Meldas Bama Teta Kehn


The Guvnor
Staff member
The logs, journals and everyday academic memoirs of our Traveller game, 1107, Darrian Science Academy ship Meldas Bama Teta Kehn Trojan Reaches.

VICEROY, 001-1107

I confess I was originally somewhat irritated by being assigned to this mission, but the Council advised me that I had a choice between this and being struck off for ethical violations.

Fools! I'll destroy them all. Their names have been added to The List.

However, upon reflection, it has some value as it will serve as an extended field experiment in the sociology of an isolated group under conditions of extreme stress.

As extreme as I can make them, anyway.

The current Captain, Professor Emeritus Turehs Moror Pemang, summoned us to a meeting to elect the new captain, there being only three of us left who have not yet served in that role; myself, Eneri Sumaru Yander, and Nerehn Zarabh Kaligh. While I was still weighing up whether it would be better for my research to be Captain myself, allowing me free rein in performing experiments on the crew, or to observe the impact without thus contaminating the subjects' perceptions, Nerehn Kaligh was elected Captain, making the choice for me. My turn must eventually come, and in the meantime I am content to observe.

It would be against protocol for the Captain to take minutes of the meetings so I will have to make an arrangement with one of his research assistants to compare notes afterwards and cover for each other in the event one of us is unable to attend. (Query: Is it worth learning research assistants' names? Perhaps learn some and not others, and observe the effects of different approaches? Experiment not easily repeatable, too many variables. For further consideration.)

I received the usual good-natured ribbing about taking notes by hand, and made my usual explanations about muscle memory and future-proofing my notes against file format changes. The truth is that I know there are some extremely capable computer scientists on board, including Nerehn Kaligh, and any of them might steal my research at any moment if I were to entrust it to an electronic device.

To say nothing of the possibility of being reported to the Ethics Committee. Again.

Anyway. Another world, another highport, another bar. They all seem to be part of the same chain. I must say it's very considerate of them to eliminate as many variables as they can. Notable events distracting me from research:

* Florian League naval vessels appear to be standing guard over the planet. Rumour is that some corporation or other has been enslaving some minor race or other and the League felt it necessary to step in. As yet it has not been necessary for me to learn the relevant names, and in any event I am too busy planning experiments to focus on such trivia.

* Met Mr Lovegrove, a portly human(?) in a purple suit with a data crystal jack and a bowler hat producing a whirring, clicking noise. Eneri Yander agreed to take a data crystal to his colleague on Adhara Highport.

* Left the bar when a group of Sword Worlders arrived. Field research on them in person is a high-risk endeavour, and in this case we decided the potential rewards were unlikely to be worthwhile.

* Eneri Yander run over by grav platform driven by a Barnai, then trampled by Feskal guards. For further study: Are Feskals really female Barnai, as is widely reported? Why has the League felt it necessary to remonstrate with other Barnai on Viceroy, who it seems were using a minor race as slaves? Who or what are the Yellow Orchid?


Experiment 1107-001. Effect of hair colour on social interactions. Dyed my hair black to see what effect this might have on the crew's reactions to me - the research assistants are by now inured to such experiments and will serve admirably as a control. No noticeable effects to date.

Experiment 1107-002. Epidemiology and mutation of rumours among ship's crew. Left a note buried in an obscure portion of the ship's database to the effect that the ship is carrying a functioning Star Trigger and the XO (Nembaleh Gemuse) has orders to destroy Floria if she determines it to be a threat to the Confederation. Sort of thing the Navy might do. Experiment terminated when XO expunged the file; not sure if anyone else read it; uncomfortable debriefing with XO about unnecessarily rigid constraints on experiments on the crew.

Her name will also be added to The List.

Is she discomforted because I am spreading rumours, or because I have inadvertantly stumbled on her true mission?


Notable events distracting me from research:

* Met Mr Lovegrove. Again. Exchanged data crystals, Eneri Yander agreed to take one to his colleague on Odin.

* Met two Bwaps with yellow orchid tattoos on the backs of their hands. For further study: What is the Yellow Orchid? It has been mentioned several times now and appears to be some kind of criminal syndicate.

* As is their way, apparently, the Bwaps entrusted us with taking their young in larval form and scattering them in suitable systems we visit. I have enthusiastically taken personal responsibility for the cooler full of - pollywogs, I think is the correct term - and look forward to the experiments I can conduct, free from the Ethics Committee's nervous hand-wringing.

Fools! I'll destroy them all. Started to add their names to The List but realised they are already on it. Query: Any benefit to adding names multiple times? Number of mentions could perhaps indicate priority for action? It is a very long list and I need to prioritise it somehow. Or perhaps I should destroy repeat offenders multiple times? That could be very satisfying.

Nerehn Kaligh filed a false flight plan to Hadara when in fact he intends to take us directly to Odin. This sort of deception calls into question the veracity of his entire corpus.


Experiment 1107-003. Impact of impact upon Bwap pollywogs. Experiment terminated when research assistant rightly pointed out that I am verging dangerously close to a biology experiment. Also, he took away my hammer.

As he helped me avoid drifting into subject matter the relevant journals would not consider for publication, the assistant's name will not be added to The List. Yet.

Experiment 1107-004. Effect of exposure to Tiznee Zazzle at high volume on Bwap pollywogs. Experiment terminated due to persistent loud banging from adjacent staterooms, introducing undesirable syncopation. Philistines. This is FOR SCIENCE!

Their names will be added to The List.


We have just emerged from jumpspace. I suspect Mr Lovegrove's colleague here will be identical to the others we have met. Possible research paper: Sociological effects of sharing memories asynchronously across interstellar distances.


Nerehn-Kaligh appears paranoid. Full sensor sweep on exiting jumpspace.

While the crew were matching orbits with Odin Highport, or whatever it is they do, I was summoned to a meeting with the Ethics Committee. It transpires that my research proposal centred on presenting myself to the Bwap pollywogs as their deity to observe their reactions has been rejected. As a scientist, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge and correct my mistakes, and submitting research proposals which telegraph my intentions is clearly a mistake. My first of our time in the Odin system; there would be others.

The Committee proposed a blanket ban on sentient creatures in a confined space. Sensing an opportunity, I asked if that extended to the crew, some of whom don't even have Master's Degrees and therefore only qualify as sentient under certain broad, liberal definitions.

At first the committee were in favour, but the Head of Biology argued against it as it would stop his own work. His expression as he realised he was now arguing on my side against the Ethics Committee was priceless.

I could see Eneri-Yander and Nerehn-Kaligh exchanging hand signals, which I recognised as in-meeting academic code, but the hard science dialect of that is sufficiently different from the sociology version that I struggled to make it out.

After six hours, Nerehn-Kaligh made the universal gesture asserting his authority as captain. "No more psychohistory," he ordered. "Time for dinner." This, I think, was a signal to me that he had understood my attempts to sow dissent among the Ethics Committee and he was not pleased. I retired to my quarters to write up the methodology section of my new research proposal.

Nerehn-Kaligh came by later to explain informally that next time he would not be so understanding, and that he has ordered the locks changed on the locker where the bwap pollywogs are kept. Bah.

Meanwhile Eneri-Yander was editing the AI-generated version of his latest adventures before socialising with the chief engineer, the aslan Tondirir Nos.

There were a number of assorted warships glaring at each other around the station; an aslan pocket warship, a zhodani deep recon ship, a sword world destroyer, and something military-looking from GeDeCo. Or so the crew were saying shortly before Nerehn-Kaligh cleared the bridge. The most interesting vessel was spindly, two kilometres long, and I would later learn from the local Mr Lovegrove that it was a lighthugger, intended to travel at high sublight speeds. The transponder apparently identified it as "Wyvern's Fury".

With nothing better to do, I went ashore with the others. The reception person was wearing odd socks, and explained that this was a local planet for local people before giving us each a Badge of Outsiderness and a written instruction that the word "duck" could not be spoken today by any of the natives, although they were permitted to write it down. Apparently their society is controlled by a computer simulation of Professor Lanusha, Vilani sociologist, running on a computer they built themselves. I'd never heard of him.

While we were discussing this, a number of clockwork cyborgs debarked from the lighthugger, escorting a woman in a facsimile Sindalian Empire admiral's uniform.

We again repaired to the local bar, which was much like all the others we have encountered so far. The local Mr Lovegrove accepted the usual delivery from Eneri-Yander and commented on the lighthugger, saying it was unusual to see one as the living quarters needed to be two kilometres from the drives and shrouded in ice against radiation. For further study: Does long-term exposure to radiation result in gradual cyborging of the crew as biological components are degraded?

In the bar, emissaries of various powers were speed-dating the woman in the admiral's uniform, who was identified to us as High Admiral Edith Raj of the Sindalian Empire, Slayer of Noricum, Deathwalker of Thebus. That would make her 2,500 years old, so clearly time dilation, anagathics or cloning were involved.

Nerehn-Kaligh got us into the rotation by claiming we are representatives of the Darrian Confederation, which is broadly true and in his case may be true in a more narrow sense, as he clearly has an unusual past for a scientist. Which he never talks about, beyond lamenting the lack of decent Zhodani crumpets at tea-time.

The High Admiral accepted Eneri-Yander's explanation that we hadn't actually received the details of her message, as our society has become somewhat bureaucratic. She in turn explained that she had the secret of immortality and had sent out a message 300 years ago while in transit; she expects the highest-bidding power to support her work to replenish her diminishing stocks of the relevant drugs. The development process has, she says, a high wastage rate; approximately 98% of the eight billion test subjects died horribly, including numerous clones of herself used in late-stage testing.

Naturally, I was intrigued to learn more about the kind of society where this behaviour is considered acceptable, so while Nerehn-Kaligh was negotiating with the various powers about how to contain the High Admiral, I sneaked back to her for further discussion. She mistook this for a job application, and at first I was tempted to correct her, but then it occurred to me that an immortal sociologist could run some experiments with a really long baseline without handing off the work to future generations, who I suspect wouldn't live up to my exacting standards. Or even worse, might take on board some of the Ethics Committee's pusillanimous liberal ideas about "informed consent" and "survivability".

It's a wonder anyone ever gets anything done, really.

Beyond that, I suspect a society with immortal leaders would eventually collapse into something a lot like the Aslan Hierate; at first it would expand so that new generations of the elite had new lands to rule, but eventually it would become more cost-effective to conquer one's neighbours. Now there is a research project worthy of truly long-term study!

So in the end I accepted the Admiral's offer and returned to the others with the intention of putting my affairs in order before joining her. Meanwhile, however, Nerehn-Kaligh and Eneri-Yander had been fomenting trouble among the other delegates. The aslan considered immortality dishonourable but were interested in Sindalian weapons technology; GeDeCo didn't want their Plan disrupted, whatever it is; and the Zhodani considered it destabilising and therefore undesirable. The Sword Worlders were playing some complex drinking game which involved chanting "Skol!" repeatedly while chugging large quantities of something which was no doubt highly alcoholic, and none of us spoke to them.

At this point, Eneri-Yander used Meeting Language to convey that we shouldn't annoy the apex predator (by which he meant the aslan) and we were among psychopaths, so we should go for a drink. Which we did; I decided that putting my affairs in order could wait one more round, which was possibly my second mistake. I say "possibly", because High Admiral Raj left with the Sword Worlders and shortly after their destroyer broke orbit, the other factions launched a coordinated attack on it, leaving it a rapidly-expanding cloud of ionised gas fluorescing in the ultra-violet, or so said our Professor Emeritus and Head of Astronomy. Had I joined the Admiral immediately, I too would have been vapourised, with consequent adverse effects on my research.

We observed this from a safe distance, heading outsystem, and it occurred to me that Nerehn-Kaligh and Eneri-Yander had manipulated the other factions into eliminating the Admiral, and then removed me from the system before I could ransack the "Wyvern's Fury" in search of her notes. The Professor Emeritus barged onto the bridge, claiming excitedly that her team had found a stellar anomaly and we must at once head deeper into Florian space to investigate. That suits me, as I am keen to observe and analyse the unusual Florian society, and I need nothing but my senses and my notepad to do that. The Ethics Committee can suspect what I'm thinking as much as they like, but surely they can't object to me taking notes?

Having resolved not to prepare any further research proposals the Ethics Committee might think badly of - I don't care what they think, the Philistines, but the endless meetings are a boring distraction from doing any real work - I wondered how I was going to get anything done without funding or resources. How, for example, was I going to get any research assistants?

Then I realised I had the perfect solution. Bwaps. Diligent, process-oriented, and - if correctly handled and educated, raised and trained - grateful to me and expert in the skills I need.

Yes. I think the Bwaps will be of greater value to me as research assistants than as test subjects.

Now, how to gain access to them again?


Short-term: Regain access to the Bwap pollywogs. A certain amount of dissembling may be required.

Medium-term: Study the intriguing society of the Florian League.

Medium-term: Discover what is going on with Mr Lovegrove. A distributed intelligence is sociologically interesting.

Long-term: Raise and train the Bwap pollywogs as loyal research assistants. They are psychologically well-suited to the role. Surely not even the Ethics Committee can object?

Also long-term: Redacted on legal advice. The Ethics Committee would definitely object. But only if they find out.
Side note: I think it was Graham who suggested that Darrian academics would have the equivalent of a battle language by which they can carry out side conversations during meetings without disrupting them. I loved the idea, and Tom ruled this is now canon in the game.
Bwap star traffic control


Jonkereen production meeting

Halka Bartender
halka bartender.png

Brother Stahl of the humanist Bastion Movement
brother stahl 1.png

The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove
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All picture produced by and no statement of copyright is made.


My entirely legitimate efforts to regain access to the bwap pollywogs have been ruthlessly thwarted. In hindsight, mentioning my plans in an application for a research grant was a mistake - one I do not need to repeat.

The bwaps have been placed under the supervision of the catering staff, who I must say look more muscular and less polite than I would expect. I consoled myself by learning what is known of bwaps in the ship's library and writing a libretto in anticipation of the happy day when I am allowed to install a pipe organ in my stateroom.

As someday it may happen that test subjects must be found,
I've got a little List - I've got a little List,
Ethics Committee members who might well be underground,
And they'd none of 'em be missed - they'd none of 'em be missed.

Eneri meanwhile occupied himself produced edited footage of the recent space battle, with advice from Nerehn, who knows more about this sort of thing than I would have expected. And appears to know some of the catering staff. I'm sure I heard him call one of them "Stephen".


Zimt has no highport, and the gas giant designated for refuelling has extensive rings, which we would later learn are composed of shipwrecks and corpses, many Sindalian, and there are three blank areas at the Lagrange points, which is odd as they should collect debris rather than being clear. The larger wrecks have boosters which can be seen adjusting their orbits.

On arrival we were deep scanned by a large Florian warship orbiting close to the primary, and hailed by the SS Rebecca, a far trader whose captain - also called Rebecca - had attempted to cut maintenance costs by employing a crew of chirpers, with predictable results. Eneri and chief engineer Tondirir Nos agreed to go over in the ship's boat and help her. I hacked into the sensor feeds and shared the output with Nerehn to undermine his confidence about the effectiveness of explicitly forbidding me to watch the bwap pollywogs. He seemed unperturbed, but perhaps this is simply his well-known poker face.

Rebecca (the captain, not the ship) gushed her life story at Eneri - fan of his shows, appeared to be trying to chat him up.

While Nerehn was trying to decide whether to land for refuelling or skim the gas giant, a yacht jumped insystem, announcing itself as the Friedrich Nietsche, or something like that.

We had to land on manual, as traffic control is handled by the barman at the local Ella's Tomb as a side hustle. This may explain why 55 of the 57 hangars are damaged beyond use. Most of the port appears wrecked, in fact, and once the crew were granted shore leave they reported it is 95% empty, weirdly shaped, and decorated with odd symbols in green and Florian gold, which proved to be Sumerian pictographs rotated sideways and used to write the Florian language.

The Nietsche took the remaining landing pad, so Rebecca had to land on the dirt nearby.

Despite the stated TL of 9, we saw feskals tilling the soil with animal-drawn ploughs.

We repaired to Ella's Tomb, in the hope that the local Mr Lovegrove could shed some light on these puzzles. He explained that the shipwrecks are intended to remind Sindal that this is where their expansion stopped; the dark spaces have been like that for 2,000 years. The high/low technology split, he says, is explained differently by each barnai, as if it were some kind of family squabble.

We mentioned that the Lovegrove on Odin dressed in line with local fashion, saddening this one. He stated it has been corrupted and needs to be reformatted, which will probably take centuries; he asked Eneri to take a reformatting crystal back there, saying that a lot of him was destroyed during the Florian empire wars.

The Nietsche's passengers and crew, dressed like Slavs cosplaying Nigerians, disembarked. All were carrying briefcasees and wearing armbands with the logo of the Bastion movement.

Eneri deployed drones to investigate while we refuelled. These confirmed small mixed groups of feskals and barnai living in low-tech dwellings amid the remnants of a high-tech starport. We visited the nearest of the many golden ziggurats, discovering that they float 10 cm above their bases on some sort of beamed antigrav technology, and are made of 28 carat gold - too pure to be natural. When pushed, they move very slightly.

The Bastions entered, set up cameras to record them making fascist salutes, and left, leaving their briefcasees behind.

Inside a central dome I found 7 transparent cylinders, each with a mould in the shape of a feskal, with an 8th mould for a barnai. Maybe the gold bits the Florians keep trading for are needed to turn this device back on? Society collapsed because it's broken? Experimenting with it triggered a Sindalian(?) hologram which talks, possibly asking for a password, and shows a woman in a winged spacesuit which looks a bit like a figure on the central gold shrine inside the ziggurat.

Nerehn cut a piece of gold off for analysis. Eneri and I tried to decrypt the hologram's language but failed. Nerehn poked around outside and suspected the antigrav field is generated by the capstone, so climbed up to top followed by Eneri's drone; at the top is a vigourously sparking anode with palpable static. Nerehn deduced this is a receiver and something to the NNE is broadcasting energy to it. We left intent on climbing another and triangulating on the power source.

Bastions left briefcase. Curious, I brought it out and tried to open it. It has vents. Nerehn's usual suspicious nature came to the fore and he put it in a secure container and took it back the the ship for analysis; the chief engineer informed us it's a remote operated gas bomb.

It seemed appropriate to report that to authorities, who recovered more briefcases from other ziggurats and summarily executed the crew and passengers of the Nietsche. We now have the gratitude of the Democratic Assembly of Zimt, a scout coyn, and the freedom of the port. We were also given data packets to take to other Florian worlds, which is helpful as it gives us an excuse to visit.

Rebecca has been paid well for a gold item the Florians wanted, possibly for repairs to their feskal producing machine. I note that some of her crew are now Bastion movement members, but decided this is not my concern.

We intend now to explore the shipwrecks around the gas giant, then jump for Boronu, which is as close as we can get to some anomaly or other that the astrophysics department is intent on investigating. However, this is not a complete waste of time, as it will allow me to observe another Florian world.


We laid in a course for the Sindalian wreckage ring. I was hoping for a degenerate Sindalian-descended civilisation in the wreckage. Or zombies. Zombies would have been good. Especially if I could have understood how to control them. Perfect research assistants.

Nerehn-Kaligh was concerned that the blank volumes might trap us in the wreckage ring, so we kept station some way off while he had everything scanned. Leaning over the sensor officer's shoulder, I could see that the blank volumes were completely blank at all wavelengths. There was also something he didn't understand generating interference. His response to my repeated questions of "What does this button do?" were unsatisfactory, but professionally courteous. So his name is not being added to The List. Yet.

Egged on by the Emeritus Professor and the XO, Nerehn backed the ship away and we took the ship's boat in to the ring. The Professor was reluctant to deploy her hideously expensive deep space sensor array as a decoy to make it look as if we were doing something else, and despite Eneri-Yander's supporting blandishments she refused to do so. I suppose if it were destroyed she'd just build another one, diverting precious funding from the social sciences. Again.

Her name has been added to The List. Again. Not for being overly protective of her equipment, but for the emails flooding our inboxes summoning us to full staff meetings to discuss proper protocol. Bah. There's SCIENCE to do, Professor!

We started by sending a drone team under Eneri's control in to examine the blank volume. The lead drone disappeared, and naturally we had full coverage of that since Eneri wanted to record everything for a future documentary. (He is surprisingly slow and controlled in his drone operations, but I suppose as he says it can always be speeded up in post-production.) We waited for a day or so to see if it came out of the other side, which it eventually did, revealing that inside the dead zone appeared to be normal space, with a small space station at the centre. Sensors indicated there is no life aboard the station, so there was unlikely to be anything of sociological interest. Bah. Probably it's doing something boring like maintaining the barrier.

Nerehn strong-armed the Professor into coming with us on the ship's boat. We were accompanied by several members of the catering staff. (I grow suspicious of the catering staff, with their muscles and grim expressions and extensive knowledge of Zhodani baked goods. And their unusually long, thin picnic hampers. And while you could certainly do someone an injury with a Zhodani crumpet, their uniforms seem... somewhat over-engineered to protect them against patisserie.)

Boarding the station, we found ourselves exiting the airlock into a lift. The door was locked but that did not stop the catering staff for long. (I do wonder just what kind of scientific expedition this is, sometimes.)

Inside, the corridor floor signs were in Sumerian cuneiform. Opposite to the south was a room with three autodocs. The dust spiralled into patterns, unusual given there was no air in the room. So we left it alone and backed out. The dust in the corridor also seemed interested in us, following us and collecting on our suits. It could be brushed off, but returned.

Further exploration yielded some sort of recreational area with a chess set whose pieces appeared to represent ancient gods and what Nerehn identified as a lammasu. At this point, vibration in the floor told us the power was coming on. Nerehn left the rec room to go back into the corridor and came face to face with an actual lammasu, three metres tall and looking upset. However, judging by the miniature one in the chess set, they are always upset.

Then the catering staff reported the dust was breaching our suits. I accidentally opened my faceplate trying to purge the suit (bad design, I call it), but one of the catering staff smacked it closed again. Then the lammasu fired a low-intensity laser pulse down the corridor, apparently as a warning. One of the catering staff returned fire with some sort of coilgun, which chiefly served to irritate it. Judging by the holes this made in it, it was fashioned of solid gold. It seemed to me that the lammasu was emitting the dust.

Then it also started emitting high power laser beams and the catering staff started emitting 4mm gauss needles, while Eneri and Nerehn seemed to be being eaten by the dust. I heard a voice telling me to stand down and await security identification. I did that, wondering how I could suddenly understand Sumerian. The dust, perhaps? Some kind of nanites?

The catering staff managed to gun down the lammasu, so I presume it was that generating the voice (probably via the dust) as it stated "This brain has gone mouldy, send for the ratcatcher." One assumes that ancient Sumerian, as a language, is not best suited for the needs of a military-grade AI operating a solid gold robot. One wonders therefore why whoever built this place used it? Were they Florians as I have supposed to date, or some other culture?

While the catering staff kept an eye on the immobile lammasu, I wondered if it would regenerate.

Editor's note: Like all Daldor's journals, this one was recovered from the ruins of a long-abandoned bar of the Ella's Tomb chain in the Trojan Reach millennia after it was written. The quality and durability of Darrian writing materials can only be admired, although many pages were obscured to the point of illegibility by some kind of spicy sauce (at least, we hope it was a sauce). We cannot help but wonder whether this is part of some long-term manipulation on Daldor's part, and if so, what he intended to achieve. Is he still out there somewhere, watching, and adding our names to his List?


Not wanting us back on board before we'd been decontaminated, the ship sent over an analysis kit. The lammasu proved to be made of 28 carat gold doped with nanites.

It transpires that Nerehn and I can now read each other's thoughts. We assume this is a result of losing suit integrity during the fight with the lammasu; presumably we have been infected by nanites which have granted us these powers. We have agreed not to burden the rest of the crew with this information.

We continued to explore, and eventually discovered a powered-down communications suite. Possibly due to the psionic development we could now understand the hieroglyphic instructions, so naturally we turned it on. This felt a lot more natural than it probably should. The instructions explained the device was for contacting "Auntie". She looked a lot like Inanna; a winged humanoid in a chariot pulled by lions. According to the XO the comms link is aimed into deep space, specifically towards the anomaly our Emeritus Professor discovered earlier. Auntie seemed to be a low-level AI trying to handshake and receive a data upload in audio, visual, psionic, gestural or olfactory formats, but too basic for us to gain any useful information from. I wonder if the network is connected to the Lovegroves? I must ask the next one. Auntie was communicating in real time, however, suggesting she was either close at hand or possessed of FTL communications.

On our return to the ship we were placed in quarantine. This severely constrained my experiments for the week in jumpspace, apart from trying to convince Nerehn psionically that his thoughts have spelling mistakes in them. He has clearly been trained to resist psionic meddling, which is a pity, and not something one would expect in an archaeologist.


The Professor Emeritus came to sit outside our quarantine cells to discuss findings. She explained that by deploying her array in each system we visit, she is creating a very large virtual array, parsecs across, which has remarkable resolution. The anomaly she has discovered may be a cataclysmic variable star, perhaps artificial. Her description of the possible outcomes sounds a lot like the Maghiz initiated by the Darrian Star Trigger experiment. Maybe that explains the situation on Zimt? A high-tech society collapsed by a flare?


The first Florian world we've encountered not obsessed with gold, but it is surrounded by many orbital habitats of varying sizes, most of them not transmitting. The planet is off-limits to visitors; the Life Sciences team were very disappointed but fortunately fell to bickering among themselves so did not cause any issues for us.

The beanstalk highport is however open for business. There is an Ella's Tomb, but it has clearly been closed for some time. No sign of a Mr Lovegrove either. However, a halka (with cybernetic legs and too many fingers) invited us to visit his master's habitat by shuttle. On arrival, we were escorted to the master's presence by some ithklur, normally encountered as hiver guards. They are a long way from home. These led us past a number of environment chambers containing various - samples? Prisoners? Experiments? One chamber appeared to replicate Ella's Tomb, complete with Mr Lovegrove. Is he now an exhibit, I wondered? Are we?

The master was the oldest and strangest-looking barnai we'd yet seen. He was, uniquely, bereft of feskals but surrounded by ithklur and other species. He did indeed seem interested in adding us to his collection, but Eneri hit on the idea of presenting us as fellow collectors. We failed to meet the master's exacting standards as colleagues or specimens and he decided we would be of most use broken down for spare parts. This would of course severely hamper our own experiments, so a consensus rapidly formed that we should leave before he could do so.

Eneri failed to distract anyone with his holo projector, but Nerehn pointed out with more success that we are of some importance to the Darrian government and they will come looking for us if we disappear. I failed to persuade the halka butler to throw off his chains; possibly the revolutionary slogan about jamjar lids wasn't appropriate to the circumstances. Eneri meanwhile used his drones to map an escape route, which might have worked if Nerehn hadn't doubled down on his approach by pointing out that history was against the master's plan and thereby convinced him to silence us. At a gesture from the master, we were seized by his ithklur guards and hauled away to the environment chambers. I did not know whether to be relieved or insulted that none of our possessions seemed to be worth confiscating. At least this meant that I still had my notebook; the idea of reconstructing The List from memory is quite daunting due to its length.

Fortunately, the catering staff chose this moment to blow a hole in the station and massacre the ithklur with gauss rifles before pinning the master to the floor. One of the catering staff asked for instructions; Nerehn gestured for them to toss him a gauss rifle and blew the master's head off. This at least saved me the bother of adding them all to The List, which would have been difficult as I never learned any of their names. At first I'd hoped to engage the ithklur's services myself as the master no longer had need of them, but the catering staff are exceedingly thorough and methodical in their work.

The rescue was helpful, but disconcerting on several levels, not least because it implies the catering staff must be monitoring at least one of us. Add this to Nerehn being able to read my mind and I can see that a wide range of experimental approaches will now need to be ruled out. Incidentally, go away, Nerehn. Stay at home in your own skull. Thank you.

We took the opportunity to release (and update) the local Mr Lovegrove. When asked about the comms array, he said he wasn't part of the network, but he had always known the Florians had a religion based on worshipping their ancestors and "Auntie". At his request we returned him to Ella's Tomb, then unleashed the Life Sciences Department on the station. There is plenty there for them to evaluate, catalogue, rehabilitate, and if necessary euthanise.


The Life Science's estimate of the time required to investigate the station was as long as one might expect, so we were able to dispose of their interruptions by leaving them behind. Nerehn insisted on taking one junior research assistant with us in case we met something requiring their skillset; I suspect they chose this person by drawing lots.


We decided to jump into the anomaly system, at a great distance and out of the ecliptic. The Professor Emeritus confirmed it is a cataclysmic variable star, but there is a garden world in the system's Goldilocks zone, with no sign of a technological civilisation other than some kind of orbital station. An avian creature appeared to Nerehn and I psionically, but we were unable to understand it.

As we watched, a plume of plasma spurted from the main star towards the orbital station while the avian creature continued its attempts to communicate, to no avail.

Thanks as ever @Sablemage for your excellent diary entries. We don't know yet if the show will be renewed but we have hopes. Your suggestion of "top of the bill" status and a 700% increase in remuneration is under advisement.