The Voyages of the PS Nones
Chapter 4, Creating Trade Goods
When last we left our heroes, they were preparing to head off to the Terraform Reach 3000 years into the future in search of Aelwe who's been sold into slavery. The party was discussing what trade goods they could take to use as a stake.
Robbie tries asking the house computer for suggestions. It informs him that it's not programmed to respond to questions in this area. He tries again to see whether there are any notes from family members who've time traveled. The computer responds with a bunch of warnings about dealing with Allied Epochs. Nothing interesting.
Salimar pulls out her liaison's protocol manual to look up appropriate gifts. It suggests "flashy organic things. For example, pearls." Tom suggests exotic foods, for example genuine Helene crab meat. Cheese was very popular while he was in the Terraform Reach. Salimar volunteers to get the good tasting things and go shopping for "interesting" fabrics. Katrina decides to join her as a "human" fashion consultant. Brunalf volunteers to help choose foodstuffs.
Dafnord will get a good assortment of books. Robbie will gather a collection of interesting alien artifacts. For example, alien snow globes.
Salimar asks about Universities on Moncair. Tom doesn't remember any, but there's likely to be one, but it's likely to be in cyberspace.
Markel plans to get plush toys, posters, pins and other collectibles and ephemera.
Kate decides to buy videos. We're facing a 4 week journey to the Terraform Reach, so we can watch the videos to while away the time, and then sell them.
We're aiming for the 56th century. The empire in the process of relaxing from a tyrannical emperor (who was (will be?) recently assassinated, to no one's sorrow). The new emperor is a clone of the previous emperor, but he's on a very short leash which is held by the imperial senate.
Tom points out that non-humans are few and far between in the Terraform Reach. This means that Brunalf (the neo-cat) should generally keep quiet. Markel's dragon will have to be glamoured small and "pet like." And Robbie will have to go back to the "New You" shop for a more human-like body covering.
Morniesul had mentioned that there were Faerie musical instruments back at the house. Tom volunteers to go through the mirror to get them and take care of an errand or two of his own.
We call an aircar and go off to Pericles to shop. Morniesul joins us to window shop, since he already has a bag of elfish jewels. Tom waves good-bye as we head off, and then goes through the mirror to the house to find the instruments and attend to his errands.
While we're shopping, we arrange with the company for a vacuum worthy shipping crate to be delivered to the ranch so we can fill it with the items we intend to travel into the future "the old fashioned way." The group scatters into the back streets of Pericles to shop. We regroup as evening falls and fly home.
Mr. Jacobson welcomes us warmly when we arrive at the ranch. Salimar asks him if there's any word from Tom. There isn't. Robbie and Dafnord start dividing things into those things that go with us in the Nones, and those things that need to age.
Salimar goes out to the Nones and asks it to identify any hostilities in the zone we're going to . There doesn't appear to be any in the Ecumen, but there are in the Reach. Three starfaring races are active in the area during our target time. The Nones gives her "Cliff Notes for Aliens" She also asks for a moon in an uninhabited solar systems where we can stash the items we need to age. The Nones gives us the coordinates of a dull little moon in a solar system about 10 parsecs outside the Reach.
When we wake in the morning, Tom has come back with 9 musical instruments; 4 flutes, 3 harps, 2 dulcimers. He also has a little crystal vial. He says it's been bothering him that none of us really speak Universum. The potion in the vial should teach us all the language.
Robbie tries the potion, and nothing happens. He contacts the Nones and downloads the dictionary and grammar. Salimar, Kate and Markel drink the potion, and are immediately fluent. Katrina and Morniesul can speak the language, but they understand more than they can speak. Nothing appears to happen to Brunalf or Dafnord. Either they'll keep quiet (the best bet for Brunalf anyway) or they'll have to learn the language during the trip.
As we prepare to depart, Tom asks us to all come back "soon" with the tale of how we rescued Aelwe. He also gives us a particularly flaky cracker and warns us to give it to Aelwe at the first opportunity. Tom also instructs the Nones on the path it is to take, and that is to take our orders.
Our departure from Helene is uneventful. The Nones engages it's hyperspace motors, and we're on our way. Faced with a week of travel, we train. Unfortunately, there's very little space to train in, so physical things are pretty limited.
3 Days out, there's an alarm. Robbie asks the computer what the problem is. The Nones responds "Evacuate the ship" Robbie asks "Why?" The Nones responds "This is a drill. Evacuate the ship." Robbie asks ship where the evacuation suits are. The computer eventually tells Robbie that the diffusion belts are in a locker in the tool room. Robbie fetches the diffusion belts and hands them out to everyone, including the dragon, and leads everybody to the airlock. Unfortunately, the airlock will only hold half of the party. Robbie, Brunalf, Markel, and Morniesul crowd in. The computer reminds the party that Markel, Robbie and Brunalf that need to activate their belts. Robbie points out that he's a robot, and that Brunalf is in his own carrier. Markel presses the big red button on the belt, activating the diffusion field. Robbie asks the computer for the location of safety lines and fishes them out of the cabinet by the airlock. Once everybody is strapped together, the airlock evacuates, and the gravity field drops to zero. The door opens on complete blackness. Robbie and Brunalf start out, only to discover that Morniesul has backed into a corner and refuses to come out. He's never been in free fall, and has no intention on leaving this perfectly good space ship when there's nowhere to go "out there." Despite our best efforts, he refuses to budge. Eventually, we agree to cancel the drill and return to the airlock.
Once back in the ship, Robbie asks the Nones to hold off on these little drills until we've had some Zero-G training. He also asks what other drills are likely. The Nones tells him about fire drills, what the alarm sounds like, and what the procedure to follow is. He also asks what other regularly procedures there are. The Nones tells him of it's regularly scheduled maintenance. Robbie notes what needs to be done when.
On the 6th day, we try a little Zero-G training. We start by dropping the gravity field to ĠG. The dragon responds to the feeling that it's falling by trying to fly. Had it been in a diffusion belt, it's wings would be outside the diffusion field, in vacuum. Definitely not good for thin tissues. We try to explain, through Markel, that everything is all right and the dragon should settle down. It refuses to be convinced. Eventually, Salimar gives up and creates a "cat carrier" around the dragon. This definitely doesn't please it. We explain that either it travels in a "cat carrier" or it settles down. This results in a huffy dragon.
We resume the training by dropping the gravity field to 1/8G. The dragon sits quietly and glares at us. Fair enough. However, Morniesul is not pleased to be falling again. He backs into a corner and crouches in it, grumpily. The rest of us continue the training, getting down to zero G without incident.
We return to normal space just after breakfast the next morning. We're approaching an airless planetoid orbiting a red star, about 10 parsecs outside of what will become the Terraform Reach in 3000 years. Within an hour, we are in orbit over the planet.. We select a location in the center of one of the maria and land there. Dafnord and Robbie build a hole and bury our treasure crate. The one that Salimar had put a trigger glamour on so that we could find it again later. We take off and Salimar creates a TK windstorm to remove any evidence of our having been there.
We then spend 2 weeks going 3000 years into the future. We train some more at "Ooze and Go Seek" and other diversions. At the end of the two weeks, we leave hyperspace near a familiar red sun. It's the 15th. We're 30 days before Aelwe will leave his message. We land at the same general place. Salimar locates the crate a couple of K away. The Nones moves closer. Robbie and Dafnord go out and dig up the crate which is untouched. We open the crate, discover it hasn't been bothered and bring it aboard.
Before we leave, we hold a planning session with the Nones. It will cost us several hundred marks to get ID papers, and several hundred a day in port fees. Tom has an account on Moncair with a "current" balance of 6700 marks which he said we could use to establish ourselves.
The Nones tells us that it has two unused identities; the MV Dubious, and MV Gnomen. We choose to use the MV Dubious. As the curtains fall, we're heading for Moncair to convert some of our trade goods into contemporary currency. We should be there in a week, 23 days before Aelwe will call for help.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.