(on BSJG Station)
I wandered back through the employment area and saw one of my special customers from Spirit of Botswana milling about. Curious, I followed him around the corner and wound up getting hired to sneak up on someone and steal his sword. They didn't much care what I did with it, just wanted me to steal it. Okay.
I went to sell the sword, and then I remembered that there are usually no markets on the jumpgate stations. I was already carrying too much stuff, so I headed down to the port and sent a bunch of it on ahead to myself at Estacion de Amazon, then checked to see if old Mr. Cool had poisoned the pot for me yet. Surprisingly, I found it easy to complete some serious work on several ships, and there were plenty lined up for repairs. The magneto-gravitic flux that makes the A.C. wormhole so rough on ships must be really strong in this one. I heard rumors there is even evidence of a temporal disturbance in there.
A few trips through the ruins brought me face to face with members of the Ruins Rats, not that they lasted long against my rifle and my enhanced skills. Even out here, they have had a presence for many cycles. It makes you wonder. These guys leave a lot of stuff laying around, though. Just wandering around I found rifles, swords, computer parts, construction materials and the like.
Once I had enough to pay the ridiculous price of a ticket to somewhere else in this crazy system, I pondered checking out Maid of Orleans, where most of Tau Syndicate was exploring between encounters with Ser Void, but I had come all this way just to put my fish into open, clear water, which I was told I would find on Estacion de Amazon, and I was off to see the river. I just couldn't wait to see this massive pool of moving water, so much water that it had to flow to somewhere. Just the thought of it was beyond overwhelming. More interesting were the rumors I heard along the way about giant monsters, known as alligators. They were probably about the same as the stories of the wormhole monster.
While I waited for my shuttle, I wandered through the ruins and found circuit boards, construction matrices, beer bottles and T2 rations. Stuff was just everywhere. Soon I was once again carrying too much and in danger of collapsing from exhaustion, so back to the shipping bay I went, to send myself some packages.
The tram car heading back to local shuttles was just going by, and I grabbed hold and yanked myself aboard. The whole thing lurched to a stop, bring stern looks of indignation from the other riders, and a robotic voice chimed in "Please keep all personal items and body parts inside the car while in motion. A second warning may result in loss of riding privileges."
Yeah, sure, just get me there.
Stepping off the shuttle at "Estacion de Amazon" was a bit reminiscent of Spirit of Botswana and Ghost of Mali, bit different. Strange smells, fresh and wonderful, greeted me. Somehow, I seem to recognize them. There was moisture in the air, and a weird rattling came over the roof. I stepped out into the concourse only to become drenched in the water falling from above.
I tipped my head back and opened my mouth. Fresh, clean water, just falling from midair. A bright flash startled me, and a rolling boom, like a rocket engine, assaulted my ears. Wiping my dripping wet hair away from my eyes, I searched for an inn. I could barely see anything at all, so I backed up until I found the doorway and waited for the water to stop.
Surely, it must. NObody has THAT much water.
Hours later, it stopped. In the meantime, the repeated and highly noisy arcing of stray electric power across the whole area led me to wonder if the station were under attack or perhaps suffering its death throes, and all with me right there for it. Nope. As quickly as it had begun, it was over, in its own time, almost like a living thing. The locals call it "Lah Yubia," or something like that. Apparently, it happens all the time.
Sol system could sure use Lah Yubia. I wonder if we could install one there.
They gave me a name too. Elpa Yasso Tone Toe. Whenever I told my new friends my local name, they became very friendly. Everyone is so eager to show off the uniqueness of this station, but I never saw prices that high. Wow.
I paid a young boy to guide me to the gym. Once he heard my name, he was all smiles and quick to show me the way. He said it was customary to buy meals for your tour guide, and he also seemed quite used to being paid often. I guess you get what you pay for.
They have trees. I thought Mali had trees. They have TREES . . . Groups of trees, they call them forests, are as numerous as the different kinds of trees. There are animals living among them as well. Most of them are tiny and fly, and apparently they enjoy consuming human blood. I felt guilty, at first, causing so much death and destruction, but then I remembered the rats, and I thought perhaps these muskeetas were along the same vein, though it seemed most of them were drawing from my veins.
Their gym isn't a gym at all. It's a park and a nature trail, like the one Mali is so proud of. I knew just what to do, and I found myself following after groups of Gaule soldiers, all of whom also became a lot friendlier when they heard my name.
I feel so loved. I never imagined this place would be so welcoming.
Soon, I ran out of rations and had used up the 1-day supply of Vacarro-Ibrahim I bought from Ser Moritz for this venture, and I was turned down by every employer on the station. They aren't so welcoming. They even knew my name, or so they said when I told them.
I had another reason for being here, my fish. I have been unable, as yet, to find this river, though many assure me it is there. My last guided search for it ended abruptly when a rather loud noise echoed through the muddy, water-logged clearing in the forest.
I don't think I ever heard such a sound before, like scraping a table across a rough floor, but with a deep, heavy vocal aspect to it, more akin to a stacatto, rolling belch than to anything else I would recognize. Whatever it was, it absolutely terrified my guides. They ran faster than anyone I'd ever seen, screaming and shouting unintelligibly in the local language. I figured I'd better follow after them as quickly as I could.
By the time I tumbled and stumbled through the mud to the edge of this forest, I was covered in grime and slime, some of which smelled like excess biomatter from the cloning vats. It took me a while to get cleaned up when I got back to my hotel room.
When I asked around about what the sound was, the locals looked at me like I was absoluetly crazy. One of the "Gauloise" (why do the write it that way when they say Gaul Wah?) soldiers, apparently named Jon Darm, I think, said it was probably an alligator, and I had been wise to run. I think he was having fun.
Settling in for the evening, I found a vendor very proudly selling something called "Pah-Ay-Yah," portioned into individual servings. Again, I was impressed. It helped to relieve the aftertaste of 160 rations. I like what these people eat. Why can't we get that in those packs?
Now it was just a matter of logistics, moving all the stuff I had shipped to myself, either to a storage unit or to the market, where I was disappointed to see that I didn't seem to get the same prices my welcoming friends had been charging. Soon, my shotgun course was finished and it was time to return to Tau for more classes, so I bid farewell to these warm, wonderful people and left my fish in the care of some of my syndicate members. They will either put them in the river for me or keep them safe for my return. Most assuredly, I will indeed return.
I was beginning to miss my life on the other side, and apparently someone else had missed me too. An old, familiar crackly pain from behind told me that Ser Void was lurking about, I awoke in the sick bay with a few credits missing.
I guess some things stay the same wherever you go.
Getting back through the wormhole and returning to Tau Station seemed bittersweet, and as I reached my hotel room, still there, the first one I ever rented, I sat down, picked up a book and blissfully read myself to sleep.