Life on board returns to its somewhat monotonous nature as everyone gets onto the familiar routines, with daytime spent on each party member’s individual training activities, plus some serious exercise to undo the waistline expanding effects of Miranda’s constant succession of banquets each night.
Jie figures that a fat trade ship is a good target for space pirates, of which there’ll be plenty of where around Pagaton. She spends most of her time doing maintanance on the Princess’s main Gunnery sections, tweaking the laser battery sights and polishing the missiles.
Evenings are spent in the passenger common room, mingling with the passengers, indulging in pleasant conversation while working through another nine-course banquet, with brandies to follow.
It is one of the more pleasant jumps that the crew of Unguin’s Princess remember. Apart from Max who has grown sullen and withdrawn. He doesn’t seem to be getting on with Raylene terribly well any more and he just scowls whenever Autumn chats with Chad, and Will chats with Devon – which is most of the time.
Over breakfast one morning, Arvor assembles the crew members everyone together.
“Something very strange is going on with the security footage,” he says. “It seems that the feeds go blank shortly after everyone has retired to their rooms, only to return again in the morning just before all of the crew get up again.”
Will and Autumn look guiltily at one another.
“No one knows why this may be happening do they?”
Will’s face glows red as he shrugs:
“Errm … I don’t really know. Maybe some virus on the computer or something? I’ll make a full system scan later today to see if I can find what’s causing it.”
Will whispers to Grim, “I say we space that meddling Arvor.”
The meeting breaks up, but a short while later, Taeva seeks out Arvor:
“I suggest that we set up some independent bugs just to determine what the heck is happening,” she whispers. “We don’t tell anyone else. If it’s harmless then it’s just optional blackmail material. If it isn’t harmless we need to know.”
“Good idea. Let’s do it.”
The party members return to their daily activities of exercising and training. While the others are all otherwise engaged, Taeva sneaks down to the cargo hold and retrieves the robodog, which she manages to bring to her stateroom with no one else being any the wiser.
She reprogrammes the canine sentry’s circuits so that it stores its video feed onto its internal harddrive rather than beaming the video to the ship’s mainframe. Then she waits.
Once everyone has finished their daily activities, they all reassemble for another of Miranda’s banquet, with the usual pleasant, relaxed chat and smouldering looks between certain members of the crew and passengers. The easy atmosphere continues past midnight until, one by one, everyone returns to their staterooms. Taeva is the last to leave.
Once she is alone, she immediately heads to her stateroom and maneuvers the robodog until it is under the dinner table, where it is hidden from view, yet has a 360 degree vision of all of the passenger staterooms. She then heads off to sleep, curious to see what the robodog will see during the night.