The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CXI – The Sailor Brigadoon

The Bronze Faction had expected artifact ships with the usual space standard: cramped, but perfectly livable – not brand-new idyllic Manses that transversed the local group of galaxies a lot faster than their usual charms would allow. Admittedly, their charms still had the edge once you got beyond the local group – which was still an infinitesimal fraction of the greater cosmos – but ten to twenty million light years a day still offered a LOT of space to hide an idyllic little pocket-dimension / ship.

Even better when they could also serve as secret bases, secure places to hide problematic artifacts, training centers, and mission control centers – and had enough access to the Loom to allow them to continue to seek out and repair fate anomalies… pretty much as well as ever. The fact that they offered their families longevity to match their own was not a big official benefit, but it was certainly quietly appreciated by many!

Given all that, they were pre-evacuating rather quite a lot of people. Matters were swiftly coming to a head – and there were thousands to move out of Yu-Shan. Given that they’d now have plenty of room, many comforts, and perpetual life support (as well as the defenses of a Brigdoon and some excellent privacy, concealment, anti-teleportation, and anti-dematerialization wards) rather than being crammed aboard their available ships… there was no reason not to start trickling them out slowly right away. There was even plenty of space for a millennium’s worth of supply stockpiles – and they could tuck the stuff into the Chancels for easy transport.

Not that Charles hadn’t made sure that there were plenty of supplies aboard already.

The members of the Bronze Faction who hadn’t met Charles… were a trifle incredulous. He’d… done this in a few HOURS? Simply because he’d been ASKED to help provide refuges? What was he playing at?

The members who had met him… were pretty much just grateful. Quite a few gifts with no apparent givers started showing up at the Orrery!

Charles liked surprises – but didn’t feel that it was necessary of course; it wasn’t like three manses was really a major project – and he remained blithely unaware of the Celestial dance of favors (or at least didn’t consider three manses important enough to be worthy of it). There was a nice new formal outfit, geomantic surveying tools, and an organizer for all of his thaumaturgical components – but one of the gifts was a never-ending… jar of ambrosial peanut butter! Now THAT was IMPORTANT! And VERY thoughtful!

The Sidereals did know that Charles was a growing boy – albeit slowly.

Charles, meanwhile, was… dealing with the Media. He still had to get to the end of the universe and pick up whatever-it-was for Gaia and fix up Yu-Shan, get into that Abyssal Shard, find a way to cure the Yozi’s, do something about Death, get the universe seeded, and more – but he’d recalled the need to place some advertisements! Even if something happened to him, the people of Earth would STILL soon be getting seventy-two more worlds… The setups there were well past the self-sustaining point now – and there were emergency backups in case someone tried to move in on one before it was colonized.

Lets see now… “New planet being opened for settlement. Applicants for immediate placement on (wherever) will be accepted at the opening of the primary stargate at (location) on (date and time). Trail guides, livestock, and pioneering kits will be available for qualified individuals, families, and groups on request. Training courses for unqualified settlers will also be available. Limited city-based facilities will be available for non-pioneers.” Then throw in some basic maps covering available areas, wildlife preserves, cities, and climate zones, and a list of available support services. The earthly gate locations would be… on old train and barge hubs that were now drastically underused.

Oh yeah! Have the ships put a few positioning and communications satellites into orbit… That way everyone could keep in touch relatively easily!

The dates were still a couple of months out – but that would give people plenty of time to get used to the WEIRD ads. There would no doubt be a big fuss when the gates really DID open, and what was likely to be a VERY eclectic crowd of believers started through – but it was nice to have a diverse population! First come, first served!

Having some Inukami assigned to hook up the transport systems, process applications, and assess the applicants, and having a few Kickaha to act as trail-guides standing by should serve to tell everyone that – if it was a stunt – it was a very VERY good one! More organized groups might come later – unless one of them had some other source of information.

Of course, in the outlying worlds, unmutated humans were incredibly rare… The Inukami could hand out some mutations if anyone wanted them and thought to ask – but Charles really didn’t recommend it; temporary items were much better.

Hm… He had to wonder what the Silver Faction wanted! The Gold Faction had their Solar training academy operating aboard, and the Bronze Faction had their refuges… Had Righteous Hala just told them that she was handling it personally?

Well, Jose Cisneros was Silver Faction… The man wandered a LOT of course, but he DID pay Catherine regular visits… If the Silver Faction needed anything, surely either Jose or Righteous Hala would come to him!

In fact, Jose did drop by a few days later… Charles and Catherine were discussing research on the Veilward as they departed Dudael. She was… getting Charm ideas from it!

Charles thought that was neat! He’d thought that she might!

(Catherine) “I still don’t have a clue of HOW to reach alternate realities yet, but I’ve been brushing up on quantum physics and – hey, it’s Sailor of the Myriad Skies!”

She waved to the saucer that was quietly landing in an alleyway near the Dudael.

(Charles) “Hello!”

He was pretty sure that one of the lights on the front winked at him. )

(Catherine) “Well, I think we both know what that means! Nice of Jose to take time out for me.”

They wandered over that way to greet Jose – who was as cheery as ever, if a bit tired. Sailor returned to its (her?) humanoid form.

(Jose) “Catherine and Charles! It’s been a while. Sorry about that, I’ve had to deliver a lot of things lately!”

(Charles) “Oh, I know THAT one! Keeps you busy!”

(Jose) “You and me both, son. Are you doing anything tonight? I’ve been meaning to talk with you about some things.”

(Charles) “Well… not too much! Except dinner!”

(Jose) “Were you going anywhere for that? I made a reservation for three at the Color Wheel. Maybe all of us could go eat there.”

(Charles) “OK!”

That was supposed to be an odd place! The head chef had figured out how to flavor and solidify color. It could be hard to describe and a lot of people suspected Wyld connections… still, Charles didn’t really feel that there was anything wrong with that!

They boarded Sailor and headed on over. It wasn’t exactly to her tastes, but there was a bar that catered to Machine-God Envoys nearby, which would do for her!

Soon the three of them were seated in the Teal Room…

That worked for Charles, but he was curious as to whether or not the color of peanut butter tasted like peanut butter!

There was a handy key for people with questions. It recommended tan, sepia, and wood brown for the closest analogs.

Charles tried them all. Jose apparently ate here often enough to have favorites: he ordered saffron with a side of goldenrod and forest green. After some consideration, Catherine went with the umber and pearl white special.

The waiter, dressed in a full-body outfit that shifted colors with the various sections of the restaurant, departed from the privacy warded booth, leaving them to talk.

(Charles) “Hrm… If you did order Teal, how would you know if you were eating the food or the tablecloth?”

(Jose) “That’s a good question. This place works on synesthesia. The flavors of what you order depend on what you connect the color with.”

(Charles) “Well, that would be why all three of these taste like peanut butter, although the dark one has a hint of chocolate…”

(Catherine) “And… yep, coffee cake with milk here. How about you, Jose?”

(Jose) “Egg drop soup, salad, and… (biting into the saffron) saffron-flavored rice!”

(Charles) “But if all you get is the associations… what’s the point? You’ll never get any new sensations, so you might as well eat the actual stuff you associated with the color anyway.”

Hopefully the answer was not simply “Low Sugar, Low Fat!”!

(Jose) “Not if you’re a Lunar Exalted, or (scooting in closer to Catherine) a Nocturnal! They have ways of shifting that stuff around. Me, I’m not so good at that. But the selection of colors is big enough that it’s fun ordering a new color every time.”

(Catherine) “I remember Argentia mentioning this place when she was developing that passion-shifting Charm. Said something about testing it here. I agree with Sailor, though-not my cup of tea.”

(Charles) “Well anyway… what do you need?”

(Jose) “Do you want factional or personal business first? I can do both right now.”

(Charles) “Whichever you like!”

(Jose) “Okay, let’s get the factional over with then. I hear you’re going to the edge of space, and then out of it!”

(Charles) “Well, yes! I think so anyway!”

(Jose) “I also hear you’ve come up with a way to speed up Mirror-Shattering Method, something Sailor and I are pretty familiar with. Can you tell me a little about that?”

(Charles) “Well… It requires using an existing manse-gate. Since you have a gate anyway, all you need to do is open a path through elsewhere and jump the gate into the new channel.”

(Jose) “Makes sense. Now, would it work both ways? Say, if you had another Manse with a gate, could you link them up?”

(Charles) “Yes – but it’s normally two-way in any case. That might let you re-anchor it permanently – but its at least as likely to just go unstable.”

(Jose) “Hrm… it might be more trouble than we bargained for then. See, we’ve got this outpost in one of the Satries Confederation sectors’ Bordermarches. The higher-ups want to tie one of your gates to it. It seems risky to me, but then I’m not a decision maker.”

(Charles) You just need a gate to and from it?

(Jose) “You’ve got it! Like I said, it seems risky to me, but we won’t know until we try.”

(Charles) “Well for that a dedicated manse gate would be simplest! Probably with password controls on this end!”

(Jose) “I think they’d want some kind of control for it, so that’d be fine.”

(Charles) “Well, that way it can be shut down if something DOES come up.”

(Jose) “Works for me! If you can whip up a report on it for them, that’d be great. I’ll handle the editing for the presentation.”

(Charles) “Uhm… Ok!:

He produced a quick report, which Jose slipped into a bag – a minor artifact cloaked against magical scrying – with a complete lack of surprise at it being done so quickly. Still, that one WAS pretty simple.

(Jose) “And that’s pretty much it on the factional business!” (The waiter came with the check, and Jose footed the bill) “Hey, Catherine, why don’t you go check on Sailor?”

(Catherine) “What, can’t you – OH, I see.” (She left the table.)

(Charles) So what’s the personal?

When she was out of physical sight… Jose pulled out a ring box from his jacket.

(Jose) “I’m no good at this stuff… and you’re an artificer. Tell me if you think it’ll look good on her.”

Charles blinked… Sapphire and Adamant? Aesthetics? Not his thing! He hastily consulted Malinda!

(Malinda) “That’s… A very nice ambrosial engagement ring. I think he loves her very much dearie – and he’s underestimating himself on his tastes there! It will look good when she’s not forging things in Dudael.”

Charles assured him that it would indeed look very good.

(Jose) “Whew. That cost a lot of salary.”

(Charles) “Well spent I think!”

(Jose) “Now, to the second bit of business! I think you’ve met my great-grandson, haven’t you? (He thought for a moment) “Raymond! That’s the name, right?”

(Charles) “Yes! He’s studying Thaumaturgy!”

(Jose) “He left a note with you some time ago, didn’t he? I… heard from his Terrestrial friend Howard when I was checking on him.”

(Charles) “Well, yes… but you’ve been so busy, and said to hold it for later when you had more time!”

(Jose) “Well, I’ve put it off long enough! Let’s have a look.”

He read it, and was quite pleased.

(Jose) “I think it’s time to pay him a visit. Hmm… I’m going to have to think of how to do it, though I hear the Morgans had a scuffle last time they talked to their backers. That might make things easier… Oh, why not… they seem to trust you. Mind if I join you the next time you go down to their place in Atlanta?”

(Charles) “Not at all! A scuffle though? Nobody called for help… but I haven’t heard back from them in a bit… I should check!”

(Jose) “I have no clue either, but thanks!”

(Charles) “You’re welcome!”

(Jose) “Anyway, I’d better get going. Catherine’s going to expect some together time before Sailor and me fly out!”

(Charles) “Have a nice time!”