(Referee and Robert's player only
So at 9 am Helia Sarina takes off, leaves the harbor
at Down Port, and flies to First City. At a fairly sedate 500 kph, it
takes about three hours. At 1:30 pm Helia pulls into the harbor at
First City and locks the ship by the customs pier.
It is of course a lot friendlier here than at Down Port. Here the attitude is to welcome visitors, and assist them as much as possible. A quick trip to the shore gives the Nightshade the same mooring as the Third Eye had last time. In fact it's the same staff as last time, and they recognize the offworlders. Sympathies are expressed at the loss of the Marquis' ship, but they are glad to hear that Marquis Marc was not hurt himself.
On return to the ship, the question is how to set things up so they can go ashore. The main cargo lift is underneath the ship, under water in fact while moored. They still haven't tried the launch that came on the ship. So Helia flies up to about 100 m, then Edward "Shark" Teeth drives an air/raft out of the main lift. After Helia has landed, they extend the patio from the lounge and Shark lands the gravcraft there. He is not too surprised to find that the air on the patio is normal, rather than the thin atmosphere of the planet. By 2:00 pm everything is set up for their stay.
Time to make plans for the rest of the day. Vonish
of course suggests dinner at the yacht club, and that's certainly fine with
everyone else. That would be around 6 pm or so, so they have a few
hours before they need to get ready.
Vonish floats the air/raft ashore with Robert and his phone equipment, and they are welcomed at the yacht club. In particular, the club's chef is delighted to see Vonish again, and they will spend a great deal of time together today, discussing recipes, preparing dinner, and drinking some most excellent wine.
Robert has no trouble hooking up to the phone system. It only takes a few minutes, and he returns to the Nightshade knowing he has full phreaking access.
It's quite warm and most pleasant. A trip ashore sounds good. The air/raft carries only four, so they'll have to shuttle folks across, but the whole group (Shark, Kalida Siena, Helia, and Mich Saginaw) can fit in one of the six-person taxis. Everyone is equipped with commdots. There isn't enough time for a trip to the nearby city of Center, but there is for a jaunt to the local mall in First City. They're taking Imperial credits for cash, and promise to bring samples of the local currency back for Robert's collection -- he wants to see if the current scrip is the same as last time they were here.
Shark does a simple experiment, and finds that indeed the zack's faceplate works as a respirator, allowing him to breathe normally in the thin warm air.
Shark picks up a local paper -- of course it's in Jannish, not galanglic -- and checks the personals section. He finds nothing he'd expect in that section. The paper doesn't have anything much in terms of political news -- there are advertisements, news on development. The latter includes what seems to be the major story around here -- a new section of housing is being built in Center.
As they remembered, the yacht club is pressurized and air conditioned. The lobby on the second floor opens up to the taxi rank; the taxis too are air conditioned and pressurized.
Shark checks to see what Kalida knows about this planet.
She's read the local information they had on the Nightshade .
He tells her that the forests are supposed to be populated by the descendants
of survivors who ran away from the settlers. The planet counts its
year as Imperial year, not orbit around the star. Each orbit around
the star is over 240 years. They met one of these Janns, and he claimed
to be a hundred years old -- he counted years, as in orbits of the star,
meaning he was over 24,000 years old. Shark continues, "Now this could
be the miscellaneous ramblings of an insane local, if it weren't for the
odd coincidences that we travelled a thousand ground klicks or so in three
days, and in one day came back. He says his grandparents came here
1200 years -- orbital years -- ago. It's really hard to talk to him,
too. For a scientifically literal minded person who thinks in straight
lines, it's very difficult to talk to him." He then mentions that it
was at Cormor Home, the only forest that uses high tech, that they got Mich's
refrigerator-heaters. "They fought it out, and Engineering lost --
Mich explains, "One turns into a perfect energy source, and the other a perfect energy sink."
Shark adds, "It starts out as IR, and goes up through to X-ray, and there's a catastrophic collapse when you come out of jump . Nine times out of ten they worked just fine, though."
"All the air in Engineering condenses around the cold one."
"And while they were building this equipment, we went on a hike. For some reason, we decided that someone was attempting to assassinate Mich again."
"We were taken deep into the forest, and we were supposed to be 'out of the way'," says Helia. "Out of the way of what is a good question."
They arrive at the small mall in First City. As
they approach, they can see the elevated rails of the train system, about
two stories above the ground.
Sharks says with glee, "They did have one fall off once. It went right through the top of the forest. We heard about it, we didn't see the actual damage. Oh, and if we go to a forest, be careful. It's a highly oxygenated environment."
"Great flying, though," adds Helia.
The bookstore here is small, and Shark can't find any year in review, or local news summary books. The group settles down at a cafe -- no alcohol, but there is caffeine at least. They relax for a while, drinking coffee with of course no milk.
After their short trip, they return to the yacht club for dinner. Vonish has been working with the chef all day. The meal is wonderful, and accompanied by a fine selection of local wines. Kalida is impressed -- this is worthy of the finest meals on Rhylanor . According to Vonish, the biggest local news is that the residential planner from Center died, and he son took over. The new development has been controversial, and there's been lots of discussion about it.
Dinner over, they all return to the ship for the night.
Shark practices with the sensors again, trying to see how far he can reach. Unfortunately he gets rather queasy at the motion of the ship in the water. On top of the heavy meal and the wine, that puts paid to his training session this time. He isn't done for the night, however -- before he goes to sleep, he puts his robodog in the air/raft, telling it to alert him if the gravcraft moves from its position on the patio.
Robert confirms that the currency hasn't changed in the last year.
The first start is the large library. Shark's
object is to look for history of known space, different from Imperial theories.
He's also looking for books with -- familiar -- writing. He approaches
the librarian, who points him in the right directions.
There are large sections in galanglic, but of course they can also translate the jannish with their hand computers. To Shark's disappointment, nothing here contradicts the Imperial view of history: the Ancients , the Final War, the seeding of worlds with humaniti and Vargr . There are books with pictures of Ancient artifacts, just as back in the Imperium.
As for books on ancient untranslated languages, he peruses the archaeology section. There are a lot of samples of language, and of ideograms, but nothing that he can identify positively. Robert confirms that none of them are the one he's looking for.
Shark then goes to a phone and calls the Sheriff of Cormor to see if anything's changed since last time. It hasn't -- the recorded message says that if they have business with him, they have to go there and do it in person. They see that as verifying their open invitation to visit Cormor Home.
Shopping continues. Shark, as is his habit, picks up some off-the-rack clothes that fit him. While doing so, he tells Kalida about the skin-tight jumpsuit that he and Helia obviously wear. It's quite practical -- full environmental outfit, keeps you warm in the cold and cool in the heat, with the faceplate pulled down, it works as a respirator and also allows you to breathe underwater. He says Misha has two, he has two, and Helia has three. If they go back to Goose , perhaps Kalida could get one too -- they have to be individually tailored. Oh, and you have to wear them often or they dry out.
Kalida is not interested in buying any clothes here. The fabric is coarser than Imperial, and she sees no reason to add to her wardrobe here. On the other hand, she does pick out a souvenir -- a small embroidered change purse.
The next stop is lunch. They walk to the mall entrance, and tell the taxi driver to take them to the best restaurant in town. The building looks like a hotel, and has a restaurant inside. It's clearly a higher-class establishment. Shark asks the driver to wait, and tips him in Imperial credits. Compared with the yacht club, this place suffers a little. No wine is available, of course, and while the food is very good indeed, it doesn't quite have that edge the yacht club does.
After lunch, it's back to the mall for more shopping.
The bookstore is the main focus of this visit.
Shark is looking for descriptions of ancient spacefaring races and so on. The Ancients pretty much covers it -- there's no record of any others around that time. Of course, they have no idea how new or old the Nightshade might be. Looking for remnants of ships of dead races is a little more productive, although the result is initially of dubious value. The book seems distinctly tabloid in its style and content.
A book on Mysterious Unexplained Mysteries, published outside the Imperium and translated from Gvegh, does have a picture of what looks like a fragment of a sidepod. It doesn't have where it was found -- this picture was going ot be part of an academic paper, but the author vanished mysteriously. There's also a sketch showing a slightly larger section in the same area of the ship. It names the Vargr researcher as Ounakne. This book they definitely want to buy. For actual Vargr texts, they'd need to go to somewhere else, like one of the Vargr worlds on the border with Foreven. The engineer on Kalida's last ship was planning a vacation on one of those worlds.
Kalida herself finds a slim volume on a company of interest to her. She buys it, also using the ship's local money that Shark has.
They do a little more browsing, check the train schedule for Cormor Home, then return to the Nightshade.
Helia, staying on the Nightshade this time, sends out xmail to her friends and family. Of course, they themselves might be the next ship to leave the system, but just in case, the message is on its way.
Dinner is again at the yacht club, and again is excellent indeed.
Shark spends the evening working on a control system
for gravbelt for his robodog. He thinks it would be fun for it to fly.
Everyone packs for the trip to Cormor Forest. Shark suggests they should be prepared for at least a week's trip.