Lord of the Bees

The actions of a single bee make no sense without context. Nor do the actions of a single finger of a pianist.

- Noel Janniver, Communion Dance, AS 2529

New Light -> Tyrell's Folly -> Nurl

Jim announces that Dylanna is aboard - she'll be travelling to Tyrell's Folly in order for the Tinoori to stand in judgement on her. There is some grumbling about this, as the Hippocrates is clearly no place for reformed villains, but Hippocrates has already given Jim his permission.

Sophia puts together her newest project: the Cooperatron. Modelled along Decider lines, the Cooperatron allows someone to lead a plan, and every helper that assists provides the leader with +1 die and +1 skill. She ties the Cooperatron into the neutrino headsets, so it's easy to stay in communication about whatever the plans are.

Katya comes out of the clear tubes, cured of Kaufman degeneration but suffering from a fatal case of tetanus. Probably not the best of trades.

Mirris talks to Linnet a little about learning to control her psi better - Linnet doesn't seem to know that the issue is potential psi use at the Wade party, rather than spookifying the Hippocrates, but she listens without getting too sullen. The party contemplates getting Linnet some sort of psi detector as a wristwatch (doesn't Viktor Marchant have a box that detects psi?), to let her know when she's accidentally using her abilities. On the other hand, something that goes "bing" when psi is being used in the area would probably just go off all the time, so that might not be so good. And the omnicorders could be tuned to detect psi, as well.

Kith looks up the local Jaylaites. They're a little worried about Jayla being out of contact for a while. Kith confirms with the party that Mirror Jayla is kind of a secret, but tells the Jaylaists anyway, because it's important to know that your Hegemon might be the evil version if this sort of thing happens again. Kith also tells Trails of Blood about Jayla's tribe being killed when she was young; Trails of Blood is fascinated by having this in common with Jayla, and goes off to think about that.

Jim explains that he has the final stress test for the Boy Scout Manual to do - this involves hooking it up to the Dancer's holoprojector and the Hippocrates's auxiliary power, and running some simulations. How bad could that be? Dr. Kye threatens to stay back on the planet, but eventually agrees to come along as Jim lifts the ship off (since aux power to the engines isn't the best thing to run in the spaceport). People spread throughout the ship, waiting for the test to start.

The first thing that happens is that Katya spots Martya trapped in one of the Vircan fighters. There isn't an obvious way to open the canopy from outside (at least, not for someone unfamiliar with the fighter model), and it seems to be being held shut at least a little, possibly by Martya's TK. Mirris manages to get the canopy open, and Martya is retrieved.

Moments later, obstacles start appearing in front of the ship, and Jim starts dodging them for dear life. The starboard engine begins to overload, spewing radiation into Engineering - Sophia is badly irradiated before the Smeerps get her into a suit, and Dr. Kye shows up to help with the radiation suit from his plasma bomb lab.

The Sparky Cola machine probably needs to get back on the network, so Kith devises a plan involving tea ceremonies to formally apologize to it for keeping it networkless for so long, and starts heading to the recreation facility. Jim dodges a few more obstacles, but runs out of actions. Mirris takes over flying the ship, but even with a lot of cooperatron help, she can't get the ship past the last obstacle, and there is a lot of Crunching. Sharra's stateroom, the main cargo hold, and Storage Compartment B all start leaking air.

Some elves appear in the crew quarters - Jim recognizes these as a race he invented for his alien relations badge, and dashes down to introduce himself. They want to be given a tour. Ciernan hijacks Kith's Sparky Cola networking plan, and devises some legal rights for the Sparky Cola machine. He tries to get the crew to vote yes on plugging it back in, but they're a bit obstreperous - Dr. Kye points out that he would have voted yes if Ciernan had asked him to vote no, but having been asked to vote yes, he was obliged to vote no. Ciernan finally gets Deirdre and Katya to weigh in on the Sparky Cola plan, and plugs the machine in.

"I'm the loyal opposition." -Dr. Kye
"On Nonesuch, they call that the Fool." -Jim
It becomes clear that the NPCs are planning an insurrection, and need to be infiltrated. Katya, who has headed to the main cargo hold with Deidre and Linnet, to fix the hole, notes that she's outnumbered by her NPCs. She tries to assert her authority by telling them to fix the hole instead, but neither Deirdre or Linnet is actually skilled in starship damage control. Linnet locks the gravlift, trapping the three of them in the cargo hold. Katya power projects into herself, becoming a lot more Hegemon-y, and the elves immediately demand that they be taken to her.

The bridge level of the ship promptly floods, filling the hallways with water. Happily, several people have aquatics or swimming, so it's not quite as bad as it could be. Mirris gets official permission from Jim, and then infiltrates Smeerp Patrol, just as the automatic sprinklers go off in the computer core, necessitating moving the mainframes across the hall without losing power or network connectivity. Mirris, at Ciernan's advice, convinces Smeerp Patrol that stealing the mainframes is step one in the grand plan to take over. Jim produces some wireless routers out of his backpack, and the Smeerps start carrying mainframes.

The elves get down to the cargo hold (the gravlift has to be unlocked, but that's not too hard), just as Katya is attempting invoke a scoutly spirit of Obedience on her NPCs. The elves are promptly offended at an attempt to make them obedient, and draw their swords. Dr. Kye starts shooting them, and is promptly Chopped. Deirdre parries the two elves who try to chop Katya, leaving them with half-swords, and Katya grabs them. It looks for a bit like the alien relations badge is not going to be passed.

An unexpected thunderstorm breaks out on the bridge.

Ciernan jams the airlock door open, venting the hallway water (and nearly Sophia) to space. Kith becomes concerned that Kye is down and possibly bleeding to death, but Mirris clarifies that the possibility of Kye dying is not sufficient reason to use Glitter. Kith manages to wake him back up, leading to some more shooting, before Jim raises his voice a bit to get everyone to STAND DOWN.

Jim explains to the elves that there has been a Grave Misunderstanding. With a lot of cooperation helping him out, he convinces people (including the elves) that they don't need to fight any longer. The elves want recompense for their treatment, though, and aren't mollified by the suggestion that the captain will think about recompensing them when he returns from wherever he is, some unspecified time in the future. However, they are more mollifed by the offers of some alchemicals.

People realize that there is a small matter/energy conversion explosive hidden somewhere on the ship, which will no doubt destroy it shortly. The hive of bees in hydroponics swarms and flies into the cooperatron, giving everyone who has been either following or leading in the cooperation mechanic a strong tendency to buzz, communicate through dancing, and bring Katya brightly colored objects.

Kith offers Katya a fuzzy blue blanket, but Katya, who is holding Martya with one arm and has lost the use of the other due to a tetanus spasm, is unable to take it. Kith is crushed, and heads off, rejected, to find a better object.

Jim asks First Frost of Autumn to start looking for the bomb (Jim thinks it will be in a ship's systems room, not a stateroom), while Ciernan asks Dylanna to look. Neither of them finds it immediately, though.

Kith loots Hydroponics for some flowers, and discovers that Katya likes daffodils (so does Martya, apparently). Ahah, yellow must be better than green. Katya does a dance entreating people to bring her more colored objects. And to look for the bomb. Ciernan brings Katya some roses, but Martya pokes herself on a thorn and doesn't like them nearly as much.

Meanwhile, Sophia has taken over the ship's sensors, (with help from Dylanna), and has narrowed down the location of the bomb to the bridge level, and Mirris narrows it down to one of three rooms. Jim searches the auxiliary point defense room, Sophia scans the aux fuel storage room, and nothing is found. That leaves sludge reprocessing.

Ciernan brings Katya some blue earrings, which she likes; Sophia gives Katya a vase, but she looks upset by this. Mirris tries to explain to Sophia that Katya has a Thing about Vases, but it's hard to do with buzzing and interpretive dance. Sophia goes away, crushed.

Dr. Kye and Jim manage to get the bomb disarmed just as it ticks down to one second left, and the test is basically concluded.

That whole mess done, it's time to take Dylanna to Tyrell's Folly. In short, the sentence against her is a Hunt; it is permissible for others to come with her, but it is to be understood that there should be no hard feelings if the others are injured in the process. Jim says he's going, and Kith decides she wants to go to relieve the suffering of both the party and the Tinoori who might be hurt.

Ruthie and Linnet both want to go (part of being a sister to all girl scouts), but Mirris and Katya tell them they can't. Mirris says it would be too dangerous for Linnet, because the Tinoori might kill her - Linnet doesn't think the Tinoori are going to kill little kids who are along on the Hunt, and wants to know if Mirris has actually asked the party Tinoori about this. Mirris says she hasn't. Linnet angrily says Mirris is just making stuff up the way she always does, and sulks off to her room. Ruthie complains to Katya that this is all about being a sister to other girl scouts unless it's dangerous, and wants to know if Katya is going? Katya says she's talking to Jim about it. Ruthie decides Katya is just a fair-weather Girl Scout too, and goes and asks Ciernan to go on the hunt. Always susceptible to little kids, he agrees.

In the end, everyone but Mirris and Dr. Kye goes along (well, not Ruthie and Linnet either), and the hunt begins, with six Tinoori hunting teams chasing the party through forest paths, underbrush, and rivers. (For the home viewers, this mechanic is nigh-isometric to a game of Scotland Yard, but with Cabry forest graphics instead of London).

The Tinoori catch the party three times - the first time, Ciernan tunnels Dylanna down and away, while Katya TK-shields her. This is sufficient to escape. The second time, the Tinoori have tech devices to let them shoot through the ground, and alchemicals which neutralize Katya's psi, but Jim neural disrupts the leader and Ciernan lightning-strikes the infantry, which keeps the humans standing long enough to run away. The third time, Katya has a gas mask to protect her from the alchemicals, and Kith is healing the damage that has gotten through.

At that point, the party manages to make a break from the pursuers down to the south, and escapes the pursuit for the rest of the Hunt. honor satisfied, Dylanna is now free to go, as far as the Tinoori are concerned.

Mirris drops a search in the local planetary network looking for dogs that look like Laddie but aren't Laddie, and Ciernan pokes around looking for animals that have perception (there do seem to be some).

Sophia and Ciernan talk to Moment Before Dawn and Night Blooming Wisteria about how to get First Frost of Autumn to be genetically a Hegemon. The tricky bit is that the party has the ability to add Hegemon gene complexes to an embryo, but First Frost is a bit beyond that. Some sort of crazy thing involving the yellow tube might work, but Sophia thinks talking to Sharra about it might help.

Katya talks Mirris into helping her figure out where on Tyrell's Folly the happily-ever-after reverie took place, and the two of them (plus Elite) head there to look around. Kith, still in following-the-queen-Bee mode, offers to come along, but Katya chases her off. Kith is crushed.

The house isn't there, although some rosebushes are. It looks like the houses in the reverie haven't been built, but there's a town nearby. Katya looks for the Vandermeers in the town (Joshua Vandermeer was married to Evgenia in the reverie), and is startled to discover that they do exist. Katya and Mirris ring on their doorbell, and note a two-year-old boy running around in the background. Mrs. Vandermeer politely takes Katya's scouting pamphlets, but apologizes that she doesn't give money to door-to-door salesmen. Katya and Mirris flee back to the ship.

The news indicates that there's some sort of fuss going on on Nurl, and also, the Blue Hegemon is heading there. Hmm. The party dutifully heads to Nurl; this time Mirris drives.

"People might notice that Mirris has been signed out for a bunch of hours on the Vircan pilots." -Rose
"I don't think you mean signed out on the Vircan pilots." -Andrea
Checking in with Commander Branch indicates two things of note:
  1. DaVinci is gone.
  2. Donella has called for a meeting with the heads of most of the major Brochoan Lines.
Apropos of point two, Mirris says that she thinks (from the party) that Donella has a Plan, but that it probably doesn't have to with plasma bombs. Everyone is a little worried about Donella's plan, especially since it seems to be something she didn't want to tell Mirris about.

Ciernan and Kye and Mirris coordinate with Commander Branch to get more details about DaVinci's kidnapping. The salvaged ships were being brought through from Riden; the Brochoah had negotiated for first pick of the salvage before it went on to Blue and Stannis Law. There were some rumors that some of the ships had things that looked like Decider hardware (or maybe Mirror-Decider hardware) so DaVinci took up a little salvage avatar to pick over the best stuff. At some point in this process, the groupmind (presumably) connected a patch cable to DaVinci's avatar, and swapped him out for an expert system that kept making DaVinci-like comments. Ciernan thinks that the people doing the swap were Nullers, and Mirris thinks that whoever wrote the expert system had some KS: DaVinci.

Unfortunately, the groupmind strike team probably came through with the salvage, and kept going - they could be anywhere Bluewards by now. Three is enough to rebuild Acheron, though they likely still want more. Ciernan considers whether opening up the Infowar Virus crystal will be necessary against a rebuilt Acheron - Dr. Kye volunteers to have IPX do that if it is deemed necessary.

Finally, Donella gives her speech to the Brochoan Lines:

"As you no doubt know, due to a long-ago contract, your lines owe my bloodline money. Quite a large amount of money, in fact. In exchange for this debt, my bloodline is obliged to provide protection from incidents such as the one last year. As was done. What you may not know is that, at that time, I did not know about that obligation. I didn't save you because you owe me money - I saved you because that is my job, as your Hegemon. Therefore, as of now, all debts and fiduciary responsibilities owed as of this contract to my bloodline by the ...citralion Line, the ...atoorani Line, the ...fendoolis Line, the ...kpoitrelan Line, and the ...harachoom Line, or any Boards in which these Lines hold majority, are cancelled. Thank you.
Many leaves drop at the conclusion of this speech, and even Twig is stunned. The Brochoan Lines go into conference for about twenty-four hours, after which time Nurl officially refers all questions regarding their jump gates to their Hegemon.