For Dinner: Pizza with everything,
including anchovies and jalapeno peppers
Written in the Year of our Lord 3580, March 16th, Saturday night.
Location: The city Vagnar on the continent of Laufey, near the Ran ocean, on Loki.
I woke up, and Myranag was snoring to one side, and Glutheim was reading. I rose. "Bathroom." Glutheim nodded. I wasn't sure if the gesture was common to the two species, or whether he had learned it.
There was only one bathroom, and the toilet was reasonably familiar, maybe a copy of earlier devices that the Fellowship had when Loki was first contacted. Loki was in the equivelent of the late Middle Ages when they were first contacted by the Fellowship, which was the precursor of the Community Cluster.
I came back, and asked Glutheim, "How long have you been up?"
"Ohhhh, probably an hour or two. I'm an early riser. I have trouble sleeping in shuttles. It gave me a chance to go over some reports I need to keep current. Besides, the little norhym's snoring would wake a corpse."
I pulled out a breakfast bar from one of my bags. "I take it that this is pretty much like the Havlinn system...that we are proceeding on a magnetic-field accelerator that enables us to go at speeds that covers interplanetary distances in hours?"
"Oh-kay," I grinned. "If you have another way to go half the speed of light without running into the debris a solar system is litterred with with catastrophic results...maybe you should keep it secret." I changed the subject and asked another question:
"The city we're going to on Loki...I take it that it will probably be Vagnar, the capital of the Fel hierarchy?"
"Yes, we'll start there and be headquartered there. Later we'll tour Gaarm, and its snowbound pleasures. Or take in a play or one of the museums of Hyrrokin. Salaupp will be of interest to you, which has the largest temple of our world, dedicated to Fane. Raleihd would be of interest for historical reasons. But Vagnar will be first."
"Where are you from?"
"A small town forty miles from Vagnar."
The rest of the trip was pretty
dull. Though Lokiites do have arts, they don't waste any on in-flight
movies for their shuttle. Glutheim was not in that communicative
a mood. I practiced my pronunciation and vocabulary with Myranag,
who had finally woken up. By late afternoon we were entering Loki's atmosphere,
but I couldn't tell it save by the shaking of the shuttle.
We finally disembarked...and I finally emerged iinto the raw air and look of Loki. It was the middle of the night on Loki, so I would have to make the adjustment. The air smelled a bit of brimstone, thanks to more volcanism. (Indeed, volcanoes generate a good deal of the energy on Loki.) The gravity was a little more than Earth standard, 1.12 g, like having an extra twenty pounds to lift, but evenly distributed on my frame. It was at most a tiny inconvenience. Mostly the short, squat Norhym worked on the shuttle, as we disembarked. Glutheim signalled for me to follow him. I'm taller than most Lokiites...even the taller Falhym only average about five feet tall...and I felt terribly exposed and freakish. Glutheim made a complicated gesture at a gate with armed guards, and they lowered their weapons. Both of them were female.
The buildings were ornate, almost over-ornamented,
like Gothic cathedrals festooned with gargoyles. They were also massive,
like forts. I thought it just the landing port, but we entered a vehicle
and Glutheim named a destination, and the vehicle left, and I got my first
glimpse of Vagnar. Calling it a "city" is perhaps a misnomer.
It actually consists of a dozen or so massive archologies, with connecting
routes and streets. I noticed the lowest level was reserved for vehicles,
and what few pedestrians were out were walking on crosswalks above street
level. The dawn was just starting to break, and on every building
was that over-ornamentation, like Notre Dame in Paris, but much, much bigger.
The carved symbols and statues were of a legendry unfamiliar to me, though.
Angerboda loomed twice as large in the sky as its sister moon, Sigyn. They were both on opposite sides of the horizon. But even Angerboda was only half the size of the moon as seen from Earth, according to all the old pictures.
"In Community cities, pedestrians go
on either side of the main road," I remarked to Glutheim.
"How do they cross the street then?"
"The vehicles stop for them, when the traffic signals allow...."
"Why do the vehicles stop?"
"Because they will kill them otherwise."
"Yes, I understand that. That's a given. But why do they stop?"
Uh oh. Looking at it purely from a me-only viewpoint, why should a vehicle stop for someone else? I searched for a reason a sociopath would accept.
"Because they will be punished severely if they run them over. It's the law."
"That's an odd law. How are the
State's ends furthered by saving a few of the surplus population?"
"Um. Humans dislike casually killing for little or no reason. They will kill millions for a cause--even ridiculous causes--but rarely for mere convenience."
"That, I think, will take a while to explain. Let's reserve that for later, shall we? I'm too busy being a tourist.
The sun coming up was more orange-yellow than yellow, being a K5 star.
We entered the largest and most
impressive of the archologies, vehicle and all. We fit into an elevator
for the vehicle, and were lifted to the appropriate floor and section.
The "elevator" moved both up and down and sideways. Glutheim showed me
some very impressive apartments.
"These rooms are yours. You will notice the kitchen has a nanoprocessor geared for human tastes. There are five rooms in all....kitchen, living room/entertainment center, bedroom, bathroom, and library. We've modeled most of the furnishings on what we know of human furniture, to make you feel comfortable. We do that so you can be more attentive. Relaxed and comfortable is best to learn, we find."
"Thanks...for the rooms, and explaining the reasoning behind such."
I suspected there was more to this than that, and that these rooms had more "bugs "than a tropical jungle. That my every movement and word would be analyzed and monitored.
"There will be a guard outside your door. For your own safety,you can't leave until I come for you. Get some dinner, and get some rest. Derheim will probably want to meet you this evening."
Soon my nanoprocessor had served up pizza with everything, including anchovies and jalapeno peppers. After scarfing it down, I hit the bed, much more comfortable than the crash couch I had slept in before. I was asleep almost immediately.
Return to Redwine at Dinner.