Storms on Trajaras

Chapter One

…arrive successfully, and commandeer 3 ground cars to lead up to the mine. Arrive at the office. The supervisor’s assistant, Olivia, summons him. He is only mildly put out, and shows Mavern the last 10 years’ output records. They produce significantly more than successfully arrives for processing – about 25% of shipments are going missing? The fact that the mine’s records show this suggests that they are not the primary dishonest operators. On questioning the supervisor, he reveals that he did not request improved mining spares. They just started appearing ~5 years ago. These machines looked larger, so he reduced the maintenance periods. Mavern then reviews the spares records; they are all properly House Manndrach authorised, by Sevastini at Ilemun. So where are the dodgy spares being supplied or substituted? Olivia also shows us her recent research on the burial chambers; they appear to be ~320 million years old, and exactly cubic to the nearest millimetre! Almost all contain a glass statuette, which they sell to the shipping manager and use the money for bonuses.

Head back down the track, then off to the port; a small town, 5-6 ships moored at the quay. Park and persuade the guards to let us in. Mavern examines the records, and soon notices that they match the arrivals and NOT what left the mine! Leander questions them; he is aware of the incongruity. The Dawn Rose pirates have 25%, he has 50% and Callisius the shipper has 25% (remember our combat accountants?). Callisius supplies the spare parts. Leander accuses him of assassinating the previous governor when he discovered the truth. He is genuinely surprised at this! As Taran goes for his gun, one of the 6 guards shoots him! We go for our shields, as Rona smacks one in the throat. Nicholas gets hit, as Saskia dashes at the guard at the back, and punches him out. Mavern dives for cover, and Warren kills one with a single shot from his lasgun! Unfortunately the 3 remaining guards shoot at him, hitting twice but inflicting no damage. The 6th guard swings at Rona, but misses. Leander lunges at the manager, wounding him. The poisons start to take effect…

Leander takes the manager down. Rona kills her guard with a driving kick and Saskia charges another , taking him out. Leander impales another right through the heart. The one remaining guard explains that we have ~15 seconds before the place explodes! Then he and the techies dive out of the window! Nicholas grabs the manager as Saskia, Rona and Mavern go for the fire escape. Nicholas goes for the lift and the rest go for the windows. Leander sees Nicholas leave the lift then collapse, so runs back and picks him up, aided by Rona. He is in a bad way, but they cannot help him without an antidote. As they reach cover, the top of the tower explodes. Warren searches the manager’s body and finds one anti-toxin capsule. He dashes over to Nicholas with it, and it seems to work.

Soon, the emergency services arrive and start to deal with the chaos. Leander notices a man in a boat observing the proceedings. Warren summons him and Rona questions him: he is Adolphus (tastes similar to Max Lund, the architect of the palace). He has travelled this world (not his own) for many years. He has no direct interest I this incident.

There is enough evidence remaining to back up Sevastini’s confession. He was receiving normal replacement parts and selling them on. He also received the improved parts from someone offworld, and supplied them to the mine. Callisius and the Dawn Rose are heavily implicated. Return to the landing pad. Taran checks over the Dragonflies; some are also sabotaged.

Return to the capital, just as the next Heighliner arrives. It carries a message; Ryan Manndrach was murdered 9 days ago!

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Chapter One

Wait for the replacement security and medics to arrive, then head off to Porthaven to seek aid for Aurora. The trip passes uneventfully. All get healed and checked over during the voyage, except the 3 poisoned or burned – Thordis, Aurora and Saskia. Meanwhile, Mavern checks up on Sisyphus and the accountants. They are doing well, and have shifted several billion credits already. He then researches Caesar’s Drift: it’s the other side of the planet. Next evening, Thordis comes around. She is not pleased when Leander tells her what happened.

Fly by ornithopter to the Twilight Archipelago. As we land, we can see the Sinistratus Tower – the governor’s palace. Meet Sir Lucius Manndrach-Cole. Rona has a nap – she recognises the Porthaven lagoon. The city is in flames. Aircraft fly overhead. Towards her, a man made of fire approaches. An explosion shakes the palace. Mazaranus has woken up!

Mavern checks the records again. Most of the piracy seems to be down to a group called the Dawn Rose. The local governor has asked for an increased military presence, but it has been refused on pure economics.

During the Hour of Assassins that evening, Leander spots a hunter-seeker heading towards him. He puts on his shield, and waits. It lunges at him, but he dodges, twice. He attacks, as the others arrive, and it shatters. The others spread out to find its controller. Mavern (Taran?) arrives at the correct room, just as he leaves via the window! No sign of a splat, so he must have had a suspensor field. Mavern (Taran?) then analyses the hunter-seeker: it is a standard Harkonnen-made device, containing a type 1 poison. Rush down to meet the governor in the penthouse. He is ancient. His son, Julius, assists him.

He shows us a shigawire reel of the figures from Caesar’s Drift. They are identical to those we have seen before. Mavern realises the flaw in the standard procedure: no-one ever back checks, just adds up how many shipments arrive at the processing plant, not the number and quantity of ships sent! Julius honestly believes the truth of the figures, but his father suspects something more.

Fly out the next morning to Caesar’s Drift…

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Chapter One

Thordis steps forward, followed by the others, as they lunge in. Strangely, none close with Thordis! Rona kicks one, hard, and he is out cold. Aurora and Thordis turn on their shields. Thordis chops the arm off of one – Rona finishes him off. She then dodges the incoming bullets, as do Nicholas and Thordis, but Saskia gets hit. Taran fires back, hitting one. Thordis, lacking an opponent, charges into the next row and cuts the first one down. Leander follows suit, and spears one neatly. The others rush the second line, but one of the pirates grabs Saskia. Rona kicks him after Leander takes out her opponent, then Saskia downs him. Unfortunately she is already poisoned. With only 3 of the 12 left, one turns tail and runs. Leander charges in to the last man standing, taking him down. Thordis hares after the man, but he is gone. Taran finds the stunners and uses the poison snooper – Saskia has only been stunned, and quickly collapses. Leave her in a safe room and worry – where are the security? Then Thordis goes down – she was also hit. Decide that we should try to make it to the security HQ, after Mavern noticing that there is a second ship in dock!

Taran attaches his suspensor belt to Thordis. Mavern and Rona carry Saskia, and start to progress to the lofts. After an hour, finally make it to the top of the house. The security room is still manned, but unfortunately by disguised pirates – only realise when Aurora doesn’t recognise them. The leader, Kam (?), draws a lasgun. Nicholas fires, but it only hits his armour, so Leander charges in, skewering him. He fires back, missing Leander but hitting Aurora. Rona charges in, kicking him roundly, and he goes down as Aurora wheels back, landing on Thordis. Mavern tries to help her, and manages to stabilise her, as the thugs charge in. Leander dodges 2, but Rona takes a hit. Nicholas kills his 2 and moves on to Rona’s. He takes one down, as she thumps the other. Leander’s drops and rolls, bouncing off down the stairs. Mavern fails to shoot him, twice; so Leander chases him, dashing him off the bottom stairs.

Quickly find the security bodies, as Taran starts checking the system; there is one more group of pirates wandering around, plus more on their ship. Discuss what to do, and watch what is happening. The bands meet up on the dock – there are bodies moving on the decks of both ships, but action seems to be concentrating on the pirate vessel. It sets sail, then starts to leave harbour. Taran lets it get to 2 miles, then fires the missiles. It is destroyed. Taran then goes to turn off the House Shields – Rona is paranoid about the lasgun dream. As he depowers it, and arc of light zaps out from ‘our’ ship, and destroys a large portion of level (?). Nicholas and Rona creep down to check it out. A lasgun was mounted on the dock, and operated by a timer. It has run out of charge. Dismantle it, then check out the ship. The crew are locked in a cabin! Release them, then check the building – also find the servants. All are accounted for, except for the one ‘insider’ who poisoned the security staff.

Check out the shigawire reel: it shows a quartz mine. A sheet of quartz is being removed to reveal a cave entrance. Entering, there is a cubic room, with ~12 glass statuettes around a pit. The room is stripped, then the mining machine moves in.

The second portion is lots of close-ups of a mining machine. The third section is lots of production graphs for a mining camp known as Caesar’s Drift.

Taran has noticed that the mining machines are non-standard, especially around the articulation. Also, the mining information shows that Caesar’s Drift has much less repair and downtime than any other mines, but still produces an average amount of jasmium quartz.

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Chapter One

We are running before a storm: it is choppy. Leander is summoned by Aurora. She asks him to help her to remain governor regardless of what they find at the caves. When he agrees, she shows him a message from House O’Garee: they will bring the new M3 mining machine on the next heighliner (in 5 days). The second piece of paper is a picture of her late father’s concubine, whose daughter (who is allegedly still alive) would have a prior claim to the governorship.

Suddenly the ship lurches horribly and doesn’t right properly. It appears that one of the masts has broken. They head up to the bridge, where the captain explains that they need to cut free the booms, but he can’t spare anyone. Leander, Thordis, Warren and Nicholas head out. They succeed, and the ship catapults back into position. But why did it happen? Was it sabotaged? Anyway, we have no choice but to continue.

Wake to a calm, sunny morning as we arrive at Calypso: >12 islands – tall columns. A building juts from the side of one. Moor the ship and walk off to the jetty. Get taken to our rooms to rest, before continuing. Rona takes the opportunity for some prescience; she sees a lasgun pointing at a house shield – it fires! She wakes up.

Don our suits and head down. There is a servant waiting for us. Saskia goes over – he looks way too calm. His name is Maxnun (?), the House engineer. He has grandiose plans.

Aurora arrives and we head through a disguised doorway and down a narrow, dark corridor, through a tunnel and into a chamber lit by phosphorescent green gloop. Then through a crack in the rock and along a precipice, then over a very narrow bridge. Creep across some pools and into a chamber lit by a blue/green light. Aurora removes a box from a wall ledge. Inside is a reel of shigawire, and a statue of a robed figure in volcanic glass. Aurora recognises it as old Trajaran funeral art – but why? Saskia looks into the pool – the water seems to condense and thicken, similar to her prescient vision. As Aurora wanders over it settles again. Taran realises that the cavern is man-made, but well done.

Saskia hangs back to look into the pool again – she almost loses her balance! She recovers, and makes her way out – just as Mavern loses his balance. This disturbs the baby dragon, which leaps from a pool at Mavern, narrowly missing him with a claw. As the others manoeuvre, it lashes out at Nicholas, but slides off his shield. He slices it in return. Suddenly, Aurora sprints towards the exit, closely followed by Thordis. The others follow, as the dragon turns on Warren and another one arrives, going for Leander and cutting him. The others make it to the exit as Nicholas takes a slice, but hits back. Warren takes a massive hit, but one goes down, so he runs out. Nicholas finishes the other one, then leaves, before anyone else arrives. Leander heals Warren before continuing. Thordis stops Mavern to remind him not to do it again. All scramble back up, but it takes Mavern an awfully long time and he takes some acid burns. Open the door onto 12 heavily armed men. They lunge for Aurora…

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Chapter One

Escorted to the Governor’s box. We are early – hang around until Lady Aurora arrives with Thordis and Turina Principio! The programme starts with executions – Saskia almost volunteers Leander to take part! Turina is trying to ? something, but seems to expect us not to take her up on it.

The executions start – first one quickly, second one executes Callisius, a Trajaran port controller. The bodyguard (Turina’s), Hector, dies in this combat, killed by two women. Turina is most unhappy and leaves quickly. Aurora offers the two winning gladiators to Leander, who accepts. Thordis fights 3 pirates in the third execution. Her only weapons are Trajaran dragon claws – she is incredibly quick, and slowly cut them to pieces.

The animal fights follow – but they only catch the tigers and bears. This is followed by dragon fighting; then lunch. The afternoon consists of gladiatorial fights. Halfway through, there is a commotion – a Manndrach bondsman wants to see Aurora – Namar, sent by her brother! Aurora’s security let her know while Rona and Saskia talk to him. His story seems to check out, so they escort him to her. As she greets him he goes into a trance and repeats a message – from ?. He knows what is wrong in the mines – the answer is in the old grotto – it will buy you all you require. “Look after Leander; do not judge him on what I wished you both to be. Annis mosere seeamon” (Blessing of the sea goddess – Says Aurora, but she’s lying!). Aurora considers this, then orders her ship made ready – the Old Grotto is in Calypso.

Leander meets his 2 gladiators: Jasmine (27) and Paramina (25) – they and a third woman defrauded a merchant – the third woman was later knifed, and they were arrested. They would not explain what happened. They are not impressed. They had not expected to live. Leander explains the position. They will not tell us what happened, so Saskia commands her. Mazaranus, she replies (The Trajaran fire god!). Jasmine also informs us that everyone on Trajaras has at least 2 sets of accounts and the real set, the ones they show to House Manndrach. Extra sets include those for the Guild and those in case Manndrach catch them.

Each shipment of metaglass has a code number – however, the Manndrach accounting system cannot cope with the 8-digit numbers and they get lost in the system. Everyone on Trajaras is skimming somewhere along the line. Jasmine believes that she cannot only balance the books with what CHOAM expects, but also increase profitability by ~25% over 5 years. In the meantime Leander will move them to better accommodation, and arrange weapons training.

Nick finds their file – they got jobs in Callisius’ accounts department. The 3rd woman got them access to his real accounts, and they started to skim money. The woman was found dead in a flat rented by Jasmine – they have no alibis and were seen in the vicinity at the time. The only prints on the knife were Jasmine’s. The merchant then found their embezzling.

Rona researches Mazaranus, the ancient religion – worship keeps him dormant (keep a small fire burning, bonfire, etc.). No leaders, priests etc.

Next morning, board the Conquistador after breakfast. Captain Bomia, when he sees Aurora, mutters “Annis mosere seeamon”. She nods.

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Chapter One

The Captains’ Ball is in the very impressive Dancing Chamber, entirely of metaglass. Head in, fashionably late. Lady Aurora is already there, with Thordis, receiving gifts! Start to mingle – Leander meets Luce, the Guild spokesman – who has heard the rumours that Leander will marry the Lady Aurora! Watching this exchange are Goran Atreides, Head of Shipyards and Captain Selsia Shaw, of the Tranquility. Nicholas meets Kostus, head of the arenas. There will be a big gladiatorial event tomorrow. Kostus asks if he would like to book an execution. He and Warren refuse. Saskia tries the BG way on a young man: Captain Darius Keel; he’s cold! – cyber-arm and hearing – they dance well together. Captain Mario Puicalare – a Trajaran local (large, brawny) is present. Warren dances with Tunna (young, pretty, long white hair), but she doesn’t reveal why she is here. Leander dances with Lady Aurora – Thordis looks daggers (she is very protective). Aurora is wearing a strange, chunky antique necklace. She is very happy to be governor – she gets to stay. Mavern spots Renata Evangelos – very regal, skimpily dressed. She says that this planet is unstable, the core is heating. She implies that this is due to whatever caused the planetary change, which is now under the oceans. She has discovered that all the Old Trajarans may not be dead. Huh?

There are audible sighs when Thordis is grabbed by a small tubby man. She brushes him off – Captain Aliantus Masta – with smiles. He goes for a beer – Rona follows. He is a merchant captain, and blusters well. He swears that pirates are as much of a myth as the dragons. Rona asks if she could view his ship; he is at her disposal.

Saskia fails to approach Thordis, who is far too disdainful. Instead, she reminds Mavern that Leander needs to dance with Tunna. Nicholas finds out that Thordis is a convicted criminal (murder? She became a bodyguard after gladiator. In her first fight she killed Ryan Manndrach’s gladiator).

Mavern calls a leave to the ball early, as he has some correlations. He mentions about the planet’s ‘self-destruct’, but not the time period. He reckons that the Old Trajarans live hidden and use gene manipulation to make dragons; keeping themselves going by smuggling. They may be responsible for the planetary warming, and even the death of Ryan. Either the O’Garee put them in after payment from the Old Trajarans, or because they always do, and the Old Trajarans found out. Leander recommends that Mavern prepare a report for Aurora.

However, Nicholas finds that Aurora would normally go back to Calypso with the rest of her family before the Ball. Why did she not this time? Also, how much has Ryan (The CHOAM liaison) apprised her of up until now? How does he feel about her in general?

Taran checks the contracts for the Mantis machines – they were bought 10 years ago, and are due to be upgraded at the end of the year. Time to look for other suppliers?

The security patrol reports back from the maintenance base – the Commander and all the staff are dead (poisoned), except for the specific mechanic supervisor, who has checked out a Dragonfly and disappeared.

Next morning, Saskia tries Prescience – moving shadows in a confined space, dripping water. An older woman stands, waiting, by a pool. Her reflection starts to rise – in water- out of the pool. The pool is still there, but the woman has gone.

Breakfast, then to the arena – by boat.

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Chapter One

Find out more details: all 3 of the Dragonflies in the formation reported engine failure at the same time. Bodies in the ‘water’ (a.k.a. acid) would not survive long.

Descend towards the planet – chemically blue. The heighliner is loading cargo coffers. Plummet towards the Governor’s Palace, and land roughly on the roof. Take the lift down to our assigned rooms.

Nicholas arranges an audience with Lady Aurora at twilight. Meanwhile, get the latest accident report – they have reached the scene and found wreckage, but no bodies. Who has motive? Need to find out.

Rona and Saskia separately try prescience: Rona gets nothing, but Saskia sees 3 plummeting blobs, one of which is caught by an ascending blob, and gently lowered. Nicholas and Mavern start to organise Leander‘s agenda – he is invited to the Captains’ Ball tomorrow night; Nicholas organises an ornithopter for a mine trip the day after, and fitting of environment suits.

Shown to the council chamber and await Lady Aurora – she arrives with Thordis, her female gladiator bodyguard. Lady Aurora is a professional courtier; seems unfazed by her new role, but does question why we’re here.

Mavern looks at the records. Trajaran religion is very popular here, so Orange Catholicism is very low. Also ‘Walkers of Twilight’ – pacifist/non threat, naturalists – rumours of gene engineering – non ageing clones. The main religion – the Fire Cult of Mazaranus worship a fire god and keep him pacified to stop the volcanoes.

Taran finds discrepancies all along the mining and shipping processes – stock seems to go missing at each stage. More worrying, the house engineers examining the recovered Dragonflies: each one of them showed the same fault on the drive shaft. Seems to be radio operated – about 50 miles radius – check all Dragonflies – they show the same. All Dragonflies supplied by House O’Garee (who also make the Mantis mining machines). Routine maintenance was by a Trajaran – so we despatched a patrol to secure that base and grounded all the remaining Dragonflies.

The incumbent Imperial Planetologist, Renata Evangelos, will also be at the Captains’ Ball – it might be worth talking to her about how the mining yields can be improved. Also there will be Turina Principio.

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Chapter One

Briefing from Duke Leto Atreides:

Investigate every aspect of House Manndrach supervision of jasmium quartz. Why are profits so low? DO NOT treat them as guilty of a crime. We don’t think they are cheating.

  • Trajaras – 380 day year, gravity = 1.05, 2 moons, 21¼ hour day. Atmosphere contains traces of sulphuric acid. Weather poor. Temperature sub-tropical. 6% land – over 3,000 atolls. Population: 25 million – 4% Atreides, 72% Trajarans, outworld workers, 14% others). 5 Urban centres. Largest is Porthaven (1 million – 50% Atreides, 50% Manndrach).
  • Chief export – metaglass, purified from jasmium quartz – mined by very large M3 machines with 5 crew. Currently 140 working mines, using 4 spaceports – transport by large sailing vessels (crew less than 20). Unfortunately, piracy is now a big problem – they smuggle metaglass out to the heighliners.

Meet up with Nicholas Warlock and Warren, our backup. They have been on Trajaras for 1 week already. We will get the chance to meet Ramon and Elizabeth Manndrach, who are flying in to oversee the local regatta.

However, the Manndrach dragonfly plane has crashed. 140 miles short; the whole family are missing, feared dead. Aid has been despatched. Are they dead? If so, who will inherit? If not, how can we help? Ryan’s sister, Aurora, is on the planet – she must be protected.

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Prologue

Morning of Day 5 – still desperately worried and confused. Mavern goes into a trance, to try to calculate how these assassinations are being perpetrated. He calculates that the murderer must be Sigmar or Julius Vidal. But think this is too obvious – are they being framed by Principio? But how?

Leander, Rona and Saskia go to the medical bay – Sisyphus is still okay. Leander orders to see the body bags and the they comply:
1. Linda Akemi
2. Reuben Ivilonette
3. Yvette
4. Florina
5-8. Adam, Susan, Caroline, Violet (servers)
9-10. Two House Wayku
Were Hassan and Leah’s bodies removed? Wayku say 2 bags were taken off – they checked the right people were in them (seem to be truthful)

If the Vidals are actually guilty, why would they do it? Wake Sisyphus, as Mavern can’t think – he realises that we might be caught in the crossfire of the Vidals trying to kill Eve Akemi – when she was a lawyer she did a lot to prosecute assassins. But who should we help? Vidal share our hatred of Moritani/Principio. But Eve is with the Evangelos, who we have no quarrel with. Decide not to interfere, and the best way out of this is to get attention in medical bay, so get our assassin to poison us (slightly). It works. We display symptoms and are admitted, therefore miss the last doses of mandross poisoning.

Later that day, the last body bag is brought in: Sigmar Vidal – died of heart failure (fits with Sisyphus’ vision: only 1 immune. Left alive!)

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Prologue

Just before dinner, gather at the training area for Leander’s duel. 4 other people, Julius Vidal, Luke Evangelos and 2 members of House Wayku. The 2 duellists pick up rapiers and Hassan begins with a kick, which misses. Leander lands a good slice, and Hassan misses again. Leander kicks him, but he swaps his sword to his left hand, and attacks, badly. Leander easily parries and neatly ripostes. Hassan gurgles, then falls over dead.

Rona scans the faces around. Luke is unreadable, Julius shows grudging respect and a small amount of regret. The Wayku are unconcerned; they step forward to remove the body.

Go in to dinner – only the Vidals are present – Sigmar is inscrutable, but smiling. After a quiet dinner, Sisyphus and Leander go into the gaming rooms. They play Cheops while Saskia and Mavern watch. Start to brainstorm the likely perpetrators, and realise that if Manndrach lose the mining contract, then CHOAM would probably award it to Principio. Are they trying to stop us getting there to sort things out? And if they can remove one of their troublesome members at the same time? Rona realises Hassan was psychotic and arrogant, a loose cannon. i.e. expendable. Also, Principio are Vidal’s enemies. It makes sense to frame them.

It is late, so go to sleep. Next morning (day 4), Saskia gets up very early to watch breakfast being prepared – as has Julius Vidal? This makes the 3 Wayku bondsmen very nervous as they work. Saskia thinks she sees Julius sprinkle something over the food, however she is not sure. He has been there a couple of earlier times.

Eat breakfast (except Sisyphus), then spend a quiet day. Before dinner, Saskia goes to the kitchen again – Julius is not present. He first showed up the day that Reuben died. At dinner, Sisyphus avoids eating the food; however that night he becomes seriously ill and is rushed to the medical bay. Strangely, the medic seems to know exactly what to do (rolled a 15!) and saves him.

Next morning, only Luke Evangelos + bondswoman, Sebastian + 2 bondsmen + 2 slaves, and the 2 members of House Vidal are still around. Luke and his woman turn up for breakfast. He is very suspicious of the two BG. Finally Rona recognises the bondswoman as Eve Akemi, who was believed to have died 3 years ago in childbirth. Akemi is a minor house of Ceder, lawyers. She was a great lawyer within the CHOAM business empire. Is she here incognito to investigate Manndrach? It would make sense if she is here with Evangelos – their house reputation as the Emperor’s ‘strike force’, to get things done. Murder? But no motive – much more logical that they are here to smooth things, and another – Principio or their agent? – is responsible.

Taran goes to see Sisyphus – he is still unconscious. There are 7 body bags. He questions the medics, who still insist it is a result of jump travel. Leander goes to speak with Luke (+Eve) – he suspects the BG, but Leander assures him it is not. He tells Luke all he knows, including the dreams. He says Linda’s visions showed that the person who was killing us was already dead (this was after Hassan died). Other than that, he does not know.

Meanwhile Taran opens Hassan’s bodybag (Why is it still on, when we’ve passed the Principio’s homeworld??) – contains the body of Violet, A Wayku bondswoman!!! Before he can check further, a medic turns up, so he leaves.

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