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47 - Searching for answers - **

In Paris, I would have expected the markets, the art displays and the proliferation of music to be every bit as lively as that on Nouveau Limoges, but I think the heavy presence of armed forces tends to put a damper on such things. Everywhere you go, there are guards stopping you, waving one kind of scanner or another at you or demanding (not asking in the gentlemanly fashion I encountered elsewhere) that you stop what you are doing and go through some sort of walk-through scanning device.
I have no clue what they are looking for, but surely, if I had it, they would have it by now. Perhaps they are looking for my goldfish. They will never find them. I'll see to that.
I needed to see if my third goldfish heist had blown over yet. and sure enough, they were desperate enough to hire me again. This time it was something about a Porsche. Is that something made by the Gaule? . . . Well, when I saw it, I just had to stop and check it out.
It was a box with some strange-looking hardware and some documents. All the documents were in the same type of letters I saw on Taungoo, so I scanned them into my slate, along with all of the hardware and every side of the box. I will send them to my friend there.
The picture on the box was like something I would expect one of the sculptors on Nouveau Limoges to create. It was a fancy cart of some sort, with seats like a shuttle, a hand-wheel, perhaps for turning a valve or some other purpose in front of one of those seats, and a lot of gauges, almost as though this wheeled cart were some sort of a machine.
Unfortunately, this cart is apparently only a replica. It must be an engineering mockup for some new experimental craft. From the dimensions compared to the size of the seats, I really can't see that there would be a lot of places for the full-size craft to roll around, so perhaps those are not wheels but some kind of engines.
I also managed to discover an odd but official-looking document which shows a picture of a large cup. Apparently it is a special one, the Galactic Cup, perhaps a name brand. I have seen things like this before, advertising posted on the walls here and there. This one is apparently number 2558, so there are a few of them out there, I'm sure. I wonder how many of these ad flyers are still around.
On my way to my rented room, I stopped by the front desk because there was a notice of a parcel for me. It was an envelope, and in it was a document certifying that I am now a Navigation Systems Specialist. It looks like all those studies and projects have paid off.
Now if I could just get away from that insane captain and her thrill-seeking abuse of her contractors. I am certain she deliberately knocked the equipment over just so she could justify chasing a man out, which seems to be her only joy in life.
In the morning, I awoke to the sensation of being moved, almost like being in sick bay, but there was no medical equipment. No, I was on a shuttle, at the jump gate. I had been sleeping peacefully in my room, but -
"Your visa expired, sir. If you want it renewed," my most helpful attendant ever said, "I suggest going to Spirit of Botswana."
So I did, and then I found a very low fare to Ghost of Mali. One more time, I confirmed Shadow's stories I had thought were quite unlikely. The dirt makes food! Everyone says not to eat dirt, but all our food comes from this dirt.
And from TREES!
I sat down in a rented room to send a message to Ser Shadow, when this came in . . . It was my friend's wife. Several young men and women were gathered with her. There were tears in all their eyes. In the background, children were running rampant and nobody seemed to care. Something was wrong. One of the young men spoke very resolutely, as though he had a heavy and fearful heart but much that had to be said.
"Please, Ser Bob Simpson, you must help us. You have been a good friend and a strong help to my father, and he has bragged to us about finally catching his first dream while not letting go of all the others. He once traveled the galaxy, served in the military, raised his sword for all he believed in . . . After he missed my first year, he returned home to help his childhood friend at the Broth Base. That's where you met him, and I am sure you understand the rest."
His mother nudged him, gave him a very peculiar look and seemed about to burst into tears. He stiffened his posture, much like I had seen my friend do from time to time and began to speak again...
"If my father has come out there to see you, please tell us. Nobody has seen him or heard from him, and he is never missing from his job without telling someone. Tell him-" He turned away from the camera for a moment, put his hand to his face, and turned around again, taking a deep breath through his nose as he turned, standing stiffly in a military posture, holding a pair of swords. His voice was almost unsteady as he spoke again.
"You tell my father that he must return for these."
Then the message ended.