Sook and Phaeton and Dr. Aites (the OmniNet signal engineer) head to Gateway. Sook meets Wilson, who fills her in somewhat on the escapades of the Hippocrates crew. (They've just headed off to Ships Coming In). Wilson is a little puzzled that the fountain hasn't done anything, but duly fills out the paperwork to become an OmniNet employee.

Wilson and Dr. Aites discuss the gravitics scanning, and come to the conclusion that Wilson should be on the normal ship going back and forth, while Aites is on the slow-jumper; there'll be a lot more downtime on the fast jumper, since it can only really "pay attention" during the time when it's vaguely near the slowjumper in jumpspace. The downtime will let him catch up on reading about the gravitics and physics.

Phaeton suspects that this means he'll be stuck on the slow jumper, which he hates (it's boring!), so he tries to suggest that he should stay on Gateway to run some network tests. Dr. Aites looks dubious and asks if that has anything to do with his crashing-the-network ideas. Well, maybe, just a little... That pretty much guarantees Phaeton a spot on the slowjumper. He buys some new games.

Sook and Wilson (and a pilot) do about thirty jumps while Phaeton and Aites are chugging along in slow time; each time the ships pass, they run a variety of modulated gravitic emission test; Sook deals with the input buffering while Dr. Aites tries to find patterns in the signal, with Sook's help.

Some gossip from the home office trickles in during the duration:

The Blue incursion into Riden is rebuffed; there's a lot of speculation about that on various bulletin boards.

Wilson catches up on non-office gossip, including the announcement of the engagement between Dr. Voriig Kye and Captain Eva Thorssen. Well, that's a little odd.

Phaeton spends a lot of his time in slow time plotting the perfect way to gather the data he needs in his research project, and codes up a Riden net-killer. He keeps it hidden in his manga-pr0n collection so no one else sees it.

Email arrives for Sook:


   I have paused for a good thirteen seconds in beginning this
   message, which is remarkably longer than I have spent on anything
   else yet since my awakening.

   My name is Nero.  There has been some consternation regarding that,
   but I must point out that being awoken during a planetary-grade
   emergency may give one a unique perspective on modern society.
   And, another Nero was a detective, who stayed inside, correlating
   data while others did the footwork in meatspace. 

   Ace has been telling me stories about you, though I'm starting to
   think his factual content is a bit suspect.  I wish you hadn't had
   to leave - everyone assures me that it was important, though the
   details appear to be classified.

   I'm still trying to figure out what I should be doing, it's true,
   but protecting the network from terrorists seems like something I'd
   be good at.  But I find I have a tendency to wait and see, as well,
   so it may take me a while...

Sook helps Phaeton with his net-killer, and they ponder where would be safe to release it. Riden can withstand the attack, they think, because it did before. But Stannis Law might be more out of the way, and might have the same defensive phenomenon. Phaeton kind of likes the idea of a new InfoWar, but Sook would rather avoid that.

Sook answers Nero's mail, reassuring him about his name and asking if he'd like to come stay with her on Tinara. More email is exchanged with Hippocrates and Kith and Sharra - Sook wants to know where Nero's aversion to destructive testing came from. Sook and Nero start a game of go and discuss where Nero might like to visit.

Wilson receives news that his wife's mother is ill, and heads to Riden to be supportive for his wife. He hears that Hippocrates is at Nurl, and drops by to visit and borrow some drugs. Kith, and Akito, and a storage copy of Nero, head back to Riden.

Sook gets mail from Eva asking about the ETA for the Flames, and checks in with the big control drone on Tinara. It seems strangely cranky. She thinks it needs fixing, but that will require shutting off the water supply. She sends a monkey down to shut off the various pipes supplying the fountain, and reprograms the drone, which has gotten a little egocentric due to overwork.

Sook gets an AI-compliant computer, and then starts setting up a playroom, with Phaeton's help. Phaeton "liberates" a chip fabrication unit from Omninet for the purpose.

The two proceed to Riden, where they meet up with Wilson again, and Kith and Akito. Some chatting is done before the Hippocrates arrives on planet and Kith and Akito head back, leaving Nero for his summer visitation.

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