The last of the loose ends on Sanctuary get wrapped up. There's this data disk - can Hippocrates, being a Spiffy Hegemonic Computer, copy it while the entire Blue Hegemony cannot? Alas, no, Sook points out that Hippocrates is not a magic computer, only a somewhat more efficient one. Not to mention, the Blue Hegemony isn't giving it back. Max fills the investigators in on his Psychic Investigation, and convinces them to let him tag along when they search the four ``closed-up looking'' houses. Two seem to have people on vacation; one is empty and will be sold in about a year; the fourth has a guy who's very sunlight-sensitive and he's unhappy about being searched. None of the garages have any suspicious clues, and Max doesn't get any further visions.
Off they go to Tinara, then. On the way, Cassandra finishes the painting:
Anya, standing at parade rest against a background of pastoral field with starry sky above. She's wearing something that (from the sleeves and pants) could be a uniform similar to Janzur's; over that is a tabard with the Farseer's Eye, and over that is a gold sash with a thin stripe of red/green/blue up the middle. Additionally, she has some little gold insignia on her collar. One hand holds a long pole resembling an elongated hilt of a plasma brand; it's planted firmly before her.The journey to Tinara is happily uneventful. Sook suggests that they stop first on Haigan, where her old job is. She talks to them about jump gates; they're psyched to buy the jumpgate computer (or a copy of the data - open source jumpgates are cool with them), and they'd love to record things like a secure jump or a high-energy jump. (Hint hint, they're looking for inspiration). Sook mentions this as a possibility for getting Hippocrates an actual income! Putting the OmniNet people on the bridge with sensors for a jump would work, or giving them warning so they can have ships on either side of the jumpgate would also work.
Jayla considers whether this would be a Terrible Idea, and decides that it probably isn't; it's a more interesting or high-energy future, with the possibility of going horribly awry, but is probably more likely than not to work out well. Sharra takes advantage of the spiffy spacedocks on Haigan to put in the third corner gun, and to get Hippocrates buffed and polished.
Meanwhile, Dr. Kye, Max, and Jayla (who wants to learn all about bureacracy) go to the SanMarin county clerk's office, to take out a permit to excavate. Oh, says the clerk, are they with the Crighton excavation? Er. Yes, they're consultants! Consultant archaeologists! Where is the dig again? And how long has it been going on? They've been working on it for two weeks out of a three month exclusive permit.
The three go back up to Haigan, where Kye briefs everyone on how terrible Alber Crighton is - sometimes things from the dig just vanish and are never seen again. Um, isn't that what Kye did, Jayla wonders? Well, no, this is different, it doesn't end up in a museum later either. And his company, Memento Mori, tends to dig up weapons or turn what he digs up into weapons.
The group takes the Hippocrates down to Tinara, and overflies the dig site, scanning like mad. They get the rough map of the site, which includes a main building, some auxiliary buildings, and a parking garage, plus tents, in a lot of overgrown swampy bayou land. They also note that there's a large crowd standing outside the front gate.
They land at the nearby spaceport, rent a couple of swamp buggies, and head out to the site. Kye gives his card to a security guard to give to Dr. Crighton, while the others talk to the crowd, which is carrying signs saying things like ``Vultures go home'' and ``Let the dead stay dead - let the living stay living!'' Jayla talks to Natalie Akini, the crowd's leader (she's sure that things can be worked out through non-violent methods like civil disobedience). Mirris gets into the demonstration act, and incites the crowd into some vaguely rhyming slogans, like ``Mine your mother's grave instead! No profiteering from the dead!'' Sook is horrified to discover that the crowd hasn't brought any live webcast cameras to get the media on their side (nobody but the archaeologists can even see the placards).Max and Sharra head back to town to pick up things like a videocamera; Max finds someone he can talk to about buying illicit stuff like knockout grenades, night-sight goggles, and security guard uniforms, and then spends a while poking around the clerk's office trying to see if there are any legal loopholes that Crighton's permit can fall into. If there were any injuries on the site, then there might be a safety inspection. The application for the permit seems to be all in order; it's apparently legal for him to dig up biohazardous things, especially if he's going to sell them to the Red Hegemony later.
Jayla has headed in as well; she talks to the local TV station about sending a reporter. They're a little dubious that this is going to be a big crisis - after all, that rumor about Crighton is just a rumor. What rumor? Oh, the one that he sent his grad students down to Sundown with faulty biocontainment suits and then sold the plagues they caught to the Blue Hegemony. She manages to convince the TV station that if this sort of thing happens here, don't they want to be covering it? They'll send a reporter and a camera out. Natalie agrees to not have anyone chain themselves to the gate until the reporter arrives.
Back at the dig, Dr. Crighton comes out to talk to Kye. They exchange veiled and not-so-veiled insults (``Are you having trouble finding funding for a dig of your own, that you have to come watch mine?'' ``Like my ship?''). The idea that Kye and Crighton might work together is quickly discarded; the sparring continues until one of Crighton's assistants comes and drags him away.
Sook manages to break remotely in to a laptop being used by the chief assistant; it doesn't have a lot of seriously secret data, but she does get an inventory (a lot of random medical equipment, and some computers, which have been dried out but not yet turned on). Additionally, there's a password-protected directory with a little crude animation of Crighton being blown up. The media finally shows up; Jayla fans the crowd into being interesting. Natalie and some others chain themselves to the gate; the security guards are exasperated and cut through the chains.
Kye speculates that they could throw a vial of Affection into the camp, to see how that goes. Or maybe Relaxation?
Sook, on the fact that the assistant doesn't like Crighton: ``There's nothing in the laptop that says 'to make me overthrow my boss, click here.' ''Kye and Anya circle the dig outside the fence, through the swamp. A guard shadows them on the inside. Kye gets the sense that the things he cares about most are in the roundish building near the tents; other relevant things are in the main research building. The parking garage is junk, and the actual hospital area is also a little less exciting. The guards start being a bit more perky, though it's unclear whether this is due to Kye's presence or the media or what.
The group backs off for a day, to let things calm down. Max buys the supplies for the raid (200 asters have been deducted from the loot from Liam's desk and turned into night-sight goggles, rebreathers, knockout gas, and security guard uniforms). The party then sends the Secret Strike Force (Max and Kye, Max disguised as a guard, Kye as a grad student) to try to break into the roundish building. It looks like it had a first floor and a basement, and the first floor has fallen into the basement, which is now a pool. Kye peeks into the water, and notes that there are some moving shapes which strike him as somewhat dangerous. He gestures to Max, using the universal symbol for ``bitey fish''. Max is nonplussed: ``You can talk to me. We're just maintaining radio silence.'' Kye: ``Shh!''
Jayla: ``We're going to fight them silently, underwater. With our guerilla archaeologist and sensor operator.''All right, maybe they need to come back tomorrow with fish repellent. Or with Anya. Wait, Anya is outside in a tree. They call her; she borrows Jayla's spear, and then Max sneaks her in. Some rocks are tossed into the water, luring the creatures nearer - they appear to be a cross between beavers and crocodiles, and are in fact able to get out of the water. Anya takes out four of them; they're a bit more nervous after that, and don't mess with Dr. Kye as he swims around looking at museum cases. He finds the Kaufman case, including a photograph of Kaufman shaking hands with the Hegemon; a brass and wood plaque awarding Joshua Kaufman a lifetime achievement award; and a demo-model little Kaufman tube thing. Dr. Kye retrieves all of these, while Anya takes one of the unconscious croc rats, in case it's useful later.
The exhibits are snuck out to the swamp buggy; Kye thinks that this isn't yet sufficient to call the site Done and go home. The intrepid sub-party traipses into the main research building. The basement is about waist-deep in water; some prowling around suggests to Kye that the most important bit is in the sub-basement of one of the research wings, where there are all the warning signs about biohazards.
Anya and Kye head in, down to the underwater sub-basement. Max decides he needs to catch up, but the croc rats sense weakness, and leap on him. Down he goes. Anya dispatches them again, while Kye drags him back out of the water and keeps him from dying. He is eventually stashed on the second floor, whlie Anya and Kye head back to the sub-basement, where they eventually find a sealed room with the Virus Locker in it. It's about the size of a chest fridge, and about twelve-hand bulky, which makes it a bit tricky to sneak out with, especially if Max isn't up for much.
Maybe if they can get it up to the roof, then the Dancer can come land on the roof and pick it up! Or, the Hippocrates can hover very low above the roof and it can ascend bodily via the gravlift. These would, however, be somewhat obvious. But Crighton would get to shake his hand at the sky and shout ``Curse you, Doctor Kye!'' which would be very gratifying. Sook suddenly remembers Martan, and calls Hippocrates to try and roust him out of the tubes. He has something of a headache, but manages to sneak into the area (with a lot of inspiration by Jayla). A medkit gets levitated to the roof as a test; this works okay, and Max gets further patched.
Next, a dark blanket is wrapped around the fridge, and he levitates it out. It drips on a guard, who hasn't yet spotted the actual flying fridge when Max lobs a rock into a nearby bush, distracting him enough to go and look into it.
Kye still has a sense that there's something left. After some further prowling around, he thinks it's in the loot tent. Max, with his I-fit-in-here turned up to full blast, wanders into the loot tent; there are three guards playing poker. Kye douses himself with Relaxation, while both he and Max put in nose plugs, and the pair go in, Max rapidly getting a headache from the strain. Kye grumbles loudly about Crighton wanting things done in the middle of the night, and turns on the computers. The guards start singing. One them looks like he might well recognize Kye, except that he's too relaxed to care.
Kye plugs the wireless network connector into the first of the three computers, but Sook is back at the ship. Oops. But Sharra has a wireless repeater! The first computer has financial records; the second has project overview records, and the third has personnel records. All three are records for about two hundred years, about 2260-2460. The second computer is deemed the most interesting; Sook grabs all the Kaufman bits, then sets computers 1 and 3 to wiping their drives. Kye takes off, while Max waits around for Sook to finish downloading and then deleting Computer 2; then he takes the net connector and takes off. The boot record indicates that Crighton's team has successfully turned them on, though, so this will be a change.
The administrative project information on Kaufman's project includes data over a span of about five years. It has a list of postdocs and grad students who worked with him when, and a list of places that (at the time of compilation) had Kaufman Restoration Devices:Since Crighton is almost certainly going to figure out that Kye is behind all his woes, the intrepid party flees to orbit.