Making Friends, Pt 3

Doc sits down at the bar next to Thunderhorse where the Cook had swept away the broken glass.

"What would you like, sir?" asks the Cook in his friendly, unaccented computer voice.

"I'll have what he's having," Doc replies.

"One hundred beers, coming right up," replies the Cook who promptly grabs a glass, fills it, and places it before Doc in a series of swift, precise motions. It then waits patiently for him to finish the first.

Since Doc was small, he's had the ability to sense what others were feeling. Not only sense, but actually feel their emotions as if they were his own, if he concentrated. It's a great trick to tell if someone is being sincere, or when he's in trouble with a woman. He concentrates now, and tries to get a sense of Thunderhorse.

Despair, loneliness, confusion, and above all, fright. This giant, rough, stinky hulk of barbarian death machine is scared for his life, but not just for his life, for his horse. Lightning. If he could only know that Lightning was safe and alive.

Of course, Doc doesn't know where the horse is. Most likely, he thought, he's back in Thunderhorse's era.

Doc tastes the beer, a lovely Bavarian ale. It's good. "This can't be Hell," he says. "The beer's too good."

Thunderhorse looks up from his distraught mood for a moment. "Huh," he replies disdainfully.

"We're not in Hell. Have you looked out a window? We're in the heavens," Doc tries again to explain.

"Window?" asks Thunderhorse, again confused.

"We're on a ship. A boat that sails the heavens. We are amongst the stars."

"I don't believe you."

Doc thinks a moment. There's a view-screen behind the bar currently advertising Space Schlitz. "Computer, can you show us the ship on this screen?"

The computer chirps a delightful affirmative and displays the Q-Net Entry for MARV-IN.

Thunderhorse stares at the screen. "I don't understand. What is this dancing tapestry?"

Doc admits he doesn't get much of the technical junk either. "Computer, can you give us a window here? What is the forward view?"

The computer beeps again and the screen changes. They're high above the Earth moving swiftly, crossing the Pacific towards South America. Thunderhorse stands up, knocking his stool to the floor.

"THOR'S BALLS!" he shouts, staring at awe at the sight.

Doc cannot help but laugh.

"Is that ...ocean?! Are those clouds?! What land is that?" he asks loudly. The screen begins overlaying meteorological information and political borders on the planet in response to him as he shouts.

Doc notes with interest the fact that Ecuador is labeled "Quito" and Columbia is listed as "New Grenada" and includes parts of Panama, suggesting the date of 1835 given to him earlier is correct. He briefly considers explaining the concept of time travel to Thunderhorse, but decides he's not quite there yet.

Eventually, Thunderhorse picks up his stool and sits back down, still staring at the screen as they fly above the Andes.

"So where are you from and how did you get here?" asks Doc.

Thunderhorse stares at the screen a moment longer, but then comes back to the conversation. "I am from the Winterlands. My village, Hilton, was destroyed by King Nathan the Pickled. My Jazelle was taken to his castle, the Tower of Venis, and befouled by the monster himself. The surviving men of my village and I vowed revenge and rode out into the night. A blizzard struck, and we lost our way. We wandered the frozen north for three cold, deadly years. Many of us fell to the ground, frozen, but the rest of us rode on. When only three of us remained, we at last came upon a was Hilton! Still in ruins and full of scoundrels! We rode three long years across icy planes in a circle! I could not bear it. I rode right into the tavern, slaughtered the filthy Venis scum that littered the place, and crawled into the whiskey barrel. There I stayed for two more years, until today.

"I woke up about three in the afternoon as I usually do. I got on Lightning and rode through the hills. I killed four of King Nathan's men at the crossroad to Bridgeton. I gathered their swords and armor and rode back, sold it all to Groth the blacksmith. It was another day, as usual. Back at the tavern I began my evening as I usually do with a tankard of whiskey.

"The bartender was new, though. He was a tiny man, even smaller than you, and old, much older than anyone I've ever met. He was probably as old as fifty! He was like a dwarf, only he did not have a beard. He took my tankard and poured the whiskey. Then he brought out a strange thing from his tunic. It was a small, shiny metal rod, like a quill without feathers. He stirred the whiskey with this funny stick, then gave it to me. I took it and drank. This was a mistake. I remember looking at the whiskey as I drank. It was black, black as pitch or blacker.

"As I tilted the tankard to my lips, I felt as if I was shrinking. Soon I felt as if I was falling into the tankard and about to splash into the black pool within it. But then, blackness all around me. Suddenly, the darkness disappeared and I found myself in a wooden box! I thought it was a coffin, so I smashed myself free of it. I was in a place full of boxes, some wood, some steel, and some like I've never seen.

"The ghost of that beardless dwarf appeared before me and gibbered at me in some strange language, the same words you speak when it is not in my head. His words were not in my head then, I could not understand what he said. The ghost of the dwarf faded away. Then a man appeared, a man who was not a man. Some kind of magical being, too pretty to be a man. I thought he was a god, perhaps Balder. Balder cannot be hurt by anything, as Odin has commanded all things take oaths not to harm him. So I threw a piece of wood at him, and when it hit him and he fell, I knew he was not Balder. So I ran. I know not where I went.

"Such things and creatures I saw! I ran out of the mouth of a great stone bird. In its cavern nest was its dead chick and strange weapons lying about the lair. There was blood splashed upon the wall in some strange runes. I escaped the cavern into a hallway of light with mossy wool floors. Suddenly, two flying monsters came at me! They were huge metal bugs without wings! You would not believe them if you saw them! They came at me, humming a strange, endless dirge. I swung my axe at them!" Thunderhorse begins to get excited as he relives the moment. He stands up and re-enacts his encounter.

"Alas, they were too fast! As one dodged my blow, the other came round behind me and bit me! It felt like a thousand little bites made of fire! It smelled of a sheep that was hit by lightning. As I cried out in pain and turned round to hit it, the other came and bit me, too! Oh, the pain of it! But I would not fall. I swung at them again! Again they dodged! Then, one shot a tiny arrow into my neck! You would think such a tiny arrow would do no harm against me, but it was poisoned! I became drowsy and fell to my knees as the world became black again." Thunderhorse sits back down.

"When I awoke, I was in a strange room on a soft bed, just over there," he points to a room on the other side of the ship from Doc's. "The door had no handle, but it opened when I approached. Beyond was this tavern and this strange non-man bartender. He offered me a drink, and I've been here ever since. I don't know when I will leave. You say we are on a ship in the heavens, but I know not where we sail. I will never see my horse again and I will never have my revenge! Oh, if only this god 'Kom Putor' of yours will show me where my Lightning is!"

With that the viewscreen switches to a picture of a horse chewing on some luscious green plants in a garden near a pond. Strangely, the scene of planet Earth they were viewing hangs in the background, beyond a gazebo and some trees and cut by great, arching pillar. Thunderhorse's jaw drops and he once again loses his shit.

"Where is this?!" he cries. The screen plays a 3-D animation detailing the route to the elevator and up a floor. "BY ODIN'S EYE!" he yells again, kicking his stool across the galley. He runs out the galley door. Doc follows, beer in hand.

The elevator door slides open on the Observation deck revealing a wonderous sight that Thunderhorse totally fails to appreciate as he rushes out to find his horse. The grass is green. The water of the pond is crystal blue and full of fish. The small sandy beach at one end is golden. The trees are rich and full of fruits. The garden is full and ripe. The strange chicken-lizard creatures are plump. The even stranger goat-like rabbit things seem healthy. The Earth hangs above them in all her pre-greenhouse-crisis unpolluted glory. The stars of the Milky Way stand vigilant beyond.

Doc takes it all in as he wanders the grounds. Thunderhorse stands with Lightning, brushing him and talking to him softly. The two go their own way for a while.

Doc considers how to explain time travel to Thunderhorse and when they are, but finds he cannot fully explain it to himself. The time travel wormhole in the Smithsonian is opened up within a concave space on a specific object, like a cup or a bag. This creates a portal between the present and the past as far back as when the cavity was formed and only up until the wormhole is deactivated. The theory stated that you cannot send things forward in time; after the wormhole was shut off. Someone had to be at the future end running the thing.

This morning he was in 2098. He had entered into what should have been the past-end of a wormhole. But he is now in 1835, meaning the end he went into was in the future, and the generator must be here in the past. Impossible. Besides, the room he fell into (the cargo hold on the Pu) didn't seem to have any kind of wormhole equipment in it. He was in a crate when he arrived. It seemed like he smashed out of the very urn into which he fell.

These thoughts are interrupted when dinner arrives. The Host and the Cook appear from the elevator door. The Cook pushes a cart with silver platters and domes over to the picnic table near the gazebo. The Host brings the wine.

The Host calls them over. "Dr. Ritenrong took the liberty of ordering dinner for you. Roast Gobbit in a chanana sauce with mashed tompatoes and soypeas in butter. All grown and raised aboard ship." The Cook reveals the meal with mechanical flourish. It looks and smells delicious. The Host pours the wine. The Cook returns to the galley. The Host patiently waits on them, keeping a respectable distance from Thunderhorse.

Thunderhorse is at first apprehensive, but hunger overtakes him and he wastes no time in tearing apart the Gobbit. He had been hungrily eying the creatures running around up here since they arrived. Doc takes his time and uses dishes and utensils.

As the meal comes to a close, the Host approaches the table. "Dr. Ritenrong apologizes he cannot join you for dinner. He has been detained on Earth unexpectedly and, as he explains, is in some dire need of assistance. He asked that I play this message for you."

The holographic image of Dr. Ritenrong appears next to the Host. He's wearing a suit befitting an American undertaker of the mid-19th century. he seems a bit disheveled.

"It's that fucking beardless dwarf again!" exclaims Thunderhorse with a mouthful of meat.

"I'm sorry I can't be there to greet you," says Dr. Ritenrong's hologram, whispering closely and hurriedly at them, "but I've, uh, been arrested. I'm in the municipal courthouse in Toledo, Ohio. Or Michigan. It's not clear yet which way that'll go, but I'll explain that later. I need you to, uh, get me out. Soon, please; Sunday morning at the absolute latest. It's almost Saturday here. The Autopilot can drop you off here in the Pu. I've already sent the coordinates. It's a couple miles out of town where you won't be seen landing, so you'll have to walk in. The replicator in the galley can provide costuming. Dr. Shaw, I'm trusting in your knowledge and skill to outfit Thunderhorse and yourself appropriately. I've allowed $5,000 cash for this mission. You can get it from the ARSE, also in the galley. My bail is set at $500 so there should be plenty left over for bribes and auxiliary supplies. Proceed carefully, gentlemen. Our mission is of the utmost importance to the future of civilization! We must start this war!"

The message ends abruptly as Dr. Ritenrong looks over his shoulder and fades away.


ERR said...

Doc used Read Emotions, -1 Chi.

Doc said...

Doc orders a simple black suit from the time and rough work clothes (overalls, flannel shirt, hat, coat) for Thunderhorse. Get the $5000 dollars and divide it up. Have $1000 sewn into Doc's vest. Have another $1000 hidden in the lining of Thunderhorse's tall boots. Have $2000 hidden in a secret compartment in my carpetbag. The last $1000 should be in small denominations that I will carry with me for everyday expenses.

Tools: We need a simple lockpick set. Neither one of us has a lockpicking skill but the locks at the time are pretty simple affairs so we should at least have a small chance at success. We need a potent acid, something that might eat through iron bars, handcuffs, rope, etc. and enough for at least four applications. We need a compass, flashlights,and plastic zip ties, a lighter, gloves, binoculars, and nude photos of women. Also a small prybar or "jimmy" tool. We will also need a small two wheeled cart, something that could be pushed by one person or pulled easily from a horse. Something like an oversized wheelbarrow or more like a peddlers cart. It has to be big enough to hold all of our gear as well as six small kegs of booze (gin, vodka, whiskey, rum, scotch, bourbon). We will also need drink mixers (like the drink mixes they sell for margaritas, mojitos, weird fruit drinks, etc. al.)and paper cups. I will also need a shoulder bag and three long bolts of cloth (canvas, denium, silk, whatever)

Info: We need maps, both political and topographical, and as detailed as we can get, so we can see every cathouse, outhouse, and dog house. We need historical information as to the "major players", e.g. sherrif, mayor, merchants, town council, or whatever we can acquire on such short notice. Is it possible to take a computer/printer along so we could come up with forged documents on the spot? Will the Pu (ship) wait there for us? Does it have some kind of camoflage ability? Does it have a computer and replicator on it?

Weapons: We will need small, compact grenades. 3 frags, 3 flash/bang, 3 smoke, 3 tear gas, and 3 sleeping gas should be enough. We will also need some explosives. C4/plastique and a way to set it off from a safe distance. If the future has something better, I'll take that. We need enough to make a 4 foot hole in a brick or stone wall that is two feet thick, and we need enough to do this twice. Also, we need nonlethal weapons, stunguns/taser, sleeping gas, electric billyclubs, I don't know, and here again, if the future has something better to offer, I'll take that. They need to be small enough to carry on our person. We also need long arms. We need one rifle of the period and 25 rounds of ammo for it (flint, powder, balls). We need the most modern version of a potent distance rifle, e.g. something like a sniper rifle with scope, comensater, etc., and fifty rounds for it. We also need a pump shotgun with fifty rounds, as well as some kind of assault rifle with five clips of whatever it holds.

The loose plan that I have concocted is this: Dress and act the part of a snakeoil salesman traveling with his wood cutter brother. We stash our stuff in the bottom of the cart and conceal the long guns in the bolts of cloth. Cover the top and put the kegs there with the mixers. If we can take the horse to pull the cart all the better. On the trip planetside, study the maps and info to have at least a rough familiarity with it. Head into town and locate Dr. Ritenrong and make plans to secure his freedom. I will try to impress on Thunderhorse how important it is to let me do all the talking, as the people we are going to meet are from another "tribe" and might look at us as spys or enemies if they knew we were outsiders, but I can talk our way past them and not to get violent unless I give him the go ahead.

That is all I can think of right now, and I can't wait to see what you have cooked up.


Doc said...

I'm sorry for my extended absense and in the future I promise to stop by everyday. I promise (hand on heart).


Doc said...

Just another thought, in the description of the ship it mentions the crew. Can I meet these people? Can I ask them questions? Would the security officer be available to accompany us? Is there any info that they can provide or help they could offer? Is there a crew or just the robots to run the ship?

Another thing, when we leave the ship will I lose the tranlation from the computer and have to go back to speaking German to communicate to Thunderhorse or do I get a babel fish or something?

Can I get some more ammo for my Colt .44?

Would my study ability help me to learn faster or more of the info I've asked for? How do I regenerate my chi? Does it come back with rest? Can we get jetpacks? Is there a lasergun to be had instead of firearms?

Just some random things that occured to me later. Feel free to do with this what you will.