The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 78: Theoretical Shopping
No one has changed his or her mind by the morning, but Mandorak has decided that the Tindomë needs an emergency parachute. We return to Harborton, and thence to the New Dawn Shipyards. We work on re-stocking and re-furbishing our ship once we arrive. Mannie and Bay knuckle down and concentrate on making thEïr vessel airtight. (A single encounter with vacuum has been sufficient to persuade Mannie that we need to address this one of Daëwen's original requirements.)
Fallataal docks his cutter, and he and the New Dawn Patrol (NDP) commander join Daëwen and us in the Ward Room. She asks us what we wanted on the Tindomë that we did not have. Bavör would like a ranged, recoilless weapon. Eïr mentions the need for some way to breathe in a place where they said there was no air. Daëwen suggests some "bottled air" containers, since they will work in realms where magic doesn't work, or an ectoplastic version of that, or a selective mask that dices air one way through the boundary but not water.
Eric checks that silverwood is good for magic. (Yes.) He then asks for paper or books made from it. Daëwen glazes over; she'd never thought of that. "I'll have to force some trees in time for your next voyage. At least you can have silver ink; we can make that black."
"Um, skinsuits. Umm, before you leave, I'll get you a credit chip that will let you buy something like that if you get to a high-tech society." Bavör nods. She and Mannie discuss various techniques to use ectoplastics and patterned binds to make an air supply for underwater.
"Would you rather use a magical or technological weapon?" she suddenly asks Bavör. He decides that a magical one would be a better choice; he should be able to re-charge one using a standard psi battery. Mannie is dubious of slug-throwers; they run out of ammunition. "I just want something used, since I have the Knack of Tools." She rummages 'way in the closet, and pulls out an odd pair of pistols on a single gun belt. (They look like the result of Thomas Jefferson meeting Klingons.) They are silver and silverwood. She warns that either one of these could drain all but the very largest batteries. They're both full, so they can be fired literally thousands of times. Mannie gets the old one; Bay the new.
"They can only be fired by the fey, because they require intent as well as a finger on the trigger." Daëwen warns that they won't work in a highly mundane realm. This is just another item on the list, a list that begins with the Tindomë itself. "Could we have a 'canary' that detects a place that's even a little inimical to magic?" asks Bavör.
"What a good idea!" exclaims the Lady. "That will take a lot of study and work." Eïr asks if it would also be possible to detect whether there was something you could breathe outside the door of the ship, recalling that they had wondered if they could go out and breathe and no one knew until someone went there. Daewen says that she, or someone, could create an item to put out on the ship's hull with meters on the inside.
We agree that that could be something separate, an object that could be fixed to the outside the ship, with a signaler inside. We will also need airlocks in the long run. We decide we can use the locks for storage when we don't need them.
The subject returns to weapons, especially the less lethal sort, and Eric brings up the enchanting of his darts with sleep spells. This reminds that Alag had invented an arrow "charger," a device that could put a spell on an ordinary arrow. A series of these, with different effects, would be useful. We agree to that.
We finally get back to addressing the problem of making the Tindomë airtight. Daëwen confesses that she's thought about this problem for a long time, and thinks that sliding doors in a double hull would solve the problem.
We drift into discussing our next voyage. Daëwen says that she is not going to give us much in the way of instructions; we did so much more than she had expected without them. We will be returning to the Sky Islands. "And if you encounter that put-upon Lady Nathora," she adds, "I would welcome meeting her in person, since she has had to deal with that enterprising child, Sofa. We would have so much to talk about." She already has a pile of documents from the Ambassador for us to take back.
"Jump belts! You need jump belts," she exclaims. She explains how they work (magic) so that you can fall with control, and land with hitting. They sound lots better than parachutes. "Yes, you need them. … There are some in the lockers in the cave. I'll rummage around and find ones that will fit you all. And they would make a wonderful present to the Sky Islanders. I'll find the dress belt."
The discussion wanders quite a bit, with several more ideas being brought up, several having to do with communications. Eïr recalls Teller's antics with te signal flags, and wonders if he'd was actually managing to convey any meaning beyond mere excitement. This reminds Daëwen of a couple of devices the Pantope crew had used back in the days of Chekov's "youth", which she tries to describe in terms of low tech equivalents that Eïr might have encountered. There were a crystal globe that could be used as binoculars, a little magical megaphone that could throw your voice to a distant listener and a highly directional hearing trumpet. Actually, the far-hailer and hearing trumpet were a single device back in the day, and the device that Daëwen eventually delivers is as well.
Thinking about the crews own capabilities, Daëwen suggests that Eric should be able to devise a method of pairing pieces of papers so that when he writes on one, the writing appears on both of them. Eric looks thoughtful.
Eïr then asks Daëwen if there was a way to have writing that would read itself to her. She admits somewhat sheepishly that she was having trouble with this, because the letters moved around on the page when she tried to read. Jocko, too, it seems is illiterate. Daëwen recalls a few devices that she has used teaching the girls to read and to help new immigrants to mast unfamiliar languages. She offers Eïr two styles of magnifying glass. If you scan either one over text, it will tell you what it says. One simply reads the text normally, while the other proceeds word by word, enlarging and steadying the image of each word as it is read and pausing between words. "The first one is used as a reading aid and the other one is to teach reading."
Updated: Aug 24, 2007
©2002, 2006 Ann Broomhead. All Rights Reserved.