The Return of Elmer **TRICONIAN**

``Are you folks enjoying yourselves?''

- Traditional greeting of the Well police force.

2778.189 AS
Stannis' Law->The Well

Cassandra displays her latest painting for the crew and then puts it up for consignment auction at the Stannis' Law museum to earn herself some current era asters. Janzur volunteers to be the subject of her next portrait. Max feels the beginnings of a migraine coming on.

The party leaves Stannis' Law, Jim at the helm.Wilson & Sook finish the ATM, then Wilson gets sick and heads back to the tubes. Two days to jumpgate, 12 hours through to Craterrock, and almost half a day in towards the planet, they are informed by navigation beacons of a hazard to navigation ahead. Maury is in favor of just passing it by, after all that's what you do with hazards with navigation. Max at least wants to scan the thing as they pass by, though. It seems to be an old debris field caused by a long ago crash between two freighters. There seems to be some energy signatures from nearby the field. Weapons fire perhaps? Around now is when Jim starts picking up the general distress signal.

"Help us! This is the Elmer's Gold! We're under attack. The captain is down! We don't have shields! Help us!"

Further scanning indicates that there are indeed two ships near the debris field. The Elmer's Gold, and a second ship that is just sitting there blasting it to pieces. Jim declares, "Battle Stations!" and take the Hippocrates in. He gets on the general broadcast and orders the attacking ship to desist immediately. Surprisingly, it does. The unidentified ship turns and flees. Perhaps it is all too easy. Max scans the debris obsessively, but there isn't anything with a power signature. The Elmer's Gold, however, is "unconscious and dying."

The Hippocrates sweeps in and begins docking with the Elmer's Gold. Immediately after docking there is a space shattering ka-zoosh. Apparently, during the docking, the Elmer's Gold ejected a giant mechanical spider device out of its cargo hold. The spider attached itself to the Hippocrates and pierces an airlock door with a giant electrical spike! The spike immediately fries both navigation and weapons, as well as cutting out a lot of automatic functions. Treachery!

Simultaneously, three hidden fighters power-up in the debris field and start moving in for the kill. Janzur boards the Elmer's Gold, while Jim runs to the shuttle bay to take out a fighter. Sook quickly sends Hippocrates into a soft power-down so he doesn't get fried by a subsequent jolt; the engineers run to the evil electrical spike and attempt to disable it. On board the Gold, Janzur finds the dying captain and an unconscious Elmer Triconian! Also, cowering in the corner is a conscious Geff Thalber, Elmer's "Herald", who says, "Don't kill me! They said I could live!" Janzur evacuates everyone from the Gold and tosses them into Ruehan's cabin (as it's the closest room with a locking door).

Meanwhile, Jim is finding himself quite outnumbered. He mostly takes one of the three fighters out, but not quite, and the two others are beginning to press him pretty hard.

Meanwhile, the electric spike is causing all sort of havoc on board. First, it shorts out the docking gravitics in the shuttle bay making it hard to take off. Then there's an explosion and fire in Lab #2, a major short in the jumpgate computers requiring them to be shut down before any data is lost. Worst of all, Anya's Kaufman tube is hit by a bolt and starts leaking green goo. The remaining crew on board run all around the ship putting out fires and things while Sharra rushes in to save Anya. Sook takes a moment to toss a med kit into Ruehan's cabin so Geff can save the captain, and then starts powering down irrelevant systems like Fabrication and Sludge Reprocessing (while the spike does not actually get around to causing sludge reprocessing to back up, that was one of the possibilities). Geff, finding himself unwatched (or so he thinks) starts covertly going through Ruehan's possessions, so Sook gives him a gentle reminder that he's a prisoner:

"You earned points by saving the captain, but you're losing them fast."

Sook ties the Hippocrates bridge into the Elmer's Gold bridge, and turns the Gold's engines on, making the linked ships spin and present a harder target, and Max is doing sensor tricks and mysterious psychic things to make the enemy not concentrate on the Hippocrates. By this time, Janzur has managed to take a second fighter out of the bay (even with the broken gravitics), and lends Jim some much needed support. Between the two of them, and the power of their Hegemonic fighters, they handily deal with the three attackers.

Sharra and Maury finally manage to deactivate the spike and all is calm once more.

While Maury starts overseeing repairs, Janzur interrogates Geff: "Geff! Tell me." Geff relates his sad tale. "They" told him that they'd let him live if he activated the spider when Hippocrates docked. "They" are apparently "The Syndicate" an outworld crime organization. Geff doesn't really know what it's all about, merely that the syndicate wanted the footstool.

All: "What!?! We were jumped for the footstool! You've got to be kidding!"

Geff collapses into a puddle of shame while the party wakes up Elmer. "Ah ha! I told them that you were too much for them! We are saved!" Elmer relates the whole tale. He acquired the footstool from the Syndicate through less than official means. The Syndicate was about to sell it to some inworld concern when it went missing and were quite pissed. They hunted down Elmer and demanded to know where it was. Elmer was of course willing to die rather than betray his good friends, but the fiends kidnapped his shield generators and threatened to kill them if he didn't cooperate. Knowing that the valiant crew of the Hippocrates is more than a match for some stupid crime syndicate, Elmer decided to play along and revealed what he knew about the Hippocrates. The syndicate, led by Ozymandias, headed for the inworlds where they and their buyers contacted someone named Franklin DeWitt on the Well and enlisted his aid in laying the ambush and coordinating the detention of the kids.

Max recognizes the name as someone on the Well who "finds" people, much the way Max finds things. Though he's slightly higher caste and pretty much bad news. Eon and Ella are being held on the Well pending success of the mission. Elmer is more than confident that the crew of the Hippocrates can rescue them, and mostly spends the voyage to the Well chastising his herald. "*I* was willing to die for our noble friends on the Hippocrates, why weren't you?"

A day of repairs occur, and then the Hippocrates heads off for the Well. En Route, Max explains the rigid caste structure of the Well to the crew. Apparently, it is legal to do mostly whatever you want to those downcaste of you, and Tourists needs to spend about 50 asters a week in fees to keep a decent caste status. Elmer informs the party that he has been recently kidnapped and is in the inworlds; since he's the richest man in the outworlds he doesn't actually have any cash on him right now, but he'd be happy to compensate the party for any expenses they incur. Once he gets back there, that is.

The party lands on the Well and pays tourism fees for everyone (including Elmer) for a week, though Max is a native and doesn't need one. (Total expenditure: 375 asters) Some quick investigation and Elmer's memory reveal that the twins are being held at the Grey House, an "independent compulsory hostel". A few quick web searches later and it is clear that the hostel will mostly just hold people and arrange ransoms, etc. for a price. They are Indigene caste so standard Tourist caste that the party has is insufficient to authorize actions against them. The party pays the temporary upcaste fee for actions against the Grey House. (Expenditure: 750 asters).

Sook does some hacking from a local cafe and gets a "guest list" for the hostel. Eon and Ella are indeed in the hostel, as well as a hacker, Portland, who Sook is familiar with, along with a few others. Sharra does some recon by just wandering in and asking about their services. They give her a brochure. Sook gets an old employee list and Max heads off to interrogate ex-employees of the Grey House (he determines that the cells are in the basement, and that there's a network cut-out switch and some sliding bulkheads, over the course of an anecdote), while the rest of the party cases the joint as much as possible. Sook also gets the bank account number of the "buyer" who's paying for the incarceration. Max also buys a small EMP bomb (50 asters), but no one ever uses it.

Finally, the time of the breakin arrives. Max heads in and pretends to be a regular guard, while Sharra heads in with her bodyguard Janzur to ransom the twins free. (Sook has changed their official records in order to make the ransom-eligible instead of just detainees.) Meanwhile, Jim and Maury wait on a nearby roof with a rope gun in case it all goes wrong. The plan seems to work for a while, but one of the account representatives realizes that the computer records have been altered and starts interrogating Sharra.

A large and complicated running combat ensues. Sook provides computer support, while the party is split all over the building and the guards run around trying to kill everyone. It's really just a big fudgey mess involving gas grenades, plasma brands cutting through doors all over the place, crawling through ventilators, and lots of blaster fire. Finally, a few guards are left trying to make a last stand with the two kids in the reinforced conference room.

Janzur is a death dealing whirlwind, though he does have one mishap as he accidentally plunges his plasma brand into Max. Jim takes a position under the conference table and shoot people in the legs. Maury is blinking around so much sometime it's like he's not there. Sharra and Sook keep the reinforced defensive plexi-barrier up against the best efforts of the enemy controllers, and Max just wanders through collecting the kids, as he's someone else problem.

The kids are rescued, most of the guards are down, and most of them are patched up a bit to try and minimize the retribution (though one was chopped pretty badly by Janzur and is un-savable). Sook pulls out, leaving the security computer in a pretty unhappy state. As the party leaves, they are intercepted by the Well's official police forces. There's a brief moment of panic, but the police simply ask everyone if they are enjoying themselves here on the Well and check their ID's. As everyone's ID says they are upcaste of the Grey House for offensive actions against them, the police nod pleasantly and wish everyone a good day, though they fill out an official report of the incident. Janzur really hates that.

The party heads straight to the Hippocrates; Sook leaves a program running to post a cryptic message about Xanadu, and Max stops briefly to buy some books on demolitions. Other than that, everyone leaves the planet as quickly as possible. Farewell.

Elmer is so overjoyed at the rescue of the kids that he asks the party at large what he could possibly do to repay them. The party glances around nervously for a few moments; the last gift he gave them didn't work out so well. Eventually Maury breaks the silence. "A map to the Inopportune Moment?" "Hmm... that'll be tricky, but SO BE IT!" Elmer and his captain (and his well chastened herald) head back to their ship with the kids for the trip back to the outworlds.

Next stop: Craterrock! This time for sure!