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36 - Changing course

Almost a week of playing hide and seek (mostly hide), but for all of it, I am feeling so much stronger and last so much longer in workouts. I'm still a clumsy oaf compared to some of these guys I watch in the obstacle course. I stopped through briefly to ask what those aromas are coming from the bar, and someone said "grilled chicken."
I tried some. It was actually pretty good. It seemed a lot like some of the things I got on Taungoo.
I still had no real idea what a chicken is, but I'd heard someone on Spirit of Botswana might. Ser Moritz had recommended a knife class offered there, so I need to go there anyway now that my riflery course is finished.
I really want to see the things Shadow had been describing, and I can't even guess at what culinary wonders may be waiting there.
Still, I hate the shuttle rides. I always have to bring lots of ration bags (even more for the longer trips in this system). I feel bad for the people sitting next to me, especially when I miss the bag. I feel even worse for the attendants. They do have to clean it up eventually. I fear I may find myself banned from the shuttles altogether if this keeps up.
Finally, the gravity distortions stop, and we proceed to dock at Spirit of Botswana. The welcome thump of the docking clamps took attention off of me as people turn their eyes toward their luggage (or the vacant spot where it had been). As always, I was the last one off, and I slowly regained my composure as my feet acquired a firm hold on land.
Remembering my plight at Gadani, I hurried off to the Oasis Lodge, where I found an amazingly balanced hotel, nice, comfortable, not so outrageously-priced, and . . . different. The rooms are padded and soft, matching everywhere, colorful but not such an assault to the eyes. The Watering Hole seems to be nothing more than a dance hall, but the Remembrance Lounge, with its projection display, there is where I began to see some of the splendor Shadow had referred to.
So many of these creatures of ancient Earth . . . Who could imagine so much life in one place, or so many kinds of it? The only animals we seem to have among us today are rats, bedbugs and cockroaches, all of which remind me of various aspects of the powers that be.
Then they showed things that couldn't possibly be real . . . an animal as big as 20 people, with a thick skin and a large spike protruding near its nose, and another one, tall, with long, flat-bottomed legs, gigantic earlobes, a large, tactile appendage where its nose should be . . . and an oversized, upward-curved tooth on each side of that bizarre-looking face. Its eyes were even pointed in the wrong direction! Come on, folks, at least show us things that aren't fairy tales.
I got to see a chicken, too. What a funny looking thing. What a flustered, blustery, noisy, flappity-fluttery, discombobulated little bundle of living stupidity!! It seems almost merciful to kill such a creature to put it out of its confusion and misery. I will always remember that image now, when I eat at the Broth Base. (Do they exist today? Do they clone them? Where do they get this substance they say is chicken?)
All of these fanciful creatures - and more - are depicted among what looks like greenish fungus plumes extending up toward space and hanging down from some kind of brown and grey tendrils. Some of the people there called them trees and said they produced food and clean air.
It all seems as though the people who made these graphics (and the wild stories that go with them) might simply be recovering from oversedation in the sick bay. Certainly, they show no lack of creativity, so it's still worth a long look. So many people insist that this is all real and only a small sampling of what was on Earth and even, to some extent, present on many of the colonies (most of which cannot be substantiated with actual contact) before the Catastrophe.
Truly, this is a most interesting place.


  1. I'm delighted you finally made it to Spirit of Botswana! Now if you want to see something else truly amazing--now that you're in the Alpha Centauri system--get yourself a Gaule visa and wander over to the Hippodrome on Cirque Centauri. That animal with the gigantic ears and long wiggling nose? The "elephant"? They've got one! Well, not a real one, obviously, but a working robotic replica. If it's a fairy tale, it's quire an impressive one.

    The "chicken" is, of course, biomeat (biochicken), like most everything else.

  2. At Shadow's suggestion, I hopped the next shuttle to Cirque . . . I just had to see that creature he called the elephant. I was a little disappointed when I read a second time to see that it was not indeed a live animal.
    While what I saw was impressive, it did not go far in my mind to prove the existence of such a beast. Engineers and inventors are known for making things appear as they wish, much like the many salesmen on Nouveau Limoges. Appearances can be deceiving.
    Nevertheless, I have enjoyed the tour, although I also left yet another shuttle crew with memories they would just as soon bury. They don't seem to like to have to work during those flights, and as soon as the ship docks for the night, they all dash off to the bar, the lounge or their hotel rooms, and they are often still recovering as they return to work, so I really have no hope for their sense of work ethic.
    The same can be said of most of the non-citizen workers I have encountered, They tend to function like pre-programmed machines without any thought or consideration in the matter.
    Now, at the Hippodrome, well . . . THAT was really something different entirely. Most of the people involved in that seem to be buskers and/or thieves, and I found it quite difficult to know how many credits to pay and when, much less if it was worth it. Yet the one word that will never apply to them is 'lazy.'
    I would never put anything past them, and when they call it the greatest show in the galaxy, you need to realize that the whole term is correct. There is a real greatness about it, but it is a show and nothing else. The show must go on, and nothing is beyond them in that.

  3. I think what went a long way toward convincing me of the elephant's existence is the fact that it has the very same name and appearance for both Gaule and Consortium. It seems less than likely to me that the two former enemies would have much reason to collaborate on a fictitious beast from Before.

  4. For the sheer talent and amazing proficiency I saw at the Circus, and for how smooth and effective they are at making just the right emotional and intellectual atmosphere, so that otherwise rational, thinking, reasoning, intelligent people will just throw money at them for most anything . . .
    Well, I would never hold anything as unthinkable for such people to do. The fellow speaking to the crowd is as much of a virtuoso in what he does as that fool riding a wheel with a seat on it across a wire stretched from one platform to another . . . WAY UP THERE?!?!?!
    But really, please, understand. Come down off that emotional high and the sheer wondering, admiring, starry-eyed fascination to ponder this . . .
    Anyone who would believe that an elephant could have existed would be a slick, easy sell for the same kind of hucksters who will tell you with a straight face that open-topped ships with fabric engines, all made mostly of bio-matter and basic metal alloys, once rode the flow of air (all produced without machines), amidst clouds of water vapor, across oceans of water so deep they were never fully discovered, hauled people and cargo in an extent that is impossible today (without so much as a femtogram of antimatter or a milliwatt of electricity except what sparked about between those vaporous clouds) across these massive pools of water, which were filled with fish and whales and mermaids and walruses and who-knows-what-else, to lands covered with trees and elephants and zebras and giraffes and rhinos and chickens and lions and tigers and . . .
    Sorry, I just can't force myself to believe that.
    The shih tzu, I can believe, but that? No.
    It's too much.
    I don't know why it would be so important that even such foes as the Consortium and the Gaule would conspire to concoct such tales, but whatever it is, I fear there is more where it came from.