For Dinner: Hot dogs and french fries.
Written in the Year of our Lord 3580, March 13th, Wednesday night.
Location: Jotunheim, a moon of Thrym in the Frost Giant System.
We dropped out of otherspace at the fringe of the Frost Giant system. It was so named because every one of its planet was a gas giant like Jupiter---except for one planet, my destination, Loki. That was my eventual destination. But Earth's Memory was heading for a moon of Thrym, one of the gas giants, and as soon as we dropped out of otherspace, Lady Godiva was sending messages so we wouldn't be treated as an enemy.
Even the Lokiites used our designation for their worlds, because when we first came there they couldn't agree on a common nomenclature. It's a wonder Lokiites agree on anything, so that comes as no surpirse. So they accepted our names for their planets since they could not agree on their own. The other moons orbiting Thrym--Elle and Logi, for instance--were military bases, and only one moon was dedicated to interstellar travel.
"We have confirmation from the authorities that we are free to proceed to Thrym's moon, Jotunheim," Lady Godiva announced. It took us about five hours to proceed to Thrym, an immense gas giant with a bluish cast, travelling through more normal space. It took us another two hours to maneuver ourselves in orbit around Jotunheim, since it was on the other side of the planet from us.
"This kind of maneuvering is much more tricky than the otherspace run," Hawkins said. "There is more chance of actual collision and mistimings."
Finally, we were in orbit around Jotunheim. "Jotunheim Central is sending a shuttlecraft our way. It should reach us in twenty minutes." Sue and Paris had already prepared the goods that the ship had been conveying to the humans stationed at Loki for transport.
"You've got all your stuff ready for transport, Father?" Hawkins asked.
"Two bags, worth. It's in the transport bin."
"Good. I'm coming down with you on the shuttle. I have to make sure we get paid. Cetawayo, you're in charge."
"Enjoy," answered the "ghost". "And be careful. I'd rather be the only dead man on board, thanks. It's been enjoyable having you as a passenger, Father."
"Yes," said Lady Godiva. "I want to thank you. You've made me think about...some things. I'll miss you, Father."
"I'll miss you as a chess partner, Redwine," Paris said.
"A partner or patsy?" I said.
"I'll miss you too, Father," said Sue, the other "werewolf". "More than anything else, I'll miss your cooking...."
"Thanks for an enjoyable trip, all of you. You were a lot more fun than a Community transport would have been."
We both hopped into the shuttle. It was an automated one, and not too comfortable, but for twenty minutes, it was bearable.
Then two short squat Lokiites took us out of
the shuttle, and we were in Jotunheim Port, a base underneath Jotunheim's
surface. One of the taller Lokiites--like Misltu, only a bit older....was
waiting for us.
"Hawkins? Back again?" His Fellowship Franca was less fluent than Misltu's, but just barely. "Let's put you through the Wringer, and then we'll talk." He turned to me, and I don't know how you tell a faceted eye is focusing. ...but it was. "You're Redwine, right?"
"You're important. The Fel hierarchy
is taking an interest in you. This way to the Wringer."
The Wringer is an automated slide where you stripped and slid through while you were x-rayed, analyzed, prodded by mechanical samplers and generally humiliated, disinfected, and really, really made to feel welcome.
The tall Lokiite was waiting for us.on the other side. Hawkins took it in good humor. "Father, this sadistic bastard runs Jotunheim station. His name is Deralb. We're old friends, and we don't trust each other a bit."
"'Trust'. That's one of those quaint human words that I never quite understood. Redwine, there will be a representative of the Fel hierarchy here tomorrow to issue your instructions for coming to Loki. In the meantime, we have a room here for you, with dinner waiting and a bed. Your bags have been moved there."
"I really, really, really don't want to hear a 'but' from you, Redwine. Yes, you are an important visitor, it seems. All the more reason to 'secure' you where nothing can happen to you."
"Do as he says, Father," Hawkins answered. "It'll get better."
So I ate a meal of hot dogs and fries that were at
least half grease, relegated to a room even smaller than the one I had
on Hawkins' ship. I read a little of the FATHER BROWN OMNIBUS before I
fell to sleep.
Feeling like a lobster just before they stick them into the boiling water.
Return to Redwine at Dinner.