Autumn is the first one up, as usual, in order to prepare breakfast for passengers and the crew. By 9am, however, no one has shown up.
Remembering that Max told her that he going into Havers room for a game of late-night poker, she knocks on the door. Receiving no answer, she uses her pass key to open up the door. She sees Max and all of the passengers, slumped over the table, snoring loudly.
She shakes Max, who awakens with a groan.
“Fack me,” he groans groggily. “Where d’ya buy them bottles of Liebfraumilch from, girl? My ’ead feels like Jie just gave me a really good kicking.”
Autumn shakes the others awake and they all appear to be in the same condition. Autumn summons Will, who dispenses aspirin to each of them and all start to slowly return to normal.
Neither Max nor any of the passengers seem that bothered by the incident – no one lost any money during the process, but Arvor still suspects something untoward went on. With it being contrary to Imperial Passenger Transit Authority Regulations to have cameras inside passengers’ staterooms for reasons of privacy, there is no way of knowing exactly what went on there during the night while the occupants were unconscious.
Arvor calls the crew members together for a briefing:
“OK, so we can now assume that Havers has gone over Max for any key-pass, scanned his retina, copied his fingerprints, possibly pumped him with truth serum, whatever,” he says. “We need to check the low berths, and change every password and access system on the ship pronto. Also need to check the cameras and computer recording systems for any signs of tampering / anomalies in the overnight period. Also check the locker to ensure Ceglarski’s gun is still there.”
“Will can you do a blood test on Max for possible doping, and complete scan for any oddities?”
Everyone sets about their tasks, changing passwords to all of the locks. Jie checks the low berths, but there are no signs of entrance. Taeva checks the ship’s locker to find that all is as was before – all of the party’s arsenal is still there and untouched, as is Ceglarski’s machine pistol.
Arvor and Grim go through all of the recordings from all cameras during the night, but there are no signs that anyone left the room during the night.
Everyone reassembles to compare notes.
“Someone simply laced the wine with sleeping tablets from the traces I found in Max’s blood stream,” Will reports. “SuSAG E-Z-Rest – the most common brand of sleeping tablets in the Imperium – available at all good pharmacies from Jewell to Sol.”
“Hmm,” ponders Arvor. “So definitely foul play, and clearly with a purpose that is not theft, not immediately, at any rate.”
“Another possibility is post-hypnotic suggestion. How to guard against something like that is an interesting problem.”
“You haven’t been violated in any way, have you, Max?” asks Will.
“No mate, my sphincter still as tight as it’s ever been,” Max replies.
Still mystified as to exactly went on the previous evening, with no additional clues from the passengers who have no complaints about the events.
The crew members decide to step up security in any case. They organize a rota where there is always one crew member outside the entrance to the low berths at all time, and another watching the monitors.
It turns out to be a rather tedious exercise for everyone as nothing interesting happens at all. The passengers tire of the games of poker and return to more solitary activities.