The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 61: Splat
Eïr continues her questioning. "Could what Alvarin is doing in Faerie affect things in places connected to Faerie?"
"Yes. Which places are those?" responds Chekhov.
"Now we have heard that he is closing off places connected to Faerie. He has cut off Lanthil, and Tighmark, where Aldamir comes from. He's cut Faerie off from Earth. Eric might know. He reads, and he listens. Eric!"
Eric eventually arrives.
"Is Alvarin cutting us off from Faerie?"
Eric thinks a moment. "He is at least weakening the links. He is cutting off the mundane realms, and the chaotic ones. That's why we've come…"
"So Alvarin's reach could extend to these Islands?"
Chekhov agrees. "With closing of other lands, his influence could extend to Interface, which holds up these Islands. This effect could get worse with time."
Mannie asks, "Is there any way to predict – will the Interface shrink with time?"
"Is the link between physical continua."
We decide that we are going to have to examine the Interface at close range. We consider the choice of either walking down into this Island until we reach its midway point, or flying to where the Island dropped out of the sky, or returning back to the 'place' where we crossed the Interface (and fell down).
"Interface is not uniform across space. Best observation would be done at point where is thinnest," observes Chekhov. "Is where we came through."
We decide to look there. We go to find Nestoris, to tell him of our hoped-for activity.
"Ah, you're back. You're early."
Mandorak explains, "We were discussing your problem. We thought we'd make some measurements, where we came through the Interface."
Nestoris says that we may leave, and go make our measurements. He then warns us we can only come back to this dock; the others are not yet open to us. We agree.
We use Chekhov as our navigator, and sail back the way we came, past the big Island. Captain Finwë notices that we are not on exactly the same course. The navigational bust assures him that we are on course; it's just that we're leaving for it from a different point. Mannie asks him to warn us when we are approaching the disruption point, so that we can brace ourselves.
We approach the place where the Interface disruption occurred. Chekhov announces, "1,000 meters… 500 meters… 100 meters… 50 meters…"
As we are about to reach (or hit) the disruption, from the rear of the ship, Teller yells something incoherent but negative. The lucky people on the bridge, the captain, Mannie, and Aldamir, lose consciousness; the others feel as if they've been turned inside out. Bavor, in the Engine Room, also collapses, so he does not hear the engines making horrible sounds. Up on the bridge, they can see the lights go out – or the world goes dark.
Eïr checks that the captain is only unconscious, then asks Chekhov, "Why is it so much worse going through the Interface this time?"
"We did not go through Interface last time. We are far from where we were."
"Chekhov, what is out there?"
"Small amounts of matter. Very little."
Eric has a nasty thought, and races to Engineering. He finds the dwarf on the floor, and tries to rouse him. Meanwhile, Eïr ministers to the captain, but he remains unconscious. The wheel swings loose. "Chekhov, what do I do?"
"Ah. Stopping would be good. Largest lever, in center. Pull back all way." She does that. He then directs her how to enter reverse for a few seconds. She does that.
Over in Engineering, Eric hears a little bell chiming. He tries to wake Bay more vigorously, and actually succeeds. The dwarf hears the laboring engines, and the warning pinging, and tries to crawl to the control panel. He grabs and misses.
Meanwhile, Sam strides into the bridge. "What happened?"
Eïr does her best to explain. Sam looks out the window and goes pale. "Oh, dear. Well, if we were in a place that was always light, then this would be a good place to be always Night." Out the window is the blackness of space with stars.
Sam tries to rouse Mandorak. She picks him up. "Mr. Mannie, wake up! He's awfully light."
Eïr suggests, "Mention gold." It doesn't work.
"It can't be space." She drops Mannie. "He is definitely too light, and so am I."
Eïr is confused. "You picked up Mannie? But you can't."
Eric now discerns a sound beyond the pinging. It's a hissing sound. He follows it out to the loading bay. The hissing sound is coming from one of the doors. He feels around the door, and feels cold air blowing in around it. He seals the cracks with paper that he positions and hardens. There is still a faint sound somewhere.
Bay wasn't able to move in time. The engines stop.
On the bridge, Mannie wakes up, suddenly and completely. There is something wrong. Chekhov explains that they have crossed the Interface. "Where are we?" "Unknown. "What's outside?" "Not much." Now Mandorak remembers his initial feeling. He can here a distant pinging, but no engine sounds. He dashes to Engineering, where he finds a glum Bavor crouched next to the console. The pinging is coming from the Air Gel Deployment Alarm. The gelatinized air is deploying to maintain air pressure, which is a good response to a bad situation. "Bay, what's happened?"
"I think the engines have torn themselves apart." He was not quick enough to stop them.
Eric can now tell that the remaining hissing is beyond the hold door. He moves everything he thinks is important to the other hold, then seals the inner door.
Sam asks, "What can I do?"
Eïr suggests that she check on the other passengers. Sam frets about her lack of first aid training, and her headache, but heads off to do that checking. She encounters Eric. "Do you know any first aid?"
"No. If you hear any hissing, tell me."
"Oh. Yes. That makes sense."
In Engineering, Mannie tries the manual pump, to restore the flow of Lanthil water through the engines, but without any success. Bavor TKs a faint flow of Lanthil water through the system. This kicks over the engines, which operate well enough to keep it flowing at a low, emergency level.
Mannie races back to the bridge. "Chekhov, can you take us back?"
"You have sensors for me to interface?"
"No. Can you give us directions to get us back?"
"Am needing better sensors."
"And we need better air. Is the captain waking up?"
"No," says Eïr. Whatever she has tried has not worked.
Mannie pulls out his samples of sky-silver and sky-gold and calls, "Eric!" Eric arrives, grumpily explaining that he's been mending leaks. Mannie points out that if we can get back, we won't need to worry about the leaks. Eric dowses, and points at nearly right angles to the line of the ship, to port. He examines the electrum pointer he had made, and after a long pause, it points to about 80º to port. Dowsing with a bit of Island rock results in no specific direction. Using the handful of Island coins gives a definite, "Not here." Lanthil is vaguely over to starboard a bit, and Darkholme, like the coins, is not available. He goes off, looking for leaks again.
Mannie moves Eïr and the unconscious captain away from the steering wheel. He sits down, and turns the helm to port. Slowly, something swings into view: A tall, grey spire that emerges from a reflective sea well below them, and pierces the starlit sky around them. "Chekhov, what is out there?"
Chekhov says, "Is Interface down there. Planar Interface." Mannie heads for it. The dwarf shouts a warning to his fellow in Engineering, "We're going through another Interface." Bay responds briefly, but explosively, in Dwarvish.
"Chekhov, are we passing though the Interface?"
"Plane is within confines of this space."
Eric hears a single faint splash from outside.
We keep going.
The reflecting, watery surface rises and rises, passing over us, and continuing to look the same, even though it is now above us.
"Chekhov? What's out there?"
"Nothing has changed. Still almost nothing."
The spire now seems to descend from the sea above them. Mannie falls onto the ceiling, as does the captain, and the bust, which seems imbedded in the windshield. There are chaotic sounds, and screams from the hold where the passengers are. Eric checks on Bavor, who is hovering just off the ceiling, looking unhappy but in control, then passes on to the hold. Here he helps Sam move (very light) boxes off various people, and stick them to the walls.
Everything is slowly getting heavier. "Reverse," says Mannie, who is still on the ceiling, and can no longer reach the ship's controls. Eïr follows his directions to reverse course. "Don't pass through the Interface again," he warns. As they get closer, she sees the outside start to tilt. "We're going through again!" The warning rings through the ship.
Sam says an amazing number of pungent words. Eric asks, "Does anyone have a sprained or broken limb?" "Him," she points. Sam grabs up two of the women, and carries them out of the hold. Eric grabs the old man, and heads out, with the last woman following him.
The ship rolls over.
Bavor walks down the wall of Engineering, and once again stands on the deck. Mannie guides the captain through a roll down the wall, and back onto the floor. The ship rolls faster as it completes its reversal, but most people manage to compensate for the motion. Checkhov ceases to be imbedded in the ceiling, and plummets down onto Eïr's head.
There are the cries of men, women, and children. "Where is that Map of Here?" bellows Mandorak? Eric hauls the old man into his own stateroom, and settles him and the young woman into his bunks. He grabs the Map and heads back to the bridge.
Sam secures her people in staterooms, and heads for the bridge. "You're bleeding!" she cries to Eïr. Eïr has merely pinned the bust under her leg, and grimly continued to steer. Sam ducks away, and returns with a strip of sheet, which she manages to wrap around the tiny healer's head.
Eric, unrolls the Map of Here. It shows the coastline of an island, and two or three tiny, greyish islands done in dotted lines. Their arrangement is nothing like that of the Sky Islands. Out the window, on this side, the spire we can see is shorter and squatter than the one we saw first. "Head for the spire," directs Mannie.
Eïr lifts the ship slightly above the sea-like surface with one control, and eases the ship towards the stubby spire.
There is another ping in Engineering. Bavor finds that it is the warning that someone is using the TK aspects of floating, rather than the balloon, to raise the ship. This effort is using all our power.
©2002, 2006 Ann Broomhead. All Rights Reserved.