Traveller - On the Make in the Core

The next day the Petrel's entire crew decided to head to the down port to talk to Jonny Goodeboy, wanting an explanation for the mess they got into on Sevan after delivering his package to Sir Davis Doylahide. Dirty Days was just as loud as it had been during the previous visit. The bouncers stopped them at the door, asking for the 25 credit cover charge. When Robert said he was there to see Goodeboy, a bouncer shook his head and said Jonny wasn't expecting anyone, so they needed to pay the charge.

Jonny was at his usual table in the company of two female vargr, watching the dancers - this time a female vargr in a thong in the process of taking off the last of her three wraps and a human female slightly more conservatively dressed in a sling shot one piece. Robert and Charley asked to sit with him, and he agreed. The others took places around the bar, with Nex, who had met Goodeboy last time, trying to look menacing. Goodeboy asked why Nex looked so dyspeptic; Robert explained what happened on Sevan.

Jonny looked somewhat regretful and not really surprised. He explained that he worked as a facilitator, finding people for those who need particular services. A few years ago, he was contacted by a man who never revealed the identity of his employer - Goodeboy wouldn't be surprised if the man didn't know himself. This man said that his employer would pay the vargr generous amounts of money for providing couriers to deliver packages no questions asked, assuring him they contained nothing in and of themselves illegal or lethal. The packages were always those slim black cases, and their delivery usually caused the receiver to react radically. Sometimes they would commit suicide or murder someone, but usually they would suddenly and without explanation reverse a course of action they had been pursuing. Many times, the receiver did not react at all, or, at least, not in a way that Goodeboy could discern.

Robert asked for an example. Goodeboy thought a moment and one of his companions whispered something in his ear in Gevgh. Jonny nodded and told the Travellers of one of the early packages he had delivered. He had arranged for it to be given to an independent trader captain at Ankod that was a favorite to win the Annililik Run next year. After getting the package the said captain, without warner or explanation, withdrew his ship from the competition.

At that point Goodeboy shrugged and said he had nothing else he could tell them. He had never tried to find out who was giving him these packages to deliver, partly because he didn't think he could do so but mostly because he didn't want to ruin a steady source of good income. Robert thanked Goodeboy and the crew left. After departing Dirty Days, Dravij told everyone he notices several men and a few vargr had been keeping a close eye on the table - most likely muscle in the employ of Goodeboy.
Last edited:
The next day Robert, Dessa and Charley went out clothes shopping. Robert had learned that Lady Elissa was hold a fete for a young nobleman from Vland sector attending the Moot for the first time. Dessa and Charley had agreed to accompany Robert to this and everyone wanted to look appropriate for it, spending a fair amount of money from a share payout from the profits of their first merchant run. Meanwhile Dravij started looking for cargo for the Crimson Petrel's next run, starting at Yirsh Poy. While he was dealing with an on-line broker Nex answered a buzz at the Petrel's ramp. A young woman's voice asked if the ship was taking passengers to Yirsh Poy (Dravij had submitted the ship's itinerary to High Port authorities to advertise to anyone who needed passage to, or special deliveries sent to, that system). Nex checked with Dravij and told the woman yes. She asked Nex if she could talk to the captain or ship's bursar about buying middle passage and the pilot let her on. The sight revealed to Nex was unexpected and eye searing.

The woman, Wenna Francheskay, appeared to be in the late teens, short, pretty and curvy in a bit of a flabby way. Her hair was done up in twin high ponytails, the right half dyed pink and the left cyan. She was wearing a kaleidoscope romper which shifted colors with every movement and almost blinding in its lambency. She asked Dravij if he had middle passage available and if it was for the standard rate of 10,000 credits. He said yes, but asked for identification, not wanting to transport a minor off of Capital. Wenna produced ID stating she had turned eight-teen during the twelfth portion of the last year. Against his better judgement Dravij agreed to take her onboard - ten-thousand credits was ten-thousand credits - telling her the Petrel would be heading out in a few days. Wenna thanked Dravij and Nex with enthusiasm and departed. Halfway through the bay she stopped to jump up and down on her toes, squealing excitedly, before running out. Dravij started to doubt he had made a wise decision.
After getting suitable clothing for the fete, Robert, Dessa and Charley traveled down to Cleon, going to a massive luxury hostel that nobles who do not have property on Capital use when attending the Moot. The guest of honor was the newly elevated Baron Frederick haut Sarganillusha, a Vilani noble from Vland attending the Moot for the first time. He was a relatively young man, dressed expensively in a fashion not familiar to Robert but not necessarily out of step with Capital trends. He was in a corner surround by others conversing with him, looking a little stiff and unsure of himself.

Robert quickly met with Lady Elissa. After catching up for a bit, he explained he needed help getting the encryption on Elizabet Shaiomi's data stick cracked. He also gave her information on rendezvous points on Sevan for the Army of the Free Soil (I forgot to mention that Spartacus Rahl sent Robert back to Halcyon Imports and Salli Tususiime when Robert mentioned he was willing to see about smuggling weapons for the Army to buy. Tususiime is a Free Soiler partisan and gave him rendezvous points for special deliveries), telling her about the opportunity to make some money gun running. He also asked Lady Elissa if she knew anything about people reacting in strange ways after receiving a package with a game piece in it.

Lady Elissa said she would see about having someone decrypt the stick and have it back to Robert before he departed Capital and thanked him for the information on Sevan. As for the packages, she had heard a few stories but did not know anyone directly affected by them. She did say she knew these packages always contained some little knick-knack - not only playing pieces, but things like post cards, flowers, coins and so forth. No one seems to know who is sending them. She then said that they would have to meet up later when both of them had more time - tonight, she had plans to cultivate young Baron Sarganillusha's acquaintance.

Dr. Petrova managed to join some conversations; while her SOC isn't particularly high, she is a renowned doctor and surgeon (her skill in Medicine is 4, which IIRC correctly means she is one of the best in the sub-sector, if not in the entire Core Sector, and has a reputation also burnished by an honorable Naval career). An older Naval doctor mentioned to her that the protege of an established doctor who Dessa had shown up in University, Ericos Landen, a man who people thought had a bright future ahead of him, had ended up a mere assistant administrator for the star port on Ameros.

Charley had brought the hilt of her psi-sword with her as an accessory and had attracted the attention of some fencing connoisseurs. One of them, a nobleman I described as a Flashheart type, began expounding on various exploits he had experienced. Scanning his thoughts, to her surprise Charley discovered that the nobleman, while exaggerating, wasn't actually doing so by much. Eventually the other people around them either wandered off (or were discretely dragged off by their significant others when they saw how infatuated they were becoming with the nobleman). The nobleman said with a bit of irony that he finally cleared everyone away - he was aware of how bombastic he sounded. He asked Charley a little bit about the sword, to which Charley said it was an antique she had just acquired. The noble said maybe they should fence some time before going off to 'entertain some others with my incredible exploits'. He seemed to have a healthy sense of sardonicism. When he was far enough away with other people around him, Charley telekinetically goosed him.

Robert played baccarat at the fete and won some money. The three stayed until the early morning before heading back to the up port and the Petrel, somewhat hung over.

The next session is this Saturday, 10/14.
Last edited:
The morning of the Crimson Petrel's day of departure, 62-1105, Robert received a comms call from Lady Elissa Burnidge Telric, who opened the conversation saying she was a little disappointed with him - he had been away from Capital barely two months and he was becoming a hero. She set him over a story published by the Core Liberal Herald Charagrr Talechaser had written an article about the Crimson Petrel and its crew, detailing how they had thwarted two assassination attempts on him and caught the culprit on Umgadin. Robert was philosophical about it, stating that by cultivating a heroic reputation would make it easier to trick and steal. Lady Elissa laughingly agreed with him and became more serious. She was having the data stick he gave her sent back to him via drone. There was something on it she found very interesting but did not want to discover over a comm channel, even the private one they use. She warned him to be very careful with the information on it.

On the stick were the financial records of a small shipping company, Filiki Eteria Shipping and Transport. Superficially they looked completely legitimate, but notes left by the late Elizabet Shaiomi revealed that large sums of money were being sent to two people in Core sub-sector - Kyrios Ekdikisi on Seku and Panemorfi Afanismos of Balpan. Research on Filiki Eteria revealed that they had been established five years ago, using some seed money provided by Delago Trading and had a fleet of over a dozen ships ranging from Free and Far Traders to 1000-ton freighters, plying trade routes over the Core sub-sector.

The crew discussed what they wanted to do with this mission, finally deciding to make a copy of the files and give it to Darsu Zhauman of Eshar et Kenner. Robert and Nex delivered the data personally, saying to use it at his own discretion and to be careful, not saying what was on the stick but leaving him to draw his own conclusions.

Toward the evening the four middle passengers travelling to Yirsh Poy began arriving. Among them was a freelance mercenary and bodyguard, Lakshmi Durga Daiprethi, a woman of Solomoni Indian descent, who was friendly and easy going. Fifteen minutes before departure Wenna Francheskay arrived out of breath, carrying her bags, dressed in a bubblegum/cotton candy colored frilled dress, hair still dyed half pink, half cyan and up in pig tails. She thanked them for taking her to Yirsh Poy and gave Dravij the payment for transport, 2000 of it in a lockbox in credit chips and notes ranging in denominations from 100 to a 1/2 credit. When she was ensconced in her stateroom she immediately started playing pop-rock at high decibels. Angelica, who had been helping with passenger luggage, turned to Dravij and asked him who the hell was that, stating she had seen vargr used grav salesmen dressed more sedately. Dravij shrugged helpless and said she was someone willing to pay the passage rate for the Petrel. Angelica shrugged herself and said you're the captain, your decision - she was just the gunner and general help.

The Crimson Petrel received permission from Capital High Port Traffic Control to depart and given their assigned route to the 100-diameter boundary. After a couple of hours thrusting outward they Jumped, course plotted to Yirsh Poy.
Transit in Jump was peaceful for the first three days when Nex walked into an argument in the common room. Wenna was arguing rather shrilly with Lakshmi about the merits of a musician, Lawler Zanzibar, who the young woman insisted was the greatest, most awesome-ist singer in the Imperium. Lakshmi laughed kindly and said that Zanzibar was no different from who knows how many pretty-faced Rockerboys groomed and promoted by the media corporations, blazing hotly for six months at most before fading away and being unceremoniously dropped by their labels. Wenna should really start listening to artists like Ashara Maza, the singer, songwriter and poet whose fame and popularity has been growing exponentially the past three years. She is an artist, Lakshmi said, whose work would be listened to and studied a century from now.

Wenna objected to this argument strenuously, saying that Maza was a skinny, shrill witch whose voice couldn't even compare to her Lawler. Lakshmi, with friendly good-nature, disagreed, but Wenna kept getting more and more strident. Nex was about to turn around and leave when Wenna shrieked "You take that back about my Lawler!" diving across the table and taking Lakshmi totally off guard, knocking her to the floor. Wenna proceeded to straddle her and punch her several times in the face with surprising force.

Nex grabbed Wenna and pulled her off the dazed mercenary. Wenna struggled and screamed, trying to break free but Nex had a tight bearhug on her. Lakshmi got up slowly, looking stunned, bleeding from the lip and nose, one cheek split. She touched her face, looking at the blood on her fingertips, and her face suddenly twisted into a terrifying rictus, one of the angriest Nex had ever seen.

"YOU LITTLE BITCH!" Lakshmi howled, drawing her dagger and striking at the young woman. Nex managed to throw both of them to the floor, narrowly missing getting stabbed in the skull, covering Wenna's body with his. The mercenary made to strike again but caught hold of herself, sanity flooding back into face. She walked to a bulkhead and pressed her forehead against it, telling Nex to get the little bitch out of her sight.

The rest of the ship's crew arrived. Wenna was bawling her eyes out, saying it wasn't right of people to talk about Lawler Zanzibar like that. Nex explained what happened. Lakshmi contritely apologized, saying she has never let anyone lay hands on her like that, and in her surprise at the attack sent her berserk. Nex asked hotly what was wrong with both of them, but Dravij asked him to leave. He grudgingly complied. Angelica escorted Wenna to her stateroom while Dessa tended Lakshmi's cuts. Once finished Lakshmi apologized again and went to her stateroom - she was rather subdued for the next few days keeping to herself but became friendly and talkative again the last day in Jump.

Dessa then tended to Wenna, who had busted open a knuckle while punching the mercenary. She sulked and sniped; in return, Dessa went full Navy on her, addressing her as if she was an insubordinate raw recruit and quelling the young woman's attitude. Dessa finished treating Wenna's knuckle and informed her the captain had confined her to her stateroom for the rest of the Jump. Wenna just huffed and turned her music on full blast once Dessa left.
The Crimson Petrel came out of jump in the Yirsh Poy system and docked at the Yirsh Gate High Port. Dravij managed to assure the other passengers on the ship that what occurred was an anomaly, not a regular incident, thus mitigating any possible bad word spreading about the Far Trader. Lakshmi departed with a smile, while Wenna stormed out with her nose held up high. Dravij alerted station security about Wenna, stating that she is possibly volatile and to keep an eye on her. He then started seeing about selling their cargo while the others rested or went out to explore the high port.

Two pieces of news had broken on Yirsh Poy before the Travellers arrived. First, a week-long celebration was being held in the main settlement of Incarnum due to the elevation of a new Lantern to the Incarnum Poyar council, the ruling body of the settlement. Mireya Dukhari is one of the youngest people to achieve the Circle of Lantern in the Incarnum Poyar philosophical hierarchy and, at thirty-seven years of age, the youngest person ever to be selected to the Council. Second, the singer and poetess Ashara Maza's publicist had announced that she would be launching a tour of the Sylean Worlds within the next three months, with multiple concerns planned, culminating toward the end of 1105 with her first ever performance at Capital.

Robert and Nex decided to attend an artist exhibition being sponsored by one of Yirsh Poy's artistic conservatories, Robert always looking for a chance for profit and Nex out of simple curiosity. While looking at some of the paintings, Nex is approached by a large man in an excellent business suit but otherwise looked out of place in the art gallery, with the scar tissue around his eyes and on his knuckles. After commenting on the painting Nex was viewing, he asked the ex-marine if he was looking for some work. When Nex said possibly, the man handed him a card with a comm code, saying to contact it if he wanted to, then left. Nex told Robert, and when the two returned to the Petrel discussed this with the rest of the crew. Deciding there was no harm in at least calling, Nex did. A man answered and said to go Kaneko Orbital, a very exclusive artist habitat, in the next few hours. He didn't discuss what the party was to do - his employer would do that - but the payout offered was sixty-thousand credits. The group took a shuttle transport to Kaneko (which had been pre-paid for them) and upon arrival at the orbital's port were escorted by two men of similar ilk of the one at the art gallery to a very luxurious suit located in the habitat's upper levels. After being seated in a foyer and given refreshments, they were introduced to a tall, elegant and beautiful Selenite woman, Ashara Maza herself.

Ashara thanked the Travellers for accepting her invite and inquired about their Jump to Yirsh Poy. Once small talk was finished, Ashara said she had heard good things about them, both in the Liberal Core Herald and from... other sources. Her task was them was simple - make an in-system Jump to the planet Beshgitta, an airless rockball orbiting Yirsh Tertius, and deliver a package to Senior Scout Baryear Icurio, who is on a three-month expedition to study the world. The group had become somewhat uneasy hearing what the poetess wanted from them. Their unease grew several-fold when she presented the package to be carried - a small, thin black box the size of a cigarette case...

Ashara promised them a payment of sixty-thousand credits, half in advance, the rest upon their return to Yirsh Poy. Some negotiations ensued, with Dravij saying 60,000 was not enough to justify two weeks in Jump without the chance to sell cargo. Eventually, Ashara offered 100,000 credits and to answer questions she sure the Travellers had, though she warned them she doubted she had answers that would completely enlighten them about the purpose of these odd deliveries. With a bit of reluctance, the group agreed to take on the job and bid Ashara good day, heading back to Yirsh Gate to prepare for the in-system Jump to Beshgitta.
Last edited:
After a week in Jump, the Crimson Petrel dropped into real space a few hours from Beshgitta, an airless world roughly the size of Mercury, orbiting Yirsh Tertius at a distance of one-hundred and thirty million kilometers. According to available records, Beshgitta once had at least a thin atmosphere which was stripped away by solar flares millions of years ago, when Yirsh Tertius was in a more volatile state. Upon attaining orbit around Beshgitta, the Travellers scanned for Baryear Icurio's ship, Endeavor Alpha, eventually locating it just north of the equator, east by southeast, which ran crookedly north-east to south for roughly 875 kilometers.

The Petrel hailed the scout ship, which quickly responded. The Travellers said that they had a package for Senior Scout Icurio, along with some supplies from the Yirsh Gate Scout Base (before leaving for Beshgitta, Dravij and Robert approached the base to see if they had any freight to deliver to the scouts and took on two tons of supplies to be cached against a future long-term exploration of the planet). The scout on comms duty said that Icurio wasn't available right now and told the Petrel to land near the Endeavor Alpha. Nex made a perfect landing to the scout ship's starboard, and an airlock link up was established between the two vessels.

Two scouts were manning the Endeavor Alpha, Biancana Durvasha and Edur Selardin. The two scouts explained that they had lost contact with Icurio and the scout accompanying him, Shannon Shullard. Eight hours ago, the two had departed in the ship's air/raft to explore the land southeast of the nearby mountains, which they were calling the Brokeback Serpent, due to the many, very sharp crooks bending the range. After three hours of routine survey work and sample taking, Icurio reported his sensors had detected a trace amount of alloyed metal, similar in composition as durasteel and crystaliron, yet subtly different in small yet significant ways. After an hour's tracing, he reported that he and Shullard had discovered a cave at the base of a mountain. It seemed to be sophont-made, having been excavated with very sophisticated techniques. Icurio said he and Shullard were going to investigate - that was four hours ago. All contact had been lost.

Durvasha and Selardin were planning to give their partners another four hours before going to look for them. Losing contact with an exploration team is not unusual, but Durvasha and Selardin are growing worried. Their mission parameters state they are to return to base in case of casualties, but Icurion and Shullard had been their partners and friends for over fifteen years - at the twelve-hour mark they plan on flying the Endeavor Alpha to the air/raft's location to look for them. They told the Travellers if they wanted to go look before they do, they would supply them the last reported coordinates and the comm frequency Icurio and Shullard are using. The crew agreed. After decoupling the Petrel, they quickly flew 80 kilometers west by northwest. The air/raft was set to the east of a spur jutting southeast from the central portion of the Brokeback Serpents, running some 18 kilometers.
Yes, a Brokeback Mountain joke was told. I knew it was going to happen, but I stuck with the name I decided for that mountain range.
Landing at the provided coordinates, the Travellers easily sighted the Vac-sealed air/raft and cave entrance. The crew left Angelica in the Crimson Petrel to keep watch while they suited up to investigate. After checking the air/raft (having gotten access codes radioed to them from Biancana and Edur) they turned their attention to the cave mouth. Obviously constructed, it stood 14 meters tall, 28 meters wide, forming a perfect arch. Inside they found the walls, floor and ceiling perfectly smooth and polished - whatever had excavated the tunnel had worked the stone at a monomolecular level. Every couple of minutes they spotted a brief spark of light, which quickly faded.

35 meters in they found on the walls thick, crooked lines running up from the floor, like lightning bolts jumping upward from the ground to the sky. The lines met at the center of the ceiling, connected by a circle containing a quartered lozenge, with another circle surrounding a dot within it. Starting beyond the lines, embedded in both walls, were spirals of crystals running deeper down the tunnel. The spirals, wrought from thin lines of red crystal, were placed in sets of four, forming a diamond pattern and each surrounding a concentric set of three squares of blue crystal. Roughly every two minutes or so a spark would flair at the end of a spiral (which all pointed toward the tunnel entrance) and run along its length to its center, where it vanished.

Between each set of spirals, also embedded in the walls, were rods of iridium, roughly the width of a man's thumb and slightly more than a meter long. These rods were aligned with the center rows of the crystal spiral diamond patterns, seemingly joining them, though the rods were not in contact with the spirals. Scanning them, the Travellers discovered the iridium rods were radiating a fair amount of heat.

When they stepped past the lighting lines, the Travellers discovered they couldn't comm out to either the Petrel or Endeavor Alpha. Their suit comms could still reach each other. They decided to press on.

Fifty more meters in the Travellers perceived light ahead. Traversing another fifty meters, they spotted two vac suited figures, backs toward them. Here the diamond crystal patterns stopped and over a meter from the last ones were great metal slabs embedded in the walls. Rectangular metal plate, they were 2.5 meters tall, 1 meter wide, bronze hued with their faces etched with an octagon honeycomb pattern. Above each slab was a metal half-sphere with a pair of vertical running rectangles etched into them. A horizontal dash bisected these rectangles, giving them the impression of being eyes. Adding to the impression was the fact that the spheres were tilted downward, the eye rectangles aligning with the beings between the great slabs.

Between the slabs and the last crystal diamond patterns were two sets of four iridium rods, one on each wall, placed horizontally, 'connecting' the slabs and the patterns the way the singular rods connected each diamond pattern together.

10 meters beyond this tableau were four columns of light arranged in a trapezoidal pattern, the smaller face of the trapezoid facing south toward the cave mouth. These columns, a meter and a half wide, went from floor to ceiling and seemed to be generated by pairs of metal discs. Set within the light columns was a stack of three metal discs, the base roughly 3 meters, wide, the center 2.5, the top 1.5, all of them 25 centimeters thick. This stack served as an altar or pallet for a metal cylinder with a domed cap slightly more than half a meter tall. This cylinder had flanges and channels running down its length; Right beneath its dome the Travellers could perceive circular depressions, the width of a large coin, forming a ring around the cylinders neck. They also noted that every couple of seconds one of the light columns would pulse...
Dessa used a medical scanner to get a bio-reading on the two figures and found they were perfectly healthy; they appeared to be in a state of hibernation, their respiration slowed and in stage 3 NREM slumber. Not wanting to step between the metal slabs, Charlie used Telekinesis to pull the nearer of the two figures out. As soon as it was out from the zone of the metal slates, they immediately heard a woman's voice crackle over their suit comms, saying "-think it is?" This was obviously Shannon Shullard.

Shullard froze and looked around, not seeing the Travellers standing a few meters behind her. She exclaimed 'what happened' then said 'those weren't there before. She attempted to comm Icurio when Dessa hailed her. She nearly jumped and quickly turned around, demanding their identities and when did they get here. Dessa explained why she and her shipmates had come to Beshgitta, having a special package to deliver to Icurio, how Shullard's partners explained to them they had lost contact with the two of them and they state the Travellers found the scouts in. Shullard stated that she had not been aware of anything - one moment she was making toward the lights with Icurio, the next she was five yards back and those metal slabs and orbs suddenly extruding from the tunnel walls. She assured the Travellers those had not been there. Dessa said maybe it would be better to return to their ship so she could run a medical test on Shullard and discuss this in a hopefully safer environment. When Shullard asked about Icurio, she was assured that he was physically fine, being in some sort of hibernation. The group went back to the Crimson Petrel.
Dessa ran Shannon Shullard through a medical check-up, finding that other than her vitals being understandably slightly stressed, the scout was fine, her forced hibernation having no adverse effects. Shannon gave the Travellers a run down on what happened to her and Baryear. They had not realized their partners on the Endeavor Alpha had lost contact with them. They had not seen anything quite like what was in the tunnel and the scans they had run revealed interesting things - the crystal embedded on the walls seemed similar to corundum, but it was malleable rather than brittle and possessed a tetragonal crystal system instead of corundum's trigonal, while the iridium rods were generating a surprising amount of heat.

The scouts then decided to investigate the lights and the cylinder at the end of the tunnel. Shannon repeated that one moment she was walking toward it, asking Icurio a question, the next moment she had been yanked a few meters back from where she had been, and those metal slates had suddenly appeared on the walls. Shannon's vac suit had a camera recording her exploration, so the Travellers scrubbed through the footage. Right before Shannon and Baryear had reached the point where they had been paralyzed, the camera caught a slight bubbling on the right-hand wall, right at the periphery of the footage as she was looking away from it, then nothing more for hours until Charlie had used TK to free her from the trap.

Robert and Nex had managed to pry out one of the rods near where the pattern began from the wall before returning to the Crimson Petrel. Studying it, they discovered the rod had been fabricated at a molecular level and was simultaneously denser and lighter than natural iridium. It was completely solid, having no conductivity material in it to channel energy, yet was able to do so extremely well with minimal bleed off - something an ordinary metal rod of any sort would not be capable of.

After all this the crew decided it was now time to get Baryear Icurio. Angelica again stayed in the Petrel while Shannon Shullard accompanied them. They had taken a pole with a clamp on it and managed to attach it to a metal loop on the back of the scout's vac suit. Dravij pulled him free of the field, with similar results. The moment he was out from between the metal slabs, the stone around them and the odd metal spheres bubbled and coated them as they receded into the walls. After a few seconds there was no trace of their existence. Baryear was just as confused as Shannon had been, who described to her partner what had happened to them. Dravij explained to him that they had been commissioned to deliver a package to him by Ashara Maza. Baryear had, of course, heard of the Selenite singer but did not know her personally. Robert said that the circumstances were quite unusual and best explained in the safety of the Petrel.
Baryear Icurio's check-up was the same as Shannon's - a little stressed, but otherwise Dessa found no linger affects from the hibernation trap. In the Petrel's common area, Robert informed Icurio about the package and warned the scout of some of the consequences they had learned about opening similar deliveries. In particular, Robert told him about the suicide of Sir Davan Doylahide of Sevan. Icurio admitted some apprehension after hearing this sinister history, but declared he hadn't prospered in the Scout Service by being a shrinking violet. He opened the package's bio-lock and emptied out the contents - a square piece of red posterboard and a small gold coin. Etched on the coin's obverse was a crown between two crossed rifles, on the reverse a winged serpent and quartered shield.

Icurio went stark white and exhaled as if punched hard in the stomach. Charley tapped into the scout's surface thoughts and heard a constant refrain of 'I don't want to go back,' along with the name of a planet, Khuumiam. Before contact faded, Icurio thought, 'are they all right?' and 'I have time to think about this.'

Icurio addressed the group, thanking them for bringing this, even if he wasn't particularly happy with what he received. Robert asked him what it meant and if there was anything the crew could do. Icurio shook his head, appreciating their concern but assured him there was nothing he would ask them to do. Soon after he and Shannon returned to their air/raft and flew off to the Endeavor Alpha, while the Petrel stayed grounded. With a little research the Travellers learned Khuumiam was a large, inhabited planet in Apge sub-sector, a feudal technocracy of no particular importance as far as the Ship Library could determine. The Travellers decided to leave this alone for now, hoping that their patron, Ashara Maza, would follow thru on her promise to give them information on what was going on with these packages and their receivers.