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Lords of Being

Chapter 24: Colorado Vacation

by Barry Tannenbaum

New Blood Logs:

Tom Noon's Tale


In Chaos

Voyages of the Nones



Mother Goose Chase

Ancient Oz


Adventures of the Munch

Lanthil & Beyond

We arrive at Longhorn’s ranch off of Gambler’s Trail, somewhere in Colorado, west of Denver. There’s a hanger at the end of the airfield.

Hellgrammite scouts the house and surrounding area. The house is locked up. He checks the usual places where the key might be stashed. He finds a set stashed under a rock, just off the porch. He returns to the door to find that Glass has already gone in and unlocked the house. It helps when one can walk through walls freely. The keys also unlock:

  • The garage which has a couple of Jeeps and a well appointed automotive workshop.
  • A barn with chickens. Clearly someone has been tending them, but they don’t appear to be here now.
  • The hanger, which is fortunately empty.

The hanger wasn’t built for a plane this side, but it will fit. Barely.

In the morning, a station wagon comes down the driveway. A middle-aged, weather beaten woman gets out. She looks at Mabel who’s sitting on the porch with Hookie. “How do you do. I’m Jennie Pepperel. Are you a guest of Longhorns?”

“At one remove. My friend Jonathan is a friend of Longhorn’s.”

“I come by when he’s away.”

“Oh you’re the one who looks after the chickens.”

“Yes. And I clean the house.” She goes and perfunctorily knocks at the door and then enters. After a survey of the house to see what needs cleaning, she leaves a note in the kitchen saying that if we want supplies, she’ll bring them in from Fairplay if we give her money. She tends the chickens, and then leaves.

As the dust from Jennie’s car settles, Hellgrammite pulls up in a Jeep. He’s going to his house on the other side of Denver and is looking for someone to accompany him to pickup his toolbox. He’ll be driving the toolbox back, so they should be a driver. Mabel asks him to pick up some raw chewtoys if they’re handy. Glass asks for some fiber optic cable and silicon rubber.

Neville offers to accompany him. They drive to Hellgrammite’s house and load up the toolbox. Hellgrammite ransacks the tool bin and scrap heap and loads it with anything he thinks might be useful. While he’s rummaging through the scrap heap, there’s a blockage. Within 30 seconds is goes away. It must have been a “normal” blockage. He returns to the heap.

After a day of rest, Captain Barron is bored and goes to the hanger to see what can be done to help out. He finds Glass at work in the cockpit, who tells him that the sleeper cabins are due to be delivered within 24 hours and asks him if he’d be willing to remove the couch, table and chairs which are where they Pullman cabins will go.

Glass asks, “I’ve been meaning to ask. Are there any particular heads up displays that you would find useful?”

“I’ve never flown with any before, but I have seen them in the simulators and they do seem nice. What did you have in mind?”

“I can do just about anything you want with glass. So far we’ve just got night vision and magnification.”

“Looking out the window and seeing the radar would be nice.”

Captain Barron goes to the back to start removing the furniture, leaving Glass to work in the cockpit.

Hellgrammite and Neville return from Denver to find Captain Barron has made friends with some of the little clanks who are helping him disassemble the couch, table and chairs. Hellgrammite is surprised that they’re willing to take direction from Barron and Glass. Glass has what looks like a glass octopus helping him.

Hellgrammite has the toolbox disgorge its load of clanks and directs them to start disassembling the engines and the cockpit. He’s going to replace the engines with plasma jets and add a kill-switch to the cockpit which will disable all of the computer controlled avionics. As the clanks are breaking down one of the equipment racks, Catalyst enters.

Hellgrammite asks “Is rebuilding the pilot’s cabin going to prevent you from flying the plane?”

Catalyst responds, “There’s going to be a little lag here. I don’t really know how to fly a plane. I just read the training that has been left in it. But Barron is going to figure it out soon enough, and then I’ll pick it up from him.”

After returning to the ranch from Hellgrammite’s house, Neville goes for a walk, gets a ways away from the ranch, sits down and and thinks: “Are you still in there?”

He looks down, and there’s a pile of goo in his lap. He thinks, “What happened to you?”

Asirus becomes rigid disk in his lap. The next thing that Neville is aware of is jerking awake from a micronap. All he can remember is a terrible explosion.

Neville thinks, “Can I do anything to help you?” The goo soaks through his shirt. Neville guess’ not. Or perhaps what he can do is provide shelter and nutrients.

Over the course of the next week:

  • Glass and Hellgrammite rebuild the cockpit. If features advanced sensors and heads-up displays. All of the avionics are run through a kill-switch to prevent another ghost from attempting to take over the aircraft. Fortunately this plane is old enough that the backup controls are all manual. Hellgrammite work with Captain Barron to program a new autopilot, and Captain Barron trains on the new controls is simulation mode. Catalyst sits in to soak up as much of the training as he can.
  • Mabel works on acquiring prana through dog training.
  • Neville investigates local legends at the library in Fairplay.
  • Hellgrammite comes up with a lightning gun, as well as a gun that “throws” an EMP. He builds lightning guns for Barron & Neville, as well as a pair of lightning pistols for Neon (with enameled red handles). He and Neon shows Glass how to build them. He improves it so that the mirrors are perfect, until he wants one to be imperfect. And then it packs one hell of a wallop as a laser. Who needs lightning?
Glass presents Barron with a pair of glass goggles. They’re anticipation goggles. They will superimpose an image which is a short time in the future. Barron is rather freaked out by these, but tries them on anyway. He stumbles around a lot because nothing is where he expects it to be. He eventually decides that the best place to exercise with the anticipation goggles is in the cockpit, in simulation mode.

A week has passed.

It’s a sunny day in a Colorado summer. Suddenly, all of the Courtiers and the Knights feel very tired. It feels like everyone has just lost a lot of prana. The two knights remember that this is what Dealer and Decker said it would feel like if someone pulled a Ka on them. Somewhere in the world, their astral doubles have been summoned to negotiate a service.

Their doubles are somewhere under a starry sky, on a highway, in a dessert. In front of them is a big black Mercedes Benz is a heavily built, well attired, black man holding a card on which is a VII.

Last Updated: Sep 4, 2009
©2009 Barry Tannenbaum, All Rights Reserved

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