The Voyages of the PS Nones
Chapter 2, Yuri's Ship
We left our heroes entertaining two unexpected guests -- Captain Yuri Alexandreivitch Yanov and his companion Chartze, a Kishaer. They are time-explorers from the Co-Dominion line, investigating the Mystery of the Missing Martians.
Unfortunately, they are currently on the United Earth line, and the only way we have to get them back to their own line is through one of two small doorways, which means leaving their ship behind.
(We considered shrinking it magically, but it's just too damned BIG for Tom's Second Order Glamour to handle.)
How about a financial solution? That is, how would it be if we took Yuri and Chartze through to their home line (where it is several centuries later than when they left -- 2800s or thereabouts, while they come from four or five centuries earlier), and then help them buy a new starship with which they could go time- traveling in their own line? (It helps that we're rich.)
Yuri tells us there is a lot of unique equipment on his ship, that he couldn't replace with money. We would need to take some of the original ship through in chunks.
Tom telepaths Dafnord, who is over in Pericles returning the Nones, and asks him to drop by the Crosstime warehouse and look at the omniport there, to see if the portal to the Co-Dominion line can be adjusted for size. Dafnord complies but finds the portal is fixed at 3x3 meters.
Tom relays this data to Yuri, who starts calculating what is and is not feasible about dismantling his ship. He decides he "only" needs to take a few 20-ton pieces and one very dangerous and exotic 3-ton piece. ("Not all lost technologies stay lost," he enigmatically remarks, hinting that his ship is of non-human make.) So now we "just" have to smuggle these multi-ton jigsaw pieces through a 3x3 meter doorway, from one version of Pericles' warehouse district to another, without, please, attracting attention or, of course, making the exotic one blow up or end the world or whatever it is in danger of doing.
The more he considers this, the less appealing Yuri finds it, and one can see why. He tacitly rejects the financial solution and suggests he just try some time-traveling here, on our line. "You want to investigate the Missing Martians here?" Tom asks.
"Why, are any of your Martians missing?" Yuri asks back. Tom has no idea -- he didn't study that part of history in any detail -- but we could check. A quick session with the local public library reveals that yes, the United Earth line had a case of Missing Martians too. A slightly different year and place, but a clear parallel.
Yuri is delighted. "I can either investigate the Calvary Conundrum here, or, if I can approach these Martians, I can investigate a parallel case, which will give insight into our own case as well as being interesting in its own right."
We agree to fly back in time the first 30 years with him -- his destination date is a lot further back -- but first, how would he and Chartze like a month's shore leave instead of the originally proposed three days? Sounds good.
We show him the underground gymnasium and target range, and he and Chartze settle into a routine of rest and training with us. Chartze does aerobic power-lifting in an effort to keep up his muscle tone in our feeble gravity (he being used to 3g or so). He and Yuri are also both very good with quarterstaff.
A couple of days later, we get a call from a Crosstime company computer. It's in accounting and has noticed all the weapons we got recently. "You are expending budget out of sequence," it tells us. "When you get back in sequence, you are expected to repay in full into an interest-bearing account." Trans-temporal bean-counting. We use the hardcopy for target practice.
Training continues. At the end of the third week, Green shows up and asks Dafnord (who happened to answer the door) how things are going. "Fine." Anything to report? Dafnord cautiously eats a cracker as a Wafer of Discretion and tells Green, "He's out of sequence." There. No choking on timelocks. Dafnord is certainly not going to tell him our visitor may be an earlier "representation" of Green's own boss, one Admiral Yanov. Green appreciates tight-lipped answers and leaves.
Salimar pumps Yuri about his recent adventures. The Battle of Lanthil was the most recent exciting bit. He seems fated to be sucked into it over and over. He arrived here on a recent attempt to leave the Battle.
Salimar offers to check over his ship for dimensional anomalies, using the Map of Here. He is nervous but agrees. He reveals that he "traded up" to this ship, that it is really a very ancient piece of alien technology produced by some Elder Race, and he doesn't understand its works fully. (Shades of the pantope.)
He remarks again on how it seems attracted to the Battle, and Tom vaguely suggests it is swept in by all the time-travel traffic into the Battle. This brings up who Yuri saw there, and reveals the fact that some of us (Kate, actually) are elves. This startles Yuri, but after dragons and chaos, what's an elf or so?
Is there any connection between elves and Yuri's Missing Martians? Salimar obligingly plays forensic artist and shifts according to Yuri's descriptions of Martians. They were tall, like elves, and thin, but more raw-boned, red-skinned rather than pale, and barrel-chested as an adaptation to thin air. No match.
Yuri now gives Salimar a tour of his ship -- the first time any of us have been inside. Salimar pokes about psychically as they go. Some of the rooms look and feel just human or Kishaer. The architecture is large and very high-vaulted. Occasional rooms feel rather weird. She lingers in one such and asks to be left alone, so she can do retrocognition. Yuri is edgy, but agrees.
Salimar's retro has to reach way, way back, and finds no dramatic incidents to latch onto. Instead, there is a general impression of steady, businesslike coming and going by the Elders, who turn out to be a tall, vaguely sauroid race, though shorter in the tail than a bipedal dinosaur would be. She notes a lot of their phantoms going to a certain place in the wall of the cabin.
Poking about clairvoyantly, she finds a faint rectangular outline and psi-proofing of some sort. She tries a spell of Opening she learned from Lorelei, who learned it in Hreme. It works beautifully and the panel pops open. Inside, we have an alien wall safe, or something. It contains brittle sheets of paper or plastic, almost totally decayed, little metal screwed up ends of whatnot, and a nifty construction of wires and oval crystals, forming a mesh ball of a handy size for an extra-large, four-fingered hand with spare knuckles, such as the Elders had.
Salimar adapts her hand to that spec and picks it up. The crystals glow slightly, she notes, even after all this time. She takes it and the little metal scraps out to Yuri. He's amazed and a bit chagrined; he and Chartze have been on the ship for years and never stumbled on this. He notes that the mesh ball feels thermally neutral -- neither hot nor cold. And the crystals glow a bit more for him than for Salimar.
She takes it back -- the glow persists -- and gives it another psychic once-over. It isn't sentient, but it has a feel reminiscent of a sentient machine. She can't contact anything telepathically. She gives it back to Yuri.
He now runs a careful analysis on his ship, looking for hidden compartments. He finds a few but can't open them. Salimar "demonstrates" the opening spell, but that's hardly helpful. In the end, she gives him a wand with the spell patterned into it. This produces, along with some scraps, two more mesh balls and a little mesh ping-pong ball, which Yuri gives to Salimar in thanks.
By now, our self-awarded shore leave is over.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.