R&R, Such as it Is

Doc has never had to stitch himself up before, but finds it surprisingly easy, after a few pain killers. The bullet had only grazed his shoulder, but the stress of the whole day had thrown him into shock. After that, he crawls into a bunk inset into the wall of the Pu crew area, slides the shutter closed, and falls asleep. He dreams of the total chaos of the day before. He's had some hectic ventures into the past before, but nothing quite like this.

Doc sleeps well into the morning. He is awakened by the smell of coffee, eggs, and something he can't quite recognize. He slides back the bunk door. Dr. Ritenrong is fixing up a meal on the utility table just outside.

"Good morning," the doctor greets him. "I hope you're feeling better."

Surprisingly, Doc has never felt better in his life. Must be those futuristic pain killers. "I'm okay. What are you cooking?"

"Local cuisine, you might say," he hands Doc a plate and a cup. "It's turtle eggs and snake meat. Beats the freeze dried crap we've got on board, at least. I never could stomach zero-g rations."

Doc takes a bite. It tastes kind of fishy, but it's palletable. Doc seasons it liberally with salt and pepper.

After eating, Doc heads up to the cockpit with a fresh cup of coffee and his I-Browse. The Autopilot greets him with an enthusiastic "Howdy!" and goes back to the business of monitoring the controls.

"What kind of sensors do we have on this thing?" Doc asks him.

"Well, she's got active and passive radar and radio for long range detection, communications, and terrain mapping, laser range finders, thermal, lowlight, UV, and X-Ray cameras, and a gamma burst alarm. Never found much sense in that, though, since it's only there to tell me that y'all just been lethally dosed. I guess you could use it to start planning your funerals."

"X-ray? Can we see through stuff, like buildings?"

"Sorry, it's a passive sensor. Unless there's an X-ray source on the other side of the building, we can't see through it."

"That's too bad. How far away can you detect someone approaching?"

"Well, from here on the ground in these trees, not so far. Radar's got about a 20 mile radius but poor resolution. I can tell you where all the river boats and buildings are and if there's any wagons coming down the road a few miles off. With thermal, I've got about 3 miles tops for a warm human body. I might be able to identify a group on horseback as far as five miles out. I can see further at night, though, probably three times as far."

He brings up the displays as he explains them. It's a messy array of colors and numbers that Doc can't really understand.

"Could we use the ship in the dark of night and fly in and lower ourselves down while it hovered, like a helicopter? And if so, is it quiet?"

"Hover, yes, quiet, hell no. Drop from ropes? Absolutely not. You'd drop alright, right into the huge jetwash put out by the vectored thrusters. Now, I could glide engines off over town and you jump out, but we don't have no parachutes. I'd have to go pretty fast, too, so that'd be one hell of a jump."

"Thanks," Doc says, slightly disheartened.

"No problem, buddy," replies the android.

Doc sits down in one of the passenger seats. He'll have to think of another plan. He enjoys his cup of coffee and reads his I-Browse. Dr. Ritenrong was right. The surveyors at Phillip's Corners came under fire a little more than an hour ago, and by tomorrow ten thousand Ohioans will be marching on Michigan. The Militia will put up a brief fight over the next couple weeks, resulting in three hundred casualties. Only around sixty of those are fatalities, mostly resulting from the medical practices of the day.

Doc checks out more future history. Automobile manufacturing gets started in Milwaukee rather than Detroit. Instead, Detroit is better known for dairy, beer, and beef products. Green Bay hosts a killer hockey team, while the Detroit Lions become a national favorite in football. Ohio State-Michigan rivalries are much more intense. Swat teams have to be called into downtown Columbus to stop riots when the Buckeyes win, and the National Guard steps in when they lose.

Doc checks the name Alyss Valia. No records are found. Doc goes back down to the crew quarters and shows Dr. Ritenrong.

"What? That's impossible!" he says in disbelief. "Let me see that!" He takes the I-Browse and goes into a bunk, shutting the door behind him. Mumbling can be heard from behind the plastic screen.

Doc takes some time to clean his gun. It's still in good condition. He disarms and inspects the three antique pistols he'd captured from the sheriff and marshal. Being a thorough archaeologist, he finds some good plastic bags, seals them up, and marks down some notes. Maybe he can deliver them to the Smithsonian later. Doc goes off to stow them in the cargo hold. The three horses are here, as well as Thunderhorse. He's resting on the hood of Doc's Wrangler, mug in hand.

"Ah, my friend awakes. Have some of this red stuff," he says offering a mug of wine. The last barrel of alcohol is messily opened and a portion of its contents are splashed about the floor.

"No thanks, maybe later."

"More for me." He chugs back a gulp.

"Did you understand anything the professor said last night about the future? Do you know why he brought us here?"

"Yes, he told me more after you went to sleep. He told me that he has seen Ragnarok, and that I have the power to save the world from it. He told me that we are fleas on a sleeping giant, a giant bigger than all the stars in the sky. We can sail the giant's blanket like a ship at sea and avoid the crushing blow of his hand. I don't know, though. It seems to me that we should fight this beast, like Thor against the frost giants. At least we will reach Valhalla."

"I'm sure you'll make it there. How many men have you conquered already? You did very well against those men in town."

"They were weak. Their thunder slings make them weak. They may keep them safe from far away, but up close, they have no power. They are not true warriors, like me and you."

"I am not a warrior, I'm a healer."

"You are a wizard. I saw you cast that spell at them. Very effective. You must work on your aim, though. You did not kill them, only frightened them away."

"I didn't want to kill them."

"But the strong one hit you with his thunder sling. If you had killed him you would not have been wounded. We must kill our enemies."

"Only when they are dangerous to us or our friends. Sometimes, an enemy is best kept alive. We are in a strange land, you and I. We can't be sure who is our enemy and who is our friend. All I know is that you are my friend, and that Dr. Ritenrong wants to be our friend too. I think we can trust him, even if we don't understand him."

"He is a confusing person. He controls a powerful magic, the powers of Odin, but I do not think he shares Odin's wisdom. You, though, you seem to have Odin's wisdom, and Baldur's love of life. But you wield Loki's fire and tongue. It is a strange thing indeed. I will trust in you, though, for I have seen your wisdom and strength. And I will trust in the dwarf, but only as long as you trust him."

"And I will trust in you, so long as you follow this one rule: Do No Harm; Unless You Have To."


The two shake hands.

Doc spends the afternoon studying maps and satellite photos of the area. He stares in frustration at the blinking dot on the screen, signifying the location of Dr. Ritenrong's gear in the middle of town. There's no way to get to it without going through town, no way to go through town without being seen, no way of being seen without being recognized. The town is still under Michigan control. A thermal image video taken by the Younger Brother Pear as it passed over the area a few hours ago shows columns of troops being deployed around the city. The whole town looks to be locked down.

It takes Doc a moment to realize that the dot is moving. Slowly at first, it goes to the front of the church. It stops for a moment, then begins moving down the street, towards the river. He calls to the professor downstairs. "Steve! They're moving your stuff!"

Steven, messy and frustrated from confining himself to his bunk all day, comes up quickly and joins Doc at the display screen. "Shit! Where are they taking it?" The dot is moving straight towards the sheriffs office. "Why are they taking it there?"

"They're not," Doc responds. The dot moves past the jail house towards the docks. "They're putting it on the Chesapeake."

"How long before it's out of sensor range?"

The Autopilot answers. "I can only track it from here within twenty miles. The Pear won't pass over again for another four hours. I can drop a satellite to track it anywhere, then."

"How far can they get in four hours?"

"Not sure, certainly out of our range," the android replies.

"Drop the satellite as soon as possible," the professor commands.

They watch in silence for a while. The dot is loaded on the boat. Nothing happens for about half an hour.

Doc speaks. "If we're lucky, they'll stay put. We can get at the boat from the water in the night. "

No such luck, however. The boat starts moving north, towards the lake.

"Any chance we can use this thing as a submarine?" Doc asks.

"We can land the Pu in the water if we have to, but we can't hide her. The hull can stand five atmospheres of pressure, but there's no way to make her dive. I mean, we could just crash straight into the water, but if the hull doesn't get crushed in the impact we'll just float right back up again"

"Shit. Where are they going? Doc, see if you can find anything on Q-Net about the Chesapeake."

Doc goes off and studies with the I-Browse for a while. He spends almost an hour just trying to find the proper sites to explore, and another two digging up the information he needs. He returns to the cockpit with his findings. The tracking dot is gone from the screen.

Dr. Ritenrong explains. "We lost them an hour ago. It won't be long before we can get the satellite in place. They can't have gone very far. Did you find anything?"

"The manifest says they set out back to Detroit, but they'll never get there."

"What? Why?"

"No one knows. The ship just disappeared."

"Fucking Lake Erie."


ERR said...

Doc Study check: 20 (13+7) vs. 20, XP+20

ERR said...

Hypertext d20 SRD
I like to use this as a quick reference, sometimes. I got the snake stats from there. The game rules are mostly based on D20 modern, though, stripped of class system and with skills and feats reorganized into the training system.

Powers are still kinda unexplored. The idea was to really make them up as we go along, anyway. They're like psycic powers or psionics. Dr. Ritenrong will have a better explanation of them later on when they become more significant.

Doc said...


"Quick! After them!"


Doc said...


Meta comments: So I'v been recruited for not only my history and my slick tongue, but for my mind as well? That is an honor!


ERR said...