After the storm passes, the Loreli lands at the Duneraider camp from where the mission had begun, a slightly comical moment happens when the girl is presented as the headman’s granddaughter he is confused for a moment until a young woman steps forward, his real granddaughter. The headman promises his protection for the mission, at least for now, Abrie is careful to make no mention of what they are actually doing, no need to incite furor over the sacred gate-tech that locals feel so strongly about.
After a few days back at the base, the work of the science team is progressing, as well as the transportation of the duke’s regiment is nearly complete. His arrival is imminent and the upper palatial halls have been prepared for his stay, the sky fortress was once the palace of the emperor of the Nusemzar Empire, a title which Duke Kadith holds yet has little meaning today. The Duke’s entourage arrives in what is not an unusual form of transport in the high density atmosphere of Nusemzar, airships. Unlike most models that are for utility or warfare, the duke’s is furnished in luxury and gold trim. When it draws close a gold trimmed air/raft, and off world import obviously, detaches from the airship to land with the Duke to tour the expedition’s facilities and to inspect the science team’s progress in the crystal cave of the gate system, the duke is amiable, a younger man, maybe mid-thirties who has come to power after his father’s death in a campaign to the southwest of his duchy against a breakaway “republic”. The airships land clustered around the top of the fortress, some of them warship-dirigibles housing the Emperor’s Imperial Guard, soldiers with polished brass cuirass and pikes, ceremonial dress and flak jackets under white tunics with SMG’s as the real bodyguards.
Dr Misishii and Abrie prepare for an official reception tomorrow, the 3rd Grav-Squad as security detail, with Walt and John, to polish up their weapons and armor to look as efficient soldiers, Jaq as representative of the Imperium, Mari the pirate is to come as a representative of her people, Kallen as guide and translator, Garet as part of Jaq’s entourage.