Forum:The Efate Run: FIRST MEAL
In accordance with Megan's request to post the scenes separately, I'm trying it out here. Like Thomas, I don't really see the need for such an arrangement, but on the other hand, I don't see any reason to not do it.
Anyway, this is the second scene of chapter 2. Once it's finished, I'll move it over to the Chapter 2 page.
Main Lounge, Silver Sphinx, 17:00 028-1120
Mealtimes on the Sphinx, as established by Captain Allbright and not changed by Acting Captain Kerana, are breakfast at 9:00, lunch at 13:00, and dinner at 17:00. Today lunch was a buffet of bread and cold cuts and didn't count as a real meal. Dinner now is thus First Meal, a tradition observed on the Sphinx as on many other ships in Charted Space, where an extra good meal is served and all passengers and as many crew as can be spared from running the ship attend in order to get to know one another.
There is a menu card at each place. The first course is redlegs (a type of crustacean) in white wine sauce, follwed by beef stifado (beef and shallots in an aniseed-flavoured stew) and herb potatoes, with fantasy apple pie for dessert.
In the captain's chair at one end of the table Gani Stennetii sits in for Pat Kerana, who's on the bridge with Chip Uamdar. Khugi Kerana, UTP's Chief Operations Officer and Duchesa Elanor both head for the seat at the opposite end of the table. The duchesa gives Kerana a cold, haughty stare, but he defuses the potentially awkward situation by bowing and pulling the chair out for her and seating her before sitting down to her left. Doris Hill, the duchesa's personal assistant, quickly takes the seat to her right and Kline, Kerana's assistant, takes the one to his left.
The rest of the passengers and crew, except for Alishia Simmonds, who's keeping an eye on the engines, range themselves around the table[*]. They busy themselves filling their plates and glasses, then look up to see who will get the conversational ball rolling.
- [*] That's Zygmunt Wojciechowski from Forboldn, the three Aslans, The Reverend Richenda Tuchemova from Regina, Rouube Gaaksika from Enope, Padfoot, Roughbark, Rolf Barker, and Josh Freed.
"I've never been to Forboldn before," says Gabon. "Where's the best place to go play tourist?"
The Duchesa puts on a patronizing smile. "The place is a bit of a backwater, I'm afraid. Not much touristy stuff to do. Personally, I'm going there to study the flora and fauna, particularly species introduced by the Zhodani two thousand years ago. I'm by way of being a bit of an expert on the subject."
"What do you mean, there's nothing for a tourist to do?" breaks in Zygmunt Wojciechowski. "Forboldn has plenty to offer. What kind of fun were you looking for, Chief? They've got good theater in the capital. You can find just about any play in Humaniti being done on the boards."
"Actually I was thinking of a camping trip if we've got enough time before we head out again. I love being out in the forest even with a respirator on."
Zygmunt laughs. "Rent a boat, Chief. The biggest trees are in the Neasnic Swamp."
"How dare you suggest that!" burst out the Rev. Richenda. "Chief Roughbark, the Neasnic Swamp is the most hazardous area on the planet, please don't let this--" a suitable word seems difficult to find "--man trick you into endangering yourself!"
Gabon tries to smooth this over. "Thank you, Reverend, but I'm sure Mr. Wojciechowski expected me to take all sensible precautions."
Zygmunt nods, backing down before the cleric's anger. "Sure, sure. I was joking, anyway. You wouldn't have time to get there and back on a normal layover. But if you ever do go, be sure to pack a chill suit. The place is in the lowlands and right near the equator. It's hot as h... hot as anything down there. If your suit pops a gasket, you'll boil from the inside out."
Rev. Richenda says, "It would be more practical to visit one of the wilderness preserves on the Wueldn Plateau. It has the added advantage that you won't need to wear a breath mask."
"How long are we going to be on Forboldn, anyway," Gabon asks. "Long enough for a decent shore leave? I figured we'd just drop off cargo and passengers and keep heading for Efate."
"You're used to working on a regularly scheduled freighter, aren't you, Mr. Roughbark?" Khugi Kerani replies. "For such ships, layovers are seldom longer than a day or so, because companies have factors who do their best before the ship even arrives to line up cargo and passengers ready for loading and embarkation. But ships on unscheduled trips, like the one Silver Sphinx is on right now, have to spend time after they arrive in a system to line up cargo and passengers from scratch. Rule of thumb is that it takes about five days to do so, although local conditions can change that. My guess is that you'll have a few days to yourself on Forboldn, though that's for your captain to decide, of course. As for your next destination, that hasn't been decided yet, and will depend on what we find when we get there."
"Mr. Kerani is correct" Gani adds. "Though I doubt there will much time for sight seeing. Port time is usually the busiest time for a free trader, particularly for a smaller world like Forboldn. You can probably plan on a few hours wandering the port town."
"I do remember running into one hot-shot pilot, " Gani continues, "who liked to spend his planet-side time trying to make a round-the-planet trip on his overpowered grav cycle. He had more than one tale to tell about the locals objecting to his hobby."
"Objecting?" asks Gabon. "Overpowered sounds like breaks all local safety regulations to me. Did he ever manage to get himself arrested?"
"So, Duchesa, you're an expert on..." Khugi Kerana begins, but stops when the woman so addressed interrupts him with a raised hand and says, in a voice cold enough to freeze carbon dioxide: "Pardon me for interrupting you, Dom Kerana, but I'm not a duchesa. My proper title is 'duchess'. For some strange reason the Imperium feels it has the right to reserve certain noble titles for its own use. I assure you, the nobles of Rio do not agree. So I'd appreciate it if you will address me as 'Duchess'."
"Frequently" replies Gani to Gabon's question, lower his voice as to not interrupt the Duchesa.
"Frankly," she adds, her voice turning conversational, "I'm at a loss to understand why your member worlds put with the prohibition on using these words for their own titles. It seems to me to be a clear case of interference with their internal affairs. Just the sort of thing your Imperium is supposed to avoid."
Khugi Kerana looks miffed for a moment, but apparently decides to take the correction in good spirit. "Not many high-population worlds have nobilities, Duchess," he says. Nobilities with significant political power, that is -- and the Imperium generally don't listen to anyone but the high-pops. And, of course, many worlds use different titles. For those worlds who do use them, my impression is that they just ignore the edict."
"That's right," Josh Freed interjects. "I had a shipmate once who'd met an archduke on Junidy. Tiny little postage stamp of a country called Beaupays. Only a few million inhabitants, but they had grand dukes and archdukes and hyperdukes, and a whole bunch of dukes and counts and marquesses. They even had the ranks mixed up," Josh grins. "Their marquesses were ranked above their counts, would you believe it!?"
"Speaking of archdukes," the Rev. Richenda says, "did you see that Archduke Norris is coming to visit Regina soon? He's embarking on a grand tour of his domain soon. Rhylanor is the first stop and then Regina. He'll be here... there... in a couple of months. I'm just sorry I won't be there to see the festivities."
"Ah, Arrchduke Norrrris," Rolf Barker says, musingly. "Therre's a man I'd like to worrk forr. Rrich, powerrful, charrismatic -- forr a human. I wonder if he needs a good sensorr operratorr forr his yacht..."
"Excuse me, folks - is everyone content with their meal. There is red and white wine, ale or fruit juice..."