Chapter 24:  Homeward Bound  24.01  24.02  24.03  24.04  24.05  24.06  X Points  (53.171 02:35:06 hours - 53.190 16:01:42)

  Con lets his laser rifle hang by its sling and draws his sonic sword. He has the look of an experienced killer. This was not his first battle. The captain's gunfire is not as effective as he had hoped. His first blow a mighty down stroke that nearly ends his opponents life. The second blow sends the sonic sword into the Captain's chest. He falls dead. There is no regret on the soldier's face. Gloo is about to attack the last of the Streel Corp enemies. Before he can strike the sonic blade is swung and this time it connects with his enemies neck bringing him to his knees and his head falling to the floor. The deadly look still on his face. All the rage he had pent up since he was a young boy all exercised in one bloody battle. All of it...the death of his father, the suicide of his mother, the orphanage, the memory of a lover, the leaving behind of a wife and child all exercised, for now. He slumps against a wall and slides to the floor. He clutches a gold locket, her locket. Con looks at Gloo. "We get them...all?" he asks as his breathing begins to slow. Con grabs onto Gloo's nearest limb."Tell her..." before he can finish his sentence he slips into unconsciousness.
  "WhooHooo!" Doog exclaims as he slowly absorbs one leg and produces a fourth arm. He hugs Alyson out of shear excitement then holds up four hands and a foot in the manner humans do for the "give me five" ritual and says, "Give id five!" At the slightest twitch from Alyson he quickly (for a dralasite!) re-absorbs all five limbs before she can slap any of them. Left standing on only one limb he topples over backwards and proceeds to laugh and yell his excitement at being alive while rolling on the floor.
  With the battle for the Streel compound over, Gleep is happy to be alive. He spends quite some time with the Streel comm gear, trying to determine any unique codes, waveforms and frequencies. As Gleep works alone in the radio room his mind begins to wander forward to plans that have begun to crystallize. Lately Gleep had been giving more and more thought to spaceship design and has been talking over some design ideas with Con.
  Suddenly, Doog sits up craning his neck to look at the faces of his compatriots who are staring at him and he's reminded of a joke. "Hey, what do call a Terledrom Rock Hound with no legs? You can call him anything you want but he wont come! Ahhhhhh hahhah!!!" Doog has another round of rolling on the floor before he regains his composure. Then a thought occurs to him and he reforms his limbs, wobbling to the barracks to recover his personal effects; the computer disc containing the philosophy text books from the day he cut class and ran away from home and the holo-pic of him and Swazi. Putting on brass knuckles he got from Swazi he smashes the disc with the hated philosophy text books making the final break with his past. Looking at the holo-pic he whispers, "Thank you Swazi." Placing the holo-pic in his satchel next to the brass knuckles he marches off to the workshop to see if he cant scrounge a computer tool kit or at least cobble one together out of tools for working on robots. All the while he's walking he keeps generating four limbs, holding them in the air, saying, "Give id five!" and slowly reabsorbing them. The halls echoed with his chuckles as he re-lived his earlier jest.
  Alyson shakes her head and laughs at Doog's antics, thinking to herself it is great to be alive. She picks up the MG and tries to find a place where all the other weapons are going. Around the newest BG, unofficial BHG member the rest of the team winds down from the battle.
  Con's mind slips from this world and into another. He is standing on a battlement of a wall rifle in his hand. Around him green jacketed soldiers fire their weapons at enemies outside the wall. The soldier nearest him yells, "Make yourself useful boy, and knock over that ladder before the buggers get over the wall!" Con does as ordered sending the ladder and climber hard to the ground outside of the wall. The man next to him is familiar to him, he hasn't seen him since he was a boy, when they brought his body home to him and his mother. They fire their weapons from the battlements. "This is proper soldiering Boy! For King and Planet! For a cause, not for profit!" The older man says as he drives his rifle but into the red scarfed head of an attacker sending him to his death. "You've done well Boy. You made a fortune for your self. Your family would have been left well off, but you left them of your own free will. Like father like son. At least when I left you and your mother it was because of this place...Modoc Outpost!" I fought here and will soon die here, Boy!" Con shoots down an invader as he tries to reset the ladder. "How many men have you killed, Boy?"
  "Too many" Con answers.
  "Aye...Boy too many to remember. It's in your blood and its my fault Boy." From down below another voice calls
  "Captain Anderson, Sir! They've broken through the gate!" The officer turns to his son,
  "Its not your time, Boy!" The older Anderson discards his rifle and draws his sonic sword. He slides down the ladder and makes his final stand. Con begins to feel cold. The last thing he sees before the cold overtakes him is the beginning of the end of what he remembers as the fall of Modoc Outpost. All turns to black.
  Doog is now running around like he's on stim dose, till the excitement and dralasite equivalent of adrenalin wears off. The he turns to scrounging tools and equipment for himself and generally aiding the team's efforts to load and cart off weapons and equipment all the while good naturedly joking and cutting up, till he almost provokes even a non-yazirian to battle rage, at which point he get's serious and focuses on the task at hand. After the excitement rush crashes he tries to keep working till he virtually passes out, not wanting anyone to think less of him especially since he's the new Dral on the block.
  "Sir." Says Kane stepping forward with a Streel comp-u-pad. "While I would never question what could be very well be your last command, I would like to offer up a suggestion to you and the rest of the team. Instead of destroying everything, why not utilize these robots and ground trucks there in our own corporate mining operation back on Volturnus?"
  Before Kane can continue his train of thought, xZot turns to face the human warrior.
"Feel free to discuss your ideas with the rest of the team but let me remind you of this." xZot explains. "Our mission was to rescue any CDC survivors and terminate any rival operations. Our ride here was in a CDC vessel and I would like a ride home after which I want to get paid for the mission." xZot eyeballs his enthusiastic companion.
  "Are you suggesting the VTC should renege on our original business agreement with CDC?" xZot smiles to himself as he turns away, leaving the rest of the team to determine their own fate.
  "I am not suggesting anything of the sort, sir!" Responds Kane evenly. "But there is no reason I can see as to why we can't do both."
xZot nods for Kane to continue, curious about how the human recruit plans to achieve his goal. Kane begins to explain his idea by pointing out the obvious.
  "Sir, Volturnus was initially a pirate run mining operation that used the Edestekai as their slave labour force. So we already know that Volturnus is a resource rich planet. With these supplies, the mining robots and those ground trucks there, we could resume that operation. And with our good standing amongst Volturnus' major inhabitants, we could easily find mining sites that would ensure an immediate return. Likewise, between the sheer amount of parts and equipment we have salvaged, combined with what we have kept stored at Brucebane, we should have more than enough resources to build something rivalling a modern ore processing facility."
  "We?" Mack O'Malley interjects. "What's this 'we' business? You never fought with any of us on Volturnus!" xZot waves O'Malley silent, wanting to hear where Kane is going with the sudden interest in becoming as mining tycoon. Kane continues his pitch.
  "While X'anthe should take a moment to look over my estimations to be sure, I conjecture that there would be practically no cost to us in starting a mining operation if we use our newly captured Streel prisoners as the primary workforce to do this project. Perhaps equating this work as a ransom payment for their release. Once that work was finished then only operational costs incurred by the mining operation would be the salaries and living expenses of the roboticists and technicians required to keep the machinery and equipment running, as well as the occasional replacement machine part. Hell, we could probably get Alyson and Doog to help us recruit some of their Streel Corp colleagues to stay on afterward and oversee the operation as new employees of the VTC."
  "Best of all, no one gets hurt except for Steel Corp. Imagine what kind of blow Streel Corp is going to take, not only economically, but also to their corporate image and prestige from this little job of ours. Now add in the fact that our new mining endeavour will be accomplished wholly using manpower, machinery, and materials bought and paid for by Streel coin. How much further is their corporate stature going to drop? I think the embarrassment of that alone would be well worth the packing and shipping cost of a dozen tons of salvage to Volturnus on behalf of the CDC. But the 'plausible deniability' we are giving them as the 'hired security consultants' that stripped and looted their competitor's illegal mining operation, when news of this leaks to the Holo-net, should be the icing on the cake. We could probably even work something out with our CDC employers before our ride home even gets here!"
  Kane then tries to drives the point home. "No matter what, this little mining endeavour of ours is undoubtedly going to remain a sideline operation for the VTC. Since we aren't going to make a killing on the Federation Stock Markets, we certainly aren't going to be competitive enough for our current employers to worry about. But the credits generated from such an operation would go a long way into shoring up the VTC's collective planetary business interest. No matter how they can look at it, what I am proposing will still be a win-win for CDC and us."
  xZot isn't convinced but before he can say as much, Kane ploughs onward.
  "Now show me where in the hell we are reneging on our part of this agreement with my plan to strip this place bare? It still constitutes as mission salvage doesn't it? We did specify the right to collect salvage from this mission and have it transported back with us didn't we? Since that has always been the standard clause on past missions explain to me how this is a deal breaker now? Hell if anything kidnapping their personnel and taking this equipment is a part of directive #4. This WILL 'terminate their operation' as surely as a laser beam will. After that we take a page from the Streel Corp play book and use this base's fusion reactor as an improvised Nuke to make sure this base won't be used by Streel Corp again!"
  Hoping for xZot's silence, Kane is disappointed as the Commander quickly dismisses Kane's arguments.
  "If you have any issues or questions regarding our mission parameters I suggest you take them up with Commander Louis V. Jameson when we return to base on Volturnus. He is the Eorna Great Mission liaison for the Black Hand Gang." xZot replies. "Kidnapping and salvage are not part of this mission. In actual fact, X'anthe, Sn'iktl and Raid were of more use to the Eorna than the rest of us, but then no-one here apart from myself was aware the Eorna's Great Mission had any interest whatsoever in this mission until right now." xZot's mention of the Eorna's Great Mission has now attracted the attention of several other Volturnus veterans among the gathering, Kane is now facing a growing crowd as he continues to argue his case.
  "What the frak are we going to do with those 18 people over there over in the next room? Surely we just can't kill them?" Kane asks the assemblage. "While I don't have a problem killing someone in a stand up fight when on the employer's chronocom or even in self-defence when I am off it; I DO have a problem killing unarmed civilians! Not only is that unwarranted here, its damn illegal! And just what the hell is that going to do to our reputations as 'professional security consultants' if word of that got out?"
  "Let me get this straight, kidnapping is OK but murder isn't? Is that right?" xZot fixes Kane with a cold glare. "No-one has asked you to murder anyone, nor will any-one issue such an order while I have anything to say with it." A dangerous gleam is now beginning to appear in xZot's eye.
  "We are being picked up in by a frakking CDC freighter for Void sakes! What the frak else does a freighter do but haul around freight? It doesn't matter if its mission salvage or fresh off the corporate assembly line. Its still frakking freight! Risking his commander's ire, Kane concludes his thoughts. "Commander, if there is some question about whether or not what I have proposed is unacceptable to you, then order it as such and I will abide by that decision. Otherwise pass my proposal along up the VTC chain of command to someone who will. We have just under 10 hours to settle the matter and I could use some help to get some of the stuff here packed and ready."
  "I like this idea." Alyson offers. "We could give the lokkuku the POW's. It is their planet and Streel did enslave them? If so then they should have a say in what happens to POW's. Lokkuku planet, their law." Alyson suggests. "We should take as much as we can from this place though. It would be nice if we could use it for ourselves but CDC may well have other plans for this place now."
  "Logistically speaking it will take CDC anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple month minimum to begin to set up a new operation here so leaving a cache of equipment that we can't carry anyways is just a nice gesture." Doog offers "But with the winters here being as tough as they are, and winter is not far away now. I don't see how any equipment not left in sealed underground storage facilities would last more than a season on this planet. Alcazzar is a very unforgiving environment."
  X'anthe has been listening to Kane, Con and the others discussing the establishment of a VTC mining operation on Alcazzar with growing anger and frustration until she can finally stay silent no longer.
  "What about asking the lokkuku?" She suddenly cries. "It's their planet you are intent on raping?" The outraged environmentalist continues. "On Volturnus we worked to help the local inhabitants, not exploit their resources. We took nothing from the natives that they did not offer us already." X'anthe turns in askance toward Sni'ktl and xZot for their support. "We should be fighting to help the lokkuku, not steal from them. I want no part of this proposal."  Finished with her outburst, X'anthe storms out of the assembly and returns to help the injured lokkuku while the BHG continue to debate the issue.
  Kane is surprised by X'anthe's sudden outburst, initially writing it off as just a typical for an emotional female. However, rather than let her go on, Kane stops her cold and makes it clearly understood that his plan for a mining operation was to take place on Volturnus and not here on Alcazzar.
  "What are you talking about? Who said anything about starting back up the mining operation here on Alcazzar?"  
  "Don't worry about X'anthe," xZot intervenes, "Worry about me. I understand what you are getting at. What I am saying is that what you are suggesting is not practical an nor is it part of our mission." xZot continues his explanation. "The transport that brought us here, the "Nightrunner" will be lucky to be able to transport all the prisoners back to the Frontier. It certainly could not carry the captured vehicles or robots. The shuttle is not big enough either and the Nightrunner" can't land on the planet. Also access to the Astro charts for Alcazzar are extremely limited, certainly no-one in the BHG could accurately chart a route back here."
  "Bottom line," xZot says as he tries to wrap things up. "What we want to do on our time is up to us, but until the "Nightrunner" gets us home we are on CDC time and follow CDC orders unless I say otherwise. As for the prisoners, that one I am gonna dump in the ship Captain's lap. He may already have orders to cover that eventuality."
  Having sobered up from his earlier euphoria, Doog is shocked by the turn of discussion concerning the fate of his former associates. Many of the security forces and officers sent here acted in a criminal manner toward the lokkuku and the rival CDC operation and this is why he was looking for a way out. When the choice was get a bullet to the head or be banished to the jungle versus shutup and work, Doog was no fool, he worked. The arrival of the Black Hand Gang seemed like salvation; being a chance to do what was right and not end up dying here. Yet now the talk seemed to be offering the same choice to the prisoners: work or what? Some of them were just technicians like himself they don't deserve this. Standing up and opposing the tyranny of the Captain and Streel had been tough, actually down right frightening but in some ways his next decision would be harder. After pointedly dropping the canister of supplies he was lugging out of the building he finally speaks up,
  "I'm sorry, I can't be a part of killing or enslaving the prisoners, dress it up in terms of indentured servitude if you like but I wont be a part. If that means you abandon me here on this rock so be it."
  Gleep finally steps up to the plate on this discussion. "I feel that Doog is correct here, as in the lovely X'anthe. We have always followed morals that would put innocent lives before our own profit. In the long run, it has benefited us well. If we want to leave those who would enslave to the hands of there captives, then we are on solid ground, for they not only broke Star Law, but caused irreparable damage to the Lokkuku. As to the workers, they themselves were not much more than captives themselves. Equipment we can buy, or require from any contracts as part of payment. We need to do what is right and leave what should be left and remove only that which it is right to remove, i.e. the mine workers. Just the ramblings of a tired Dralasite."
  "She's right." Con says about X'anthe's outburst. "It's not our planet. Our local friends wouldn't want this planet to have off worlders making this place an industrial planet. I say spike the equipment so its rendered useless. Consult with the local leaders to see what they want to do with the captured Streel employees. If they don't want them, I am not sure what we should do with them. If you want to turn them over to the locals, fine. The CDC will just slaughter them, none of you wants that to happen. It sounds like the only viable, humane option is to either leave them here to live out their lives or take them off this rock and go back to Streel and let them tell their bosses what happened here and let them come after us. I like that option just fine. As far as money goes, we have plenty. A few of us can walk away from the merc biz and live very very well for the rest of out lives if we wanted to. Let's just make sure the Streel are disarmed, spike the equipment, get off this rock so we can get paid and off on the next job." Con finishes with a note of practicality
  "Yeah Con I agree on that point." Kane says "This is not our planet and I am not suggesting for one moment that we try and resume Streel's mining operation here. All I am saying is that we should pack up everything that we will need to set-up our own mining operation back on Volturnus. We nuke this place after we get the important things out and we are well on our way out, just to be sure that there won't still be anything valuable here to trouble the lokkuku in the future.
  Raid can already feel a leadership vacuum forming in the group. "Well, xZot must feel confident we can get along without him, but this argument will put that idea to the test." He makes sure the prisoners are under careful guard, since security can lapse at times like this, but keeps up with the dispute via chronocom. "We may be limited in what we can salvage from the Streel compound just by available space on the shuttle. It will be here in 10 hours to take us back to the Nightrunner. What we can't carry away, should be destroyed, unless the lokkuku can find some use for it." Raid heads into the compound to meet up with Gloo and help with the reactor shutdown. The team's chief science officer looking to get some experience that could pertain to spaceship engineering.
  "Damn, I didn't realize dust off is only 10 hours out! Well screw this arguing I'm gonna pass out on my feet. Look this pistol is Snik's so unless anyone has an objection I'd like to grab one of the laser rifles as I'm only familiar with beam weapons. I'm also gonna grab some ammo and grenades and a gas mask then I'm gonna raid the food. After that I don't think I'll still be on my feet as light headed as I am. So lets blow this place and set up some watches till the shuttle comes cause I need to rack out." Doog waits for anyone to speak up and then grabs the rifle and gives Snik back his pistol after loading up on ammo and grenades and a gas mask he stalks off to the cafeteria. Doog ends up with 6 SEU clips, a gas mask, 2 smoke grenades, 2 doze grenades, 2 tangler grenades, and 2 weeks worth of rations
  On his way there Gloo chronocoms Raid, "Hey Raid, since your watching the prisoners you want I fetch you some grub while I'm raiding the pantry?"
  While the debate over salvage and mining operations rages, Mack O'Malley searches the vehicles and compound for several shovels and axes which he delivers to a group of lokkuku warriors, thanking them as best he can for their assistance. X'anthe smiles with appreciation at the normally standoffish warrior's actions. O'Malley approaches the woman with his suggestion of converting the shovels into long handled spears for the lokkuku to fend of predators when the BHG are gone. Using off-cuts from the converted shovel blades they produce some metal knives for the new allies as well.
  The lokkuku are very grateful to X'anthe and O'Malley when they present the gifts, to which OMAC adds his own personal hand axe as a gift for the lokkuku chieftain. After satisfying himself that the lokkuku are better prepared to defend themselves, Mack gathers together the remaining ammunition for his rocket launcher. He takes a position at the treeline, and takes aim at the ground truck still parked in front of the gate. When he has a clear sight picture, O'Malley pulls the trigger and let's fly at the target vehicle.
  "For fucks sake, there's something wrong with this weapon. It's fuckin, fuckin, fuckin, fucked up!" The badly wounded soldier complains as he continues his target practice. His second shot is a direct hit, straight through the rear window of the cab, tearing it apart in a ball of fire. The next rocket glances off the side of the truck and slams into the wall of the Streel structure. The last rocket of OMAC's weapon rips apart what's left of the truck's chassis in another explosion. The sound of another muffled explosion from inside the building announces Gloo's handiwork, laying charges around the nuclear reactor with Raid's assistance.
  Gloo reports to xZot via chronocom that he is going to move the mining robots and other vehicles outside before detonating his explosives.
  "Then when winter comes, whatever is left of the wreckage will be exposed to the elements and mother nature can take care of the rest."
  The debate being ended, Doog decides to offer an olive branch to Kane. Approaching Kane, "Look, I'm sorry we disagreed on this. I'm not against you setting up a mining operation I was just bothered by the implication of indentured servitude because working for Streel felt like having a gun to your head. If you want I'll do two things. I was about to take a class in program writing and I'll work on a robot management program which aside from the cost of the necessary hardware will save you about 20% over buying it retail. Secondly, I can speak to some of the techs and one of the supervisors among the prisoners. If you agree to offer them a fair wage and since I know that they were only working since they also felt like they had a gun to the head then I'll ask them to set up and run a mining operation for you. I'll only put myself out there for you if they get a fair shake, no indentured servitude and I'll do everything I can to help you. Up to you but let me know soon before I take the class."
  Doog shrugs then steps closer to Kane, lowering his voice, says, "Not all of the equipment here was top shelf anyway. That was why they resorted to using the lokkuku, the robots kept breaking down." He shrugs again and tries to imitate the human gesture of slapping a friends arm. It comes out a little awkward then Doog just shrugs and walks off.
  Con turns his head in the explosions and sees Mack's handy work. "Thank the Great Maker for that!" The enforcer says to himself. "Well, that solves that problem" says he. Con walks away from the group to find some place he can change into a fresh skiensuit and clean himself up. Once that is done he will clean his weapons. All this time on this rock and all the use they got, they must be rather dirty. Once Con has completed all of that he will go find someplace quiet away from the Gang and set up a piquet. Later on when all settles down he will give O'Malley a call on the chronocom and ask him to come out to where he is standing watch. Con needs to speak to Mack privately.
  Alyson looks from the debate as everything goes up in smoke. She shakes her head and says, "Maybe next time."
  With xZot's orders being carried out by the veterans of the Black Hand Gang, Kane's continued debate is ended. xZot smiles at the downcast look that quickly appears on the human's face and says, "It wasn't ours in the first place so we haven't lost anything. Besides it would have cost more to ship it all back to Volturnus than we could have paid for brand new gear back home." xZot explains. "Salvage wasn't part of our mission parameters this time. Next time it will be up to someone else to decide."
  The look of annoyance is plainly visible in Kane's face as his eyes raise and lock with xZot's but it is Kane's words that cause Commander xZot's smile to vanish nearly as quickly as it appeared.
  "Yes Father." Replies Kane, his former look of annoyance now having been masked by a detached professionalism, even as he bestows the military salute and honorific title related to a pre-frontier era dictator and his nation-state's past. "Does The Father have any other orders before the tenure of his command officially ends?" The few seconds of heavy silence that follows, makes it clear that neither the words nor the meaning behind them was lost on the yazirian.
  "Stand down Kane!" xZot whispers, deathly quiet.
  Every pair of eyes in the Black Hand Gang is suddenly on Kane as he realises he just overstepped the boundaries of acceptable behaviour with this team.
  Commander xZot was a hero of the Battle of Volturnus. The actions of the young yazirian and his team saved the entire planet and any comparison between xZot and the despicable dictator known as The Father are virtually unthinkable. Crisbel, Gloo and several other warriors from the original Black Hand Gang stiffen at the insult offered by the relative newcomer. Mack O'Malley is on his feet and halfway across the space between himself and Kane when xZot's voice cut's through the air again.
  "Everyone stand down!" xZot commands as suddenly Kane is aware that hands all around him were reaching for weapons. The young man slowly and carefully turns back to face his commanding officer. Then is Sn'iktl between the protagonists brokering a solution to the tense situation.
  "Perhaps Mr Kane could assist me?" The vrusk chief medical officer suggests.
  "Yes." xZot agrees. "Mr Kane, you will assist Sn'iktl preparing Sp'ock and Con's freeze fields for transport." xZot's reminder of the team's fatality has a sobering effect on the veterans of the team who are all now standing at attention, waiting for xZot's orders. "Gloo, take Raid and Siu-Ling to finish decommissioning the vehicles and mining equipment, as per our mission instructions. The rest of you police up the other weapons and equipment and keep the prisoners under guard. Gleep, come with me." xZot heads off to the radio room with the communications dral while the rest of the team go about their duties.
  Several hours later the Black Hand Gang reassembles outside the Streel compound, their various tasks complete. xZot informs his guard that the Streel workers and surviving guards will be freed and left on the planet with rations and some basic sidearms for protection while the CDC arrange for their extraction in the next few weeks.
  xZot addresses X'anthe, "I'd appreciate it if you could speak to the lokkuku about leaving the workers in peace until they can be relocated. I believe that CDC will do the right thing under the circumstances, I'm sure their lawyers will find a way to make Streel pay compensation for whatever extra costs they have incurred."
  Over the remaining hours of their wait for the shuttle from the "Nightrunner" xZot kept Kane busy with taking inventory of the weapons and equipment liberated from the Streel operation or standing guard on the prisoners or walking the piquet line while the rest of the team rest. While xZot is mulling over how best to deal wit he Kane situation another of the new recruits approaches him tentatively.
  "Look I know I just joined up with you all." Alyson poses a question that has been weighing on her mind. "I just want to find out how do you split up the cash from each contract? I'm looking forward to the next mission, this group fits me better then the last one I was with." As she looks at smoke from for the site. She says, "I would like to become a master of arms if you need someone to fit that roll. If you are going to get your own ship I would like a slot there also. Marine for ship boarding and anti boarding would be good for me."
  xZot calls together Alyson and Doog then decides to bring Kane into the conversation as well.
  "OK." The young yazirian begins awkwardly as he tries to explain what the Black Hand Gang really is, to these eager young turks. "Me and my team work for a super secret society of Eorna from the planet Volturnus. These Eorna have a project known as the Great Mission of which we are one department. Originally the Great Mission was tasked with the mission of sustaining the survival of the Eorna race after the Sathar attempted to commit genocide against the Eorna hundreds of years ago. The Great Mission now encompasses the survival of all lifeforms and culture across the Frontier. Whilst the goals of the Great Mission may often appear to be the same as the UPF or Star Law or a particular MegaCorp, they always have their own agenda as well.
  xZot pauses to make sure his audience is still with him before continuing.
  "The Black Hand Gang is the off world operational arm of the Great Mission. A Black Ops Unit. And the Volturnus Trading Company is the operational business front the Black Hand Gang uses when conducting business inside the Frontier." xZot sees he now has the attention of his new audience members at the mention of the legendary Black Hand Gang. "As part of the Eorna Great Mission, my team is put in stasis in between missions. Most of this team is made up of a rescue mission sent to Volturnus over 100 years ago.
  "You mean?" Doog begins to ask
  "The original..." Alyson tries to ask simultaneously.
  xZot smiles as he confirms a legend. "Yes, the Black Hand Gang is real, not just a top selling holo-vid." He gestures to his companions "And these are the survivors of the original rescue mission to Volturnus." xZot's face turns sad as his gaze falls upon the freeze fields. "Sp'ock was one of that original team, my dependable right hand through it all."
  "If this Great Mission is such a big secret, then why are you telling us?" Alyson asks.
  xZot smiles as he brings his eyes back to meet Alyson's. "The Eorna have technologies far in advance of the Frontier in certain areas, one of them is hypnotherapy. The Eorna can wipe the memory of almost any race they have encountered, how much memory they leave you with is entirely up to them. If anyone ever decides not to join our operation or decides they want to leave the Great Mission, all their memories of the organization will be erased." xZot's eyes bore into Kane's as he makes this last statement. "So far all my losses have been fatalities. None of my people have ever quit, they would die for each other before giving a millimetre." He finishes, the pride in his team's solidarity evident.
  "So that means the two of you," He indicates Alyson and Doog "Are coming back to Volturnus with the rest of us. If you decide you don't want to sign up for the duration of the mission you will be returned into the Frontier population with no memory of what you have learned. But remember, if you do sign up with us and we go into a long term stasis, your old life will disappear forever. Your friends and family will age and die while you stay relatively young."
  Soberly xZot finishes his speech.
  "Working with the Black Hand Gang isn't just a job, it's about being part of history."
Frontier Date 53.171 12:40:00 hours
  Hours later the shuttle from the "Nightrunner" arrives, flying in low over the compound and landing in the no-mans land surrounding the Streel compound. The pilot observes silently as the freeze fields are loaded aboard the shuttle. Before the last of the team are aboard the shuttle, xZot orders the release of the prisoners and hands over their rations and a parcel sidearms and ammunition.
  During the four day trip back to Gruna Garu Sn'iktl confines the entire team to bed rest except for X'anthe, who alone, had survived the battle unscathed. On arrival in the Grana Garu system Captain Gerfritz Dale informed xZot that he and his team were to be transferred to a CDC liner bound for Prenglar where they could be debriefed by CDC and have their pays credited to their accounts.
  "Not until we get a shipment of biocort on board." xZot insists, forcing the CDC to wait several hours while twenty vials of biocort were delivered to the "Nightrunner". Sn'iktl and the medical detail administer 12 doses of the precious drug amongst the most wounded team members before the BHG transfer to the larger passenger liner.
Frontier Date 53.175 15:00:00 hours
  Once the passengers are on board, the passenger ship embarks on the 14 day trip directly to the centre of the Frontier systems, the Prenglar system. During the journey the BHG learn that their employer is on board and eager to meet and debrief the team personally. The Alcazzar mission survivors spend the next few days recovering from their wounds before attending meetings and interviews relating to the mission and their actions during each engagement.
  Karrall Willthatch, CDC's chairman, takes good care of loyal employees and he is more than satisfied with the results achieved by xZot's team.
  "So how much loot did you carry off during the mission?" Willthatch asked xZot during their first meeting.
  "Just what we could carry, standard offworld personal salvage rights." xZot replied stone faced. "We do have other environmental information you might want access too." xZot adds after several seconds. "Our environmental scientists are quite thorough."
  "I knew of the VTC's conservationist bent from the Volturnus fallout." Willthatch replies, "You kept the captured property titles but didn't continue the mining operations, further improving your standing with the natives and elevating your team to legend status on Volturnus, along with your other actions in the defence of the planet." Willthatch observes. "So what's the price for this environmental information?"
  "I thought information about intelligent species living on Alcazzar might be worth access to CDC shares by the participants." xZot pauses briefly before continuing. "On top of the usual cash bonuses, say five thousand per head?"
  "Five thousand shares or five thousand credits?" Willthatch asks
  "Both" xZot smiles
  "I can give you five thousand credits per head for your team, two thousand each for the ex-Streel people. I will probably have to by out their Streel contracts."
  "That sound OK" xZot says "And what about the shares?"
  "Alright each of your guys can buy up to 5000 credits worth of shares each, 2,000 for the Streel people."
  "I want 5,000 each for everyone." xZot keeps chiselling for a better deal. "And VTC will pay for the lot. 75,000 credits worth of CDC shares."
  "Is that the lot?" Willthatch smiles, obviously enjoying the bartering with the representative of the Volturnus Trading Company.
  "Just standard pay rates as the base salary to go with the bonuses."
  "Done deal!" Karrall agrees before offering xZot and his more work back on Alcazzar. "You are now the most travelled, experienced explorers of Alcazzar in the Frontier. You could make a real name for yourself here, just like the original Black Hand Gang."
  xZot smiles wryly at the CDC executive's ignorance and remembers the conversation he had in the final hours on Alcazzar with Doog, Alyson and Kane.
  "We have another assignment."  xZot answers Karrall.  "A short layover here in Prenglar.  Set the Gang loose for a few days in Port Loren to recharge their batteries."  Karrall is crestfallen at his failure to win over xZot and his team for another mission.
  "Tell me one thing," Karrall asks before xZot leaves the meeting.  "Does the Black Hand Gang ever work for any Corporation more than once?"  xZot smiles enigmatically
  "We haven't yet have we?"  He answers the question with another question before leaving to give a final briefing to his team.
Frontier Date 53.189 12:00:00 hours
  After 14 days on board the CDC liner the members of the Black Hand Gang, old and new, are looking forward to making system entry to Prenglar. After decelerating for several days, the multi-racial team is finally able to make planet fall arriving in Port Loren with too much credit on their cards and time on their hands.
20 Hours in Port Loren
Frontier Date 53.189 16:00:00 hours
  With the veterans of Alcazzar now fully recovered from the injuries sustained in their alien adventure, a pocket full of credits and 2 days shore leave, the Black Hand Gang are ready to storm the central business district of Port Loren. At exactly 16:00 hours they disembark from a CDC hovertransport outside the Stellar Tower Hotel in downtown Port Loren.
  "We will all meet back here in exactly 40 hours." xZot tells everyone as they exit the vehicle outside the hotel. "I should have heard back from Jameson by then and can let you know when and where we get our next ride. See you all in a couple of days." xZot waves goodbye as he heads into the lobby of the Stellar Tower Hotel to book his room for the next 2 days."
  Mack O'Malley strides purposefully into Rob's Robot store, next door to Gromm's Nightclub. Approaching the counter he is greeted by a human and a yazirian staff members.
  "So which one of you is Rob?" O'Malley asks
  "That would be me." The yazirian replies
  "Alright, let's get down to business. I want two automated combat teams." "Mack starts
  "Combat robots?" Rob asks
  "Yeah. I will need 16 of those, two groups of 8. I want a warbot with each section and a robotbrain administrator."
  "Is that cash or credit?" O'Malley flashes the yazirian a big smile as he hands over his credit card. "No problem sir." The yazirian proprietor says as he takes O'Malley's card and charges the account for the small army he has just sold. "Where would you like those delivered? It will take a couple of days to run up the stock and install the programming.
  "I will be outside the Stellar Tower Hotel at 16:00 in two days from now." OMAC replies "I will take delivery there."
  "Very good." Rob finishes entering the details into his datapad.
  "Now, where can I get a couple of launches to carry my security details on board a space ship?" 
Frontier Date 53.189 
  Outside the lobby of the Stellar Tower Hotel, Alyson approaches xZot before the team breaks up for their R & R, "Sir can I have word with you." xZot nods for her to continue, "I really have no other place to go. I would love to be part of something that is bigger than anything else. If you will have me I would like to stay."
  xZot smiles at the eagerness of the human female to join the BHG and from the considered way she has handled the invitation to become part of the Great Mission. "You will need to meet with Commander Jameson back on Volturnus but I will give you my endorsement when we reach the Eorna capital of Volkos." The yazirian commander replies. "Now go and enjoy some shore leave while you can." Alyson asks before leaving.
  "I would like to ask you about gear." She adds.
  "Go on." xZot nods.
  "Sir what can I use out of BHG stores? Before I hit the sites I would like to know what I have to buy and what the group could let me use? When we pulled out I really didn't have much and well I just have this jumpsuit, sonic sword and sonic disruptor. That is all I have."
  "You are free to make use of anything in the team stores not already spoken for. I will speak to Gloo about getting a complete inventory for you to look over but we have the loot from Alcazzar plus several caches of gear in locations on Volturnus as well as in several company vehicles on the planet. Put all your requests through Gloo." Then xZot calls X'anthe over. "We acquired some cash back on Alcazzar didn't we?" 
  "Yes sir, xZot." X'anthe replies, opening her pack. She withdraws several envelopes and begins distributing them to the team members. " 
  xZot walks into reception at the Stellar Tower Hotel and arranges for the VTC to pick up the tab for rooms for Kane, Alyson and Doog, knowing their funds were much more limited than the other BHG members. After sorting out accommodation for the new team members, xZot decides to register himself at the same hotel and is quickly followed by Crisbel, X'anthe, McKilin, Gloo and Sn'iktl. The group collect their keys and head for the turbolifts to begin their R & R. 
  1. Accommodation 
  The very first thing Con does with his free time is to take a walk to the Hotel. Con steps up to the counter where a young human female is busy with her duties. 
  "May I help you sir?" 
  "Yes. I would like a room, please."
  She asks, "How long will you be staying with us, sir?" 
  "Two days says the enforcer." 
  "OK, may I have your card please?" Con hands her the card and she swipes it through the reader. "Your room is 2510, here is your key, and I will call you a bell boy." 
  "That won't be necessary, thank you.'' Con gets up into a waiting turbolift and shoots up to the 25th floor and finds his way to 2510. He puts down his bags. From one bag he takes out some clothing and places them in drawers. From the other he removes his laser pistol, knife, and bull whip. He ponders the sonic sword, but thinks about the wrath he has unleashed with it and puts it back in his bag. After a quick shower and a change of clothes, he fastens on the gun belt. He attaches the bull whip to the other side of the gun belt where he would normally have his sonic sword. The sheathed knife he tucks away in his boot, its usual hiding spot. He walks out of the hotel crosses over to the big shopping complex across the way. 
  Despite being his first visit to Port Loren, Doog felt right at home. Port Loren was a classic example of a PGC cookie cutter prefab metropolis. It was said a blind spacer would never get lost in such a city and Doog believed it, even the Stellar Tower Hotel looked the same as back home. Doog's provincial mind was yet to truly appreciate that the city of Port Loren was the master template for the cookie cutter city design. The Stellar Tower Hotel building in Sengsen, the capital of his home world Fromeltar, may look like it's namesake in Port Loren, but he was now standing outside the original building, not a replica. 
  He entered the hotel lobby and secured a room for two days. When the bell hop asked if he could give Doog a hand, Doog did his now infamous, "Give id five!" joke to the consternation of the human bell hop. A giggle from the concierge desk drew his attention. The concierge was a dral named Gallid who actually flirted with him some. Doog was still young and in his neutral stage but from scent he could tell Gallid was what a human would call a female in heat. As flattering as it was, Doog let Gallid down easy with just a casual touch that told the other dral Doog was still to young for reproduction. After chatting and joking for a few minutes more Doog actually asked Gallid out for intoxicants and a steam bath when id got off shift and to his surprise the offer was accepted. As he sauntered over to the elevator he pumped four fists in the air, reminiscent of his earlier joke but softly to himself he said, "Who's the big Dral now!" The sound of a soft giggle followed him into the elevator.
  After an invigorating sonic shower Doog took stock of his clothing, wear the miner's coveralls or his battle damaged skien suit. Before contact with humans dralasites had only worn clothes for work that required it having no concept of body modesty. In the end there was no question of wearing either outfit, he went out buff. Gallid had given him the locations of several dral merchants in Port Loren so he picked up a box of candied Ools from hotel gift shop before heading out. 
  After booking in at reception for two days, Gleep spends a few hours just sitting alone in the dark, contemplating what he could have done different, maybe to help save a team member. Being alone for the first time in weeks, he finally deals with the fact that he did all he could do for the team. 
  "Defecation occurs," he states. He then gets himself together and goes out for a while. 
  Alyson got up late, the last couple of days had KO'd her. The void jumps and the hits she took on Alcazzar took a toll on her body. She rolled out of bed and jumped into the shower luxuriating in a five minute one. Getting dressed into the same old jump suit and put her hair into a ponytail she picked up her room key and went out the door. Making her way to lobby and up to the front desk. "Is there a map for the city?" She asks the receptionist. "I'm new here and don't have a lot of time. I need to get a lot of things. Can you help me out?"
  "Sure can." The clerk smiles as he pulls out a folded tour guide type of flyer and says, "Here you go. This has everything you need to find your way. Also we are still serving breakfast the free meal comes with your room."
  Alyson smiles back, "You just made my day. Thank you very much."
  "Have a good day." The friendly staffer replies.  Alyson turns and follows the sign for the restaurant. Heading out though the northern double doors and walking past the Loan Office, Market Place, Real Estate Office, Office Equipment Store and Off World imports. Reaching the double doors she opens one and goes inside. Standing in line at the buffet, Alyson picks out a few things, sits down and starts eating while going over the flyer. She sees the Human Clothing shop and marks that as her first stop, then the weapon shop, and if she has anything left over, decides to bank it. Finishing her meal, Alyson cleans up her place, and throws out her trash, putting the tray on top of the bin before walking out.
  Thanks to the room accommodations made by xZot on behalf of the VTC, procuring a room at the Stellar Towers became a simple matter and one he could have accomplished in absentia.  However, Kane did step foot inside the hotel long enough to both call a hotel service droid to deliver his things to the room assigned him and to find a vacant lobby vid-com unit to call up a listing of Port Loren's businesses as well as a map to several one of interest.  Once these tasks were done, Kane left the hotel property with only a couple of duffle bags he was careful to have kept separated from his other luggage and his favourite laser pistol. His immediate plan is to make resupply run into the city.
  Boro grabs his power backpack and heads straight inside the Stellar Tower Hotel and over to the check in counter where he books 4 weeks accommodation knowing he's in the best place this side of the Greater Morass. 
  Mack O'Malley leaves the Stellar Tower Hotel after booking in for two nights with the attractive woman working at the check in desk. After getting directions to the nearest robotics retailer, O'Malley leaves the hotel on foot, making his way through the crowded streets of Port Loren. The capital of the hub of the Frontier was teeming with every species of life in the known universe. At least that's what the locals thought, O'Malley and his friends knew better and OMAC chuckled lightly to himself as he mulled that thought over in his tiny little brain. Rob's Robots, the neon sign over the door screamed to the city as Mack 'O'Malley pushed his way through the crowd and into the shop.
  "Hey Bob!" O'Malley calls to the yazirian behind the counter.
  "It's Rob." The yazirian snarls back.
  "Whatever." O'Malley replies before reaching for a catalogue. Seeing the battle scarred human is in no mood for small talk, the yazirian quickly ignores the humans' abruptness and leans over the counter.
  "So how can we help you soldier?" Rob asks when he sees O'Malley flicking to the pages of combat and security robots.
  "I need two automated squads, combat robots, the best you've got." O'Malley starts and Rob's eyes light up immediately.
  "Ten unit squads?" The yazirian asks.
  "Eight." O'Malley replies. "And I will take a pair of top of the line warbots, a robot brain to oversee both squads and a security robot to be assigned body guard duties."
  The yazirian is now tapping away at his datapad taking down Mack's order. "You can have them delivered to me care of the Stellar Tower Hotel." Mack hands over his credit card for the yazirian to process the transaction. "How long will that take?"
  "That many robots could take up to two weeks to run up." O'Malley nods
  "That will be fine." Mack says. "Can you give me directions to the Port Loren offices of the space ship construction centre on the orbiting station?"
  "The Shipyard have offices at the Starport." Rob answers. "Easiest way to get there would be on the monorail, it'll take you straight there."
  "Thanks Bob, catch you later." O'Malley says as he leaves, Rob the yazirian not even noticing what O'Malley called him this time as he calculated the profit from his latest sale.
  "Walt!" Rob calls out to his chief roboticist, busy tooling away in the workshop. "You better get busy, we got work to do!" 
  Up in his private suite, xZot taps the comm link to reception for the Stellar Tower Hotel and obtains the address for UPF Fleet HQ in Port Loren. Thanking the receptionist for her service, xZot requests a holocab booking for that afternoon then heads for the sonic shower. Half an hour later the Commander of the BHG is clean, dressed and hungry. He decides to get a meal in the restaurant at the end of the Plaza before getting his ride across town to check out his new assignment. An information packet had been delivered to the Hotel by Jameson earlier that day with new instructions for many of the old team and xZot was keen to see what the future held for himself and his friends. 
  After securing his personal belongings in his hotel room, Gloo heads over to the Electrical Appliances store where he organises training sessions with Ook-A-Lug to improve his Beam Weapons skill. 
  "I need level four accreditation thanks." He informs the yazirian instructor who nods and hands Gloo a training time table. Satisfied that his training schedule is locked in, Gloo returns to his hotel room and slides into the bathtub for a long stretch of unconsciousness, dreaming of the banquets he will be enjoying over the next two days. Gloo was never a fan of ration packs and spacer bars. 
  Mean while, Sn'iktl heads over to the Central Hospital where he too enrols in an educational program to boost his medical credentials even further. A three week course suits his immediate needs and Sn'iktl takes the rest of his time off, relaxing in his hotel room with his datalink and 20 hour a day medical documentaries. 
  James McKilin spends his first day back in his home town wandering the city streets and marvelling at the changes wrought to his city in time he has been away. Port Loren always changes but forever remains the same, it's diversity endless and fascinating. 
  Crisbel joins Gloo, enrolling in the same Beam Weapons training class at the Electronic Repair shop, then he heads out to sample the entertainments of the Hub of the Frontier with an almost limitless supply of credit on his card! 
  "Let's party!" He snarls as he shouts the entire crowd at every bar, club, tavern and pub in the Port Loren CBD over the next 20 hours. 
  2 Shopping 
  After securing his accomodation at the Stellar tower Hotel, Raid makes a bee line to the Computer Services Tower to sign up for a two week course to improve his skills in that area of expertise.  After having his credit account charged the appropriate fee, Raid begins searching the city for center for other training facilities or individuals that can provide him with the accreditation he requires.
  Next order of business for Con is the market, outside the north entrance to mall from the Hotel. He walks in and up to the sales counter. The yazirian serving behind the counter eyes the grim looking enforcer warily. "I need 50 SEU clips and some training certifications." 
  "What level?" asks the clerk. 
  "Level 4, beam" The yazirian reaches for a button behind the counter and presses it. 
  "Layla, I have one for you. Wants a level 4." 
  "Send him down." Replies the voice of a human female. 
  "Pick up your clips on the way out." Says the yazirian as Con makes his way down stairs. 
  Out the door of the hotel and on his way, Boro also heads toward the Market. He enters the building and is struck by the overpowering stench of human body odour. The unpainted and poorly maintained market is so disorganised, there is no desire to search through the mountains of mess and not wanting to spend any more time in these conditions than absolutely necessary, Boro exercises the option to drop off his powerpacks for complete recharge and call back later to settle payment and collect. Walking out, he notes to himself, "That stinking human was so rude, didn't tell me who he was. He better be here when I get back". 
  Making his own way to the market, Gleep orders 10 SEU clips, as well as 5 pistol jetclips. He also considers buying a pair of power beltpacks and backpacks before deciding they would be too cumbersome and just has his existing packs recharged instead. 
  Due to proximity, Kane decides his first stops will be to the Market and the General Hardware Store, both located next door to the hotel. Stepping through the Market's electronic doors, he is immediately greeted by a nondescript human male whose only distinguishing feature is the large smile he is wearing. No doubt the store's proprietor Kane presumes.
  "Good Day sir. How may I help you?" he asks.  Handing the store clerk one of the duffle bags he is carrying, Kane says
  "This bag contains two power backpacks and a single power belt. Please recharge them and throw in a dozen beam weapon power clips for me. Make it an even mix for both a pistol and a rifle. When the order is complete, please have it delivered to me at the Stellar Towers or as appropriate in accordance to Port Loren's law." says Kane as he removes his Identi-Card and passes it to the store clerk. After completing the transaction, the clerk returns the card to Kane and immediately begins to recharge the power packs and collects the requested weapon clips. "On second thought, I'll take a few of those pistol clips with me now."  Says Kane. After being handed three power clips by the clerk, Kane nods his thanks to him and exits the store, making his way to the general hardware store across the way.
  Just a half a block from the hotel was Doog's first destination, Wally's Weapons. That cheap-arsed Streel corp had skimped on even bandolier slings for their laser rifles and Doog wanted one plus some extras. After browsing till he was sure Wally had caught the smell of Ools, Doog came to the point, "I need this rifle outfitted with a knife mount, a mag x1 scope, a bandolier sling and a pseudo leather carrying case in black. I'll also need a knife, not a vibro or sonic but a plain old metal knife, commando style with the serrated edge on the backside and it has to look mean. Also, I'll need this belt pack topped off."
  Wally lifted and examined the rifle then said, "Power pack can be recharged at the market but the rifle you'll have to leave and pick up at the end of the week."
  "No good, I ship out in two days." Doog could tell Wally's mind was on the Ools so Doog drew out the negotiations letting the scent of candied Ools work on him. In the end Wally agreed to have everything ready and Doog talked down the price of the carrying case. Wally would also hold Doog's other heavy ordinance that wasn't legal for him to lug around Port Loren. After concluding the deal, Doog offered and they both ate an Ool. Wally knew Doog was playing him with the food but no dral can resist Ools. His business here completed, Doog heads over to the market and arranges to have his powerpack recharged. 
  Alyson heads for the weapon shop, it was closer and in the same building complex she is in now. Walking into the shop she looks around then walks up to the counter and says, "Hello, I need a few things but I'm shipping out in 15 hours. Can you hook me up with that time frame?" The guy who is a bit overweight with a beard says, 
  "Sure what are you looking for?"
  "A Military Skeinsuit, 5 Frag Hand grenades, 5 Smoke and 5 Tangler and 5 Doze. 
  "Sorry lady." The shopkeeper answers, "You got the wrong place. You want the Wilderness Outfitters for the suits and probably the Joke Shop is your best bet for the grenades." 
  "I am sorry," Alyson smiles back as she heads out the door. As she exits Wally's Weapons, Alyson sees the General Hospital across the road and decides to attend to her medical supplies while she is on this side of town, she wants to buy extra staydose and stimdose. After seeing what happens in combat having five shots of these things on her person would help the medtechs out. She walks across the street and heads for the Pharmacy. When she reaches the counter Alyson says, 
  "Hello, I can buy would like to buy 5 doses each please of staydose and stimdose." The assistant smiles and says, 
  "Sure thing, seems like there has been a rush on this stuff. 50 credits total thanks." Alyson she pulls out her card, 
  "Thank you very much."
  "Your welcome. Here is your card back." The assistant hands her the card back and says, "If you need anything more Medical supplies please feel free to come back."
  "Sure thing." Alyson answers as she heads for the door. 
  Mack O'Malley passes Alyson as he enters the Pharmacy. Flashing his medical ID at the assistant behind the counter, O'Malley orders 2 medkits and 20 extra doses of Biocort. He uses the biocort to stock his own medkit and has the medkits delivered to his room at the hotel for allocation to a pair of his robots when they arrive. 
  Gleep starts his shopping with a trip to the 3rd D&C Society to see if he can get the stimulation he craves. This particular nights is a debate centring around The Free Frontiersmen Foundation (FFF). Once was a legitimate political faction within the UPF. Over the years it lost members and political pull, and eventually a right-wing group took control of the organization. While it is still public, many FFF agents and operations are covert and terrorist oriented. Their purpose is to overthrow the UPF and supplant it with a fascist, galaxy-spanning government. The FFF will stop at nothing to achieve its goals. Knowing that the team ended up short on biocort, Gleep decides to buy 10 units just to have a backup. On his way back to the hotel after the debate, Gleep stops at the Pharmacy to place his order. 
  Later in the day Doog also stops by to order, "I think I'll pick up and load one each of stimdose and biocort into the top pocket of my ammo bandolier." Doog says as he collects 5 doses of biocort and two stimdoses from the Pharmacy. 
  Arriving at UPF Fleet Head Quarters, Port Loren, Gran Quivera, Prenglar, xZot announces his arrival at the main foyer of the sprawling complex and is quickly ushered into a meeting room by a humanoid service robot. He is handed a datapad with a lengthy questionnaire that takes him the best part of two hours to complete before a biological life form arrives in the shape of a uniformed dralasite ensign, who takes xZot's application without fanfare. The dralasite ensign leads xZot through the complex to a medical centre where he immediately undergoes a physical examination and more questionnaires. After another two hours, xZot is escorted back to the foyer of UPF Fleet HQ where another hovercab is waiting to take him back to his hotel. 
  3 Shopping
  Much to his dismay, the general store of Port Loren turns out to be something of a disappointment. Despite its large size, it remains a typical example of the modern day retail cooperative found across the Federation. The store's massive floor space, is devoted to numerous isles of miscellaneous building supplies and construction materials typically used in structural repair and renovation work. In despite of this however, the occasional useful bargain can be still be found. Noticing the store clerk, a human by the name of Glascock, Kane approaches.
  "Good Day sir. How may I help you?" The clerk asks, having busied himself with the taking of store inventory.
  "Solvaway." says Kane.
  "Isle 7. Towards the end of Adhesives." Replies the clerk. A short while later Kane finds what he is looking for, and enters the express line for check out. Noting that it is self-serve, he removing his Identi-Card, and inserts it into the lane's automated card-reader. Kane then proceeds to swipe his purchases, 3 vials of solvaway, (2 land and 1 for water use) over the scanner and completes the transaction. Collecting his purchases and his identi-card before exiting the store, Kane makes a brief detour and walks over to Shanghai Kelly's.
  Raid found it difficult to find training in his other skill areas, he hadn't been in Port Loren for awhile. Eventually he is able to locate technician training services at a Construction Company on the east side of The Hub where he managed to book a three week upgrade for his technical qualifications that coincided with his other training schedule.
  After booking his own training, Con visits the Offworld Clothing outfitters. No sooner does Con walk in the door than he is swooned over by a Dralasite sales id. The electronic voice of the poly vox asks, "What can I do for you?" 
  "I need 5 military skeinsuits." Con replies evenly. 
  "What are you preparing for? A small war?" The Dral says thinking he is funny. Con looks at the Dral clerk a look that causes the Dral to remove the smile from his face. The Dral quickly tallies the cost and mumbles a price. Con hands him his card and the Dral swipes it. "Would you like to take the suits with you sir? Or delivered?" 
  "Have them sent to my room at the Stellar Tower." Con answers as he retrieves his credit card. 
  "Of course, sir. You will have them before the day is done." 
  Alyson enters the Offworld Clothing store as Con is finishing up his transaction. She waits for the attendant to finish dealing with her new companion before approaching the counter. "Hello, I need a few things but I'm shipping out in 15 hours. Can you hook me up with that time frame?" 
  "Of course, what exactly are you looking for?" The dral sales id replies
  "A Military Skeinsuit." The dralasite shows Alyson a selection of military camouflage as well as metropolitan/urban black. Alyson selects a black suit after noticing Con's order was also for the midnight black finish. After paying the 500 credits, Alyson opts to wear her new suit out the door, after asking for directions to the Joke Shop. 
  Eventually, Doog found himself outside the library. Sitting on the steps he munched Ools and gave one away to dral bud contemplating setting off one of his new joke grenades in the library. Instead he paid for a research terminal and looked to see if he had met his prerequisites for his computer 2 qualifications, close but not quite there yet. Instead he downloaded an interactive teaching program to a memory cube for Physics 1 to give him something to work on aboard ship. 
  Wandering back to Shanghai Kelly's, Gleep asks Roxella about training for level 3 technician (12 XP). While sitting at the bar discussing training schedules with Roxella, Gleep overhears some bar flies sharing conspiracy theories. Tonight's subject of the discussion seem to be The Investors. According to his alcoholic sources Gleep learns that The Investors is an ultra-covert organization of a few billi-creditaires who wish to be the behind-the-scenes controllers of the UPF. While the UPF is presently an organization that comprises all of the Frontier's planetary system government, The Investors believes it could develop the UPF into a body that would override all local governments. While its aims and methods are similar to that of the FFF, the Investors is a much smarter and more hidden group. The Investors tries to gain control by financial wars, not by actual military ventures, as the FFF would. 
  After subjecting himself to several hours of attempted indoctrination, Gleep decides he will call it a day, but after a few hours of sleep, he plans to go back out to shop some more, wanting to replenish used supplies. 
  O'Malley leaves Rob's Robots and the Pharmacy behind and heads for the nearest monorail terminal. Swiping his ID card, he pays for a day travel on the network and takes the next train to the Starport. Finding the Shipyard offices is simply a matter of following the information arrows around the Starport. Arriving at the Shipyard offices, O'Malley is directed to customer service where he casually places an order worth 200,000 credits, for a pair of 10 berth launches and arranges to take delivery of the space vehicles in two weeks time. 
  Boro can't help but stop in for some Dral snacks on his way to the Electronic Repairs business. Immediately upon entering the Electronic Repairs business, a professional well equipped and busy operation where the employee's framed accreditation certificates line the walls, Boro gravitates towards a fellow dral, Dromond, who is engrossed in the latest catalogue of top range Projectile weapons. "There's some real choice looking pieces in there." Says Boro, using it to attract Dromond's attention and to break the ice. He continues, "Can I arrange training in the use of those suckers with an expert like you?" Whether Dromond realised Boro was blowing wind up his arse or not, he didn't let on, put his catalogue down, retrieved a register from under the counter and proceeded to take Boro's booking for the upcoming Level 2 Projectile training session. 
  4 Night Entertainment
  Walking into Shanghai Kelly's, Kane makes his way to the bartender and asks for Roxella. Before he can even turn around in his bar stool to take a good look around the room, he finds himself staring face to face with a relatively attractive human female.
  "Roxella, I presume?" Says Kane.
  "Correct. And you are?" she replies evenly.
  "Someone interested in getting some training for level 2 technician." (16 XP?) returned Kane, holding up his Identi-card. Taking the card from his hand with a much softened demeanour, Roxella takes the next few minutes to complete their negotiations for skill training. Kane is soon provided with a detailed training schedule under Roxella's tutelage, set to start within a few days. Finding the agreement satisfactory, Kane takes back his Identi-card and provides her with his chrono-com number and contact information at the Stellar Towers before leaving. Resuming his resupply run, Kane's next stop is the Joke Shop.
  Of all the places to wind up, Raid can't believe he finishes the day standing in an Electronics shop, organising his beam weapons. Fortunately he had bumped into other members of the team during his wanderings and they had pointed him in the direction of Ook-A-Lug's establishment. Having finally completed organising his training sessions for the next six weeks, Raid returned to the hotel where he extended his accomodation booking to complement his training time.
  Doog wandered through the shopping blocks when he spotted it, the joke shop! Walking in he asked, "What do you have in here that's funny." The stiff vrusk proprietor answered deadpan, 
  "Everything in here is funny." 
  "Not quite everything." Doog said giving the vrusk a dig. After shopping in silence for twenty minutes, Doog announced, "I'll take two Drunken Dralasites as well as four vials of solvaway."
  "Oh, you'll be very funny with those," chirped the proprietor's polyvox, making Doog wonder how he got the electronic device to sound so snobby. The vrusk was right though, a Drunken Dralasite was a standard smoke grenade but with the odour of dralasite off-gassing that usually occurs after intoxication, very funny indeed. 
  Entering the store, he walks directly up to the store's proprietor, a middle-aged Vrusk standing behind the counter.
  "Good Day sir, my name is V'rrum. How may I help you?" He asks.
  "I need Grenades." says Kane as he removes his Identi-Card and passes it to the store clerk. "I want 6 Tangler, 4 Incendiary, 5 Doze and 5 Frags."
  "Right away sir." replied the Vrusk accepting card, and ordering a service robot to begin assembling Kane's order.
  "The service droid must be one of the newer models." Thinks Kane, noticing that it has already completed the task before the Vrusk has finalized the transaction.
  "On second thought, have these items delivered to the Stellar Towers for me." Says Kane, but not without first removing a Tangler grenade from the bundle which he then slips into his clothing's pocket.
"Of course sir." Says V'rrum as he finalizes the transaction and then hands the card back to Kane.
After thanking the Vrusk for his assistance, Kane turns and leaves for his final destination.
  Gleep enters the Joke Shop while Doog is making his purchase, observing that the vrusk doesn't have an appreciation for the finer points of humour. When Doog leaves, Gleep just places his order without fuss. 
  "2 frag, 2 smoke, 2 doze, 2 tangler grenades and 5 TD-19s." He is served with vrusk efficiency, until the vrusk asks for his demolitions certification. After placing a chronocom call to Siu-Ling, Gleep is able to complete the transaction using Siu-Ling's credentials as he is not purchasing detonators. 
  "Next time you should bring all necessary documentation." The vrusk chides Gleep, the dral detecting a hint of humour in the vrusks' manner. Now Gleep begins to see the vrusk sense of humour, so dry it is almost undetectable to non-vrusks'. 
  "You need to go to the Star Law office and pick up a slip from them I send them what you just ordered and they give you a pass that is good for 24 hours or if you need to longer they make sure all the heavy stuff is locked up in a security zone. They just like to keep eye on what is going on and make sure explosives and heavy weapons aren't free about the city unless something major comes up, then the gloves come off." 
  Chuckling softly to himself, Gleep heads to the Offworld clothing store and orders a new military skein suit and an albedo suit from a very happy dral sales id. 
  Alyson nods as she overhears the conversation being played out when she enters the Joke Shop. 
  "5 Frag Hand grenades, 5 Smoke and 5 Tangler and 5 Doze." The woman orders when the attendant is completed dealing with Gleep. He takes the credit card offered by Alyson as she replies to his comments. 
  "Understandable they don't want big heavy weapons and explosives being used in the city. I feel good about that. Thank you for your time." She takes the card back and walks out, heading straight for the Star Law office. 
  "Where do I get a pass for buying Heavy weapons and explosives. I just got a few things and the vrusk working there told me to see you." The officer looks at her and says, 
  "Alyson Drake." He looks over his screen and says, 
  "Yep got you right here. You are clean." He hands her a pass and says, "Your stock will be brought to the security area, when you are about to ship out, hand this to the officer working there. He will give you the goods and you will have to sign for it. If you have to come back to the city at all you must leave you heavy weapons and explosives aboard your ship. If you do not follow this you will be arrested, if you put up a fight you will be taken down by all means. Got it?"
She says, "Yes sir. Understand sir." 
  After securing his accommodation, it's then off to Borovski's next port of call in Port Loren, the Hole in the Wall. An establishment he has yet to frequent despite hearing all those stories in his years of travel. He saunters through what he presumes is the front door straight into what opens up into a poorly secured storeroom. Boro can't believe his luck, stuffs a sizeable supply of herbal intoxicant into a waterproof pocket of his backpack, knocks the top off a bottle of 98% proof liquor and immediately walks out the way he came in.
  As he starts to circle the building looking for the real front entrance, Boro has a good shot from the bottle, stashes it also in the backpack and as if obeying a direct order, says to himself "Yes sir, R & R sir." Boro's definition, Rite-off & Rest is quite a dangerous routine. He has to be careful not let himself get into any serious trouble with the locals, and he limits the possibility of such by carrying only a laser pistol where its visible.
Boro enters the Hole in the Wall and orders his first drink, his second, third & fourth (Binge Drinking Boro) just when he sees the Big OMAC heading towards him. After their quick verbal exchange, and as OMAC wanders away "I'll be back for your shout of a few later" 
  On his way back to the hotel, Con passes the check-in clerk as she walks across the lobby. She flashes him a more than friendly smile as she is taken with his dangerous good looks. Con only nods as he steps into the elevator. He feels guilty for noticing her. He returns to his room and stows away his purchases. Con again walks out of the hotel and heads over to the Hole-In-The-Wall for some liquid entertainment and perhaps the chance to talk to Mack O'Malley alone for a short while. One of the only times he will associate with a member of the BHG on this shore leave. It's not that he wants to avoid the Gang, but he has an agenda of his own to act on for once. 
  Mack heads back into the city on the monorail, taking the train back to the Stellar tower Hotel. With night having fallen and the city light up spectacularly, Mack walks the last few blocks, enjoying the evening crush of revellers after spending so much of his time over the last year alone on alien planets, all too often under fire. Arriving at the Hole-In-The-Wall, Mack catches up with his friend and drinking partner, Borovski.
  "You started without me I see." O'Malley observes the already wobbly dral as he orders his first beer.
  "The only thing you beat me to lately is unconsciousness." The dral snaps back
  "Yeah, yeah. Laugh it up." O'Malley replies as he heads over to speak to Rockton Hartsel behind the bar. "Where can I get some training with old fashioned shooters?" He asks the veteran barkeep.
  "You should try Meeber Zloot, across the street at the Gaming Hall." Hartsel answers O'Malley. "They reckon he can nail a whomp-rat at 200 meters with any projectile weapon and I ain't even heard of a whomp-rat!"
  "Well I better sort that out now, otherwise I won't remember tomorrow." O'Malley says before heading out the door and across to the gaming hall. Ten minutes later he is back at the Hole-in-the-Wall with Borovski and the pair spend the next few hours catching up on several months of alcohol and stimulant consumption.
  Some time during the blur that is a night at the "H in the W", Con arrives to bend Mack's ear about the whereabouts of one of his old girlfriend's. To inebriated to even order drinks by now, Mack is no chance of answering Con's questions, instead trying to ply Con with drinks and scantily clad waitresses. 
  Disappointed at his failure to extract more information from O'Malley, Con leaves the Hole in the Wall after only a couple of drinks and heads over to the transportation rental shop. The Yazirian asks him what he can do for him today. "I need a hover car for the day. " 
  "I have this little number here." 
  "That'll work". Con gives the clerk his card and takes the key. The enforcer drives out of the lot. 
  5. Next Day 
  Frontier Date 53.190 
  The next day Doog rouses for breakfast but the only problem was the pounding pod ache and his fuzzy memory. He was sure he'd had a good time, he just couldn't remember it. There had been no chance of his getting "lucky" but Gallid had been sweet and said she'd show him the best clubs. Too bad he couldn't really remember them. He must have gone on about Swazi last night because Gallid had left a message for him at the hotel desk: Swazi's spouse and cub lived right here in a lower class neighbourhood outside Port Loren called Rook Hill. 
  Con dresses. Puts his knife in his boot. looks for his gun belt. "Looking for this?" Con looks up to see Holly or Molly wearing the belt about her waist. She has to hold the belt in place or it will fall down to her ankles. 
  "Give me that!" She hands him the belt. She glides up to him and wraps her arms around him. 
  "See you around?" 
  "Maybe". She reaches up to kiss him. She pulls away. He gently pulls her back in and gives her one final kiss. She leaves. Con stashes the gun belt in his bags. He goes lightly armed. Knife in boot and sonic sword on his waist. Con leaves the hotel. Out of the corner of his eye he sees her looking at him as she helps another customer. Out the door he goes. 
  Con's first stop that morning is the bank. He walks in and waits in line. The next available teller is a female Vrusk. "Yes sir, can I help you?" 
  "Yes. I want 250,000 credits taken off the card and converted to hard currency." She makes the exchange and puts the cash in a bag. Con leaves the bank and drives out of town a short distance to the outer suburb of Monmouth. It has been years since he has left. It hasn't changed. Its still a shithole.
  After a quick breakfast at the Dralasite Snack Shop and buying a new military skien suit, Doog takes the monorail to Rook Hill. By contrast, if Port Loren was the clean and shiny face of PGC corporate metropolis, Rook Hill was its dirty underwear. Cautiously, he picked his way through the neighbourhood wishing he had his rifle. 
  Con drives to the outskirts of town. There is a large building. This is the orphanage he finished growing up in. He remembers how he came here. His father had died the year before. His mother came home and took up teaching again but she never got over his death. A year later she shot herself and Con wound up here. He walks in and a sees human male steps out of an office. "Can I help you sir?" 
  "Yeah, just taking a look around. I grew up here." 
  "Really?" the man says. 
  "I grew up here after my mother passed." 
  "You haven't heard sir?" 
  "Ms. Susannah....My Grandmother, she is dying. She is here. After she had her family, they all helped her run the home." He leads Con up a flight of steps and into a room. "I'll let you visit for a while. She will like that." 
  Con walks into the room. In a bed is an old woman. Not quite the way he remembered her, but it was Susannah. He sits by the bed. "Hello, luv. It's been a while." He says as he took her hand. "You ended up back here. I couldn't find you. Thought you grabbed another flight. Missed you luv." Con thinks back to the day he arrived at the home. A small boy whose father was killed and his mother killed herself because of grief. Standing in the yard alone. A small blonde girl comes up to him. Her eyes grey blue. She shares hands him a flower she had gathered. This was the beginning of a long lasting friendship that ended when she abandoned him in the spaceport. She looks up at him. She knows who he is. A tear slowly falls from her eye. He can't see her like this. He pats her hand. "We will see each other again" Can leaves and finds the man in the office. "This is for the orphanage." He says as he puts the bag full of cash on the desk and walks out. He returns to the hotel to meet the boys. 
  Just before noon Doog came on a gang of toughs pushing a yazirian cub around. Just when one looked like he was going to strike the cub Doog grabbed the first grenade in his satchel and lobbed it. He hit the attacker square in the face and the Drunken Dralasite contact detonated. At first a few of the toughs ran but the rest followed when he brought out the sonic sword. Grabbing the cub and drawing him clear of the smoke cloud he asked, "You OK son?" and after a cough and a nod from the cub, "Could you help me find a housing block?" Upon seeing the address the cub exclaimed, 
  "That's my building!" Suddenly, Doog's fluids froze, 
  "Is your mother Rugga Mauru?" 
  The next day, some time after lunch, O'Malley surfaces from is hotel room and contacts Con and Gleep via chronocom. "Hey guys, just a heads up when you get together to chat about spaceship stuff. I bought two, 10 man launches to carry my evac team on future missions." The warrior explains. "So our mission ship needs to be able to carry at least two launches outside the hull. We don't need to worry about life support, the launches will be carrying robots only." With his mission accomplished, O'Malley straps on his autopistol and a couple of spare magazines. He stuffs a doze grenade and a smoke grenade in his pockets, his standard urban escape equipment, and heads back to the Hole-in-the-Wall to continue where he left off last night. 
  The monorail from Rook Hill was dirty and smelled. Doog barely noticed with the weight of depression resting on him. Casting his gaze between his leg pods he saw a hard copy news fax. It would've have gone unnoticed if it hadn't been for the title, "The Truth About Volturnus." In light of xZot's recent disclosures about the BHG and the Great Mission he read the fax carefully. He keyed in the faxfile address ( ) into his chronocom to check out the author latter; obviously just a crank revisionist historian but he hadn't realized the Frontier News Network had slipped into yellow journalism. None the less he felt he should monitor this crap on the off chance it could ever affect the BHG. There was certainly no doubt in Doog's mind about how the veterans of Volturnus would react to it. Unless this crank gained a following Doog would avoid bringing it to the other's attention and since they didn't look to be news readers this should whither and die with its crackpot author, hopefully. 
  The next day Gleep decides to grab a couple of early Dralasite ales over at the Plutonium Nugget and while there, he tries to subtle try to glean some information.  The Dralasite bartender seems like a happy chap and Gleep engages him in conversation. 
  "Just been out in space a little and wanted to learn more about interstellar ships. Anyone come in here who might work in the industry building ships? Maybe even military ones?" 
  "Naw." The bartender drawls. "Them types usually hang out at The Spacer's Rest, mostly freight drivers that lot. Otherwise your best bet planetside would be the Starport itself. A lot of those Spacer types don't even bother coming planetside anymore, you'll find plenty of them on the orbiting stations though." 
  "What about ship builders?" Gleep enquires further. 
  "There should be some Engineers registered with the Starport, try their office would be my guess." 
  "Thanks for the tip." Gleep answers, leaving a few extra credits on the bar with his empty glass as he gets up to leave. 
  Five hours later, Doog exited the monorail hub on the far side of the hospital. He felt the weight of the Frontier on his pods. He had given his other Drunken Dralasite stink grenade to Mauzi to go play with while he and Rugga talked. From her he learned that Trans Allied Shipping had voided the contracts of the Swazi's ship's crew for carrying stowaways (Doog) which in turn voided Swazi's life insurance and retirement policies. Ruga and the cub had been left destitute. It wasn't true, just crass corporate greed using Doog's presence to cheat the crew's families. Doog knew it wasn't his fault but he still felt responsible. Rugga wouldn't tolerate him blaming himself in her presence and she wouldn't accept money nor the brass knuckles from him. He would some how make this right.
  Jogging to the computer service tower he decided to make an interplanetary chronocom call. He had not planned to talk to his parent this soon after leaving but he'd buff and kiss a lot of proverbial butt on Mauzi's behalf. The call had been every bit as awkward and difficult as he had imagined it would be however, in the end his family would pull strings and get Mauzi a full scholarship to study at the University of Terledrom and Mauzi would stay with Doog's family while there. 
  The second day in Port Loren and Alyson gets up, gets dressed and leaves the Hotel. She reads a message ion her chronocom from xZot telling her that they are going to be staying longer. She couldn't blow all her cash just waiting where she was. She went to the front desk to pay for two weeks only to find xZot already has the bill covered by the VTC. Relieved at the saving, Alyson hit the street. 
  Diagonally across the city square from the Electronic Repair shop, Borovski remembered seeing the Appliances store, the last place of interest for Boro on his shopping tour of Port Loren and his first port of call the next bleary, eyespotted day. Opening the door, Boro can't help but notice the shop appears to be full of row after row of "funny hats and headpieces". He amuses himself by trying to squeeze into some of the more larger size pieces while he waits for some service. A tall, thin, bespectacled and unassuming human makes his way across to Boro. 
  "What can I do for you?" He enquires. 
  "I need to speak to someone about Gyrojet weapon training." States Boro. 
  "I'm your man." Comes the reply. Boro has a double take look at the figure that faces him. 
  "You! I pictured you'd be a computer and maybe the electronics type". 
  "Well, Level 5 accreditation should be enough to train your type. I'm Yogi. Let's get you set for the next round of training". Boro and Yogi exchange details and some more general conversation before Boro remembers he needs to collect his recharged power backpack and parts company with the human. 
  "Yogi is a man of many talents." Borovski starts as he hears a familiar voice behind him. Turning he sees xZot behind him a smile from ear to ear. 
  "You can put me down for some technical certification Yogi." The yazirian says to the human proprietor. "The five week course this time thanks." 
  "No problem son." Yogi replies as he makes the entry into his diary. 
  "Borovski nods. "I knew he was a geek!" 
6. Last Shop 
  Kane's final stop in his resupply run is to the Offworld Clothing Store. Upon entering the clothing store, he is immediately greeted by the familiar face of the yazirian shopkeeper.
  "May I help you sir?" she asks.
  "Yes." Says Kane as he passes his remaining duffle bag over to the store clerk. "I would like to have both of these skeinsuits repaired, with a few alterations being made to the latter."
  "I am sorry sir, but the anti-ballistic material of an individual suit cannot be repaired." The yazirian replies as she accepts the bag and removes the suits. "As long as the suit maintains enough integrity to worn it will still provide some defensive capability but these suits cannot be patched.  "Eyeing the damaged garments, the yazirian female begins mumbling something about the inferior quality of standard corporate clothing materials as her voice slowly trails off. "I see you have visited my store before sir." she says noticing her store label stitched into a suit collar.
  "I have indeed.  Although that was some years ago, as you no doubt noticed from the dated style of the suit you hold.  However, I have found the quality of your work to be unmatched."  Replied Kane smoothly, handing her his Identi-card.  Nodding with pride at his statement, the yazirian removes a comp-u-pad from her cloak's pocket and swipes his card.
  "Mr. Kane, if your physical measurements have not changed, then I have all I need to tailor a new set of suits for you. I can have them ready for you shortly."
  "Excellent." replies Kane as he takes back his Identi-card. "Please have the suits delivered to me at the Stellar Towers as soon as possible." With that said, Kane turns and leaves the store. As he begins his walk back to the hotel, Kane finally allows himself to take a look around the streets of Port Loren. As he examines the holo-signage of the various stores in the area, one in particular catches his eye.
  "Offworld Imports." he says to himself, recognizing a common link with his own past. "Maybe I should take a quick look." He says to himself.
  After all of the resupply shopping, Gleep has his room booking extended for 38 days, hoping that is enough. He knows he will be training for 3 weeks, after the couple days of filling in info and equipment. After the training he wants to return to the shipyard to place a final order. He contacts Con and asks about stopping by the shipyard. 
  Con is in the bathroom of his hotel cleaning himself up then a female voice calls him from the bedroom. 
  "Baby...your watchie thing is beeping!" Con walks into the room and takes the chronocom from her. She's the human female from the concierge counter that checked him in. She said her name was Holly or Molly or something like that, it did not matter to Con. In his mind he was making love to Adriana one last time. 
  "Gleep...a meeting about the ship. Sure sounds fine." Holly or Molly is kneeling on the bed arms wrapped around Con as she rests her head on his shoulder. "I have some personal business to take care of this morning that requires my attention. Come up to my room, 2510 later this afternoon. If I am not back ask for..." Con looks on the floor and sees the name tag on her blouse. "Ask for Holly, she will let you into the room if I am not back. You and Crisbel bring the beverages!" He terminated the call and got dressed. He tosses Holly her blouse." You better get back to work before you are missed." 
  Con picks up Gleep, who is accompanied by Crisbel for this trip, in Con's rental hover car and they all head out to the spaceport to find an engineer. Just a half mile past the fire department on the Star Port Expressway, they pass Crazy Jimmy's New and Used Vehicles. 
  "They call him Crazy Jimmy cause his Prices are insane!" Crisbel comments. "Jimmy is the fast talking, slick operator of a Yazirian hawking new and used vehicles and if he don't have what you want he'll get it. His top sales id is a Dral named Rolo. Rolo is known as "The Closer". Jimmy's business is tough on sales ids and he's always hiring new sales staff to replace the most recent burnout. His chief mechanic is a Vrusk named M'r'k PSA Tech- Technician (5) and they always seem to have an open position for a mechanics assistant to work on a weeks basis M'r'k is actually a good trainer and loves teaching so he's one of the best to come to for Technician qualifications plus you can earn a weeks pay. M'r'k loves to take the new guy out on test drive and try to scare the hell out of him so getting your Tech qualifications with him isn't all work either." The yazirian informs his companions. "When I was young cub I always wanted to work there. Funny how things work out."
  Gleep, Con and Crisbel arrive at the Starport via monorail and head to the information counter. They are quickly redirected to the Shipyard offices where the begin by introducing themselves to the yazirian clerk. Gleep checks to see what options are available in spaceship construction. 
  "We are hoping for somewhere that has capability to build a size 7 or 8 ship, but is somewhat discrete." Gleep begins "For now, we are just shopping around to see what is available." 
  "Do you have specifications for you vessel sir?" The clerk asks. 
  "Erm no we don't." Gleep replies 
  "Then you should engage the services of a qualified Engineer to design your ship." The clerk offers. "I can offer you a listing of accredited Engineers for this facility." He continues as he begins tapping away at his datapad. "Engaging an Engineer for initial consultation is 500 credits and then the engineers project fee is calculated once the design is complete. That is usually around 500 credits per hull size." The yazirian clerk smiles. "Once we have that information I can suggest possible construction facilities for your vessel." 
  "Thank you." Gleep replies, taking the offered data card. "You have been most helpful. We shall contact you again soon with our decision." Having obtained the information necessary, Gleep and his two companions return to their hotel on the monorail. Crisbel lagging behind as he indulges once more in his frivolous behaviour, starting at the Starport lounge immediately after their meeting. 
  On his way to the bar O'Malley remembers his intention to organise some weapons training at the Gaming Hall. Not sure whether he had actually booked the training O'Malley decides to double check and heads into the Gambling Hall.
  "Aah Mr O'Malley. How are you today?" A dral calls out to the hungover warrior as he blinks his way into the main room of the club. Mack nods to himself,
  "Well at least I made it this far last night." He turns to the dral. "Was I in here last night?"
  "You most certainly were sir. Said you wanted to learn how to shoot whomp rats in the eye with a sling shot, I believe was your request!"
  "I did huh? That's good. And when do I start learning that?"
  "Tomorrow sir, we start tomorrow." The dral grins at his new student. "I am almost surprised you remembered you were here at all, the condition you were in last night."
  "I don't." O'Malley answers as he turns to leave. "See you tomorrow." OMAC heads out the door and back to the Hole-in-the Wall. 
  Boro returns to the Market, doesn't spend too much time bartering with the stinking human because he just wants to collect his backpack and get out of there before he is overcome completely. "I got to find an alternative to this place. I must remember to check with the other team members".
Heading straight to his room at the Stellar Tower, Boro drops off his power backpack and locks the door on his way back out to see if the Big OMAC is still standing at the Hole in the Wall. "Time for some liquid reward for keeping him alive".
  Boro arrives back at the Hole in the Wall and over the course of the evening consumes copious amounts, to the point of no return. He manages to stay out of trouble and despite the desire to act the "High Flyer" and throw credits around at the Dral Sensorium for a "Works" package deal, he stumbles only as far as his room where he crashes out still adorned in all his belts and harnesses until the crackling roar of his chronocom awakes him. 
  When Alyson finds out the gaming hall has a place where she can get beam weapons training she makes a beeline straight to the house of luck. 
  "So do you have any slots open in the beam training classes?" Meeber Zloot looks into his computer hits a few keys and says, 
  "Sure do next week I have slot open you want it?" She smiles and says, 
  "Sure thing. Thank you." Meeber takes her card and says, 
  "I'm glad I had something up. See you next week." She nods and says, "You will see me." 
  After sorting out her skills training, Alyson hits the human clothing store on the way back to her hotel room and picks up seven jumps suits, a holster and bandolier. Of her 2,000 credit pay, Alyson still has just over 1,100 credits with VTC picking up her accommodation tab. For now she leaves the money in her account against a rainy day. She heads back to her room to rest until it is time to go. 
  Con, none to pleased he has to stay in town for several more weeks, comes out of his room walks down the hall. As he turns the corner he wanders into a band of convention goers. They are all drunk and noisy. One of them takes his merriment to the big enforcer. Con looks him in the eye. "Bugger off!" If looks could kill, this drunk convention goer would have been stone cold dead. Con steps into the elevator and heads down to the front desk. 
  "I need to stay for several more weeks." The clerk, a Dral, asks how long. "The rest of this week and then three after that." 
  "OK sir no problem." Con hands him his card. After the payment is made, he turns to go back up to his room. Out of the corner of his eye he sees Holly or Molly talking to her friend. They eye the enforcer. He acknowledges by nodding his head and goes back to his room. 
Frontier Date 53.190 16:00
  Leaving the computer services tower, Doog looked at the sky and said, "Well, Swazi, you looked after me so I guess I can return the favour." Checking his chronocom next, "Hmmm, 1600 GST, I'm starved maybe I'll head for the Yazirian Cafe, I need to try some more of those of those yiggas that Rugga served." Doog starts walking feeling a little better. He had stood up to the tyranny of Streel corp. and now he had stood up to the tyranny of his family. Suddenly, he pumped four pods into the air and shouted, "I'm the BIG DRAL now!" then laughed at he shocked looks of his fellow pedestrians. 
  At 16:00, Siu-Ling is on her hovercycle headed south along the one-way artery of Port Loren. She is carrying her laser pistol along with the 3 SEU clips she's allowed. She only has one doze grenade, which she carries with her at all times. 
  Suddenly there is a blaring alarm from your wrist communicators followed by an emergency public broadcast. 
  "Alien creature has broken out of confinement at the Zoological Park! Last seen headed north! Creature is reported to have attacked handler earlier this morning and should be considered dangerous! Stay inside! Police have been notified but a major accident on the Spaceport Expressway is occupying most of the patrols!" 
  Across Port Loren, members of the Black Hand Gang nod their heads silently. The creature can not be allowed to run loose until the police can arrive. You must try to stop it. Hands reach for side arms as the scattered adventurers rise to their feet and begin converging on the City Zoo.
  As Doog is crossing the road headed towards food, his chronocom chirps the emergency broadcast. Freezing in mid step with one pseudofoot up he smacks himself in the head with four pods. He has no weapons! Well just grenades, brass knuckles, and a sonic sword and the sword is a certain no-no with Star Law. What a fool he was running around decking out his rifle with a bayonet and other attachments and he didn't even get a side arm! It was Alcazzar all over again, going into combat weaponless like a target. A hysterical woman ran by him bumping two "elbows" and he bounced against the walls.
  "Well, Drals bounce!" he exclaims and quickly keys the all call function on his chronocom that let him broadcast to the whole team. "This is Doog, I'm weaponless and one block form the zoo outside the restaurant across from the computer services building and the Hole in the Wall bar; anyone know where I can get a gun on the quick." After the briefest pause the chronocom responded,
  "Electronics Repair." Doog wasn't even sure who said it as he was already running.
  Con is driving the rental hover car with the radio on some rock station blaring as they make their way down the expressway. Con hears the report on the chronocom. "Finally, some action!" he says a smile crosses his face. "Knife in boot, check! Laser pistol with three clips, check! Sonic sword, in the black satchel in his hotel room, check. Bullwhip on gun belt, check. Hold on your potatoes, boys!" Con accelerates the hover car.
  Gleep in the hovercar beside Con points to the right as they approach the end of the Starport Expressway. "Head to the north of the shopping, then turn off north of the business tower." Gleep checks he is carrying his gyrojet pistol with 3 clips and wearing his new skeinsuit. "Dang, what a way to spend an afternoon. And I just bought this outfit!"
  Raid is standing in the centre of the Port Loren shopping complex when he hears the alarm. The first thing he wants to do is get a better vantage point, preferably above ground level. He runs toward the restaurant at the southwest corner of the square.
  Alyson makes sure she has her Tangler and Doze grenades, knowing that anything more powerful then that was out of the question. She also makes sure her laser and three clips are handy before running out the door of her hotel room and heading to the breakout to see what she can do.
  Before the blaring alarm and emergency public broadcast message from his wrist communicators, Kane had mentally prepared himself for days of monotonous routine of technical study and training under the meticulous eye of the lovely Roxella Dare. So the escape of the alien creature from the confinement of the Zoological Park came as a much welcomed release for Kane. Holstering his favourite laser pistol, a few extra power clips, a couple of Doze and Tangler grenades and a couple vials of Solvaway. Kane departs from his room at the Stellar Towers, heading off in the direction of the City Zoo.
  Siu-Ling heads south along The Hub, the central ring road of Port Loren, and turns right off The Hub into PanGal Way. She immediately begins to decelerate her hover cycle as she encounters fleeing citizens of all races, streaming out of PanGal way back toward the hub. Approaching the turn south taking her past the Convention Centre Siu-Ling sees the escapee, a giant slug like creature, driving the citizenry before it.
  "Target acquired." The sniper reports to her comrades via the team's chronocom channel as she takes a moment to examine the creature. The hydra is a strange creature that looks like a 10 meter tall silver tree with clusters of limbs around it's mouth. The creature has a soft body and moves by slithering about on its trunk. It sees with many eyespots located just below the limbs on its head.
  With panicked civilian pedestrians and vehicles now jamming the thoroughfare between her location and the Zoo, Siu-Ling decides not to immediately engage the hydra until the streets are clear of innocent bystanders. She manoeuvres her hovercycle around 180 degrees in PanGal Way to parallel the apparent route of the creature, withdrawing back to the corner of The Hub, Siu-Ling reports their location as the hydra rounds the corner of the Business Tower.
  Gleep calls into the chronocom, "Siu, we are not far behind you, give us a sit-rep when you get in sight of whatever we are chasing. Con and I will be there to provide support as soon as we can." At the intersection across from the Government Building Con hooks a left into Frontier Drive. When he arrives at the corner of the Hub across from the shopping mall he hooks a right onto The Hub. He pushes the hovercar for all its worth, weaving in and out of traffic and driving like a man on a mission! "Were almost there, boys!...try not to puke in the car, will ya!"
  Alyson hears another voice over her com unit and says, "Kane this is Alyson I'm also making my way to the Zoo. Where would you like to meet up and figure out a way to handle this?" Pleased that at least one team-mate heard his call, Kane acknowledges the recipient of the message.
  "Kane to Alyson. I read you Alyson. I've exited the Stellar Towers and making all due haste to the Zoo. Let's rendezvous at someplace nearby, say the Transportation Complex."
  "OK" Alyson calls from behind Kane as she exits the hotel lobby behind him, flicking off her chronocom. "Or we could rendezvous here." Kane glances over his shoulder and they share a smile and begin running along the sidewalk, west toward the Zoo.

  The Electronics Repair shop was only around the corner and past the bank and Doog burst threw the door as Ook-A-Lug was about to secure it. Slapping his card on the counter, he commanded,
  "I need a hand laser and 3 clips five minutes ago!" Doog was inflating himself with air to try to seem larger and more commanding when a pocket of air squeaked out with the tell tale sound of flatulence. Suddenly, Ook-A-Lug's angry look turned to a smile as he and Dromond busted out in laughter. Still laughing they threw the pistol and clips on the counter and charged his card. As Doog sauntered out the door trying to look tough he heard Ook-A-Lug say, "Go get him killer," followed by more laughter.
  With the street emptying rapidly in front of the hydra, Siu-Ling glides to the south on her hovercycle, following the direction of the remaining traffic in the city centre, keeping the creature in view as she rides away.
  "This thing is pretty big, my pistol isn't going to be enough on it's own." The sniper worries aloud as she watches the hydra continue down PanGal Way toward The Hub.
  Keeping an eye out for the other members of the Black Hand Gang, Kane tries and establish chrono-com contact with the others particularly as he gets closer to the City Zoo.
Raid runs into the restaurant and up the stairs to the second level where he heads toward the overhead walkway to get above the street. As he enters the walkway, Raid watches Siu-Ling glide by underneath him, watching the street behind her, now almost empty of traffic and civilians.
  Doog is pounding the pavement furiously running, "Kane! Where the Hell have you been? Haven't seen or heard from you for the past two days! I'm headed west and will pass through the personal groomers in front of me or the Planet News office to get to the north side of the computer services/ business tower. Since the creature is headed north I have a good chance of getting either in front of it or at least abreast of it depending on its speed. If I'm first on site I'll keep it under observation and keep every apprised of its movements though if it's attacking a civilian then caution be damned! Just shake a leg cause if you and Alyson meet up at the transportation complex it will be moving away from you since its headed north," Doog is please that Kane showed up then a thought occurs to him, "Kane any chance you can hail a passing hover taxi? If your at the hotel the a taxi might be the fastest way here even with the computer enforced speed limit in down town, over."
  Raid continues running to the roof of the computer tower, scanning the streets below as he moves. Then Raid sees the hydra for the first time as it comes out of PanGal Way around the corner of the Business Tower.
  As Siu-Ling rounds the southern bend of The Hub she sees Crisbel running along the footpath.
  "I am unarmed." The yazirian trooper explains bashfully. "I gotta get back to the hotel for my gear." He yells as he sprints around the corner of the Hole-In-The-Wall and almost collides with Kane and Alyson coming the other way.
  Con wrestles his hover car around the northwest corner of The Hub and the hydra comes into view heading south at the other end of the straight.
  "Target acquired." He reports over the chronocom. "Approaching from the north on the western side of The Hub."
  Then Mack O'Malley steps out of the front door of the cafeteria not ten meters in front of the hydra. With a hotdog in one hand and his automatic pistol in the other. O'Malley takes bite of his snack as he raises the pistol, flicking the selector to fully automatic. He pulls the trigger, firing a burst at point blank range in the centre of the hydra's torso (25 points), shattering the base of one of the trunk-link growths and destroying the limb.
Hydra Escape!
  The hydra rears up and back in pain as the creatures appendages swivel and focus on O'Malley. No less than eight apertures open from the trunks and a volley of eight muscle-fired darts shoot back at the human warrior. Mack O'Malley grunts in pain as four of the darts slam into his arm, side and chest (18 points, half to suit), piercing his civilian skien suit.
  "OMAC's been hit!" Raid reports from the overpass.
  "Here we go again!" Borovski sarcastically replies as he races on his short little pseudolegs to catch up to Kane and Alyson who left him behind even as they were leaving the lobby of the hotel. "Is the Big O'MAC still conscious this time?"
Frontier Date 53.190 16:00:30
  Doog barges his way into the Barber Shop across from the bank. The proprietor and two patrons were rubbernecking at the door and windows on the far side of the shop and exclaimed, "Ooooo," when OMAC is attacked by the creature. Doog shouts,
  "COMING THROUGH!" Without slowing down he charges out the door on the far side of the room. Seeing OMAC across the road Doog starts to wave but realizes OMAC's focus was on the creature. That's when Doog notices the creature, it is huge and slug like and beautiful to behold, at least Doog finds it so.
  Con is still a bit far from the fray to have an immediate impact, so he continues to drive till he crosses Pan Gal Way. He wrenches the hover car around the corner and closes on OMAC's position. Leaning out the window of the hovercar beside Con, Gleep opens fire at long range hoping to at least distract the creature from continuing to attack OMAC. He fires 3 rounds at the creature but at this range from a moving vehicle he only manages to punch holes in the walls of the Files and Records office.
  The hydra fails to even notice Gleep's attack as it continues pumping nematocysts at O'Malley. The human warrior ducks and weaves, amazingly avoiding most of the muscle fired darts but a pair of the darts still manage to find him and penetrate his skien suit defence (6 points to OMAC, 6 to suit).
  "Those humans, they sure are slow learners." Boro mumbles under his breath as he rumbles along at pace for a Dral, especially a Dral who has been paying no respect for his personal well being during this visit to Port Loren to date. Gasping because it's taking all his effort just to maintain momentum towards the target area, Boro continues his own conversation. "This stupid meathead is becoming detrimental to my health!" And then into his chronocom. "Hey, what's the difference between one of your techno computers and a human? You only have to punch the information into the computer once!"
  Alyson hears the message over Kane's chronocom and says,"I'm game, I don't think if we keep running we will be in any shape to do anything." Then she hears that OMAC is hit. "Have you guys ever fought this thing before? If so, our pea shooters are going to do anything to it? If not what about the Doze and Tangler grenades." She looks around for Taxi and then realises they are almost on the scene as the sound of gunfire echoes down the street.
  "Laugh it up blubber boy!" O'Malley replies to Borovski's jibe. "I am gonna keep this beastie pinned here. The rest of you hold your fire until you can get in a decent volley. If we hit it with everything at once maybe that will slow it down." Anything else from OMAC's location is drowned out by the sound of more automatic fire as he empties his clip at point blank range toward the looming slug-like alien escapee. Unfortunately for OMAC all his talking, ducking and weaving has ruined his aim and the burst of bullets hammers into the pavement in front of the hydra as he dives away from the roadside, dropping the last of his hot dog in the process.
  Drawing his own pistol, Kane dials the weapon up to setting 5 and races across the road, coming to a stop behind the sniper, approximately 50 meters away from the hydra.
  Up in the overpass, Raid flicks on his holoscreen and considers lobbing a smoke grenade to distract the creature but the glass windows of the overpass are sealed to prevent pedestrians from dropping anything on the road below. With his companions now arriving on the scene, Raid races back into the restaurant and out the nearest doorway onto the street, his smoke grenade in hand.
  Siu-Ling d'Avignon, markswoman and demolitionist, having turned the southern corner, brings her hovercycle to a halt by the kerb. Dismounting and shifting behind the cycle, she powered up both of her laser pistols, each set on 8 SEUs. She carefully approaches the corner in time to see both Doog and Raid exiting buildings on her right. The beast seemed interested in OMAC; thus she exploits the distraction and takes careful aim with both weapons.
Frontier Date 53.190 16:00:36
  Across the road from Siu-Ling, Alyson runs toward the corner, crossing the roadway exiting the Transportation Complex she reaches the corner of the Robot Repair shop and then checks to make sure her weapon is set to maximum power.
  Pulling the hovercar to the kerbside, Con exits the vehicle now at a much more effective range, he draws his weapon. With his laser pistol set for 1 shot of 5 SEU's, Con prepares to take careful aim. As soon as Con stops, Gleep climbs out of the car and uses it for cover and to steady his hand.
  Siu-Ling waits impatiently for the rest of her team mates to get into position, hoping a volley of concentrated fire will carry the day for the BHG. Across the street, Mack O'Malley backs up as he pulls a spare clip from his belt and reloads his automatic pistol. He quickly looks around and smiles as he sees various members of the Black Hand Gang taking up position around the hydra.
  Stepping out the restaurant door, Raid pockets his grenade and draws his laser pistol when he sees the crossfire the BHG has established for their prey. Making sure his pistol is set to 5 SEU's Raid takes aim. Only meters away, Kane arrives at Siu-Ling's side and takes careful aim with his laser pistol at the centre torso of the beastie, preparing to fire multiple shots
  Still in back play, Borovski waves at Crisbel at the pair pass each other, Crisbel racing to retrieve his weapons while, Borovski struggles to catch up with the rest of his team mates. Over his chronocom, Boro hears Con take charge of the action as he shouts a command.
  "Open fire!" Con cries as the Black Hand Gang unleash a volley of fire at the hydra.
  Feeling sorry for the creature, while knowing it will most likely need to be put down, Doog draws a doze grenade, primes it for contact detonation and throws. Before the doze grenade has even reached it's target he has a tangler grenade in hand and is setting it for contact detonation as well. His first grenade is off target and pops open harmlessly in the middle of the road after bouncing off the wall of the Files and Records building.
  Before the hydra can squeeze off it's third volley of darts at OMAC, weapons fire sounds from all around. At 40 meters range, Alyson is too far away to strike home and drains half her pistol clip. But both of Siu-Ling's pistol shots strike the hydra in it's centre mass. Con pumps another blast into the creature from behind and Raid shoots the creature in the side from across the street. Beside Siu-Ling, Kane fires twice with his laser pistol, smiling broadly when both beams slam into the hydra.
  "Take that you ill tempered beastie!" Gleep cries as he pulls the trigger again and again. Gleep is overjoyed when all three of his gyrojet shells hit the hydra (36 points total damage), the closer range making all the difference to his accuracy. One of his shells even manages to sever one of the dart throwing appendages, eliciting a roar of pain from the hydra. His joy quickly turns to concern when Con mutters beside him.
  "Something's wrong!" The human observes. "Our lasers don't seem to affect it!"
  All around the combat zone members of the BHG come to the same realization. Despite numerous hits from laser weapons, the hydra seems unaffected. Then another familiar voice cuts across the team chronocom frequency.
  "That's not quite accurate." X'anthe's reports, the concern obvious in her voice. "I am at the Zoo checking their records on this particular species." The environmentalist continues. "Apparently laser fire is reflected away by the hydra's silvery hide, however the heat from the energy beam excites the creature's cells, causing it to bud again!"
  As if demonstrating X'anthe's research results, the hydra bellows and stretches out in all directions as more appendages begin sprouting from it's torso at the site of each laser blast. Another half a dozen, dart throwing limbs emerge from the hydra's body as it slithers down the road spraying darts at it's antagonists. Doog and Kane are both on the receiving end of hydra darts (9 points each) as the creature continues it's rampage through the streets of Port Loren.
Frontier Date 53.190 16:00:42
  "This is Charletta Komitz of Pan Galactic Holo-News reporting to you live from downtown port Loren." The commentator on the holo-projector announces from her perch in a jetcopter hovering above the central business district of Port Loren. Newshound Charletta Komitz begins her commentary of the scene unfolding in the street below. Much of the west side of The Hub is now devoid of traffic as the various members of the Black Hand Gang open fire with laser pistols on the hydra.
  The crowd in the bar of the spaceport roars with applause until the camera focuses in again on the escaped hydra. The silvery slug sways away from the bulk of the laser fire and turns around, now facing north. Lumbering north along The Hub, the hydra's new dart throwing limbs scan the creatures surroundings as it now heads north along The Hub, directly toward the news team's jet copter.
"It seems the weapons of our do-gooder's have only served to aggravate the monster!" Charletta yells into her microphone over the sound of her jetcopter engines. The images and Charletta's voice are now being broadcast live from holo-projectors across the entire planet of Gran Quivera, Pan Galactic Holo-News beamed constantly into most public places in the largest city in the entire Frontier.
Sitting in the cafeteria of the Hospital, James McKilin watches Charletta continue her commentary of the events unfolding only minutes from his location, his friends now filling the holo-projector as they continue to battle the escapee. The sound of more automatic fire brings the camera around jerkily to focus on Mack O'Malley, blazing away at the hydra again with his autopistol.
  "Don't turn your back on me!" O'Malley roars as he advances up the street behind the hydra, pumping lead into the creature with a controlled burst (35 points) and driving it away from him, up the street. In the spaceport bar the crowd roars it's appreciation of OMAC's counter attack.
Seeing Doog's first grenade miss, Kane now hurls a doze grenade of his at, but at this range he also misses.
  Alyson says,"Great. Laser weapons are out what about Doze and Tangler weapons? Hey thanks for the info X'anthe. At least not all of us are armed with lasers here. Look's like it is time for me to learn another weapon!" Alyson tries to get closer to throw a grenade and hope she will be able to pin one of the dart shooters down.
On the Pan-Gal newscast, viewers see Alyson move up behind O'Malley and throw a dose grenade, the missile flying past the creature and exploding near Doog's grenade, creating a cloud of doze gas in the path of the enraged hydra.
Doog lobs a smoke grenade into the street between himself O'Malley and the hydra, the grenade bounces off the far wall to explode almost directly beneath the hydra. "I hope this gives us some cover," he sub-vocalizes. Ducking back into the barber shop he announces in as booming and commanding a voice he can manage, "Beam weapons are in effective against it someone give me another weapon to use." Doog pauses briefly then almost yells, "Quick!"
"Ooooh!" The crowd in the spacebar cry as the hydra briefly disappears in the smoke.
Siu-Ling's mind races as she assesses her options. Without an effective weapon she is almost useless in her primary role. By her calculations, it would take less than a minute to ride the hoverbike to the weapons shop in the southeast, buy a gyrojet pistol with about 8 clips, and go back to the scene of the battle. She decides and races for the hovercycle, leaping aboard the bike and gunning it's motor to life, she heads east along The Hub.
Raid pulls out his sonic knife and curses that he isn't carrying the electrostunner the team salvaged from Alcazzar, instead he prepares for close combat, trying to get behind the creature as he manoeuvres for a better position under the cover of his holoscreen. Moving north along the footpath and passing the Barber Shop that Doog just entered.
Seeing the effect that the team's weapons fire has had on the hydra Con cries out. "Great Maker bloody wept! So, it's going to have to be like that then, you slimy bugger, you!" He calls out to his companion. "Gleep! Do you have anything like TD-19 or something we can rig to the car to make this thing a moving bomb? It's time to get creative with this bastard!"
  "Con, they sent my TD-19 to the spaceport. I hope I have enough bullets!"
  "Damn. I was afraid you were going to say that! I think I have another idea floating around my head." Con replies.

Gleep, seeing that his attack is actually effective, tries to keep pace with the hydra. He keeps firing into it's hide. For the good of the team, Gleep will eschew cover in favour of maintaining a closer range. "Not so ready for my pistol, eh beastie?
The jetcopter hovering above the street has an excellent shot of Gleep as he steps out into the street, gyrojet pistol raised as he fires three rockets at the hydra. Every shell misses the creature as viewers in front of holo-projectors moan at Gleep's shooting, Charletta Komitz's voice, continuing the sarcastic commentary.
"Should this being even be allowed to carry a weapon in a populated area?" The reporters criticises. "That dral can't hit the side of a space dock!" Another image slides into the holo-viewer as Charletta's yazirian co-anchor on the holo-news desk Derren Itch, logs into the broadcast.
"Now hang on there Charletta, we just saw him score several successful hits. Let's go to the replay..." And a musical fanfare announces the replay of Gleep's previous shots in an inset image while the main action still plays out on the rest of the holo-screen.
Con calls Raid on the chronocom. "Raid, I don't think I want to fight this thing out here in the city. Too many civilians to get hurt out here! I am going to use the hover car to piss it off and hopefully chase after me. Any chance of you getting the rest of the team to shepherd that big bugger to make sure he stays on me? I want to get him into an open park. Or even better the zoo. What do you think?" Con turns to Gleep. "Either get in the car or stand clear, Zippy! I am going to get that thing to chase me and lure him away from The Hub and into a park or something!"
As Con leaps back into the vehicle the hydra draws level with him as it moves north up the street. The hydra sprays a volley of darts at Gleep and Con as it passes by their position. Con is lightly scratched by a dart slicing past his cheek (3 points) and Gleep also takes a dart, his in the torso (5 points to suit, 4 to Gleep).
"Eww that's gotta hurt!" A customer in the spaceport bar cries as the camera zeroes in on Gleep plucking out the 6 inch dart.
Frontier Date 53.190 16:00:42
  Accelerating to top turning speed for the inner city, Siu-Ling switches lanes and decides to swing past the Hotel instead. If she can co-ordinate with Crisbel, the team could have their preferred weapons faster still she decides. "Much more efficient." The sniper concludes to herself as she quickly rounds the corner, approaching the lobby of the hotel and spying Crisbel as he races into the hotel ahead of his team mate. Crisbel sprints across to the lobby and calls for an express elevator to his room.
With team mates now possibly in his line of fire, O'Malley holds his fire and runs north along the footpath toward where Con is now pulling away from the kerb in the hover car.
  Doog knew he was being pushy and rude but he also knew that typical being behaviour would be to answer him with a, "No" if he asked nicely. The yazirian barber opens a draw with a set of folding straight razors, "All I have is these. Space punk style was the rage a decade ago but no one asks for that silly shave anymore." The razors are laid out as small, medium and large but only the large looks big enough to use as a weapon. Doog scoops it up, folds it open and says,
"Many thanks."
  "Show him the rest Harvey!" One of the barber's customers cries out and the yazirian barber smirks while opening a closet and says, "Heh, I have this." In side the closet is a strange archaic uniform and a muzzle loading musket. "I'm a member of the Society of Creative Anachronism and I re-enact a fighter from the Yazirian Clan Wars," explains the barber. Taking the musket with two hands like it was a precious vase he further explains, "She's rifled, not smooth bore so she will shoot fairly straight though a little high and to the right. The cartridge belt has twenty lead shot pre-rolled with powder and the paper wadding. It's an exact reproduction so take care of it."
  Raid manages to get close enough to swing his sonic knife at the monster, but he misses the hydra as it enters the cloud of doze gas, preventing Raid's continued direct pursuit.
Kane observes the hydra slither through the doze gas from the grenade attacks without any effect whatsoever. Seeing the doze gas prove ineffective he runs north up the street to close the distance with hydra as he draws a tangler grenade to test it's effect on the creature. On the other side of the street Alyson parallel's Kane, keeping up with the retreating hydra.
Once the Gleep steps away from the car, Con takes off. Con wrenches the wheel around forcing the hovercar back up The Hub in the reverse direction and passing the hydra as close as possible to draw the creatures attention away from innocent bystanders. Seeing the alleyway into the central square, Con decides to block the passageway with his vehicle to prevent the hydra from turning in that direction. As Con drives up on the Hydra to pass him, the hydra concentrates all it's fire on the human driver. A pair of darts strike Con's shoulders (8 points) as he guides the hovercar into the roadblock position, now almost directly below the hovering news jetcopter.
On the holoprojector in the space port bar, the camera view zooms back to show the various members of the BG pursuing the hydra up the street as Con zooms past the creature and zipping into the alleyway as he comes under fire from a shower of darts. "Oooh's" and "Aaaah's" Now come from the bar crowd as the hydra closes in on the hovering camera.
  "Will it looks like our 'heroes' haven't given up just yet." Charletta resumes the news commentary.
"That's right Charletta." Derren Itch adds enthusiastically. "I'll bet they got plenty more tricks up their sleeve." Itch continues. "These guys, gals and ids look like they've done this kind of thing before!" The newsman speculates for his rapidly growing audience. The camera zooms in again on Gleep as he takes careful aim with the last round in his pistol. The camera is so close that the audience can read his pseudolips as he mouths human curses when his final shell misses the hydra.
Frontier Date 53.190 16:00:48
  Crouched down in the front of the hovercar, Con has an idea. As the hydra draws level with hovercar he will reverse at top speed and try to pin the hydra between the vehicle at the wall of the opposite building. He quickly flicks open his chronocom and explains his idea to the rest of the team.
  "Keep driving the hydra north." Con finishes
  Raid nods to himself as he moves around the dispersing cloud of dose gas and continues north up the Hub, now close behind the hydra. Slightly behind and to his left, Alyson crosses Pan Gal way as she too shadows the hydra's route.
  At the first thought of getting a weapon Doog was ready to pump all four fist in the air but now he just wanted to scratch his head with all four pods. He had asked for a weapon and this was a weapon. Making his best imitation of an archaic yazirian clan salute, Doog takes the rifle and cartridge belt. While buckling the cartridge belt he keys his chronocom to team speak and announces, "This is Doog I just got a firearm, over." The barber takes a cartridge from the belt's pouch and walks Doog threw the loading procedure and pats him on the back,
  "Go get him killer." Doog does a double take as he's going out the door,
  "What's with yazirians calling me killer?" he whispers. The smoke from his grenade hides most of the giant slug from his view but not all so taking careful aim with the unfamiliar weapon Doog squeezes the trigger. Briefly he's stunned by the loud report and kick of the weapon. He knew they were loud but experiencing it first hand was another matter.

  Coming around the southern corner, Borovski is in time to see Doog step out of the barber's armed with an anachronism.
  "What the?" Borovski exclaims in unison with millions of viewers across the planet as the Pan-Gal Holo-News camera catches the sight of Doog stepping into the street with an ancient musket.
  "What did I tell you?" Derren Itch's voice underscores the moment on the news broadcast. "I told you these guys had more tricks up their sleeve."
Outside the Stellar Tower Hotel, Siu-Ling glides her hovercycle to a halt and calls out to the valet not to park it as she races inside for the lift, Crisbel holding the doors for her.
O'Malley and Kane both join the pursuit, racing north along The Hub, closing the distance with the hydra as it approaches the alleyway where Con waits, his hovercar now in reverse gear. While Gleep stands in the street reloading his gyrojet pistol.
The camera from the jetcopter now has a perfect aerial view as Con slams his foot on the accelerator, reversing the hovercar out of the alley and into the hydra. The sheer size of the creature and the proximity of the hovercar make it impossible for the hovercar to achieve enough momentum to budge the hydra. Instead as the hydra continues moving north, the hovercar skims past the side of the creature. Con struggling to brake before driving the vehicle across the road and into the Port Loren headquarters of Pan Galactic Corp.
The starport bar audience roars with laughter at Con's improvised assault with the rental car. Even Derren Itch has a few jibes for the team members as the audience waits for the BHG's next move.
  When the hydra rears up and sprays a burst of darts at the hovering jetcopter it manages to catch everyone by surprise. Across the planet, viewers dive for cover as the three dimensional projectiles hurtle towards their screens. The jetcopter pilot jerks at his control joystick as he flinches and a cry of pain into the holocamera microphone confirms that Charletta Komitz has not escaped this story totally unscathed herself.
Frontier Date 53.190 16:00:54
  Con shakes his head in disgust at the result of his 'plan'. Looking around he tries to asses the situation. Overhead the jetcopter pilot has decided to get some altitude after the fright from the hydra's last volley. Con shakes his head, annoyed at the irresponsible actions of the media, using a jetcopter at such low altitude in a built up area. He considers trying to ram the hydra again with his hovercar but he still doesn't have the room to get enough momentum.
  Looking to his right, Con sees the human team members are keeping pace with the hydra but Borovski and Doog at the far end of the street are struggling to reach the action. He puts the hovercar back into drive and accelerates down towards the dralasites. "Try and slow it down with tanglers at the intersection." Con calls out to the nearest troops. "I'll swing around in front of it with another team."
  "Look at that!" Someone in the spaceport bar yells. "He's running away!" Boos and hisses are aimed at the holoprojector from the crowd of onlookers.
  Inside the lift of the Stellar Tower Hotel, Siu-Ling and Crisbel are surprised as Gloo suddenly squeezes into the lift with them.
  "Looks like we all had the same idea." He comments as flicks on his chronocom.
  "This is Gloo at the hotel. Give me your room access codes so we can retrieve your weapons." The dral quartermaster orders the team. As the replies come in, Gloo assigns Siu-Ling and Crisbel several rooms to visit as they divide up the list.
  Down in the street, O'Malley switches to semi-automatic fire and shoots three times at the hydra as he walks parallel to the creature on the other side of the road. His second bullet scores a scratch in the creatures torso (2 points). On the other side of the street and behind the hydra, Gleep executes the same manoeuvre with even more success, hitting the hydra twice (9 & 7 points).
  Seeing Con approach with the hovercar, Borovski reaches Doog's side as he steps to the kerbside. "You'll never hit it from here with that thing." Borovski says of Doog's musket. "Let's get a little closer." He sticks out an appendage and produces an oversized thumb as he calls out to Con. "Taxi!"
  Reaching the alleyway of Con's failed hit and run attempt, Raid decides to try his tangler grenade. He lobs the missile directly into the path of the hydra and the silvery, multiple headed worm, slides directly into the sticky threads. A second tangler grenade bounces off the wall next to the hydra, exploding and throwing sticky threads across the middle of the intersection as Alyson adds to the weapons test. Behind Raid, Kane also lobs a tangler grenade, his missile flying too long and exploding further into the intersection.
  As the hydra slides it's way through the tangler threads as though they don't even exist, the dart throwing appendages turn to fire a volley at it's tormentors. Darts fly out in all directions and on opposite sides of the street O'Malley and Gleep are both hit with darts (8 & 3 points, half to suits). Standing next to O'Malley, Alyson is hit twice (10 & 6 points) though Raid and Kane escape unscathed this time.
  Frontier Date 53.190 16:01:00
  Alyson winces in pain as she plucks the darts from her side and watches the hydra slide through the tangler threads and around the corner into the northern stretch of The Hub. Her grenades were useless and her laser only helped the hydra. All she had left was a nightstick. "And I can run faster that it can." She spoke to herself aloud. And so run she did. Across the street and down the alley Con had so recently departed. "If I can get ahead of it and cut in front opposite the hospital." She wondered aloud.
  Con pulled the hovercar into the kerb just past the pair of dralasites. "Come on, get in!" he calls out to the pair as Borovski and Doog tumble in to the back seat of the rental. "I'll swing around The Hub and see if we can head it off up near the hospital." Looking again in the rear view mirror Con asks Doog, "What the hell is that?" But the dral just shrugs.
  "A firearm?"
  "You wish!" Borovski taunts his fellow dral.
  Drawing his laser pistol again, Kane runs up to the intersection, careful to avoid the tangler threads he looks around the corner to see the hydra heading east along the Northern Hub. He flicks on his chronocom and reports the position to his team mates as Raid pushes past, still under his holoscreen and sonic knife in hand. O'Malley slips through the tangler threads and reaches the corner where he stops to take aim with his autopistol while Gleep struggles to reach the corner and rejoin the fray.
  "Thanks for that." Siu-Ling acknowledges Kane's message from the elevator of the hotel, where an instrumental version of "The Dral from Ipanema" is playing softly in the background as She, Crisbel and Gloo ascend to their rooms. She launches into a verbal tirade.
"And let's face it, by now, any motherfucker that gets in our way, be it a hydra, a gwerrah, or a mushroom-crazed human, stranded on a subterranean island below the Burning Lands, is toast within a minute, so we might be coming back to the aftermath of this fleshfest." The sniper complains at missing out on all the action in the street. Crisbel laughs and goads the woman further.

  "You just wanna shake your skinny butt on the news holovid!" The yazirian laughs as they watch the Pal-Gal Holo-News feed on a screen in the elevator.
Frontier Date 53.190 16:01:06
  Crisbel, Siu-Ling and Gloo burst out of the elevator and scatter across the teams floor, seeking out side arms other than laser pistols. Gloo heads straight for his room where he grabs a pair of holsters from his cupboard and races back out to Crisbel at the end of the hallway. "Here's an electrostunner and a needler pistol. Get 'em to our people in the street. Siu-Ling and I will be down as soon as we can." Crisbel nods as he takes the pair of pistols and dashes into his room. Crossing the small apartment he heads straight for the door to the balcony, flings open the glass door, runs and dives off his balcony, extending his arms and letting his yazirian wing flaps unfold. Crisbel launches into a power dive, following directions form his team on the street, he heads north along the Eastern Hub as Con rounds the southern corner and heads east along the Southern Hub, Doog and Borovski enjoying the ride from the back seat.
  "Show off!" Siu-Ling mutters as she collects her own alternate armoury and yelling out for Gloo to hold the elevator for their return trip to the lobby and her waiting hovercycle.
  Kane had hoped to use his laser pistol to damage the terrain before and around the Hydra in order to drive the beast in the direction of the zoo. Unfortunately the creature just was not co-operating, instead turning into the north eastern corner of the CBD, apparently heading now toward the Central Hospital. Around Kane various members of the team have broken off contact to obtain alternative weapons or intercept the creature. Seeing Raid close in with his sonic knife, Kane draws his own combat knife and joins is team mate, hoping they can work in tandem with Con and the others to distract and delay the beast. Running up alongside the hydra, Kane slashes the side of the creature's torso with his blade (10 points).
  Raid keeps jabbing periodically at the creature's rear with his sonic knife and stunstick, herding it onward, but plans to fall back if this exposes him to friendly fire. He swings the sonic blade at the hydra from behind but the creature lurches forward just as Raid's blade arrives, hitting nothing but fresh air.
  Behind Raid, O'Malley pulls the trigger three more times on his autopistol, winging the hydra once more (5 points). Gleep continues to try keeping pace with the hydra, he reaches the corner and steps around O'Malley, bringing his gyrojet pistol up for another round of fire.
  "Doog! Great Maker bloody wept! What museum did you swipe that from? I hope you have a good piece of flint in the dog's head." Con shakes his head at the silly old weapon, and thinks to himself, "Nice, I would have done the same." Then Con curses himself for leaving his bow at home and being a law biding citizen and leaving his sonic sword at the hotel. "Guys, I want to cut through the shopping complex so we can get to the other side."
  "We may run into a few bargain hunters if we try that." Borovski observes. "Let's stick to the road, it won't take much longer and the rest of the team might slow down."
  Con concedes Borovski's point, not wanting to disrupt the local citizenry more than is absolutely necessary. "Doog, Boro, not sure how you are armed, but can you set up on a building on the far side of the hub so we can set up a cross fire situation?" Con says as he looks at them both via the rear view mirror. "At any rate, I need you both out of the car when we get there. I intend to set this thing so into our slimy friend, and I am not referring to our corporate lawyers either."
  Doog realizes that Borovski actually has a human style smirk stretched across his face, "Cheeky Bastard! It was this or the folding straight razor; anyhow beggars can't be choosers." Doog opts to stand up in the hover car to reload the musket, it would be impossible otherwise with the ram rod. Feeling oddly detached from himself part of Doog's mind wanders back to the class on Yazirian Pre-space Literature and a poem he'd memorized popped into his head. Bracing himself with two sets of arms and feet and feeling the wind in his face he tears a cartridge open. Cupping a hand into a funnel on the mussel he pours in the gunpowder and begins reciting poetry, softly at first,
"Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Flew the six hundred.
'Forward, the Clan Renegade!
Charge for the guns!' he said:
Into the valley of Death
Flew the six hundred."

  Alyson races through the central shopping mall, her heart beating fast as she pushes herself hard to get ahead of the urban terror, thinking about where she can acquire a more effective weapon.
  "Well that looks like it got his attention Charletta!" Derren Itch's voice continues the commentary on the Pal-Galactic Holonews broadcast.
  "It sure did Derren!" Charletta adds as the hydra swivels around below and in front of her jetcopter. Obviously annoyed by the continued attention of it's pursuers, the hydra unleashes another volley of darts, hitting O'Malley and Gleep (7 & 5 points, half to suits) with one dart each and another pair of darts also hit Kane (13 points).
Frontier Date 53.190 16:01:12
  Mack O'Malley fires three more rounds after the retreating hydra, hitting his target twice (9 points). Beside him Gleep also fires three shells at the hydra, hitting it once (13 points). "Is that all you got beast?" Gleep exclaims as the melee rages on.
  On the other side of The Hub, Con accelerates along the southern straight and swings the hovercar around the south east corner, pushing the passenger vehicle north to the corner of Frontier Drive. "It looks like I am going to have to go at that thing with just my knife!" Explains Con as he turns around the far perimeter of the central shopping complex. "Then, I want to get my hands on those spud heads in that jet copter. They just get in the way of the team doing its thing, and they nearly got killed for it! Stupid buggers!" That is Con's plan for now, as he intends making it a point to catch up with the media weasels later and rip them a new one!
  The shops of the Hub are a blur as Doog squeezes the lead bullet out of its paper wrapping and stuffs it into the muzzle but all the while his voice rose a little higher,
"Forward, the Clan Renegade!'
Was there a yazirian dismay'd ?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to rage and die:
Into the valley of Death
Flew the six hundred." Doog stuffed the paper wadding into the mussel and hung on as Con swerved the hovercraft around the Hub headed north opposite the Stellar Hotel. Despite being braced Doog was violently thrown sideways. Despite the bob and weave of the car he kept up his recitation,

  "Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Raged at with shot and shell,
Boldly they flew into well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Flew the six hundred." One handing the ram rod, Doog slammed the shot home and braced for the next turn to the west,

  "Bring some fragmentation grenades," Raid yells via chronocom. "We can set them for a timed blast a short distance ahead and just let this slug move right into it. Once it's weakened we can bring it down with doze gas." He slashes out with his sonic knife, missing again. Kane also slashes with a knife but the hydra manages to sway it's trunk out of the way as it slithers and surges and slides. Another volley of darts is hurled from the hydra's many heads, this time O'Malley and Gleep are the dart boards (6 & 8 points, half to suits).
Frontier Date 53.190 16:01:18
  Another three shells fly from Gleep's gyrojet pistol and the hydra is struck once more (9 points), the constant harassing fire slowly beginning to wear down the monster. Raid adds to hydra's discomfort, finally landing a blow with his sonic knife (13 points), while this time it is Kane who slashes and misses.
  The hydra responds with another hail of muscle propelled darts, Kane wounded again by a single dart (10 points), the warrior staggering as he too begins to feel the effects of multiple wounds. O'Malley also staggers under the impact of the hydra's attack, three darts embedding themselves in the trooper's body, from thigh to waist to chest (16 points, half to suit).
  "Raid! Careful with those frag grenades. There might be civilians in the area." Con responds as he swerves around the shopping complex. Con races his hovercar north along The Hub, slamming on the brakes as he approaches the north east corner and urging his dralasite passengers to exit the vehicle with all possible haste. Borovski tumbles out of the hover car while Doog continues his poetic recitation.
  "Flash'd all their Blades bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Clan and Yazirian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they flew back, but not
Not the six hundred." The Slug hove into view as Doog half cocked the musket and put a firing cap on the nipple. His voice had risen louder by this point and he was full on reciting the classic poem with gusto now,

  Alyson reaches the alley way and enters the Agricultural Equipment store looking for something that will do more damage then the night stick. "Do you have anything in this shop that could hurt that thing," She points to the hydra on the holonews cast, "And not kill everyone else in town?"
  "Lady all we got is Flame Throwers and Acid Sprayers." The sales clerk answers, barely peeling his eyes away from the news hologram. "Fifteen hundred for the flamer or thirteen hundred for the acid sprayer." The clerk says before Alyson even asks. The heroine just shakes her head as she races back out the door.
  Mack O'Malley takes careful aim and fires the last round in his magazine into the top of the hydra's main 'head' (10 points), the reaches for his last magazine.
Frontier Date 53.190 16:01:24
  As O'Malley ejects the empty clip from his autopistol he flicks on his chronocom. "I'm down to my last clip. We got backup on the way yet?" He asks anyone who is listening.
  "Heads up! OMAC, I am incoming!" Con announces as he pulls away from the kerb at the other end of the straight, rapidly approaching the hydra from the opposite direction. As Con passes the alleyway, he sees Alyson emerge from the alley in front of him, charging at the hydra armed with nothing but a nightstick!
  "Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While winged hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred." Doog flexed his knees, using them to maintain a level firing platform for the musket. against bumps from Con's driving. He fully cocked the weapon and levelled the barrel. He was having a vrusk meditative moment. The surrounding shops and building were not even a blur as his focus was on only the, rifle and the looming slug. He held his fire till the best possible moment at the closest approach to the slug still reciting,

  "When can their glory fade ?
O the wild flight they made!
All the world wonder'd.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour Clan Renegade,
Noble six hundred!" As he spoke the last line the moment had come, Doog squeezed the trigger. The shoulder stock slammed him hard, with two arms braced against the car his body had no recoil and he was bruised by the rifle. The cloud of smoke drifted back and someone coughed but Doog was already reloading.
  Alyson winced at the sound of the ancient weapon firing behind her. Con instinctively ducked, while at the other end of the street, Raid and Kane are so distracted by the strange apparition at the end of the street, they both miss their knife attacks as the hydra whirls around and fires a volley of darts up the east end of the street.
  Alyson is struck by a pair of darts (9 points) and behind her, Doog is also wounded by another dart (4 points). Although Borovski and Con are also targeted, they manage to avoid injury. Borovski decides to try the agricultural equipment shop for himself. Ducking into the shop through the front door, he walks up to the counter and asks to see their range of machete's. The sales clerk opens up the counter display and removes a selection of blades for the dralasite to examine.
  "I think I like this one!" The dralasite says as he picks up one of the machetes and heads for the back door. "I just wanna test it out first, I'll be right back!"
  Behind the hydra, Gleep fires another fusillade of gyrojet shells, hitting the hydra again (11 points).
  Back at the hotel, Siu-Ling arrives back in the lobby and races for the front door and her hovercycle beyond, cursing her bad luck as she continues to watch the drama unfold on holoprojectors in the elevator and the hotel lobby.
Frontier Date 53.190 16:01:30
  As Doog stands in the street reloading his ancient, muzzle loading, rifled musket the world around him seems to slow as he sees the Black Hand Gang converge on their target like a swarm of avenging star angels. The most modern weapons of the Frontier were useless against this threat so the BHG adapt and evolve, or in this case, devolve, as they revert to the most basic of warfare tactics, close with the enemy and kill them in hand to hand combat.
  Raid charges down the street behind the hydra, slashing again, sonic blade connecting with hydra flesh and hurting the hydra again (17 points). Now Alyson engages the hydra from directly in front, landing a telling blow with her nightstick (20 points).
  Gleep takes careful aim with his last shell, fires and misses! Cursing he pulls out his last gyrojet pistol clip. "I'm down to my last clip now as well." He reports to his team mates.
  At the Stellar Tower Hotel, Siu-Ling races out the door and leaps onto her hovercycle, gunning the engine to life she waits just long enough for Gloo to clamber aboard before she takes off again down Stellar Avenue, hoping the battle isn't over before she gets there.
  As Borovski wobbles out onto the street wielding his newly acquired machete, Con brings his hovercar to a halt beside Alyson and leaps out onto the street, knife in hand. Kane joins the fight alongside Con and O'Malley runs up to plug the gap between Kane and Raid, his autopistol now reloaded with his last clip. The hydra is now almost completely encircled by members of the Black Hand Gang, as Crisbel glides down and settles on the pavement at the corner of the Agricultural Equipment shop.
  The hydra heads rear up and another volley of darts is unleashed at the creatures tormentors. Kane, Con and Alyson are all hit by darts (8, 6 & 6 points), Kane and Alyson now reeling from their mounting injuries but both still fighting on bravely.
Frontier Date 53.190 16:01:36
  As Gleep reloads his weapon he advances down the footpath as the final moments of the violent street brawl play out on front of him. O'Malley pumps three bullets into the wall as the hydra slithers about, seemingly sliding away from his bullets at the last nanosecond. Then Con darts forward, vibroknife in hand, a souvenir of the Alcazzar trip. He stabs at the hydra when he ducks away from O'Malley's bullets, Con cutting deep into the creatures flank (16 points).
  Doog raises his musket, then decides to close the distance before attempting to fire over the heads of his friends, no one having the vaguest of ideas where his first musket ball went! As Borovski rushes up behind Alyson as fast as his little legs can carry him, the woman manages to land another blow with her nightstick (16 points), despite her own wounds. Kane follows up with another successful flick of the wrist, (13 points) drawing more hydra blood but Raid fails to add to his own tally this time.
  The hydra unleashes another volley of darts, firing at anyone in range. This time Borovski and Raid are the recipients of dart induced pain (5 points each).
Frontier Date 53.190 16:01:42
  Doog swings the musket up to bear at the looming hydra, he pulls the trigger and hopes for the best. The weapon seems to explode in his hands, the noise and the smoke overwhelming his senses. There is a dull thwack and an appreciative laugh from someone.
  "He hit it!"
  "Did you see that?"
  Doog's musket ball is later retrieved by the city morgue, confirming that the hydra was indeed shot by Doog with a musket (6 points) during this, one of the BHG's more unusual encounters.
  Throwing her hovercycle along the streets as fast as she can manage, Siu-Ling's ears prick up at the sound of what appeared to be a musket shot? "What in the 'verse was that?" She wonders as she wrestles the bike around into Frontier Drive.
  Kane stabs again with his knife (10 points) and now the hydra is visibly suffering from their accumulated attacks. Raid also lands a knife blow (14 points) and now the hydra is beginning to look very weak indeed.
  Gleep opens fire with his gyrojet pistol, of the three shells, one hits home (11 points) and the Borovski wades into the fray. Pushing past Alyson he flails away with his machete, the first blow landing and carving a vicious wound out of the creatures hide (19 points). When Con plunges his vibroknife into the creature again (11 points) the battle is all but over. As Alyson staggers back away from the frontline it is O'Malley who finishes the creature off with a pair of bullets at the base of the largest eye stalk (18 points).
  Seconds later, Crisbel arrives with extra weapons and Siu-Ling pulls up with Gloo in tow, the pair of them cursing their misfortune at missing the end of the engagement.
  "Damn!" Siu-Ling mutters, "We missed the end of the party."
  Eyeing the news jetcopter, still hovering overhead Con answers, "Maybe not, I wouldn't mind popping off a few rounds at those idiots." He grumbles as the team gather around the body of their latest foe.

2 Experience Points

4 Experience Points

6 Experience Points

 Hydra Escapades - 3 Bonus Points

Bonus Point - Leadership Poll



Con, Borovski, Gleep, Alyson, Doog, OMAC, Kane

Siu-Ling, Raid, Doog, Alyson, Con, Kane, Gleep, Borovski, OMAC

Con, Boro, Gleep, Raid, Alyson, Doog, Kane

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