The Voyages of the PS Nones
Chapter 10, Establishing a History
We start today's episode by deciding whether we should head to Loald. One argument is that we should get there early and sell Aelwe into slavery ourselves. Another possibility is to buy him so that we can abuse him ourselves. Then again, considering the possibility of explaining what we've done to causality to Daewen, fighting impossible foes against incredible odds doesn't sound that bad.
Since there's nothing more that we want to do on Meth, we decide to leave immediately. We'll arrive 18 days before Aelwe is going to leave his note.
During the trip, Salimar offers to tint the snow in the snow globes octarine. Given the reaction we got to the octarine presentation box at Safacal's that should make them sell if anything does. The Nones offers to resume the training drills. We decide that it wouldn't be a good idea. Dafnord pumps iron. Robbie hacks into the robot and discovers that its primary purpose in life is to cuddle up to the person it's been impressed on. He impresses Brunalf's image on it. Brunalf isn't too happy about this, but it keeps him busy batting the robot around. This doesn't do anything good for the robot's purple covering, which was pretty ratty to begin with. Salimar ectoplasts a new covering onto it and Robbie puts the robot away.
We drop out of hyperstate and find ourselves at Loald. The system features a closely spaced pair of orange suns. We follow the usual beacons in and are directed into a docking bay at Tybaud Sky, Loald's orbital station. The station extrudes a gang-plank to the Nones, presumably surrounded by a diffusion field to keep the air in. Just to be sure, we have the Nones confirm that there a breathable atmosphere outside the lock.
Shortly after we've docked, there's a knocking at the airlock. Dafnord opens it to find a gentleman in a gold and purple uniform. He asks to see the cargo and engineering holds. This customs agent is much more laid back than the pair at Meth. Inspecting the weapons locker, he tells Dafnord that we're only allowed to bring stunners aboard the station. The only comment on the dragon is, "Huh. Haven't seen one with two eyes before." Morniesul has the customs man check over his glamour gun. He's puzzled by the gun, and comments that he considered himself something of an expert on exotic armament. The scanner doesn't detect it as a weapon. Dafnord gives him a standard stunner for reference. The stunner scans properly. The customs agent suggests, "Perhaps it is broken?"
Morniesul replies "Probably not, but it works on unusual principals."
"Well, I can't very well register this as a dangerous weapon..."
Morniesul thanks him for inspection and says that would be fine. Shaking his head, the customs man slaps a sticker on the door and leaves.
We check the Loald net for slave auctions. Records are kept by the labor ministry. The last batch was auctioned off 3 months ago. There are 74 slaves that have been sold in the last 3 months. A quick scan by the Nones finds Aelwe recorded as having been sold 5 months ago for 700 marks under the name of Elwin. He's listed as being 15 at the time of the auction. He was bought by a man named Ohmet who lives in Tybaud Yards. The labor ministry acquired Aelwe from a Captain Meed, listed as an imperial citizen.
We do a title search on the slave known as Elwin. The only recorded transaction is when Ohmet bought him. A bit of spadework finds that Ohmet is a jeweler who lives in an apartment above his jewelry store in an upper-middle class section of Tybaud Yards.
We then ask the Nones to search for information on Captain Meed. It finds information in the spaceport database. He shows up once every two years or so with a slave or two and "trade goods." He hasn't been back since he brought "Elwin" in.
We have the Nones search the public libraries for laws on slavery. It reports that it is illegal to enslave by force an imperial citizen or a member of a diplomatic mission. It is illegal to conduct slaving operations within the empire. However non-citizens are up the creek without a paddle.
Morniesul asks how much the nearest house to Mr. Ohmet is. The nearest residence for sale is 2 blocks over, 4 blocks down and is going for 33,000 marks.
He then asks how one gets to be an imperial citizen. In order to become an imperial citizen (if you're wealthy) you need to get a residency permit and live within the empire for a number of years, then apply. The required period on Loald is 4 years.
We ask what the empire needs to establish a family relationship. DNA matching, among other possibilities. We have questions about whether Morniesul and Aelwe will match as relatives, but then Aelwe IS Morniesul's uncle. We have the autodoc "taste" Morniesul. He tests as human.
Morniesul announces that he wants us to travel back 5 years. He'll live on Loald and become an imperial citizen. After Aelwe leaves the note, we'll confront Ohmet with the fact that he has illegally (or at least embarrassingly) bought the relative of an imperial citizen and (generously) offer to reimburse him for his trouble. Simple and straightforward. And what's 5 years to an elf who's already lived 928?
For goods to establish Morniesul as a trader, we decide to return to Meth and offer Safacal a number of octarine boxes for 1 million marks of assorted jewelry. During the journey back to Meth, Salimar makes 10 more boxes, one of which is particularly fine, like moonstone with octarine inlay. When we arrive, Katrina calls Safacal's and makes an appointment. She gets the clerk that we spoke to a week ago. We get an appointment for that afternoon. Dafnord, Robbie and Morniesul return to Safacal's. Safacal is not in evidence, but the clerk leads us into the back room where Safacal is waiting.
"Such a pleasant surprise to see you back in port so soon. You have no idea how much entertainment marketing your gems have given me."
"I have a consignment of 10 boxes that I would be interested in selling."
(Hesitantly.) "I suppose that I should... I should look at them."
Morniesul picks one at random. Purely coincidentally, he pulls out the nicest one.
"Ohhh my. Are they all like this?"
"Well, that is perhaps the nicest."
"I'm sure that it's quite valuable. I'd be very happy to ... May I see the others?
By the time that she's done looking at them, Safacal's eyes are watering.
"I engaged a mindsmith to look at the last box. He says that there's certainly glamour involved, but that there must be a telepathic component. He was most interested in pursuing his investigation further."
"I'm sure he was."
"I'd be happy to purchase these from you, but it may take me a while... Well, what were you thinking of asking."
"One million marks."
"It may take me a while to gather the funds."
"In that case, perhaps we can work a trade. I have to extricate a relative from," Morniesul takes a deep breath and sighs, "trouble. So I have to establish a certain amount of trade on Loald. I was thinking that I'd buy approximately a million marks of jewelry from you. I can offer you a number of things. First, I can offer to pay cash. Second, I can offer that for one decade that I will not sell boxes like these to anyone on this planet."
Safacal grins, "I believe we can do business."
Safacal and Morniesul select a wide array of gems and jewelry from both the display cases and Safacal's vaults. There are all the usual gems in both the natural and synthetic versions. There are exotic gems from non-terrestrial worlds. Nothing too spectacular, usual, or new materials. We wind up with a small catalog of gems and jewelry. Safacal packs them into a large suitcase which Dafnord carries in his left hand, leaving the right hand with easy access to his goop gun.
Returning to the Nones, we also purchase a load of biotechnic equipment, a specialty of Meth. We buy various forms of tissue culture which appears to be involved with food industry, as well as seed stocks of genetically tailored protozoa. All in all, we buy 1/2 million marks of biotechnic goods. They're not datable, and they're less valuable on Meth now than on the Loald of five years ago.
Having filled our hold, we return to Loald and journey 5 years into the past. The trip takes less than a day. Before we dock, Morniesul carefully returns his glamour gun to his book. After all, the customs agent hadn't seen one before. No need to tempt fate by leaving it around.
We dock and clear customs, with a different customs agent. The only sticky moment was when he asked for our citizenship papers and we realized that they were issued five years in the future. Fortunately, Moncair left off any dates. Such considerate people. We'll have to stop there again on our way home.
We open a local bank account and then offer the biotechnic equipment on the net. We get 800,000 marks for it. We now have 800,000 contemporary marks. Not a bad day's work.
A check of the net shows that Ohmet is still (already?) at the same location in Tybaud Yards. We buy a house a few blocks away. It shortly has the a kick-ass safe and the best security system we can reasonably install. We also install a major atmospheric control in one room for the elven musical instruments. The 1/10 of the jewels and all of Morniesul's stuff are moved to the house. Robbie, Katrina, Salimar, Markel & Dragon decide to hang out on Loald, while Kate, Dafnord, and Brunalf elect to stay with the Nones. The Nones will return every 6 months to offload another 1/10 of the jewels and check up on things.
A day or two after the Nones departs, Morniesul knocks up Ohmet. His jewelry store is in a nice part of town. When he arrives, a woman is tending the counter. She's Berla, Ohmet's wife. Morniesul browses for a bit. The mix of jewelry on display is a bit pricey for the quality, but we can certainly sell our gems here. Morniesul introduces himself to Berla and offers to sell some baubles he collected on his journeys. Berla calls in her husband. Ohmet is short, tending to plump. He's also dressed in severely elegant style, much like Safacal. It must be the uniform for jewelers.
Morniesul introduces himself and offers Ohmet a catalog of half this six-month's selection. Ohmet is interested in doing business. Morniesul haggles and loses gracefully, leaving Ohmet believing that he's gotten a good deal. He pays 60,000 marks for the jewelry we bought from Safacal for about 50,000 marks. While Ohmet is the one who dickers, Berla is the one who prices everything.
After concluding the deal, Morniesul asks Ohmet to recommend a dealer in fine musical instruments. Ohmet doesn't know any, but Berla recommends an import/export house. Morniesul sells them an elven flute.
A few days later, Morniesul wanders into Ohmet's shop and spends 1/2 an hour buying "just the right" piece of jewelry. Ohmet is a pompous ass. He tries to guide Morniesul to gaudy, showy gems. Morniesul eventually chooses the best gem for the price he wants to spend.
About 3 months after we've settled in and the Nones has departed, we get a second house in the country. Markel becomes very knowledgeable about the Loaldian flora and fauna. Salimar glamours a cyclopean illusion onto the dragon so it can roam at will. Markel is very amused that anyone could possibly mistake the dragon for a native creature, but it works for most folks.
Over the course of our relationship with Ohmet and Berla, we discover that they have a slave named Adam. Two years after we arrive, Adam's family buys out his contract for 550 marks.
In the third year, Salimar morphs into something that looks like Aelwe and makes a visit to the ranch. Various acquaintances meet "him." Morniesul makes a point to publicly buy a holo frame for a picture of him and "Aelwe" from the import/export dealer he sold the flute to.
At the end of 4 years, we all get Imperial citizenship.
A couple of months before Aelwe is captured, we start circulating report that Morniesul's uncle is missing. Morniesul makes a very public effort to find him through our social circle, which does not include Ohmet and Berla. After a month or two, the efforts fade away.
After five years on Loald, we've amassed about 3 million marks.
Just before Ohmet buys Aelwe, Robbie sneaks his eye into the shop. It's perched on a high shelf overlooking the shop. Ohmet leads Aelwe home looking very smug. Aelwe is not looking smug at all. In fact he's looking rumbled and grubby and wearing a slave collar. When we next see him, he's wearing black over white -- servant garb. And his hair has been cut very short.
Over the next 7 weeks, we hear lots of yelling from Ohmet and Berla, and watch Aelwe go about his assigned tasks sullenly. We're very careful to stay away.
Finally, Ohmet takes Aelwe to the spaceport to fetch and carry. Markel follows them at a distance. They stop at a geometrical fast food for lunch. Markel leans against a wall and watches as Ohmet leaves Aelwe at a table while he goes to the counter to order their food. Suddenly Aelwe looks up and grins. Reaching into the clipboard that Ohmet was carrying, he pulls out a piece of paper and scribbles THE NOTE and wedges it under the table. Ohmet returns with the food, they eat and leave. Markel stays and watches the table. Moments after Ohmet and Aelwe leave, a young looking woman gets up from the other end of the food court, comes to the table and plucks the paper out, looks at it, and scowls at it. She then thinks long and hard about it. Then she puts it back under the table and goes away.
Markel continues to watch. 6 minutes later, a man in an off-planet outfit comes by. He sits down at the table, crosses his legs and hears a paper rustle. Looking under the table, he finds THE NOTE. He pulls it out and reads it. Then he looks around. When he's certain he's not being watched, he runs his hand over the note. He folds it up and puts it in his pocket and leaves the food court. Salimar launches a second-sight viewpoint to follow Markel, who's following the gent with the note. Markel loses the guy when he goes through customs. Salimar's viewpoint follows the guy to a ship which claims to be the Bruncal. When the guy enters the ship, Salimar attempts to steer the viewpoint after him. Unfortunately, her viewpoint bounces off the psilence in the ship. Robbie queries the net to find that the Bruncal is a small trader out of Moncair.
Meanwhile, Aelwe and Ohmet return to the shop. Aelwe looks much happier than we've ever seen him. He's tasked to clean the cases and is left alone. He pulls out a piece of paper and looks at it. The front is an ad for a house sitting service. The back has a message. "Wait. You are safer where you are, for now. If you can pull background, check for 'Heksenyager.' But LAY LOW."
Robbie taps into the net to check for "Heksenyager." He also asks the Nones to look. The Nones finds a possible lead in an ancient Terrestrial language called "German". In German, "Hexenjager" means "witchhunter".
Last Updated: 7-Oct-06
©2004 Barry Tannenbaum, All Rights Reserved