The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 53: Conversations with Chekhov
We leave the harbor of Darkholme behind. The captain asks us to activate the special compass, so that those other than himself can find their way back here. The dwarves do that. The engines are ready. Mandorak is exhausted, and turns the control of the Engine Room over to Bavör before marching to his room and collapsing into bed.
Eïr dashes for her room and its occupant. Her patient is looking much better. She looks forward to getting her own quarters back for her sole (or almost sole) use.
We head back in the direction of the island with Port Rouge. The captain says that, from there, we can turn for Lanthil. After a certain amount of discussion, the captain agrees to have the bust of Chekhov brought to the bridge from Aldamir's room. Meanwhile, Eric has dowsed for both Lanthil and Port Rouge. (Lanthil is several points off the port bow, while the pirate port is almost dead ahead.) The bust observes that it would work more effectively if it were plugged into the navigation system. Eïr asks Checkhov what his interface looks like, and the bust admits that it has no idea. She remarks that it must be like looking up your own nose, flips it upside down, and looks at the flat metal plate on its base. She shows it to Bay.
Bavör sighs. He asks Captain Finwë to hold out his hand, and places the bust in it. "Chekhov, this is our navigation system." Teller cringes visibly. The elf collapses in a dead faint, and he (and Chekhov) are barely caught by THE HAND OF BAVÖR, so that the human and statue are bobbing gently just a few inches above the deck. Teller sits down in a lotus position, grinning, with his cupped hands out. Eïr grabs the bust. "Are you sure that's the navigation system?" it asks.
"It's an elf."
"It went down."
"It seems to have malfunctioned and disconnected."
"It's not - he's not an 'it,' he's an elf. He went unconscious." She thinks. "How are you talking to me?"
"Projective telepathy and minor telekinetic manipulation."
"Can you navigate that way?"
"No," the bust replies. "That's how I talk to people."
"Can't you use it anyhow?"
"No, it is an imprecise means of communication."
"Can't you just say 'go that way'?"
"That is a very imprecise communication," the device protested calmly.
Teller asks Eïr to ask it if it can describe where we are now.
"Can you detect where we are now?"
"Would you please do it. Now."
"Oh, that was a request.... Could you turn me right side up?" She straightens it up. "In that direction there below me is a stable body of water."
"Yes, we're sailing on it. There is air above it."
"If I were facing in the direction of my right ear, that would be 'forward.' Now, in the direction of 'forward,' the nearest dimensional anomaly is 50 kilometers."
Teller Knows about things like that. "Would this be a path or portal?"
"A portal or path would be an intentional, extreme anomaly. This one is a minor dimensional anomaly. The multi-dimensional curvature is maximal at thirty degrees left of forward."
"Are we supposed to go that way to get to Lanthil?" the Marginalis asks.
"Yes. That's where we want to go: Lanthil."
Checkhov reports, "Lanthil is approximately along the degree of maximal curvature in two dimension. It is fifteen degrees off in the third dimension, and twenty degrees in the next dimension."
Eir hands the bust to Teller so that she can try to awaken the captain. She tries a brisk slap. Oddly, this seems to work.
Finwë looks around. "Mister Forothon, why am I lying... above the deck?" Bay gently releases the captain from his telekinetic hold. Bay explains that he put the navigation system into his hand so that it would understand that we did not have a navigation system suitable for interfacing with.
Captain Finwë knows which way we should be going to get back to Lanthil. He strides up to the high bridge, and adjusts the steering, raising the ship at a slight angle. Even this does not produce the exact heading; the direction he is not used to perceiving is still a bit wrong.
Acting at about the same time, Eric uses papermancy on a paper airplane and gets the same results: the tip of the airplane is a bit 'fadey.'
Eïr leaves, and returns to the bust with one of the psi batteries. "Can you charge yourself from this?"
"The energy source in proximity to you? Yes, as long as it is within a decimeter."
Teller backs away.
Eir puts the battery down. It's drained before it hits the table. "Do you feel better now?"
"My energy supply is minimal. It would be better if I were installed."
Bavör tries to explain to Eïr about the difference between installations and stalls. He then explains to Chekhov, "we cannot install you. Our navigator is an elf."
"Interfacing to an elf would be unwise."
Bay sits down. "I have interfaced to many devices. Can you interface with me?"
"Interfacing with an untrained sapient would be unwise. It could lead to malfunction."
"Can you lower the intensity of the connection?"
"You have a pantope with limited control circuitry?"
"Chekhov, I am a dwarf, not a pantope. Can you interface with me?"
"Merging with a living sapient would be unwise."
Teller suggests that they put Chekhov in front of the ship's wheel, which the Captain uses to steer the ship.
Bay carries Chekhov to the sky bridge. Once there, Chekhov announces "You are on course in the mundane dimensions. Extramundane dimensional navigation is offline?"
The Captain replies, "we don't have controls for that."
"The localized dimensional manipulation is not under your control?"
Bay replies, "he intuits it."
Eric arrives on the sky bridge. "If I understand what you're saying, it's because we're in the space between worlds."
"I was referring to the small manipulation that came into my presence with you."
Ah. The device is referring to the paper airplane Eric is carrying. "This is a result of trying to find Lanthil myself."
"Checkhov, behind you is the steering mechanism for this ship. Beyond right and left, yaw and pitch, we will have to operate more idiosyncratically. Do you understand?"
"Yes. I'm forward of the steering wheel."
"You're a hood ornament," Bavör sighs. "Can you manipulate the ship along that other dimension?"
"No. That subsystem is not connected."
"all right," says Bay grimly. "Who among us has ever seen around a corner?"
Teller raises his hand.
"So, Teller, according to you, how far off course are we?"
Before Teller can respond, Chekhov announces, "We are on course with an error of 2.3º due to the failure to follow the curvature."
The captain corrects our course, but this is not the way Teller thinks leads to home. He pouts. "I'm the one who's from Lanthil, and nobody wants to listen to me. Home is that way!"
Bay is sympathetic. "Until we get to the anomaly and enter it, I think we'll continue to have this conflict. But I may be wrong."
Teller asks, "Mr. Chekhov, do you know where I'm from?"
"Would you like to sense where I'm from?"
"I have no way to do that."
"How do you sense information?" asks the Marginalis.
"I have many information channels. I use projective telepathy augmented with small amounts of telekinesis. I have substantial layers of shielding to prevent interference from intelligences."
"Who designed you?"
"Alag, Christopher Marlowe and Daëwen."
"We know the Lady Daëwen. The Lady wouldn't set you up so that, if someone needed to contact you, you would get hurt. Maybe there's some way for us to talk to you."
"We are doing that."
"Would you learn anything if you were in my head?"
"That is unknown, and beyond my function."
"Would I learn anything if you were in my head?"
"That is unknown, and beyond my function."
"What is your function?"
"I navigate pantopes."
"Well, in case you need to reference where Lanthil is, I'm from there. I know where it is. And you're not pointing us at it yet. Are you planning to correct course after we get to the next anomaly?"
"There are no anomalies within my sensory range."
Teller just huffs and walks off.
Captain Finwë perceives, just at the farthest distance he can see through the viewport, a spot in the air, a point or two off to starboard. He activates the magnifying aspect of the viewport. The figure resolves into a diamond or lens shape, with a stem or downward stalk on it.
©2002, 2006 Ann Broomhead. All Rights Reserved.