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The Voyages of the PS Nones

Chapter 19, Umbra is Stolen

New Blood Logs:

Tom Noon's Tale


In Chaos

Voyages of the Nones



Mother Goose Chase

Ancient Oz


Adventures of the Munch

Lanthil & Beyond

When last we left our heroes, they had gathered on the Nones after Salimar and an escort went to the KaiSenese consulate at the Conventional enclave in Martshayla Port. They were debating how to turn the goods they'd brought from the Terraform Reach of 2900 years in the future into goods they could take home to Helene 100 years in the past.

Morniesul asks the Nones to scan the local net for things that would be valuable on Helene 100 years in the past. While the Nones has a remarkably versatile computer, it simply doesn't have the necessary programming to respond to this request. Gannar volunteers to assist it. While Salimar and her escort went to the KaiSenese consulate, he poked around the net and discovered a KaiSenese channel transmitting public service announcements. While browsing, he spotted an announcement he thought the rest of us would find useful. He hunts through his recordings and produces:


"There will be a seating in the main oxy-water dining pit in four periods."


"Will the Type 5 Mindor missing a husband please reclaim it at the Consulate?"


Hoi Laxik Fi Va offers assorted instrumentalities for sale on deck 6, pod 3, in 32 periods -- including generators, teleporters, drive components, telecommunications equipment, and robots. See attached link for details."

Gannar says, "I followed the link and discovered that the teleporters are used and being sold to prospectors. The teleporters are designed to transport people or cargo from a ship to ground and have a range of a million kilometers or so. They might date from a reasonable period for the our purposes."

This sounds like a plan. Or at least the beginnings of one.

Exiting the gangtube, we discover a pair of Blenari waiting for us. Upon sighting them, Dafnord grunts. Taking this to be a signal, the better dressed one approaches Dafnord. Robbie fades right, Morniesul is behind and to the left. Salimar expands the dragon. The second Blenari backs up and is looking very watchful.

The first Blenari bows to Dafnord and says, "Greetings, Sentient" in KaiSenese. Dafnord grunts in reply. Salimar replies, "Greetings."

The Blenari now turns to Salimar. "I am Fenutio. I deal in fractal metals. There's a rumor circulating that a large quantity of fractal metal has come into the port. My servant is sensitive to these things, and believes that there is a large quantity on your ship. Are you interested in selling?"

"There is, is there? Perhaps we can help each other. We'd be interested in gems."

Over the net, Morniesul sends, "It's probably just as easy to deal in scrip." Aloud he suggests that we adjourn to the Obscura where we'd be more comfortable, as well as more private. Fenutio isn't happy with that idea, and would prefer to remain in the open. Unfortunately, we seem to be attracting a lot of attention. Morniesul sends Markel and the dragon to gently suggest that the gawkers would be better off keeping their distance.

Salimar attempt to smooth over the ruffled feathers by suggesting, "Perhaps you would like to test a sample?" When Fenutio assents, Robbie goes into the Nones to collect an ingot of each type of fractal metals we have. He returns with the ingots on a table he rez'd up and places it on the deck, in front of the gang tube. The second Blenari approaches the table and waves an instrument over the ingots.

After his servant has vetted the purity of our samples, Fenutio asks, "How much of these metals do you have on hand"

After a moment's calculation, Morniesul replies carelessly, "At least 2^7th kilos of each of them."

Fenutio's eyes widen slightly. He makes an offer of 3x2^10 lucre points per kilo for 70 kilos.

Morniesul sighs, "We had been hoping for more on the order of 6. Especially if we're going to have to sell in small lots."

Salimar also notes, "We have a selection of metals, and they are very pure."

Fenutio counters, "If I were to be paying 6, I'd want the shipment to be mostly meta-aluminum." We last encountered this in the Reach, under the name "chlorium." It's green.

Not seeing any reason not to sell him all meta-aluminum, if he prefers, Morniesul replies, "How soon do you think you'd be willing to transfer the goods?"

"Within the period." This is approximately 13 minutes.

Robbie realizes that we're about to sell a (small) portion of our holdings, and that we don't have any accounts here. He contacts the Nones over a radio link and asks it to open an account at whichever bank Tom has used in the past. After a moment, the Nones responds that we now have an account with the KaiSenese consulate.

Meanwhile, Morniesul asks casually, "Do you know anybody who would be interested in a bulk purchase?"

An uninterpretable expression passes over the Blenari's face. "There are a few large corporation and genetic groupings who might be interested in a larger purchase."

Sensing that this is not a safe topic, Salimar interjects, "I'm interested in your servant. You said that he's sensitive to fractal metals. Is this a learned or inborn ability?"

Fenutio replies, "Learned. On the job in the Authority Zone."

After a bit more chit chat, we agree to the deal. Robbie and Dafnord go into the hold for the requested ingots and return with them piled on a hand truck. Robbie gives the hand truck and our account information to the Blenari, who diddles his instrument pack and then leaves. The Nones confirms the deposit into our account.

As the Blenari leave, Salimar muses, "There's a psi skill to sense these metals. Interesting."

And there are rumors spreading through the conventional port that a large shipment of fractal metals has arrived. And the Blenari have figured out that we're the ones with a large shipment of fractal metals. We decide to leave Gannar's platforms positioned near the airlocks of each ship and post a warning under article 47 of the Aundoar Uniform Code of Military Reprisal that trespassers will be fired upon. We also activate a psilencer in the hold.

Before we resume our shopping trip, Morniesul goes into the ship and puts on two of the plated rings and the fractal weave torque. Robbie puts on one of the fractal crystal rings.

Once more, we're off to the market. Shortly after we set out, Dafnord leaves the group and takes a circuitous route back to the ship. We wander through what looks like an overgrown garage sale to the first concourse; a slightly more ordered grouping of booths sort of like a flea market gone wild. Salimar looks around closely and doesn't see anything that strikes a sour note. There's lots of psi being used, but things appear to be open and above board, as much as they usually are in a marketplace.

Now that we take a closer look, we realize that this isn't so much a flea market as a trade show. In addition to booths hawking the latest tools, technologies and tidbits, there are also booths selling conveniences (concession stands). Airslip tailors. Recycling units.

We do notice that what fractal metal is available is in the form of flakes. Once or twice we come across a small nugget. We certainly seem to have cornered the market.

There isn't any rhyme or reason to the booths (or at least none that we're aware of), but we eventually find our way to a booth selling used teleporters. They're hoops about 3 meters across with a platform in the middle. They come in pairs. The proprietor is a centauroid that looks like a cross between a small bear and a large raccoon, with white fur, gray mask, some stripes on its back, and a cottontail puff tail. It introduces itself as Hoi Laxik Fi Va. Salimar identifies it as a Karsey.

Morniesul inquires as to the price.

"23,000 for each system."

"Do you have them in quantity.?"

"12 pair."

"How old are they?"

"A little under 200 years old ... Um ... That is to say, 3.277x2^10 periods." It works out to be 85 years by our measure.

Salimar asks for the price if we bought all of them.

"I'd be willing to give you a 10% quantity discount."

"Can you demonstrate them?"

"Oh certainly!" It gestures and gives a short, sharp howl and 4 more Karsey come trotting out. They take one of the rings and bustle away out of sight. Hoi Laxik puts a coin on the platform, then diddles the controls. The coin disappears, then reappears rapidly. This repeats about 32 times. Then the salesbeing climbs onto the platform. There's a clap, and it disappears. Before we can react, there's another clap, and it reappears and climbs off the platform. "Perhaps you'd like to try, Sentient?" Kate grins and hops on. Hoi Laxik touches a control, and there's another clap. Suddenly Kate finds herself on the other platform, surrounded by 4 Karsey in another portion of the marketplace. She also notices that she's dropped off the net. Before she can reach out to reconnect, There's another clap, and she's back. Salimar recognizes this as an effect of a hyperjump.

"What's the range?"

"1 million kilometers."

We agree to a deal, and arrange for delivery. We emphasize that he should make sure that someone is available to let him in.

Salimar asks for a card, and is handed a string. She puts it in her pouch.

As we're walking away, the Nones pings Robbie with a message: "There is a sentient Keefkeef who wishes to contact Salimar. And I received a message from Pqdorn who wishes to meet with you." Robbie passes the first message to Salimar, and the second to the entire of the group.

Salimar pulls out her glamour communicator card, contacts the Nones, and asks it to patch her through to sentient Keefkeef. After a moment, a Jai voice says, "Greetings, Sentient. You've reached the KaiSenese consulate."

Salimar replies "Greetings. This is Liaison Officer Salimar. You called for me?"

"Liaison Officer Salimar! Good of you to return my call so quickly. I recall that you asked about slime baths?"


"I've located one for you."

"Ah! Where about?"

"There is a tavern run in the Conventional enclave near the gangtube to the Terran Space enclave. It is called ... Yazplzz."

"How would one spell it?"

"E L I A S P L A C E"

"Could you tell me how reputable it is and whether it's looked upon as a good slime bath?"

"I couldn't tell you how reputable it is, but it's quite popular."

"Thank you very much. I appreciate your diligence."

"My pleasure, sentient. Have a good time."

Since we're nearer Pqdorn's shop than the Terran Space enclave, we go there first. As we approach, we discover that it's an enormous tent with several big flaps. When we enter, we see a creature about the size and shape of an elephant, except it has two trunks, two legs, and is olive green. Each trunk ends in 4 tentacles. It's not wearing anything we recognize as clothing. Salimar identifies it as a Thrass.

Robbie contacts the Nones and asks it for a brief on the Thrass. The Nones replies that they're quiet, serious types. No interesting trading habits like exchanging eggs. He passes this to the rest of the party.

Salimar says, "Greetings, Sentient. We'd like to see Sentient Pqdorn."

"Pqdorn can be seen." So it's not, like, invisible or anything...

"We have exchanged messages in regards to trading goods."

The Thrass turns ands walks ponderously through a curtain. A few seconds later a different Thrass comes through the curtain and says, "Greetings, Sentient. I am named Pqdorn."

Salimar introduces the party.

Pqdorn: "Which metals to you have available?"

We list the types we have.

Pqdorn: "That is most satisfactory."

Salimar: "How large a quantity would you be interested in?"

Pqdorn: "I normally deal in 10s to 100s of kilos."

Morniesul says, "We actually have 100s to 1000s of kilos."

Pqdorn walks back to the curtain, opens it with its nose, and brings out another Thrass. They converse in a language that sounds like a concerto for modulated foghorn. After concluding the conversation, it comes back to us and with the second Thrass following and asks if Morniesul would repeat his statement.

Morniesul repeats, "We have quantities of 100s to 1000s of kilos, depending on the metal."

Pqdorn turns to his companion and there's another brief discussion in what we assume is the Thrass' native tongue. After a moment, Pqdorn turns back to us and asks, "Are you willing to part with a large fraction?"

Morniesul replies, "Oh yes."

"Does your government require any agreement as to it's strategic use?"

Strategic use?!? Robbie contacts the Nones and asks it to call the KaiSenese consulate and get Foozhap on the line. Quickly.

Morniesul continues, "No. Is the use likely to cause upsets?"

"This is likely to cause a noticeable upset in the nucleonics industry on the world to which it is sold."

Nucleonics industry!?! Robbie asks the Nones what fractal metals are used for. The Nones responds, "Mass transmutation catalysts. Useful in things like fusion reactors and fusion/fission reactors, as well as Ferric reduction elements. It can be used to create transuranian elements. It can be used to create a fusion beam."

Ignoring Robbie's mounting upset, Morniesul continues, "I ask only because we are from very far away and I would be unhappy to violate the local customs. My people don't do that lightly."

"That is courteous." Pqdorn pauses, then says, "There are very few local customs."

"While my government has no requirement, I wouldn't want to offend my allies." He points to Salimar.

Robbie definitely wants to talk with Tom when we return. This stuff can make fusion beams, and we sold 70 kilos to a pair of Blenari?!?

Dafnord has been hanging about inconspicuously around the concourse where the Nones and Obscura are docked, watching the ebb and flow of the crowd. He boards the Nones and goes to the control cabin, where he directs the Nones to monitor the Blenari ships.

Morniesul asks, "What range of prices would you pay for fractal metals in quantity?"

Pqdorn: "I lack sufficient funds to pay you at the moment. I would have to contact my government."

Morniesul: "Presuming that you found sufficient funds, what would be the approximate price?"

It thinks for a bit. "4 to 6x2^10 per kilo."

Morniesul: "That sounds entirely reasonable. Do you need to assay the quality?"

Pqdorn: "Yes."

Morniesul: "Do you need to sample each of the metals individually?"

Pqdorn: "That would be best."

Morniesul: "We can provide you an ingot of each on consignment for inspection."

Pqdorn looks startled. "An ingot?!?"

Morniesul: "A small bar?"

Pqdorn: "When did you have occasion to fashion it into ingots?"

Morniesul: "That's how we acquired it. We are traders." Morniesul fingers the torque that he's wearing, "Those that we acquired it from use it for many things."

Giving no indication that he's taken Morniesul's reference, Pqdorn responds, "Then I shall initiate dealings with my government."

Salimar asks, "Would you like us to deliver the samples to you?"


Morniesul asks, "How soon do you expect to hear from your government? And how long will you need to complete your inspection?"

"Approximately 128 periods."

Salimar says, "We'll provide the sample in 2^3 to 2^6 periods."

As if he had just remembered them, Morniesul asks, "You don't also have an interest in fractal crystals, do you?"

Pqdorn: "Those would be of considerable academic interest."

Morniesul: "We have access to a considerable quantity of those as well."

Pqdorn: "I'm certain that my government would be interested."

Morniesul: "We have a much smaller volume, but an equivalent value of crystals."

Pqdorn: "That would be reasonable... logical... consistent... plausible."

Morniesul: "We will include samples of each crystal in the assay package."

Pqdorn: "Thank you for doing business."

With that, Pqdorn and its companion walk back through the curtain. We leave.

Meanwhile, Dafnord has collected information on the Blenari. There are three rival clans; the Koranda, Algis and Triaigelm. They have hated each other for time out of mind. They are continually pirating from one another. In addition, there is the Blenari Free Trade League that tries to behave themselves. None of the Blenari ships have left the port yet. The Nones has managed to trace the transaction; we sold to the Koranda. Unfortunately, there's not much we can do about it now. Except make sure that the other clans (and everybody else) know that the Koranda now possess almost 70 kilos of extremely pure meta-aluminum. And Elias' Place sounds like just the place to start such a rumor.

As we approach, we see human beings for the first time. There may have been others about, but we didn't see them in the general weirdness. Just off the gangtube is a large cubic structure that announces itself as Elias' Place. In many languages.

We enter. There is music playing. It's soft rock. There are lots of non-humans. There are a few Blenari, we suppose. They're quite a bit smaller, and more metallic in shade, and dressed in long white scarves. They seem as puzzled by us as we are by them. Several of them look at our party as we enter. There's a large, well-nourished blond human tending bar.

We ask the Nones if it can identify the golden-skinned creatures. It can't. Morniesul asks the Nones to look up folklore of the Blenari. Are there any descriptions that match these creatures? The Nones finds a few references to pygmy races. But nothing matches the picture that Robbie is transmitting. Morniesul asks the Nones to keep looking, and call him if it finds anything.

As an experiment, Morniesul goes to the bar and orders Spring Wine. The bartender looks him up and down. Turns away and returns with a glass. "It's been a while since we've had one of you in here."

"Oh really?"


Salimar saunters up to the bar and orders a juice cocktail native to her home world. The bartender gives her a look, then turns to his bottles. When he turns back, he hands her a glass. She sips it, and finds that it's not quite right, but it's very close. "A lot of folks in tonight?"


"Are the slime baths warmed up?"

"Hot, warm and cold. Just like the three bears."

The bartender turns to Kate and asks, "Anything for you? Spring wine?"

Kate grins. "That would be fine. How long since you had one of us in here?"

"Oh, two or three years."

Morniesul's card squeaks. The Nones says, "I have the information you requested, sir. The metallic skin and small crest are typical of representations of mythical beings from Blenari folklore."

Morniesul looks over at the Blenari as they stand up and go through one of the doors.

Salimar goes to the hot slime bath. There are two other beings in the bath at the far end, but they're busy. With themselves.

Next to the door is a large circular tub. There are little droplets skittering about the surface. As she passes she says, "Greetings, Sentient." Nothing happens.

Meanwhile, back on the Nones, Dafnord starts to lean back in a chair and realizes that he's still wearing Umbra's scabbard. He reaches back to remove it, and discovers that Umbra is missing. While he was out, someone (or something) took Umbra and left him a length of metal in its place.

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

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