices that Carmen is missing and sends one of his men after her. Roberto: "Now, where were we?" Dragon: "How is this going to end?" Roberto: "We're hoping that the government will recognize that it's a losing battle, and will agree to certain rights for the people." Dragon: "And if you're killed? Does it all fall apart?" Roberto: "No. I'm not the only leader. I'm just the most reasonable one." Meanwhile, Tavi is scoping the place out, Max is pacing, and Sparrow is playing cards with the men. Dwayne is also anxious to get moving on finding Amanda. They just need to get Roberto away from Dragon. Sparrow doesn't have gambling skill officially, but she does pretty well; they're playing for things like chocolate bars and the like.

Duane sneaks through the water, up river in pursuit of Carmen. Luis is headed over to Carmen. Carmen comes out towards Luis, and they embrace. There is some really hot action going on here. She's pulling Luis' pants off. The voyeur sentry is watching intently. Sentry: "Come on, come on, move...Lucky bastard." Duane, who doesn't care about what the other party members are involved in, he knows what he's here for, sneaks up to take out the sentry. He doesn't surprise the man, who gets a good look at Duane before he slumps over unconscious. Duane disarms him and ties him up in the gilley-suit. Then he moves up to the water. Luis: "What was that?" Carmen: "What do you care? What would you rather do - listen to odd noises or this!" She displays bits provocatively while Luis picks up his gun and looks right in the direction Duane is. Duane: <thinking> "I'm a rock." Luis carefully dresses, a bit at a time, gun in hand and looking right towards Duane. Luis: "Come out of there. Very slowly." Duane can't tell absolutely if Luis knows where he's aiming, so he waits. Luis gets his pants on, picks up a rock with his off hand, and - still keeping his gun aimed toward Duane - throws it right at Duane. That would pretty much confirm that yes, he really does know where Duane is. Bugger. Luis: "All right, my little friend, up slowly." Duane: "You're good, I'll give you that." Luis: "I have spent many years in the jungle. I know how to read it." Carmen: "Well, what have you got here, Luis?" Duane smiles at Carmen, who has mostly zipped herself back into her jumpsuit. Luis: "You know him?" Carmen: "I saw him back at San Cristobal." Duane: "You're less experienced man is back there." Luis: "I like a little exercise in the morning." Duane: "What did you have in mind?" Luis hands his gun to Carmen, and takes out a large blade. Luis: "Do you wear that <indicates Duane's largest knife> for show? Of course you wearing that kevlar vest isn't really fair." He strips down to his waist, and Duane attacks. He's faster drawing from his sheathe than if it were in his hand. Luis parries. Two trained knife fighters, way too much testosterone, and a female audience all add up to a really flipping long knife fight.

Max finally gets tired of watching Roberto gaze raptly at Dragon and goes over. Max: "I hate to interrupt, but is there a reason we're sitting here doing nothing?" Roberto: "We still need intelligence to find out where your friend is." Max hands him a piece of paper with the coordinates on it. Roberto: "I know this place. I must show this to Luis. Where is he?" Rodrigo: "He went to get Carmen." Roberto rolls his eyes and goes after him, Max following. Others follow along, and soon a crowd has gathered to watch the useless display of machismo. Roberto: "What is the meaning of this?" Luis: "I am teaching this man some manners." The edged wrestling continues, and Duane goes for a binding grab. At this point, Luis uses his wrists as a pivot point and kicks Duane up the side of the head. Duane rolls with it and doesn't go down, but ow. Duane tries to turn it into a brawl, but Luis is tougher than he looks, as Duane discovers when he knees Luis in the abdomen. Ooh, so that's how it is! Luis gets in several more good kicks, in spite of Duane's intentions. Sparrow doesn't take any action, although bets are being made, as she doesn't know either of the combatants well enough to make an informed wager. Duane gets in a good hit, then Luis kicks him right in the nose. Duane isn't unconscious, but he's knocked to the ground and goes into the water, in his bulletproof vest. Duane is fished out, spitting water.

Roberto: <to Carmen> "This is the one you were talking to back in the city. I wonder who he is..." Dwayne: "I know him. Sehgent Duane Flett. Fohmeh Impewial Mawine commandos." Roberto: "I see. <walks over to the sputtering Duane> Sergeant Flett, can you hear me?" Duane: "Yes." Roberto: "Why are you here?" Duane: "I'm working against your enemies." Roberto: "My enemies. I suppose that means you're my friend." Rodrigo: "Shall we kill him, jefe?" Roberto: "Not yet. Tie him up." Carmen: "I'll watch him." Roberto: "No. Luis, have one of your men watch him." Duane is tied up very efficiently. Tavi slips Dwayne a small 1st Aid kit, Imperial, one each, for the use of.

Everyone moves back to the cave. Roberto shows the coordinates to Luis. Luis: "These coordinates? It is a government training camp." Roberto: "We believe the government has been kidnapping people for their own purposes, and blaming us." Some discussion follows concerning the training facility. Since it's apparently the anti-terrorist group that's running this little show, there are probably only thirty men at the camp, maybe less.

The more Dragon sees of Carmen, the more she wants to get rid of her. Roberto: "Luis, pick five of your best men. We're going on a little reconnaissance mission." Duane: "I have maps." Roberto: "You had maps. Very good maps. Now we have them." Dwayne, unhappy, is tending to Duane. Duane: "I can help." He's ignored. Dragon: "Is there a reason we're splitting up and sending a smaller group?" Roberto: "I suppose not. Bring the mercenary. Tie his hands. If he tries anything, kill him." Duane: <thinking> "You can try."

Max: <to Tavi> "May I speak with you?" Tavi: "As you wish." They go off to one side. Max: "Are you connected to that idiot?" He indicates Duane. Tavi: "Not particularly." Max: "I don't know what he's after, but if he interferes with our getting Amanda to safety..." Tavi: "What little I know indicates his interests would not interfere." Max: "That's not what I asked." Tavi: "It shouldn't interfere. If he starts to interfere, I'll pop him." Max: "That's good enough for now."