|| Previous | Pantope Logs | New Blood Logs | Up | Next ||


The Voyages of the PS Nones

Chapter 18, Arrival at Martshayla Port

New Blood Logs:

Tom Noon's Tale


In Chaos

Voyages of the Nones



Mother Goose Chase

Ancient Oz


Adventures of the Munch

Lanthil & Beyond

Having accomplished our mission in the Terraform Reach, we're on our way "home" to Helene. During our journey, we freed Aelwe from slavery, thwarted emperor Dybor II's planned genocide of the Quishonne of Pharos, and helped to bring a more progressive empress to the Imperial throne. And we made a tidy profit, to boot. We're carrying a cargo from the Terraform Reach (and 3000 years in the future) of fractal metals, fractal crystals, high grade ergoplasm, exotic gems, and jewelry. We've also picked up a second ship (with both hyperdrive and overdrive) and an android navigator named Gannar. All in all, not a bad trip.

Tom (who advised us to get the fractal metals while we were in the Terraform Reach) also advised us that we should sell them in the Authority Zone. They've only just been discovered here and now, and we have a couple of metric tons of the stuff.

After a two week (subjective) journey, we've traveled from the Terraform Reach to the Authority Zone and back 2900 years. The Nones does its usually excellent job and has brought us to Martshayla Port a year after its last visit. As usual, we pause outside the system and separate, letting the Obscura proceed into the system under its own power. While its hyperdrive is capable of time travel, its radiation shielding isn't as good, so it can't travel as quickly.

"Martshayla Port" is actually a misnomer. "Port" implies a single, bounded place. The Port is an untidy and sometimes shifting collection of structures -- boxes, bubbles, and spires of various shapes. These mismatched objects are linked by occasional gang-tubes, but much more often by the flitting swarm of cabs and trucks. Fortunately, there are clearly marked paths through the jumble. As we fly by, we can see windows in the habitats glowing with different colored lights.

The biggest structure is the Conventional Enclave, a cluster of huge white cylinders, tightly packed. Here and there, windows open, shining with different colors of light. The caps of each cylinder bear the logo of the Grand Convention, a tripartitioned circle. The docking paths end in tentacular grapples and organic-looking extensible air curtains.

As we approach, we're hailed in KaiSenese. Fortunately, Salimar speaks it fluently. She identifies us as the Nones out of Adonis and the Obscura out of Aondoar. We request a pair of docks next to each other at the conventional port and dock without incident. Each ship has a gang tube leading to the habitat. The environment inside the habitat is essentially the lowest common denominator for the races that inhabit it; 1/4 G, low pressure atmosphere (oxygen/nitrogen mix), dim flat spectrum light, and cold. The humans among us will need to wear airslips (space suits made of light, tough plastic) and coats.

While the rest of us try to figure out what our cargo is worth, Salimar posts a note on the KaiSenese note board that she's here. We discover ads offering 3x2^10 (3072) lucre points per kilo of meta-silicon. For reference, a new suit of clothes cost 2^6 (64) lucre points. There's no mention of crystallized helium on the web. Of course we can always sell it as an exotic gem. And we could do that in our home time, too.

Salimar receives a message, relayed through the Nones:

"To Liaison Officer Salimar
From Authority Zone Consulate.

Please wait to be met at your dock."

Salimar puts on her full KaiSenese regalia; Black cloak with silver KaiSenese symbol. Pale skin color with jet back hair. She asks Dafnord to accompany her. He puts a blaster over his airslip.

Shortly after the message arrives, the Nones announces that someone is waiting for Salimar at the end of the gang tube. She and Dafnord leave the ship, to find a baboon-sized ant with a fluffy tail. It appears to be light gray in color, except for the tail which is electric yellow. It's body is covered by a "doggy sweater" with a KaiSenese logo on it's sides. Salimar recognizes the being as a Jai. It comes pattering up to them and announces, "Well, hello! So you made it. I haven't had a case like this one before." Turning to Dafnord, "Oh! There are two of you? And you're a big one!"

Salimar asks, "Made it?"

The Jai raises it's antenna. "Well, these temporal cases have to be handled delicately, I'm told. I haven't handled a temporal case before."

Dafnord reaches into a pouch and pulls out a cracker. He hands it to Salimar.

The Jai reaches below its tail with one of its limbs and pulls out a egg. "Oh, how remiss of me. Have an egg." It hands the egg to Salimar, who takes it. It then reaches under its tail again and pulls out a second egg -- "Oh and you too" -- and hands it to Dafnord.

Salimar sends, "Take it. You don't necessarily have to eat it," to Dafnord over the net.

Dafnord ignores her and gives it back to the Jai. "No please. After you."

The Jai looks puzzled, then eats the egg.

Salimar asks, "Who's in charge here?

The Jai responds, "At the consulate? Foozhap. A sib of mine." With that, the Jai spins in place and heads into the habitat. "Come, come. Off to the consulate now."

Salimar and Dafnord follow. As they leave the gate area, Morniesul and Markel emerge from their gang tube. They follow, discreetly, at a distance.

Entering the main body of the habitat, they see a surrealistic menagerie of various types of aliens. The habitat is dim, but there are no dark corners. The habitat appears to be a huge empty space, with various groups of aliens "camped" in enclaves, as if it's a trailer park for aliens. Spilling out of each enclave is light of different hues; whatever spectrum of light that group of creatures prefer.

Despite their attempts to blend in with the crowd, the Jai realizes it's being tailed. It walks up to Morniesul and Markel, greets them, and gives them each eggs. From a pouch this time, instead of "fresh".

After winding their way across the habitat, they come to a tube going up the side of the habitat. It's about 3 meters wide, and has a ramp arcing up to a hole in the tube's side. The Jai trots up the ramp, clearly not caring that it's quickly becoming perpendicular to the floor. Obviously gravity in the tube isn't in the same plane as the floor. The four follow the Jai up two levels and then wind among the encampments to the KaiSenese consulate, identified by a large KaiSenese symbol. They enter a house-sized room with pillows strewn about the floor. In one corner there's an untidy pile of computer equipment. Nesting in the equipment is another Jai, with an electric blue tail. The guide introduces it as the consul Foozhap, and announces "This is liaison Salimar with her ... companions."

Foozhap extracts itself from the pile of equipment and comes towards the travelers. "Greetings to you all. Please recline. Since these are your companions, I assume that it is safe to discuss temporal matters in front of them?" Salimar looks confused. "Clarification: I was expecting to get information from you."

Salimar: "Ah! My companions have been with me for quite some time," Salimar says.

Foozhap: "Good. But this is quite awkward. I was not expecting anyone out of sequence. You are out of sequence."

Salimar: "We just jumped. That's all. We're only here for a bit."

Foozhap: "So there is no crisis?"

Salimar: "None that I know of."

Foozhap: "Oh. When your ID number popped up, I discovered that I had standing orders to get you to the consulate as quickly as possible and discover what crisis could cause you to time travel."

Salimar: "I just wanted to check in."

Foozhap: "Oh! I do beg your pardon. I've never had anything to do with the temporal service."

Salimar: "Oh. I just wanted to check in and pick up mail. Are there any good slime bars here?"

Foozhap: "It's hard to keep track." Foozhap reaches into a pouch distracted, pulls out an egg and offers it to Salimar. "Have an egg."

Salimar: "I prefer the bluer ones actually."

Foozhap rears back. "You eat them?"

Salimar: "No, actually I lick them."

Foozhap: "Oh. That's not usually recommended for non-Jai."

Salimar: "I find they have a spicy/sweet taste that I rather like."

Foozhap shakes its head. "In any case, do you want to debrief, either to me, or to a secure memory segment of KaiSen?"

Salimar: "I usually debrief to KaiSen."

"Let me show you to a secure terminal." Foozhap leads Salimar into another room. There are a number of other Jai in the room, occupied with various tasks. Each of the Jai appears identical to Foozhap, except for the tails, which are a rainbow of colors, as well as some not usually found in nature. One or two are striped. Foozhap barks something at them, presumably in the Jai language. As one, the other Jai leave off their tasks and leave the room. Foozhap then walks over to a ring mounted on the wall, kicks it a few times and leaves the room without a word. Once it's gone, the ring lights up and becomes a screen. Salimar is now connected to KaiSen.

After they talk for a bit, KaiSen has figured out where it left Salimar. It wants to know what has happened in the 100 years since she last spoke to it (not necessarily the same time since it last spoke to her). She reports on the group's activities from the Chaos' Rim adventure forward to her subjective now.

Several of the Jai that were evicted by Foozhap join Markel, Morniesul, and Dafnord. They just stare at the visitors. After a moment, Foozhap comes back and sits in its nest, rather like a dog, walking in circles in a single space before sitting. It yammers at the other Jai, then asks "Well. Can I get you any refreshments?"

Morniesul replies, "I'm not certain what's safe here."

"You're Terran?"

Morniesul: "No, I'm Fay."

Foozhap mutters, "I could of sworn you were Terran," as it accesses its computer. Then it looks up and asks, "Is that an ethnic group?"

Morniesul: "No, we're a completely different species."

Foozhap taps some more keys, then says, "I don't find any reference to Fay ..."

Morniesul: "Most things that humans can eat, we can too."

Foozhap turns to Markel and asks, "Would you like anything to eat?"

Markel responds, "Yes, please."

Foozhap makes an entry on its computer. A moment later, a Jai enters the room carrying a tray. It puts the tray down on the floor in front of the visitor, hands everyone an egg, bows and leaves.

There a numerous types of writing on the containers, but nothing that Morniesul, Markel, or Dafnord can read. Morniesul asks Foozhap to please explain what has been brought for them. Foozhap reads off "Distilled water, carbonated water, water with glucose, carbonated water with glucose, and sugar wafers. I do hope that they looked up your metabolism. For the sugar."

Morniesul isn't sure why sugar might disagree with his metabolism. It never has in the past. He takes a bottle of "carbonated water with glucose" and removes the cap. After taking a swig, he asks, "So how is the market for fractal metals? I have a few metric tons."

Foozhap asks incredulously, "Metric tons?"

"Yes. Two and a half."

Foozhap picks up a calculator. "Well. That should cause some talk."

Morniesul: "How so?"

Foozhap: "That's a great deal of fractal metal!"

Morniesul: "I'm from very far away."

Foozhap: "You're from deep into the zone? Oh I forget, you're on a temporal mission."

Morniesul: "I'm from further away than that."

Foozhap: "I want to ask in which direction but I'm not sure I'm cleared for that."

Morniesul: "I couldn't say."

Foozhap: "You're not the navigator?"

Morniesul: "No. We hired one of those."

Foozhap: "Oh. Have some more wafers."

Salimar returns.

As he munches a glucose wafer, Morniesul asks, "I don't suppose that there's a quiet way to sell this shipment?"

"Yes. There are quiet ways of doing most things here. You wish a quiet transaction?"

"Yes. Perhaps we should start with one of the other cargoes. We have some fractal crystals, and ergoplasm."

Foozhap: "That sounds safe."

"That's less likely to cause comment?"

"You might want to do that. You understand that the consulate doesn't perform transactions, but we can provide the names of reputable dealers." Foozhap touches a series a keys in it's keyboard. After a moment a sheet is extruded from one of the consoles. "Do you wish the provenance of the metals to become widely known?"


Foozhap hands the sheet to Morniesul, "Then don't tell the person you sell them to."

Morniesul reaches into one of his pouches and breaks off a piece of Elvish waybread, and gives it to Foozhap in exchange for the sheet.

The consul thanks him. As the travelers leave, it touches the waybread to its antenna. It jerks the waybread away, quickly stuffs the waybread into the pouf hairdo on its tail and frantically wipes it's antenna on its forehead.

As they leave the consulate, Morniesul asks Salimar to examine the references, since he can't read the script. At the top of the list is someone named Pqdorn. Salimar contacts the Nones and asks it to send a message to Pqdorn offering him (or her or it) the shipment of fractal metals. She tells the ship explicitly not to specify how much metal we're offering.

As the group walks towards the inter-level tube, there's a shouted exchange in a language that Salimar recognizes as one of the Blenari languages. A mustard yellow dinosaur in a quasi-Elizabethan outfit runs past, being chased by another, similarly dressed dinosaur, which is shooting at him. As the others dive for the deck, Salimar erects an ectoplastic dome over the party. Splat. The second dinosaur smacks into the dome. It curses at them and then runs after its fellow, firing.

As the party picks itself up off the floor, a Naza with a Convention logo on its shawl comes up to the dome with a majestic and deliberate tread. Upon reaching the dome, it stops and watches the two Blenari as they swing through the hanger and head back towards us. The Naza pulls out a weapon the size of a light cannon and crouches behind the dome. It rests the weapon on the top of the dome and aims the gun using three eyes; one to draw a bead, the two others to triangulate. Just after the lead Blenari realizes that it's running straight down the barrel of a gun, the Naza fires. Blue sparks fly out and zap both Blenari, who fall over. The Naza straightens up, holsters it's weapon, and says, "Thank you very much," in a deep, resonant voice. It walks around the dome, picks up the Blenari, and goes back the way it came.

Once things have returned to normal, Salimar dissolves the dome and the group returns to the Nones. There we discuss what we should bring from Martshayla Port to Helene. Morniesul proposes taking back one or more technologies. Robbie has definite qualms about bringing technologies cross-time.

Last Updated: 7-Oct-06
©2004 Barry Tannenbaum, All Rights Reserved

|| Previous | Pantope Logs | New Blood Logs | Up | Next ||