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Chapter 26 The slow drumbeat

Ben finishing his lunch asked, “What can you tell me about the Gathering and are there risks I should be worried about?” “I think the physical risks are low. That being said we should take some precautions like wearing projectile proof under clothing. I haven't seen any evidence they have weapons, but given their long animosity with the Eaulanders I wouldn't rule it out. I have an armed drone that can be onsite with you in under three minutes if needed. The Gathering itself appears to be a type of mating ritual for the younger ones from the conversations I've listened to. It seems to have some competitive aspects, but I'm not sure what they are. For the older adults, it's a social occasion with lots of food, beverages, and music. I think our goal is to learn more about the Gaians and not antagonize them. We just have to play this by ear. Ungar's delivering the stun guns,” as the vid turned on.

Ungar escorted by a guard waddled into the conference room carrying the box and set the stunners on the table. “Davin waved towards Major Bard, “The Major is now the new Marshall. I believe you're already acquainted.” “Congratulations Marshall, may I sit it's been a long morning.” The swarthy Marshall studied Ungar for a moment and nodded yes. “I need to know more about that ship Ungar. Let's start with the crew. How many again are aboard.” As I told your predecessor, there appears to only be two. The woman who is the captain, and her partner Ben. I have never seen anyone else, and I'm sure it's just the two of them.” “Could you smuggle a slug thrower onboard and kill them both?” “I wouldn't advise trying that. If something went wrong, we would lose all access to the stunners, and likely they could inflict great damage on us. The Gaians would take advantage of this in an instant. I think while we are receiving the stunners we should take advantage of them. They said they would trade ten bars of gold for one hundred hand stunners and three more crowd stunners. I suspect the troopers would rather have the stunners than the slug throwers which only have one purpose,  and usually a permanent result.” 

“Marshall, I agree with Ungar, for the moment,” said Davin. “Let's keep trading and get as many stunners as we can,” Looking closely at Ungar, “You don't think they would or could do anything to our computers like steal money do you?” Ungar looked puzzled, “Why would people from the stars with a ship like that bother? What could they do with our coins? They have never left the ship to the best of my knowledge. They seem much more interested in the gold.” Davin stared off into the distance for a few seconds. “Marshall, I want two troopers to watch that ship from the woods at all times. Start tomorrow morning first light, and I want to know immediately if anyone leaves the ship and what they do.” “As you wish Senior Elder.” “Ungar you get the gold and tomorrow morning and bring me more stunners, Be back by noon or else,” said Davin with an ugly smile.

“Well Ungar certainly handled that well,” said Ben. “Yes, he did, but I think the possibility we could have had something to with moving the money around is still niggling Davin more than a bit. Not enough to stop him from wanting more stunners, but enough he is considering the possibilities. I turned on Lora's tablet blinker and left a message for her saying if she can't safely pick up the coins well before first light, then don't. We will find another way to get them to her. We actually need a closer and less noticeable location to move matériels to the women. An unused building nearer to the city center would be good.” “What other things will they need?” “I want to give the women's team leaders earbuds, so they can communicate with each other and plastic ties to use as restraints. They also need some sort of personal weapon. I was thinking along the line of wooden staffs or similar. This would let them whack hard at a modest distance. These are too big for me to make and deliver. Maybe Ungar could help us with this. They could be square, and the ends could be whittled round for handholds, or better wrapped with rags if needed. Swung with velocity they could inflict real damage. I want to keep as many people alive as possible. Getting hurt is acceptable, but I don't want any unnecessary deaths. We also have to sort out where and how to restrain prisoners, and then figure out who can and can't be fixed and what to do with them in the long run.”

“These are a lot of logistics to manage Celeste. We need someplace to store materiels and find a way to get them there. The women have to be able to access them without being noticed, and they need a place to meet. It seems to be a tall order.” “Yes it is, but doable. I have been studying the power plant's control system. I can tweak it so I can cause the main breakers to blow and cut power to specific parts of its grid, or all of it. Late tonight I'll run a test on a single breaker. What I want to see is how long it takes them to do a reset. I'll try it in the area of the women's quarters. Lora can tell us what it's like with no power there. As for the rest of the planning, we need some guidance from Ungar tomorrow. Let's have an early dinner outside this evening. This will be the last time for a while we will be able to do this without a couple of armed thugs watching. We can take a closer look at the city layout this evening and see if we have any epiphanies.”