Travel Montage

"To recognize that a decision must be made is to accept responsibility for making the decision."

-- Understanding the Other, Ogioila, AS 98

Rupert's Hole -> Creek -> Bastion -> Lost In Space

Sharra strips Ozymandias's old ship for spare parts, and Max fails to find the smuggling compartment that he's sure is there. Kith takes Max into the warehouse, where Max picks up a box of books on various religions. Meanwhile, Phil the Gambler drops by Ghier's to say goodbye, as Ghier starts off on his walkabout, and then heads to town to catch a ride back to the inworlds. Boss Man recommends the Hippocrates as the next ship likely to be leaving.

Meanwhile, Ciernan has brought back some hairs from Paddy (Ghier's dog), and Sophia confirms that she thinks Paddy is one of the de-potentiated dogs. Phil heads from First Town to the spaceport to enquire about buying passage off planet. The crew interrogates him pointedly, trying to figure out how he got stranded or what he's running from - Phil explains that he came to Rupert's Hole to learn the tricks of fortune, and now he plans to head to Joyous Gard for a poker tournament. He's charged 400 asters for passage to "somewhere with a jump gate", and given many stern warnings about safety.

"This is an active research vessel. You will occasionally hear announcements saying 'Warning, perilous experiment'. This is a technical term." -Max
Ciernan, in a fit of paranoia, puts up a repelling-smeerps field just in case any are trying to sneak on board. Sophia and Sharra are disappointed, as they claim smeerps are cute and friendly, but in any event, nobody seems to see any trying to sneak in. Twig recommends that now that the plasma lens has been replaced, the engines should be test fired before the ship embarks on a several-month journey through the dust cloud.

Phil wonders whether room and board comes with drinks. Ciernan brings him a drink, and Phil tips him an aster, amusing Ciernan greatly. Phil asks if he can put some things in the safe, and is permitted to give a briefcase to the officers to put in the captain's safe in Ruehan's cabin. Max ponders whether he thinks this is Naughty and part of a Nefarios Plan of Phil's (as Max is channeling a rather strict Pierogi spirit), but only manages to tell that Phil is drinking. Tsk.

Sharra and Akito test-fire the engines. With Kith's help, Akito is a master pilot, but Sharra calls a halt to the testing after getting up to rolling for 10s. This mildly disappoints Twig, who was apparently looking forward to seeing what the engines could really do.

Then, it's off into the dust nebula to try and find their way back to, well, anywhere with a jump gate. Max and Sophia handle astronavigation - it turns out that Sophia studied this in college. After a ways of heading past various twists and turns and much time passing, the Hippocrates reaches an area of high turbulence, with what nearly appear to be flames and gusts in the dust. The crew speculates that it may be due to the elemental energy dispersed into the nebula. Kith thinks this makes sense, and Ciernan notes that the energy does seem pretty elementalish. Max attempts to find a clear path, and claims that there's one off that way. Ciernan (mimicked by Phil) tries to make sure that nothing hits them, while Akito aims for the path, but careens wildly. (People are finding that they have to roll for oddly low or high difficulties; Sophia thinks it's a particularly high-entropy area). Akito protests that it's not fair for Max to point him at a path while Ciernan and Phil move the path. Several bitter recriminations later, the ship has managed to dodge or evade most of the flame spouts, and is successfully on the path to Creek.

The Hippocrates radios down to Creek.

"Are you all right down there?"
"Everything is fine, dears, do you need some help?"
The crew asks if there are any results of the drilling-a-hole ritual exploding. After a long pause they are invited down to the planet as guests of the grandmothers. On the way down, Max and Kith scan the planet for any changes since last time. Well, for one, there's a big mountain with smoke coming out of it where Kith doesn't remember there having been one before. In fact, it looks like the volcano is probably where Fernwash used to be.

The Hippocrates lands, and is met at the starport by Grandmother Ennie and a bunch of guards. She enquires how many people are on the crew - she wants to make sure there are enough accommodations for everyone. This sets off many people's paranoia-about-grandmothers; Sophia resists Ennie's influence enough to say they're staying on the ship, thank you very much, but throws them Kith as a sop before locking the airlock again.

Kith is not so nervous around other Grandmothers, and is willing to be interrogated by Grandmother Ennie.

"Did you bring them here?" -Grandmother Ennie
"No, no, we're just traveling together." -Kith
"Why don't you come with us to the hospitality suite for tea and cookies while we process the rest of the crew."
Max, feeling secure in his present inability to be mind controlled (due to his Pierogi spirit), comes with Kith for the interview. Meanwhile, Ciernan has Sophia check to make sure it's the right universe, as he thinks this seems more like Evil Mirror Grandmothers. Nope, this is the current universe.

"We'll see about calming your friends down." -Ennie
"Just let them think it's their own idea." -Kith
For the moment, a compromise is reached: Kith will tell them everything she knows about the ritual, but, unfortunately, she wasn't there for it, so some of her details are a little spotty. Grandmother Ennie asks if she can talk to Ciernan, who was one, there; two, a trained observer, and three, a skald. Sophia says she's not letting Ciernan off the ship, and not letting a hostile grandmother on the ship. Before this can deadlock further, Ciernan says he's not actually worried about talking to the Grandmothers, and offers to go. Akito offers to escort him, but Ciernan is still sure he'll be fine.

Ciernan is shown to a nice comfy room with a floral sofa. Grandmother Ennie and a younger woman carrying a tea service talk to him. Ciernan wonders whether the tea is part of Grandmother Ennie's ritual - well, it does seem to have some sort of psychotropic drugs in it. He neutralizes it with "purify plant" before drinking any. Grandmother Ennie confesses that most of the people on Creek who knew the most about the ritual aren't there any more, so they don't know very many details. Ciernan goes through the larger briefing about what happened, skipping only Emmaline (who isn't really relevant to that plot) and the Secret Weapon against Agent Morden (that being Akito). Grandmother Ennie knows that Ciernan knows that she knows that he's leaving bits out.

Grandmother Ennie bustles between the room with Kith and Max, and the room with Ciernan. When left to their own devices, Ciernan flirts with his novice, and Kith talks to hers about Jaylaism.

Kith tries to explain to Grandmother Ennie about their split-up dog theory, but Ennie is somewhat mystified by the concept of potentiality. Was it putting their dog back together that blew up the ritual? No, that was something else, that was just getting rid of Agent Morden and avoiding acausal things.

Grandmother Ennie enquires at the ship - may she see the bifurcated dog? No! She may not! Well, maybe. Akito doesn't want Dog? messed with. Sharra tells Grandmother Ennie that there is to be no touching of the dog, and he must be given back in the same condition. Grandmother Ennie, a bit taken aback, says that if she is not permitted to touch the dog, will the crew provide a dog wrangler so it doesn't run away? Akito adds "No drugs! No mind control!" to the list, but doesn't actually remove the "no touching" qualification. Additionally, the people still on the ship are nervous about allowing anyone else off the ship, lest they also be put in a room with sofas and tea and asked questions. Sharra says that they can have Max or Ciernan as a dog wrangler, but not anyone else.

Grandmother Ennie, a bit exasperated, says that Ciernan and Max are having tea at the moment. Sharra says they'll wait.

"Citizen Sinclair, I hate to impose, but your friends would like you to come and leash the dog." -Grandmother Ennie
Max does return, and puts a leash on Dog? The two are escorted to a ritual circle, where a bunch of grandmothers and various promising novices try to suss out what it means that the dog is de-potentiated, or whatever it is. The ritual is a tad exhausting, so Dog? and Max fall asleep during it.

Back on the ship, Phil dithers - he'd really like to go to a nearby bar with a killer microbrew section, but he doesn't want to have his mind read by Grandmothers, and he thinks they'll object if they can't. Sophia and Kye lure him into their scrabble game, which he promptly converts into Scrabble, the Drinking Game.

Max and Dog? sleep off the ritual in the "post-mindreaming recovery suite", while Kith chats some more with Grandmother Ennie. Grandmother Ennie explains their insistence on trying to get to the bottom of this all - there is a volcano right out the window. Kith sympathizes: it must rankle to have been tricked into creating it. She scores a Grandmother point.

Ciernan continues to chat up his novice. She tries to figure out how to detect piece type on him, but she's not enough of a spy to be able to use his powers. He demonstrates how, holding her hand for extra emphasis.

Eventually, everyone gets back to the ship. Dog has a new collar, which has a little tag reading "If found, return to Grandmother Kith." Kye notes that it's also a clairvoy point. The crew argues about where to put it - sludge reprocessing, perhaps? Out the airlock? Into the volcano? Ciernan, on the other hand, would rather play with the magic item, but is disappointed to learn that it's not infinite-range.

On the opposite side of the planet from the volcano is a huge hurricane, which has been equally troublesome. Kith radios the Jaylaist village to see if they need anything (they're mostly good) and if they have any powerful weather mages (they have a guy who can influence the weather a little for about an hour, but that's it).

The crew heads to the other side to look at the hurricane. Phil suggests stopping at a good bar - which is somewhat unfortunately covered by the edge of the hurricane at the moment. Ciernan thinks without any power-enhancement or nukes or something like that, it would take him about a month of weather control to dismantle the hurricane. There is not a lot of support for adding another month to the travel time, though.

Ciernan suppresses the storm locally while they land near the bar Phil recommends. The owner is happy to see customers, and overjoyed that the storm is finally over - and then disappointed to hear that it isn't really. Sophia, Kye, Akito, Ciernan, and Phil all head in, and Phil buys drinks for everyone. Akito just asks for juice - the bartender tries to assure him that that isn't necessary.

"The bar is on the other side of the planet so we don't have to worry about the grandmothers. Order whatever you want."
Akito still doesn't see what the big deal about drinking is.
"I went out with Sophia once but I didn't think it was so great." -Akito
Phil persuades Akito to ask for the "All Natural", which turns out to be a glass of clear stuff. It doesn't smell very strong, but he decides to stick to his juice anyway. Kye and Phil both have one, though. Mild carousing done, the crew warns the bar owner that the storm will be back, and around for a while. Then they head off again, promising the grandmothers that they'll ask for some more skalds to come by Creek to help.

Once out of the Creek system, the Hippocrates encounters two medium-sized ships. An attempted hail is met only with static. Max manages to intercept their radio traffic.

"I don't know, Joe, it looks a little bigger than our usual Tarn ship. But I think we can take them." -Ship One
"Oncoming vessels, this is the HMF Hippocrates. Don't bother." -Max
"Oh no! They're listening in on our comms!" -Ship Two
"Darned Tarn! They're coming right for us! Get 'em!" -Ship One
While the party tries to argue that they can't be Tarn if they're using the radio, the privateers don't seem convinced. Combat ensues. Akito does his best to dodge, but he's no Ace. One of the ships manages to grapple and board. Max warns that there's a hull breach in sludge reprocessing, and starts to flush that room to vacuum. The boarders manage to get the door open, only to be shot by Kye (who has a vacuum shield). Kith tries to get the boarders to surrender ("There's no need for this suffering!"). Phil tries to get to the combat, only to find a lot of locked doors between him and the boarders.

The gunners shoot the other ship, Ciernan lightning-bolts both, and Space Sophia targets the grappled ship until Ciernan and Akito manage to shake it off.

"Gentlemen, you're attacking a ship containing a Spartan Skald, a Creekian Grandmother, and a Lendtian Martial Arts Master. I suggest you surrender." -Ciernan
Ciernan gives the enemies an action; the ships use it to surrender, while the boarders use it to shoot Dr. Kye. After a few more lightning blasts from Ciernan, they also surrender. The last boarder manages to make it to the bridge before being taken down. Kith makes sure nobody dies.

Much argument ensues as to what to do with the two ships full of pirates (about twenty boarders, two captains, and two engineers). No, not pirates, privateers. The captains have Letters of Mark and Reprisal to hunt down Tarn. So when they catch Tarn, they shoot them and take their stuff. Max points out that nobody here is a Tarn, have they managed to understand that yet? The captains say yes, they certainly realize that now and they're very sorry for the misunderstanding and terrible mistake.

In general, the Outworlds agree that the last planet to see a ship claims juridsiction until the ship gets into someone else's space (there are no "international waters" in which nobody cares about piracy). So technically, crimes against the Hippocrates are in Creek's jurisdiction, which makes Kith in charge.

Nobody wants to keep the pirates on board for the extra month or so it'll take to get to Bastion. Nor do they want to let them run around. But executing them is overly harsh, especially given that they barely hurt anyone before being blasted into smithereens. Sharra and Twig head over to break their ship's blasters, which will prevent any further piracy. Twig wonders "Looting: appropriate?" Max says it's technically legal. Sharra thinks looting is totally inappropriate and refuses to participate.

Sophia and Max convince Kith to "fine" them their ill-gotten gains. She takes their letters of marque, and fines them their ill-gotten gains, which turns out to be about 11,000 asters of silks and spices and that sort of thing. Kith works on adjusting the attitudes of the captains into not causing any more suffering, while the guns get broken, over the course of a couple of days.

Dr. Kye communes with the trade goods. It definitely doesn't belong to these guys.

"Anyone know where, for example, any place or any ship that might be the equivalent of the um, or a traveling spaceship for, you know..." -Dr. Kye
"A predicate, please" -Sharra.
"Like the travelling spaceship for the Victoria's Secret Lingerie Tour." -Dr. Kye
"I think we should definitely return this stuff." -Phil
Nobody has really heard of the Victoria's Secret Travelling Models Show or anything like that, so the rightful owners are still something of a mystery. Of course, that still leaves the question of what to do with the pirates.
"Break their weapons, convince their captains, take away the stuff they stole from other people, and call it a day." -Ciernan
The day is so called.

"After we take their stuff, I commune with it again." -Kye
"Stop that!" -Sophia
The Hippocrates continues on towards Bastion. After some more travel, they pass a cul-de-sac in the dust that has a bunch of small ships, and also a number of people in space suits, zooshing around between the ships. The crew ponders sneaking past them, not-their-problem, but eventually decides to hail them.

"Hail, brothers among the stars." -Other ship
"Oh, no, crazed Starwayists?" -Ciernan
"No. No, we're Nullers."
The Nullers explain that they're here for the annual Running of the Turbs. There's a dust track set up, and people in space suits "run" along it while trying to not get killed by the turbs. You can bet on people, or bet on turbs, or bet on people getting eaten by the turbs, or the turbs getting eaten by the people, or anything you want.

"Does anyone want to be free of gravity's bonds and run with the turbs?"
There are lots of enthusiastic volunteers. Ciernan acquires a space suit, but no propulsion. Sharra builds a Madly Perilous jetpack for Akito, and adjusts her Gadget Shoes to work in space. Sophia has her Space Belt, Max buys a jet pack, and Phil borrows a space suit and two fire extinguishers. Dr. Kye places a bunch of bets. Sophia bets on herself to finish; so does Phil (they give him odds since he's only using fire extinguishers to finish). Max talks with some of the Nullers who knew Aquilus.

The non-runners volunteer the Hippocrates as the official Medical Ship. They maneuver over near the finish line in an out-of-the-way section.

"I'm glad you're with me on this mission of mercy, Dr. Kye." -Kith
"Would you like to retire to somewhere more comfortable to watch?" -Dr. Kye
"What is going on over... no, wait, I'm better off not knowing." -Mike
Everyone running has the "standard non-interference rules." No one is to use any powers on any of the runners, but the turbs are fair game. Sophia builds a turb-bait device to bring along and throw, as necessary.

The race is on! The ships stationed around the perimeter turn on their static generators, and turbs start popping out of the walls. The Hippocrates, as the official medical ship, declines a turbmaker as inappropriate.

Phil starts out poorly, with one of his fire extinguishers freezing up. Two of the ships that have bet against anyone finishing spawn more turbs - Ciernan sets the turbs to swarming one of the "bad" ships. Mataris, the Nuller who traditionally wins the Running (and has a traditional yellow jersey over his suit) takes off at a fast clip, doing crazy things with his momentum counter.

The commentators remark "He's going for another suicide slingshot of death!" and note that it must be the arrival of the newcomers that drove him to it, as he had promised his wife to never use the slingshot of death again. By throwing in some fortune for movement, he manages to just pull off his crazy momentum trick without splatting completely. He scrapes the dust wall on the way by, but doesn't go down. Meanwhile, Max gets some good pictures of the whole thing.

Phil, seeing Ciernan's success with the turbs, tries to control them himself, though not to nearly the effect.

"Anything you can do, I can do kinda. I can do anything kinda like you." -Phil
Akito scoots around the switchback, putting him in a good shot for second place. Ciernan uses "dispel fog" to tunnel through the dustwall that requires the Terrible Slingshot. There is much complaining amongst the commentators about this, and Akito also thinks it's very poor form.

The second "bad" ship starts broadcasting on the emergency channel - oh no! It's having electrical troubles! Malfunction! Mayday! It "accidentally" shoots Mataris with several successes, and takes him down.

Ciernan puts a wall around the "bad" ship, as Kye starts to pilot the Hippocrates to pick up Mataris before he crashes into a dust wall at high speeds. The other "bad" ship starts moving, which (unfortunately for it) gets it mobbed by turbs.

Phil's efforts to control turbs get them to form up around him in escort formation.

"That's a beautiful thought, guys, but I'm going to drift right into you." -Phil
Kith manages to grab Mataris with the ship's tractor, but even after burning through all the reliability, doesn't manage to pull him in. This could be a problem if he hits the wall immediately followed by the Hippocrates hitting the wall on top of him. Max starts quantum tunnelling towards Mataris, causing Akito to grumble more about all of the cheating.

The hostile ship that Ciernan has been sending turbs after ends up crashing into a dust wall, giving it more trouble.

Kith gets Mataris into the shuttle bay in the nick of time, and Max arrives beside him - but where is his momentum counter? Ciernan wind-blasts the Hippocrates away from the dust wall, keeping it from smashing up during drift, but Max still drifts, and ends up hitting the shuttle bay wall with a loud "crunch".

Of course, since the Hippocrates (and Sharra and Akito) are the only things moving in the area, the turbs could still be a problem.

"We can shoot them..." -Kith
"No! No! Never shoot turbs!" -Ciernan
Ciernan sends as many turbs as he can after the hostile ship, as Kith heals Mataris. Akito crosses the finish line, in first place!

Back towards the beginning of the course, the turbs have been having a field day. Most of the racers have had to play dead lest they be totally eaten, except for one hardy racer who's rounded the switchback about neck and neck with Sophia.

Phil reaches the limit of turbs that he can control and two turbs try to get him. By a "happy coincidence", they merge into one extra-big Terror Turb, but it doesn't get Phil before he can play dead.

Sharra braves the last group of turbs, which munch her a bit before she comes in second. Ciernan comes in third by a hair. Kye is a little disappointed, having bet on Akito, Ciernan, and Sharra, in that order.

Sophia and Phil get credit for finishing the race, as does one of the Nullers. The other racers are picked up and extracted from turbs; Nuller ships surround the ship that opened fire.

Max and Sharra poke about, doing forensic engineering and detective work on the bad ship, to try and prove actual malice. They can't actually prove malice, but they can prove that the ship deliberately erased all the records or logs that would allow malice to be demonstrated.

Akito gets a cup, and 1000 asters, and a Nuller name: Infligus (it carries connotations of hitting things, and of meddling). Max talks about Aquilus again, and floating in space remembering him, and manages to convince many of the Nullers that Aquilus is more at rest than dying at the bottom of a gravity well would indicate. He gives them some copies of his book.

Off the Hippocrates goes again. Some further travel along, a tiny object glints in the scanners. Max turns up the gain on the long-range scanners, and determines that it's a small cylinder. Sophia goes EVA to investigate, and finds that it's a can of Very Berry Sparky Cola. And there's another, of Super Root. Other cans are also visible, tumbling through space. Climbing the Sparky Cola gradient, the Hippocrates approaches a small ship, broken open and lying on its side. There's no response to a hail, and no emotion on board.

Further investigation shows that it's a Sparky Cola delivery ship, lost with all hands (two crew) while making a delivery to Rupert's Hole. The on-board cola pressurization system exploded, taking out an engine, which then also exploded. There is a moment of silence for the brave Sparky Cola deliverers, and then the bodies are put in the morgue and the Sparky Cola recovered as official salvage, under Dr. Kye's authorization.

Then it's off again towards Bastion. Akito gives a set of vacuum wickets a wide berth, as the gel chip experiment that would use them doesn't have a spare computer to run the experiment on.

Further travel in that direction brings them to an area where the dust is a lot thicker, and starts to gum up the engines. In the distance, there seems to be another Hippocrates - hey! That's not a Hippocrates, that's a Space House!

In fact, the Space House looks something like the Hippocrates from the outside, with a focus on the engineering section. Sharra heads over, and finds her two robots, fixing the engine, and fixing the other engine, and fixing the veranda that looks out on the plain on Sanctuary. She wanders out onto the lawn and marvels.

Pretty much everyone else has to come over and see at this point. Ciernan goes to his room, and it has the decorations from his dorm back at the Skald training academy. Max heads to the bridge - it looks like his command center on the Well, but actually more like the one of the Citizen's lands that he grew up on. Sophia heads to her lab, to find things like the first experiment she ever ran, and her first good set of textbooks. Dr. Kye looks in the plasma bomb lab, and finds his childhood home, from before he was scarred by time and life. Phil finds the casino he hung around at when he was three, and even sees one of his grandmother's cigars, still burning. He cracks his helmet and smells the cigar.

The two robot doobies tell Sharra how excited they are that she's back. She's very impressed by the house they built, as it turns out. So she'll be staying in it? Well, no, she has more work to do. The robots are crestfallen. After they spent so much time on it... maybe they should make it better? Then she'll stay? Sharra reassures them that it's a great house, she just can't retire yet (though she imagines becoming a Legendary Nebular Weirdness in the Dust Nebula someday). They ask if they can come back, then? She says she'd love to have them back. They are happy again, and boast to the new robots how much better they are. Nobody else hears any of this, of course.

The Hippocrates bids farewell to Space House Sharra and heads off again. A while later, they encounter a sleek blue ship, trailing oil and lubricants from a shot-up section of the port wing and engine. The radio hails them - the captain introduces himself as Harry Mudde. He's saved! Hooray! There's something incredibly shifty about the man, though - sort of like Elmer Triconian, but way more evasive. Max tries to sense naughtiness on him, and decides that while he's not pulling a con right now, he has in the past and he definitely will again in the future.

Sharra, Akito, and Kith head over to meet the gentleman in question. He tells a tale of woe of having somehow been mistaken for a Decider vessel, beaten up, and his stuff taken. His crew ejected in a life pod, which he hopes is even now making its way towards safety. They ask what the privateers stole, and are told "just some worthless trade goods." The ship's damage is, in fact, consistent with blaster fire from the pirates.

Repairing the damage to the ship would take most of the spare parts taken from Ozymandias's ship, which the crew is loathe to provide for someone who appears to be a con man. So, where is Mr. Mudde from? Why, simply the nearest starport. That's all very well, but where was he born? He claims that was all so long ago. Wait, he doesn't know where he was born? Harry lifts and eyebrow and wonders, "Do you really know, or do you just believe what they told you?"

Well, leaving aside the question of where he was born (which doesn't seem to have any direct relevance anyway), what about his crew? How many were there in the crew? Three. Well, what are their names? Harry again dodges the question, saying "If you find them, tell them you found Harry and he's on his way home." Max suggests that they won't know to say this unless Harry tells them the crew's names. Oh, but they'll know, Harry expects.

Ciernan thinks that Harry is a bank robber, which suggests some connection to Belle's genre at least.

Harry wonders if the Hippocrates crew could possibly assist in fixing his ship, or, failing that, give him a ride to the nearest starport. There's some consideration that that might be possible, but nobody will commit. Everyone searches the ship for smeerps, just in case, but there don't appear to be any.

Kye heads over to the other ship to see who owns it. Apparently, not Harry. The original owner was much more well-dressed. However, Harry and his crew were the ones on board when they were attacked, causing Harry to run around the bridge a lot saying "what do we do?" Then Kye gets the image of a life pod, flying away enticingly. Sharra tries to talk to the computer to find out the original owner. Unfortunately, it doesn't really remember, because Harry deleted all that information from its memory banks.

Finally, the crew offers to take Harry with them, but leave his ship behind, claiming (somewhat implausibly) that they can't spare the extra day to make repairs. It's not a very practical ship, filled with luxuries but not very good stats.

Harry gets locked in a stateroom for the voyage, with his meals brought to him. All in all, he doesn't mind that so much. Phil visits regularly to drink with him and play cards.

Farther along, three small needle-shaped ships drift into view, unmoving. Max tries to radio them (having forgotten the lesson earlier, that "Tarn don't use radios"), but they don't answer. The ships (two redliners and a greenliner) appear to have no power, and Kith (with her crystal) confirms that there's no life and no emotion, either.

A boarding party confirms that there's nothing alive aboard the ships. There are two dead Deciders on each, with the blood squished out of them. Kye tries to get the history of one of the ships - there's not much history to it, only when humans are involved. He gets some imagines of Dmitri coming aboard and squishing them, and also of some techs working with the computer, saying "This gets us a little closer to their homeworld."

The crew ponders deliberately getting lost in the dust nebula - which Ciernan hopes might let them find another planet - or landing on Bastion. Phil points out that he'd really like to get off the ship, not go exploring the dust cloud for months more.

There's a section of luridly colored dust, which Sharra grabs a sample of, seals up in a container and tossses in a lab, and then it's down to Bastion.

Things haven't been going so well since Central Control crashed. Speaking of which, the authorities have been holding off on Talia's trial so the Hippocrates crew could testify. Can they do that now?

Akito is not pleased with the idea of testifying against Talia, just because she's trying to get her father back, but he isn't quite willing to make it a Declaration: "No, I insist we not testify." This leads to some more inconclusive argument, and wondering whether it's possible to make her work against the wrongs that she's done. On the other hand, having said she was the bad guy before but then refusing to testify is somewhat lame, Sharra and Ciernan think.

Mr. Mudde gets let off the ship.

"The thing he's most concerned about is finding out is if his crew has been rescued." -Mike
"The thing we're most concerned about is if he can pay us." -Sharra
Mudde claims to not have any bank accounts here, and his trade goods were stolen. Eventually, the crew decides that it's better to not hold him hostage against future payment, and let him go.

Akito arranges to talk to Talia before the trial. He returns to report that she does want the criminal mastermind taken down, and is willing to help do that, if she's not in jail. But if she's left in jail, she'll probably decide to give up on waiting and break out soon, as months have passed already.

In the end, the crew testifies to the bare facts - she was in the warehouse, but they weren't sure why. They beat her up and turned her over to the Bastion government. Somehow, the judge was expecting more than this. She's sentenced to time served, for disturbing the peace, and released. However, Akito says that she has to come with them so Hippocrates can pass judgement on her as well, and she agrees that she has to serve them for having gotten her released again.

There is a bit more argument about what to do. Ciernan is excited about getting lost in the dust nebula, as that might lead to finding a planet! Sophia, Sharra, and Kith also think "Lost" is kind of cool. Akito and Kye are both clear that getting lost in the dust nebula is not really helpful, and vote no.

However, before any Losting, there's a lifeboat to rescue. Max thinks it's still out there in the mechanic. The crew heads forth once again, encountering velocity eaters and a Mirror Visitation (which they dodge), and finally find the life pod. There's a recorded message asking for help, but Kith doesn't detect any emotions aboard.

Akito docks with the life pod, and Kye, Sophia, Kith, and Sharra head in. There are, in fact, three crewmen - all beautiful women, somewhat lightly clad, draped alluringly over the furniture while asleep or unconscious.

Dr. Kye wakes up one of them, and she cooes up at him: "My hero."

"We scoop them up for the next run to have while they're lost!" -Kith
The women are taken to sickbay for checkups, but seem to be in basically good health. At this point, the Hippocrates encounters an enormous swirl of something too dark to see. Max is astonished - it's a Midnight Turb! Little is known about such things, other than that those who encounter them rarely return. Luckily, Sophia still has her turb bait from the race, so she gives Max her belt to become Space Max and throw, that is space throw the turb nummy far enough away that the ship can escape.

The Hippocrates attempts to drop the women off on Bastion, but they say really, they're happy to stay aboard ship. Poor Harry, lost to pirates. Sharra points out that poor Harry is, in fact, on Bastion. They flutter their eyelashes and ask "Will you hide us? He's so possessive." Well, why were they with Harry? Oh, they go way back, but it's such a long story. Can't they stay? They bat their eyes at Kye again, who is perfectly willing to let them stay. No one else is pleased by the idea, though, and Phil, who has discovered that they are molls, decides that he has to have all three for himself. Phil points out that he has more money than Harry, plus Harry owes Phil money. How about they stay with him?

Kye protests that Akito gets to have his babe aboard while they all get lost in the dust nebula. Akito protests that she's not his babe. Talia protests that she doesn't actually want to get lost for months in the dust nebula. Akito tells her she's not allowed off until Hippocrates has rendered his judgement.

"They only want you for your money." -Max
"That's all right. Why else do I have money?" -Kye
Kye and Phil battle over the women (though Kye would be happy to keep just one of them, Phil wants all three). Kith encourages Phil with a buff, and Phil proves surprisingly well defended against Kye's fortune.
"I'll bet you a hundred asters I can get them off the ship no matter what Kye says." -Phil, hoping to use a shtick
"I know you can. I have faith in you." -Kith, reassuringly
"Crud." -Phil
In the end, it's a close battle, but Phil walks off with all three girls, and Kye is left, once again, with no female companionship.

One final peril assaults the ship, and a bunch of magnetic dust nearly gets the brightly colored dust out of its container. Sharra puts everything in more strongly reinforced containment and hopes for the best.

And then, it's off into the trackless wilds of the dust nebula, who knows when or where to return...