Black and Gold

"Power is fleeting, wisdom is eternal. But you can not uphold the public trust with wisdom."

-- Strategos Nomarche, The Doneval Debates, AS 2440

2779.225 - 2779.243 AS
New Light -> Gateway -> Juice

Eva, Janzur, and Cassandra have gone to Highguard to deal with some family business of Eva's. They make arrangements to meet the rest of the crew at Gateway. Sophia muses about perhaps taking a trip to Highguard someday, but is stunned to hear that the planet eschews technology in the new era. The party points out that it has lots of pleasant low technology activities like horses.

"Yes, I love horseback riding, but without GPS receivers, how do you keep from getting lost?"
In an attempt to get the redliner defense project finished with minimum casualties before they all return, Maury tries to suggest going to Sparta to fly through the Vacuum Wickets. The rest of the crew points out that none of the really good pilots are awake and messing with Vacuum Wickets is very dangerous, so perhaps he should come up with a different plan.

Maury proceeds to outline his plan to fire the redliner at the Hippocrates from the inside. Well, that's good and perilous, so it should work. It's decided that if they are going to do anything crazy they should do it in the Vircus system. Getting into the swing of things, Sharra also proposes that they finish off the Neural Disruptor project by setting it to continuous fire and blasting her with it until it's dead. (Or she is.)

There's a brief discussion about perhaps using the hearty Vircans to test the Neural Disruptor, but Sophia vetoes the plan of testing on the Vircans, as their "official protector", since they will almost certainly say yes. Back to gunning down Sharra, then - people seem to find that less objectionable. Meanwhile, always the optimist, Dr. Kye warns that if Maury knocks out the engines and they have to live the rest of their lives on Vircus, there might be some exploiting of the native population.

So, the Hippocrates heads to Vircus. Sophia hails the Vircans and politely asks for a status report from the space station. The communications officer on duty (it's night there) immediately accedes to her demands and starts preparing debriefing reports after assuring her that his Heart is still Bound by the Chains of Command, and agreeing that no one should be woken up, on the Sky Guards' account. Apparently, it is to be a surprise inspection or something. If the Hippocrates needs anything, they have but to ask.

So, drifting a few hours away from the Vircus jump gates, the party prepares for the redliner experiment. Anya takes the Exotic Dancer and the two fighters outside, and tethers the Dancer to one of the fighters via airlock tube. She also activates their location beacon, in case something really strange happens while they are floating around in empty space.

Sharra, Sophia, and Maury get the redliner defense up and running in the shuttle bay interior while Dr. Kye and Sook go over the redliner. Kye is sure he can make sense of the system and get it to run, if only he had tiny little hands to manipulate switches too small to see. He doesn't, though, so Sook takes care of it.

The experiment is set. Sook is in the redliner, Anya is outside with the other ships, Maury and Sophia are in the shuttle bay monitoring the data, and Sharra is just outside in the corridor for backup.

"Are we on edge to do something if something happens?" -Sophia
"Yes, you should do something if something happens." -Sook
Maury instructs Sook to give him a five minute burst. Sook acknowledges and prepares to fire. "Three, two, one, firing..."
Max, who has been monitoring this entire affair from his usual station in sensor control, is the first to notice anything is amiss. Rather startlingly, the entire shuttle bay seems to have vanished. Well, that gets everyone's blood pumping, and there is much running around and using of radios and accessing of sensors. However, it's pretty clear that nothing at all is coming out of where the shuttle bay used to be. Katya can just barely sense something like a mind or two inside, but they're small and weak. Max is pretty sure the shuttle bay is just absorbing all of his signals.

Anya decides to investigate from the outside so as to not expose the rest of the ship's interior. She uses the manual override on the exterior shuttle bay door and notices that instead of the usual happy forcefield, there appears to be nothing inside at all, just blackness. She shines her flashlight inside but it's still black. She pokes her flashlight inside, and that works fine, but then she can't pull it out again. She tugs hard on the handle still hanging outside and it breaks off with the head still inside the blackness. OK, this is creepy.

After an hour or so passes, Sharra comes up with the idea of building a smaller electrogravitic cage to push through - something that might be not affected by the redline defense. Meanwhile, Anya writes some notes explaining the situation and drops them into the blackness of the shuttle bay. Doctor Kye does her one better by prying open the interior shuttle bay door (where there is more darkness) and starts pushing data pads inside on the floor.

After several hours, Sharra is ready for her experiment. She takes the gravitic shielded cage, and fills it with a neon sign saying "Are you okay? Turn it off!" as well as another of Dr. Kye's data pads with status reports on the state of the nonexistent shuttle bay. The beach ball gets pushed into the shuttle bay from the outside, and vanishes from sight...

Maury instructs Sook to give him a five minute burst. Sook acknowledges and prepares to fire. "Three, two, one, firing..."

The redliner fires and Maury starts taking data. Sophia is briefly distracted from her monitors by some movement. "That's funny, the shuttle bay door is ajar and something just fell inside." Sophia takes a few steps towards the fallen piece of paper, but then then is almost knocked off her feet by the blast when an oblong - perhaps torpedo shaped - object moving almost too fast to see blasts in through the open shuttle bay door and strikes the floor at high speed and explodes. Sophia quickly clarifies the important part: "That wasn't the experiment's fault!" and then adds further, "We're under attack!"

Around this time, Maury notices that the door to the hallway is open and there are a bunch of data pads lying on the ground in front of it. More disturbing, the doorway is a wall of bright light.

"That's wrong. Maybe the Omphalos Dust Wyrm came back." -Maury
Omphalos Dust Wyrm? Torpedoes? Under attack? From her station inside the Redliner, Sook doesn't understand any of this.
"Um, what's happening? Should I shut it down?" -Sook
"Yes, that might be wise." -Maury
"OK." -Sook
Sook shuts the redliner down. Elapsed firing time, 36 seconds.

Once the redliner powers down, Maury sees the glowing wall go away, and Doctor Kye is standing just outside the door. Kye and Anya see their dark walls fade and there's Maury inside. Max is relieved to see the shuttle bay re-appear on sensors.

It seems the shuttle bay was in some sort of ultra-slow time field. That doesn't make any sense, though. Maury says he could understand that sort of thing if they were doing crazy omnihedron experiments, but they weren't! The omnihedron isn't even in the shutt... Everyone looks at Sophia. Well, yes. The omnihedron is in her tool kit. You never know when it might turn out to be useful.

The omnihedron is removed from the room with prejudice, and the experiment is repeated flawlessly. Hooray for the redliner defense!

"Um, What exactly is the omnihedron?" - Anya
"That's exactly what it is." -Sophia
There's still an hour or so before the Vircans are expected to call, so Sharra gets Anya to help her with her test. They set up in a lab (with the portable Kaufman tube nearby, just in case) with Sophia and Kye nearby to act as doctors and Anya fires the altered Neural Disruptor at Sharra. Sharra writhes and collapses, but, gritting her teeth, Anya follows her instructions and keeps the terrible beam on her until it gives out.

Sophia leaps upon the unconscious Sharra and valiantly gets her heart restarted! There's a lot of yelling of "Clear!" and administering of electric shocks, but thanks to the impressive reliability of Hippocrates' medical equipment, Sharra is saved. She's moved to sick bay where she eventually recovers, though she's a bit unsteady over the following days.

Going over the data reveals that the experiment, though perilous, was a success! Hooray.

After two completed experiments, the total casualties are: 1 dead flashlight, 1 really flattened anti-gravitic shield ball, 1 dead neural disruptor prototype, 1 vaguely uncoordinated Sharra, 1 night's sleep.

At this point, the day shift has awoken on the planet and Vocari Dyvas Firstjudged hails the Hippocrates. Apparently, his underlings have been compiling status reports all night and stealthily placing them in his inbox so as to not wake him up. He reports that the station is now completely decontaminated, though there is still a lot of inventory and repair to do. The populace is actively reclaiming the second dome, and the Grandmothers have put together a helpful list of things to acquire if there's time.

Sophia takes the list and notes that it shouldn't be a problem, though it's unclear as always when they'll be back this way next. Dyvas assures everyone that things are well in hand on the planet and their training is proceeding apace.

With that good news, it's off to Gateway!

En route, Sophia and others ponder ways to obtain a sample of Black. Sophia thinks she can produce a nanite to isolate Black as it's injected into someone's system, so just buying it the regular way may be an option.

First stop, however, is the planet itself. Arriving at the Gateway capital space port, Anya notices that the ship in the slip next to them is very familiar. After the landing, it's clear that yes, there's the Elmer's Gold.

"Should we call on him now, or should we wait for him to ask for help?"
Sook heads next door to see what's up. Elmer and the kids aren't there, but the captain greets her. He gives her a long look and looks over at the Hippocrates standing there.
"I'll go get my vest."
Sook tells him to feel free to stop by if they need anything.

Kye and Sharra go to the archaeology office. Dr. Kye goes and gets a surveying permit for a forest near the Memento Mori quarry, and sets up an appointment with the local owners of a farmhouse nearby. Dr. Crichton stops by the archaeology office to drop off some reports, and nods smugly at Dr. Kye.

"And so it begins."
Max does some sensor scans of the quarry as the Hippocrates flies about the planet for a while; they try to be vaguely non-obvious about what they are doing. Yup, it's a big quarry with fencing and outbuildings around it. It's quite reflective of sensor scans so it's probably got some sort of metallic earth in there. The site is lozenge-shaped, while the quarry is a central circle, partly filled with water (which is being pumped out).

A guy comes up to the Hippocrates after it returns and asks to speak to Grimblemaury. He's got some information on the Memento Mori dig site - it's mostly legal, though there was pressure from "high up" forcing the permits through the system. "How high up?" "High up." Lot's of nods and winks are exchanged.

Katya reads his mind as he leaves. "Woohoo, my first secret meeting was a success!"

Meanwhile at the starport customs office, a guy is passing out fliers looking for Outworlders with psi powers.

Outworlders Take Notice
Psis wanted for scientific experiment.
Non-invasive experimentation, single day commitment for 75 asters.
To apply contact Memento Mori field office at <quarry address>
Maintaining his archaeology status, Dr. Kye talks to the people at the farm house. They are quite excited that an archaeologist wants to see their land and coo appreciatively as he digs some test holes here and there. They also offer to show him the antique spinning wheel that's been in the family since Grandmother's time. Maury completely fails to keep up any pretense of looking interested.

Sook investigates this Memento Mori psi experiment thing in netnews but it seems to be pretty new, so there aren't any threads about it. She starts one.

Elmer TRICONIAN returns to his ship, accompanied by Eon and Ella (the shield generators), and looking a bit glum. Ella keeps running ahead to move the rock he's kicking back into his path so he can keep dejectedly kicking it. The party watches him glumly head into his ship. They count to ten, expecting to see him momentarily. It takes him, in fact, until the count of 15, at which point he comes barrelling out and heads over to the Hippocrates.

"It's true! My friends! It is so good to see the valiant crew of the Hippocrates once more!"
Sharra and the Tinoori supply Glorious TRICONIAN snacks of various varieties while he fills them in on his recent doings.

Apparently, he's here looking for a biographer. Someone who can tell the real Elmer TRICONIAN story, as a continuation of his three previous biographies. He's being fairly picky though - he doesn't want someone just in it for the money, and thus he has come to Gateway's artist colony. Anya gives him the name and card of a reporter friend she met on Homeground (Tanner Hausmann). Perhaps a reporter will be able to present the True TRICONIAN accurately.

Meanwhile, Elmer is also trying to get a meeting with Klothos for some mysterious project. It's all very secret, but eventually the crew pries out of him that he's trying to buy out a number of Klothos' whiterunners in an attempt to found the "Goldrunners", Elmer TRICONIAN's personal outworlds defense fleet. Isn't that exciting! They'll be out there "spreading the Gold".

"It's not clear to me that we want to be involved in getting him close to Klothos." -Maury
Unfortunately, it appears that one isn't supposed to indicate that Klothos runs the whiterunners personally, as they are illegal in the outworlds and a crime lord of Klothos' status doesn't sully herself with the breaking of laws. He finds it all very complicated, but perhaps he can get another shot at making an appointment to see her at the party.

What party? Why, Rainer de Bois' grand gala event. Everyone will be there. The crew of the Hippocrates simply must attend. Now that they are on the planet surely they will be invited in short order. It should be filled with artists and patrons of all persuasions (apparently supporting artists, in the classic Medici tradition, is very popular on Gateway), as well as many distinguished visitors. Perhaps Cassandra can attend? Alas, she is not present. Hopefully he can network himself an audience with Klothos while there.

The crew gives him advice on dealing with Klothos from their previous attempts. He just knew they would be able to help. Before he whooshes off, he has the twins bring over a copy of his three previous biographies (Elmer Triconian: The Early Years; Tripartite Triconian! ; Rogue's Prince ) for Anya's friend to peruse. While they are there, people mention to the captain about the Memento Mori psi experiments and ask if the twins have heard about it. No, but they're willing to participate.

"Sometimes, it's too easy." -The Hand of Fate
Meanwhile, Max and Sook head out to talk to Freddy the Forger, and get fake IDs with which they will apply to the experiments. (-100 asters for IDs.) The happy couple, James and Terri Anders, head out to the quarry site and sit in the waiting room. Someone comes out shaking a researcher's hand. "Thank you, thank you. That was easier than I thought." On this promising note, Max goes in for an interview. It's noted that it is late enough in the afternoon that his actual experiment, if accepted, will be tomorrow.

He fills out a lot of forms describing his psi powers ("I find things") and is asked a number of questions including those about his swimming ability and SCUBA training level. He claims none of either. He's given a pair of large crystals to hold, and the researcher (Dr. Trine) is very impressed with the glow he manages to produce from them. Thinking a moment, Max believes the crystals measured his Str of Psi and Pre of Psi.

Dr. Trine says everything should be fine, and asks if he'd like to be paid the 75 aster fee tomorrow, or a 50 aster fee with 25 going towards complete insurance coverage in the event of the unthinkable. He decides to talk to Sook, er... Terri, about it. Terri, it seems, wants to think about the unthinkable a great deal. Trine's secretary, who has been handling Terri's questions (about exactly what the experiment entails, and why swimming is important and what sort of dangers her precious husband is going to be subjected to) so far while Max was in the room, gives Max a sympathetic look. Terri waxes indignant about the fact that it could be DANGEROUS, for a while, but then is calmed and the happy couple leave to discuss their options.

Katya and Martan go for a walk around the city, in part to see if there's anyone lurking and watching them. They spot the "extra jump pilot" who tried to offer Katya glitter in "Live Fire Exercises" but he doesn't actually seem to be following them or paying much attention.

Night falls and the party regroups. Invitations to Rainer de Bois' ball have indeed arrived. Sophia demonstrates her amazing omnihedron based duplication contraption, by duplicating a box. People toy with the plan of duplicating the entire party and sending them to the ball while raiding the Memento Mori site at the same time! It seems the duplicator might not be able to last all night, or for everyone, so the idea is tabled until tomorrow. That evening, Maury gives Anya beginning lectures on psychic theory. It seems quite complicated, but Anya is determined to figure it out.

In the morning, Max and Sook head back out to the experiment site to participate fully. Meanwhile, the rest of the party stealths up as close to the site as they can get without setting off the impressive security. There isn't so much in electronic security, it being a secluded wooded area, but the whole place is surrounded by an electric fence, and patrolled by numerous heavily armed guards.

Max is given the various waivers to sign and is taken out to the site in the quarry in a small jeep. He comments about the foolishly heavy security force, but Dr. Trine assures him it's business as usual. Then, they have him wear a life jacket, which he finds a little odd. In the quarry, Dr. Trine and Max calibrate by having Max search for various little objects previously hidden in the sand. Then they put him at the edge of the lake to have him look for one in particular. He is fairly surprised to find everything they've hidden all over the site, and is further surprised when they grab him to prevent him from moving further than waist deep in the lake.

They try the experiment again while Max is holding two smaller crystals. This time the effect seems much larger, and Max uncovers the location of pretty much everything at the site, including their secret research notes, rocket launchers, etc. They question him in great details as to what he felt and experienced, and take the crystals for study. ("What are they? Oh, just testing devices.")

Meanwhile, Sook has managed to slip her wireless network dongle into the secretary's computer, while she goes off to get coffee. She locates the researchers' computers and the security computers and a backup server facility, and starts a background process running copying the current set of backups over. It's not a very high bandwidth connection to the secretary's machine, so she gets some incomplete data on psi numbers and various measurements of the quarry and the water and such.

After that, she starts attacking the researchers' machines. The first has a 3-d model simulation of the quarry, both shape and various sorts of reflectivity. Another one has several scanned pictures of amateurish drawings; one is recognizably the quarry, one is a web of smiley faces, the last is a sketch of the map of the inworlds surrounded by a bunch of scribbles and some unhappy faces. The third machine is charting psi numbers, pre and post and during - there seems to be a big spike in "during". The hardest one to get into (Sook has to go back for it) is Dr. Crichton's project planning machine. He seems to be very distressed over the fact that Dr. Kye is on planet again.

For the final test, Max is told to clear his mind and think of nothing at all. He's a bit dubious but does so. The rest of the party, who have been watching thus far from across the woods, notice that suddenly all of the researchers leave Max alone, and he, inexplicably paddles out into the middle of the lake supported only by the life jacket he was provided with earlier.

They radio Sook, telling her that Max is in trouble, but she assures them that Max isn't her problem and keeps hacking. This is perplexing. He's floating in the middle of the pond and clearly is not anyone's problem. At least, not anyone within range of the quarry. Oh dear. Finally Katya sends a huge ringing alarm clock thought into Max, who is jolted out of his reverie. Suddenly all of the researchers remember that he IS their problem and start running around like crazy. The security forces put on big grey biosuits, and canoe out to him. As soon as they get to him they tell him to not think about anything and knock him out with a sleep injection.

He wakes up in the research shed dripping wet. Dr. Trine apologizes. Apparently he fell in the lake. In recompense, they've decided to double his fee to 150 asters. "Terri" outside again makes a big ruckus about "Why is my husband wet?" and Dr. Trine takes it all in. He does manage to get them to sign the disclaimer saying that Max left the site fine, but mostly by counting the 150 asters out in front of them. It's remembered that Max had those psi imprinting crystals in his hands in the last test, but he must have dropped them into the lake.

It's all very unsettling, but everyone heads back to town.

Back at the Hippocrates, later in the afternoon, there is much fretting when suddenly the sky turns red. That's weird, the sky doesn't usually turn red. Oh dear. The local news says nothing more useful than, "Yup, the sky is indeed red, folks. Officials are investigating even now." Anya goes outside and assesses the red sky for dangerousness. She gets the very reassuring, "No danger could pass through that...."

No danger? Oh no! The psychic shield generating kids must be in the amplifier pool! There's a bit more fretting when suddenly, about 20 minutes later, the sky turns blue again and all is well. Very strange. Sophia takes a nap before the ball.

Before the party, Sophia explains "Duplications." Never touch your duplicate. ("It would be bad." "Can you explain that?" "No.") Try not to change the state of the "past copy" such that it can't become the future copy. ("If you've got to break a duplicate's arm, make sure it's the future one.") After the duplications are done, Dr. Kye ends up with a duplicate that will last a couple of days, but everyone else gets less than an hour. (The machine works less well on each iteration due to burning out the connections to the omnihedron.)

So, it's decided that Dr. Kye (past) and the party (including Moment Before Dawn and Night Blooming Wisteria) will go to the ball while Dr. Kye (future) gets the gear together. Elmer shows up with a pair of gold limos to drive everyone over to the event. People ask how the kids are, after their experiments. The captain says that the researchers called and suggested they keep the kids over night since they did so well. ("Oh no! They've been kidnapped!") No one breaks this news to the captain or Elmer yet though.

"The experiment is OK, right? I mean, you guys recommended it, no?" -Elmer's Captain
At the party, all weapons are confiscated before entry. Yes, even swords. As Elmer predicted, everyone is indeed there. Notable people include: During the party, Kye stalks Crighton; Sook and Max avoid Dr. Trine; Morganti asks everyone in sight if they were at the last performances of Xanthippe or the Traveling Cavalcade of Wonder, Elmer stalks Morgan, and Nelson describes the wonders of Black while snorting White. Apparently, you're injected with the drug, which knocks you out, and then a while later you wake up Godlike. The party immediately suspects sedatives in the initial injection.

At some point Sook informs Elmer's captain that the kids are indeed kidnapped. What??! Don't worry, she reassures him - the party will go spring them tonight. Just then Elmer comes to the group and tells them to follow him as he has made a Most Profound Discovery.

Elmer leads the group upstairs, hiding behind any useful pillars (and several non-useful pillars) he can find, and into de Bois' private study. There on the mantlepiece, encased in an alarmed plexiglass case is a semi-circular wooden plaque. "It's from the same collection as your footstool, isn't it?"

Sharra compares some scans from the footstool with this piece; indeed, this is one of the two missing pieces. Maury memorizes the room in case a good teleport opportunity presents itself. Leaving the artifact for now, the party heads back downstairs where they are questioned briefly by security, but Kye convinces the guy that they were all looking for the bathroom.

Finally, de Bois give a tour of his house showing that he has a fine eye for sculpture and other physical arts. He doesn't care for paintings so much, though. He has six artists as his proteges and wishes to acquire a seventh. Wilmont comments that the art is all fine if you like that sort of pedestrian styling, but his seven artists are more esoteric in their creations. They fence for a bit, but no one else decides to leap in with opinions. Out back is a hedge maze, which Sophia and Sharra wander through, as well as a room with a large collection of Angelica's art. The Tinoori are fascinated. They compliment Angelica on her technical prowess and she eventually begins to realize that these scary spider creatures know that they are talking about.

The rest of the group, and the captain, drift away, while the Tinoori stay to talk with Angelica, and Kye (past) stays to pin Crighton at the party. Neither is leaving first.

At the Hippocrates, Elmer's captain shows up wearing black. "Let's go get them."

They head out to the site. There are about a hundred heavily armed guards in three shifts, so there are probably only thirty on duty until the alarms inevitably go off. Sook tries to ping her electronic bug, but it doesn't respond. Perhaps the secretary's computer is turned off at night. Hmm...

Max is sure the kids are in the research building, so they sneak up to the back wall. The woods are fine, but the building itself has heavy security on the windows and doors as well as interior sensors. Pesky. Maury teleports out the box of research records that Max described and discovers that it has small alarm wires attached to it, that have now been severed. Thinking this is bad, the plan goes into overdrive.

Maury teleports to the middle of the lake, while Anya hides the box in the woods. Then he teleports the entire party into the lake with him (sans captain). Max makes everyone in the lake not the problem of everyone out of the lake. Realizing that the party isn't his problem, the captain begins rescuing the twins himself.

Katya's mind links with Maury and Max turn into mind merges and the three share a great deal of history/background/personality. Sophia swims to the bottom to get water and mud samples while Anya starts looking for the crystals Max dropped earlier today. Sook notices gunfire start up near the research building but everyone seems to be ignoring the lake, as Max commands.

Maury summons the most useful thing around and gets Max and Katya right in front of him. OK, fine. Max starts finding things and using Katya's mind merge to send targeting information to Maury. In quick succession they summon: several more underwater breathers from guards, the twins, the dying captain (Anya is quick with a stabilizer pack), the complete collection of psychic imprint crystals, Sook's backpack, the stashed box of research notes, and the wood "footstool" artifact... Max also attempts to find some black (there isn't any in range), and to find the star (he gets "Ask Janzur, he'll know.")

Meanwhile, back at the party, Drs. Crighton and Kye are in the private study being lectured by Rainer de Bois. "You two must not be so argumentative with each other. It is a party, after all." Suddenly, the footstool piece vanishes from the sealed case in plain sight of the three of them, and alarms sound. Kye and Crighton immediately point at each other: "You're behind this!" Fortunately, as they were both in plain view at the time, both are eliminated as suspects.
... Sadly, there appears to be no Black within the range of this powerful summoning trio. Kye spends a few rounds doing psychic diagnostics and determines that the amplifier's main purpose is to project a huge "death-star" like beam of psychic energy into space. He also figures out that it can be turned off the same way it was turned on, on Juice.

Anya does a danger assess and senses all of the guns and blasters and rocket launchers and Flames and everything else. It's quite disturbing. Finally, Maury teleports everyone in the lake and all of the stuff they've collected to the stashed car. Maury, and the mind merged Katya, and Max all pass out on arrival, but everyone else packs them up and drives back to the Hippocrates.

In the debriefing, the kids tell people that no one really mentioned that they were kidnapped. Well, they might not have been kidnapped - Memento Mori gave them freezy-pops - but the party assures them that they surely were. A few minutes later, Elmer returns from the party.

Elmer: "I got a meeting with Klothos! Yay!"
Captain: "Hooray, we're leaving the planet!"
Taking the captain's lead, the Hippocrates also leaves the planet. While heading out towards Gateway station and the jump gates, they pass a number of military ships heading down into Gateway proper. Poor Memento Mori.

On the way out, the group stops at Gateway station to enact their crazy Black-getting plan. Katya applies at the clinic, using her New Light ID. The clinic takes also takes a small blood sample to guard against complications. The next day Katya hears that "Klothos is pleased to approve her petition to partake of the divine." The fee has even been reduced to 10,000 asters.

Katya is filled with nanobots designed to capture the black before it infects her. She's also given a knockout tooth to put her out when the nanobots interfere with the clinic technicians' knockout drug. Anya escorts her to the clinic for the procedure, bringing the 10,000 asters in gold from the Santa Maria.

Katya is led into the room. She lays down on the table and they give her a shot. Sophia's nanobots must be working, because nothing is happening. Katya bites down on her knockout tooth and just before the world fades away she hears Klothos behind her: "Excellent."

A couple of hours later, Katya emerges high as a kite. Anya is a bit disconcerted and asks for advice on dealing with her. "Don't say no to her and you'll be fine," the clinic technician suggests.

The pair head back to the Hippocrates where Sophia gets Katya right into examination and blood dialysis. It's totally a Black party in Katya's system. As far as Sophia can figure out, they gave Katya Black, and the nanos did their job of grabbing it, so she wasn't affected. So they apparently just kept giving her more Black until it finally kicked in.

Oh dear. At least they got the black sample from the nanites, but the dialysis was too late to stop Katya from being affected by her actual dose of Black.

Before anything else, though, the party decides it needs to get to Juice to shut down the "bowl" before Memento Mori performs atrocities as bad as ones the party was performing. Elmer has an appointment with Klothos in three days, so they bid their farewells with Elmer and his crew, and fly off (and send email off to Janzur, Eva, and Cassandra announcing the change of rendezvous point). The Hippocrates lands on the Juice spaceport floating island, and the run ends.