The Voyages of the PS Nones
Chapter 25, The Execution
When last we left our heroes, they had discovered that they were having their 15 minutes of fame and were inundated with calls from the media. Fortunately, the Nones manages to screen out their calls (except the first, which we weren't expecting), and the media on the station is relatively well-behaved; other than persistent calls from every hack who thinks he can push a pencil, we haven't been bothered.
The last caller we talked to was Officer Kwaf who shared with us what they had learned by mind-reaming the murderer. He also passed on that the murderer was dying due to the effects of the massive stun it received when it was captured. Nobody is too sorry. In addition, we've been invited to an extradition to be held on Martshayla, the planet the station is orbiting. We agree to attend.
No sooner had we thanked Officer Kwaf for his call and hung up, than the screen lights again. It's Officer Kwaf once more. "I almost forgot. The Aerna requested that Dafnord bring his sword."
Dafnord gazes impassively at the screen. "Why?"
"They didn't say. Sorry to interrupt. Bye." And once more he rings off.
Since we've been invited to attend in "as formal and official manner as possible," everyone pulls out their best outfits or buys new ones. Brunalf licks himself all over. Twice, since it's a formal occasion. Dafnord has Salimar put a lock on Umbra so that only he can remove it from its scabbard.
As we're getting ourselves together, the Nones announces that we have a visitor. Dafnord goes to the lock to find that Pqdorn and Sliff have arrived to collect the fractal metals and crystals. They've brought purses which the propose to carry the materiel in. While Thrass are large, it would still take much longer than we have, and draw too much attention. Robbie suggests (from the tailor shop where he's being outfitted for the upcoming occasion) that this would be an excellent use of the teleporters. Morniesul relays this suggestion, to Pqdorn, who approves. Morniesul levitates, and Dafnord pushes one of the teleporters to the deck outside the ship, where Sliff simply picks it up and heads to the Thrass ship with it. Morniesul follows in a grav-sled.
Robbie and Gannar return to collimate and adjust the teleporter just as Sliff and Morniesul arrive at the Thrass ship. Dafnord & Company ship the metals and crystals through the teleporter in jig time.
Just as the teleporter is stowed and the Thrass have left, Foozhap calls and asks us to meet it for the descent to the surface. We arrive to find Foozhap, Officer Kwaf, several Blenari in the dress of Algis and Koranda clans, as well as a brown Aerna. In addition, a guard of Naza and Gargians are surrounding a big canister-like object. Through a gap in the guard around the cylinder we can make out the body of the pink unknown alien floating limply inside.
The Naza are heavily armed. The Blenari aren't armed at all, but they're carrying long poles. Each pole is about 10 feet long. There's something wrapped around them.
Foozhap is wearing its KaiSenese doggy sweater. As we walk up, it says, "Ah good, we can get on the ship," and leads the way to a ship shaped something like a giant silver acorn. There are high ceilings to accommodate the larger passengers.
Once aboard, Robbie politely goes to Foozhap and holds out a ectoplastic egg, decorated in a swirl of colors. "Greetings Sentient Foozhap. Have an egg."
Foozhap accepts the egg and puts it into its tail. "Greetings. I'm glad to see that you made it. I was afraid that you might have left some behind. Full participation is gratifying."
We chat with Foozhap and Officer Kwaf during the 2 periods it takes to descend from Martshayla Port to the surface. We land to find a relatively Earthlike environment. We're in a vast prairie of brown grass. A short distance away is a canyon with curiously squared-off walls. It's definitely artificial.
As we exit the ship, the two groups of Blenari raise their poles and unfurl banners. Brunalf asks Foozhap what they say. It replies, "They are clan insignia. Pardon me a moment. We must do the same." It gives some sort of signal and one the unknown Naza releases a KaiSenese logo that floats above it. One of the Gargians is walking around with a device that looks like it's a camera, recording events for posterity. When it is on the surface, the Aerna divides numerous times until there are 29 of them. Like the last time, the 29 Aerna seem to have much more mass than the single Aerna that descended with us.
Once we're all disembarked, Foozhap turns to the assembled group and announces, "The only method we have discovered to provoke a meeting with the inhabitants of the Authority Zone is by trespassing. This is what we're about to do. This appears to be a socket where a city once was. Please inform the others if you see the sudden appearance of a new species."
Robbie releases his eye. Salimar takes out the Map of Here.
Morniesul asks, "Are we trespassing, or are we about to trespass?"
"From past experience, we are trespassing when we start to descend into the socket."
Foozhap points to the canyon. "Socket. Where a city once was. They have never been violent. They have on occasion been brusque."
Foozhap leads the way along the rim of the sharp edged canyon until it gets to a place where there're a series of irregular steps. Robbie, Katerina and Morniesul realize that a new creature has appeared on the next step down. It's a metallic insectile centauroid. We've never seen anything like it before.
"Stop. The Authority forbids trespass in this--"
Foozhap interrupts: "We hold captive a member of one of your species. It has murdered seven individuals. It is dying from wounds received when we captured it. Do you claim it?"
The centauroid gapes at Foozhap. After a moment it says, "Wait, please," and disappears.
Foozhap marvels, "That may be the first time they've ever said 'please'."
Morniesul responds, "Then you should be congratulated on teaching them manners."
The creature reappears and states, "No. It is a citizen of an earlier regime," and disappears again.
After the second disappearance, all that can be heard is the wind whispering through the prairie grass. The nearest Aerna asks Dafnord, "Would you care to execute it?"
Dafnord considers, then asks, "Do you have a preferred ritual?"
The Aerna responds, "We thought it would be appropriate if you used the sword that it used to murder our kinsman."
Dafnord considers this for a few moments, and replies, "No. That would be bad."
The Aerna gestures, "Very well. We defer to your judgment."
Dafnord pulls out his blaster. As he starts forward, he feels a tap on his shoulder. Turning, he finds one of the Aerna which asks, "May I contribute?"
Dafnord replies, "Yes." The Aerna holds out its tentacle which quickly sprouts a gun. Dafnord looks back at the Blenari, "You are invited as well."
The Blenari talk among themselves. One of the Blenari in the garb of Algis clan comes forward. "We would like to contribute, but none of us has a gun at the moment."
Morniesul sets his glamour blaster to deep fry with moderate pyrotechnic effect, and hands it to the Blenari. There's a brief moment of whispered instruction, then the Blenari joins the other two.
During the exchange, Salimar asks Foozhap, "Is it appropriate to conduct the execution in this space?"
Foozhap's mandibles clack, then it replies, "If it causes a disturbance, so be it. Perhaps the Authority will warn us of hazards in the future."
When the three representatives are ready, one of the Gargians ripples (which might be a shrug) and opens the cylinder. The guards backs away and out of the line of fire.
The Aerna suggests, "Perhaps together, on the count of five?" Dafnord and the Blenari agree. The Aerna counts, "1, 2, 3, 4, 5." On the count of 5, beams leap out from the three weapons and incinerate the alien, along with the cylinder that was supporting it. It's not only merely dead, it's really most sincerely dead.
As he holsters his weapon, Dafnord observes, "It deserved no better."
The Aerna agrees, and then merges back with its fellows.
The Blenari bows to Morniesul and returns the glamour blaster.
Everyone files out of the city socket, leaving behind the smoking corpse. We board the silver acorn and fly back to Martshayla Port. The return trip is subdued and somber. We arrive at Martshayla Port and quietly head back to our ships.
When we arrive at the Nones, we find a message waiting from Kritstnik. It's ready for another visit, whenever we're available. We return the call and arrange for a meeting at the Obscura in two periods, with Erenthoth.
When they arrive, we've configured the lounge as a conference room. After the requisite chit-chat, Kritstnik says, "I've been investigating possibilities for you to buy up and take to your home point. I've also be considering where you could acquire them." It lists numerous luxury goods and displays holos of them, including Vorantine amber, gem-woods from Agentus, amph bone from Aphrodite, lion's egg pearls and hawk silk from Kun Lun.
As the last holo fades, Kate says, "I have no idea what those are, but they sound good." Morniesul is particularly struck by the possibilities of gem wood.
Kritstnik continues, "Another entire area of consideration is contemporary objects that you might like to use yourself. I observe that you've invested heavily in old teleports. You might want to consider a Projective Teleport. Here is the data sheet for one model you might find useful. It would cost you 3 million lucre points." It displays a motion-holo of a device that's capable of teleporting a relatively small frame from a larger unit without a receiver at the other end, then pulling the frame back. Only the originating unit needs to be powered. The power requirements would be too high for the Nones, but a larger ship could host it.
After we've watched the holo cycle a few times, Kritstnik continues, "Another possibility, a trifle more agile, is a Transilience Driver.
Never having heard of such a thing, Robbie asks, "Could you describe that?"
"It's popularly known as a Jaunt Cannon. The Transilience Driver works by sending a focused beam of energy to the destination point. The energy travels at 0.1c and cannot penetrate airtight barriers; the payload either drops at the barrier or bounces back. There is an unfortunate side effect; passengers can suffer vertigo and disorientation. However, this is offset by not needing to have a receiver at the destination site." Once more we watch a motion-holo demonstrating the device, complete with grinning models who are teleported from site to site, still determinedly grinning happily. In action, the device sends what looks like a lightning strike to the destination. When the glare clears, the passengers are left standing where the strike hit.
Morniesul observes, "It's a quick way of getting through all the silly bits," putting his own interpretation on the word "trans-silly-ence."
Thanks to Erenthoth's net, we can interpret Kritstnik's expression as amused. "You could put it that way... You might also be interested in a new autodoc."
This gets Dafnord's attention. "What's available?"
Once more Kritstnik displays a holo. This one starts by panning around the device, and then shows various species being treated by the unit. "This device is from Hygeiadyne Corp. of Earth. They have extremely sophisticated automation. It's programmed for all Terran races and the races that are common in Terran space."
Dafnord asks, "Is it a fixed or mobile unit?"
"It weighs 500 kg. It's a fixed unit. In addition to the pre-programmed races, it's self-updating and self-upgrading."
Brunalf asks, "It doesn't go out shopping, does it?"
This one certainly gets Kritstnik. "I don't think so." After a pause to shake off that question, it continues, "Then there are ships. There are five ships currently for sale in Martshayla Port that might be of use to you." It proceeds to show us holos of the vessels, with technical data displayed beneath each. Dafnord is particularly taken with the "Baron Munch," a retired Philippian destroyer made over for prospecting. Morniesul rather fancies the "Fancter," a research vessel from the University of Vorant. We can afford both...
Morniesul comments, "This brings up an interesting point. I am out of sequence with the rest of you, and when we get back, I should get back into sequence. However, I have a persona that is developing nicely in the future. I'd like to go back that at some time in the (subjective) future."
Kritstnik closes by saying, "I gather then that some of these goods meet with your approval. I recommend that you choose the machines that you are interested in, and then put a good chunk into luxury goods." We thank him for his help and promise to get back to him in the near future.
Once Kritstnik and Erenthoth have left, the Nones announces that Terran Space News has broadcast the results of the interview we gave. We crowd around a monitor which is displaying the tag "Terran Space News datacast, 18:00 GMT 16 May 2553." After a moment, the tag fades, and is then replaced by a well dressed female announcer sitting at a desk with a view of Martshayla Port behind her. The caption "Martshayla Port Murders" appears over her left shoulder. She looks earnestly out of the screen for a moment and then launches into the story, "In Martshayla Port, the main Conventional outpost in the mysterious Authority Zone, security agents of the KaiSenese consulate arrested a multiple murderer of unknown species."
The playback ends.
Last Updated: 7-Oct-06
©2004 Barry Tannenbaum, All Rights Reserved