Chapter 116: Shore Leave
We left our heroes tidying up after the first installment of the Nephilim Exodus has been successfully unloaded. In the process, we've acquired a pantope-full of supplies for Timmons and his crew.
We go back to Timmons‚s last coordinates and present him with the goods. Since, from his point of view, we left moments ago, he's confused at first, like most people coping with the pantope for the first time. He also remarks that he's short-handed, since he didn't expect to hop over one more timeline to set up his supply chain. He now has to set up a base on New Hierow, on the United Earth line.
He'd like the base to be underground, near some hydroelectric power. Robbie consults the atlas given us by the Hierowesch and hunts up some suitable caverns for him. Next, we solve his staffing problem by taking back to the New Dawn Yards, via pantope.
There, we startle Gorf, the dwarf engineer who built the subterrean. Once he gets over our way of showing up right after leaving, he's eager to enlist with Timmons and help at the new base. We fast-forward a day while he fetches a couple of elves and some "Lads" like Drumthortle's -- a motley selection of minor earth fays.
Having solved the staffing problem, we then spend a fair bit of sweat unloading all the equipment Timmons needs at his various sites on various timelines. Kate takes the occasion to borrow Tom's centaur amulet, so she can haul more.
That done, Dafnord votes for a week or two off, for the pantope crew. What has our home era got to offer in the way of pleasure planets? There's Adonis -- sort of "Hippies Colonize the North Woods." Hm. How about Margaron? Lots of semi-tropical islands and a good tourist industry. And he wants to take the Munch, not try gating around with the pantope. (This is fine with Tom, who would have to pull some tricks to find his way to Margaron in the pantope.)
To the Munch! Dafnord calls up Jumping Jacks, in our present, and asks them to get it ready for departure tomorrow. They don't even need to be covert about it.
While Dafnord putters around the Munch and takes a relaxing air-car ride back to the ranch, the rest of us gate there immediately to see how the clean-up operations are going. (See "Pixie Ricochet.") Jeffers, our unflappable mundane caretaker, is back from his "vacation" (caused by a brief, brisk war), and is discovered in the act of motioning down an air-truck, which is delivering the kit for the new garage. Another truck is bringing the new topsoil. It would seem that the clean-up is a little more extensive than we had hoped.
Once the air-trucks are gone, a number of "the Lads" climb out of the woodwork and resume working with construction equipment far too large for them. Household robots scurry around, mostly avoiding the gremlins. We locate Drumthortle for an update.
The first thing he wants to confess-- er, report is that the smell of the tuna-flavored impact foam attracted a lot of local felines and, um, one of the Lads ate one. He's been disciplined. We fervently hope it was a feral cat and resolve not to tell Brunalf.
Most of the items in the garage were recovered, including the egg-ship that caused all the trouble, Morniesul's time-sled, and a hapless robot, though all will need a lot of cleaning. The egg-ship seems to be getting better, according to the damage readout.
Oh? Tom's ears prick up. One problem with the egg-ship, which was wished up by Brunalf out of raw chaos, was that its user interface was in an unknown language. How did Drumthortle read it? Drumthortle gets belatedly shifty and, under a bit of pressure, admits to having ordered a dictionary from Eldacur Technologies. He produces it for our inspection: yep, it's a [glyph]-Earthron / Earthron-[glyph] dictionary. Amazing.
But how did he contact Eldacur Technologies? The ranch's computers carefully hide our connections to them. (They are, in fact, an electronics firm covertly run by the New Blood.) A little more pressure reveals that one of the Lads is, indeed, a genuine gremlin with a predisposition for hacking. Oh. Oh, well.
Robbie, meanwhile, wonders what became of his old body, last seen here at the ranch, looking, um, absent-minded. It was taken by Jeremy, one of Cantrel's top technical people. Sounds good.
Around now, Dafnord arrives in the air-car and the Lads load his favorite gym equipment for use on the Munch during the trip. We spend the evening packing.
That night, we hear a brawl break out in Daewen's suite, where her three daughters are staying. Dafnord bursts in, but is roundly ignored. Mirien and Runyana are fighting with Mithriel, forcing her into a bathtub. We decide not to ask why.
Next morning, after breakfast, Daphne expresses a desire for a gun (not having found one in the cereal box). Guns for pixies are in short supply, unless you count the ones that come with the space-ranger dolls and have light bulbs in the ends. So Dafnord calls up Jumping Jacks and, with Daphne on his shoulder to chime in and demonstrate hand sizes, describes his requirements to a bemused clerk who has been briefed about us. He says they'll use parts for their "special order clients" (neo-cats? small aliens?) and adapt them. Daphne will be getting a pair of rifles, when she comes back from Margaron.
The Gargoyle takes the opportunity to nudge Dafnord in the hip and ask, "Sword?" The orders clerk writes down specs for something big and very tough. Four of them, actually, in different sizes, to see what fits a ... hand like that.
We then make our way to the Munch, blast off, and jump into hyperstate, just like normal people. Three days later, we arrive in Margaron's system.
There are few commercial spectacles in the universe to match an elven princess let loose with a credit card. Mirien vanishes into the shopping districts. Runyana follows at a more thoughtful pace, dragging along a rather bored Mithriel. Daphne alleviates the boredom, though, going on her own shopping -- mostly for snacks and jewelry -- without any disguises. But Margaron is part of a psi-savvy culture, with connections to other species, so no one keels over from shock. Lord knows what they think she is.
Dafnord wants to go hunt a sea monster. Mithriel is happy to come along, and they buzz about on water skimmers, looking. Kate goes cliff diving, with Markel and the dragon. Markel and the dragon also go fishing, like a very oversized osprey with rider. Robbie, Tom, and Gannar take eco-tours. Daphne becomes involved with a local theatre group, doing a musical version of "The Tempest." Dafnord tries out a few bars, to see who he can pick up, but only succeeds in losing a drinking contest with a neo-dolphin. We all attend Daphne's musical. We all lie around on the sand and fail to get sun-tans (the local suns lacking ultraviolet).
And soon our week is up and it's time to gather up our pearl-encrusted souvenirs, take the shuttle back up to the Munch, and jump for home. Back to work.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.