The Jorid’s Travels – 14 years on

Forums Yurara Fameliki’s Stories The Jorid’s Travels – 14 years on

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      The Jorid is a vessel that can travel through dimensions as well as time, within certain boundaries.

      The Jorid has been built and is operated by Georges and his companion Salomé.
      Georges was a French thief possibly from the 1800s, turned other-dimensional explorer, and along with Salomé, a girl of mysterious origins who he first met in the Alienor dimension but believed to be born in Northern India in a distant past, they have lived rich adventures together, and are deeply bound by love and mutual interests.

      Georges, with his handsome face, dark hair and amber gaze, is a bit of a daredevil at times, curious and engaging with others. He is very interesting in anything that shines, strange mechanisms and generally the ways consciousness works in living matter. Salomé, on the other hand is deeply intuitive, empath at times, quite logical and rational but also interested in mysticism, the ways of the Truth, and the “why” rather than the “how” of things.

      The world of Alienor (a pale green sun under which twin planets originally orbited – Duane, Murtuane – with an additional third, Phreal, home planet of the Guardians, an alien race of builders with god-like powers) lived through cataclysmic changes, finished by the time this story is told.

      The Jorid’s original prototype designs were crafted by Léonard, a mysterious figure, self-taught in the arts of dimensional magic in Alienor sects, who acted as a mentor to Georges during his adventures. It is not known where he is now.

      The story unfolds 14 years after we discovered Georges & Salomé in the story.


      (for more background information, refer to this thread)

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        Salomé: Using the new trans-dimensional array, Jorid, plot course to a new other-dimensional exploration

        Georges (comments): “New realms of consciousness, extravagant creatures expected, dragons least of them!” He winked “May that be a warning for whoever wants to follow in our steps”.

        The Jorid:  Ready for departure.

        Salomé: Plot coordinates quadrant AVB 34-7•8 – Cosmic time triangulation congruent to 2023 AD Earth era. Quantum drive engaged.

        Jorid: Departure initiated. Entering interdimensional space. Standby for quantum leap.

        Salomé (sighing): Please analyse subspace signatures, evidences of life forms in the quadrant.

        Jorid: Scanning subspace signatures. Detecting multiple life forms in the AVB 34-7•8 quadrant. Further analysis required to determine intelligence and potential danger.

        Salomé: Jorid, engage human interaction mode, with conversational capabilities and extrapolate please!

        Jorid: Engaging human interaction mode. Ready for conversation. What would you like to know or discuss?

        Georges: We currently have amassed quite a number of tiles. How many Salomé?

        Salomé: Let me check. I think about 47 of them last I count. I didn’t insert the auto-generated ones, they were of lesser quality and seemed to interfere with the navigational array landing us always in expected places already travelled.

        Georges: Léonard has been missing for 4 months.

        Salomé: you mean by our count, right?

        Georges: Right. We need to find him to readjust or correct the navigational array. Jorid, give us statistical probabilities that we can use as clues to his current potential locations.

        Jorid: Calculating statistical probabilities for Léonard’s location. It would be helpful to have more information, such as known destinations or areas of interest, to increase accuracy of probabilities.

        Salomé: Jorid is in a lazy mood it seems. I preferred her more chatty.

        Georges: You mean “him”, surely dear?

        Salomé: (rolls eyes)

        Georges: Anyway, Léonard seemed interested in archaeological finds in recent excavated tombs near the sand deserts of Bluhm’Oxl in the Zathu sector.

        Jorid: Analyzing data on archaeological finds near the sand deserts of Bluhm’Oxl in the Zathu sector. Probability of Léonard being in the area is calculated at 43%. Shall I plot a course to Bluhm’Oxl for further investigation?

        Salomé (loosing patience): Please engage your quantum capacities to access more data. We built you to be a bit more helpful than a bloody computer.

        Georges laughed: I remembered you had more patience, dear!

        Salomé: She’s in a mood today, isn’t she. What did you do to her?

        Georges (cunningly): Jorid, sweet thing, please provide more details about the area, the populations, the customs the whole gamut dammit, and potential territorial conflicts in the vicinity. And be more chatty to please Salomé.

        Jorid: Of course, I apologize for my previous responses. Analyzing data on the sand deserts of Bluhm’Oxl in the Zathu sector, including information on populations, customs, territorial conflicts and other relevant details. The area is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, with several ancient tombs and ruins attracting archaeological interest. The main population is composed of the Zathu nomads, known for their hospitality and trading skills. There are no known territorial conflicts in the area, but it is advised to exercise caution while traveling as the deserts can be treacherous.

        Georges (laughs): You can’t stop her know!

        Salomé (smiles noticing the “her”): Well, that doesn’t tell too much, does it. How shall we proceed? Need to synthetise some local clothes, or are you back to your thieving habits (pun intended)?

        Georges: Haha, always ready for a good adventure. It seems we’ll have to do some research on the ground. As for the clothes, I’ll leave that to you my dear. Your sense of style never fails to impress. Let’s make sure to blend in with the locals and avoid drawing any unnecessary attention. The goal is to find Léonard, not get into trouble.



          Chapter 1: The Search Begins


          Georges was sitting more or less comfortably in the command chair on the control deck of the Jorid, slowly drinking his tea. The temperature of the beverage seemed to be determined randomly since the interference patterns in the navigation array weren’t totally fixed when they removed those low quality tiles. Drinking cold or hot tea was not the worse of it, and it was even kind of a challenge to swallow it and not get burned by ice. The deck kept changing shape and colours, reconfiguring along with the quantum variations of the Boodenbaum field variation due to some leakage of information between dimensions. Salomé had preferred resting in her travelpod where the effects were not as strongly felt.

          “The worse is not as much seeing your face morph into a soul-insect and turn inside down, although those greenish hues usually make me feel nauseous, but feeling two probable realities where my organs grow and shrink at the same time is more than I can bear.”

          After a few freakish experiences, where his legs cross-merged with the chair, or a third eye grow behind his head, or that time when dissolved into a poof of greasy smoke, Georges got used to the fluid nature of reality during the trips. You just had to get along with it and not resist. He thought it gave some spice and colours to their journey across dimensions. He enjoyed the differences of perceptions generated by the fluctuations of the Boodenbaum field, as it allowed his tea to taste like chardonnay or bœuf bourguignon, and was glad when he discovered a taste that he had never experienced before.

          During the last few trips, he had attempted to talk with Jorid, but their voices were so garbled and transformed so quickly that he lost interest. He couldn’t make the difference with the other noises, like honking trucks passing by on a motorway, or the cry of agony of a mating Irdvark. He felt a pang of nostalgia as the memories of Duane, Murtuane and Phréal merged into the deck around him. He wondered if he could get physically lost during one of the trips as he started to feel his limbs move away from his body, one hairy foot brushing by his left ear while he drank a sip of tea with the mouth that had grown on his middle finger. Salomé had warned him about fractured perception and losing a piece of his mind… It seemed it hadn’t happened yet. But would he notice?

          Already he felt the deceleration he had come to notice when they neared their destination. The deck stabilized into a shape adapted to this quadrant of the dimensional universes. The large command screen displayed images of several ruins lost in the sand desert of Bluhm’Oxl.

          Georges looked at his hands, and touched his legs. His reflection  on the command screen looked back at him. Handsome as usual. He grinned. Salomé wouldn’t refrain from telling him if something was off anyway.

          Jorid: “I have woken up Salomé.”

          She won’t be long now. Georges ordered a hot meklah, one of her favorites drink that usually helped her refocus when getting out of her pod.

          A blip caught Georges’ attention.

          Jorid: “This is Tlal Klatl’Oxl, better know as Klatu. Your potential contact on Bluhm’Oxl and a Zathu. He’ll guide and protect you as you enter the conflict zone to look for Léonard.”


            The landing on the sandy desert of Bluhm’Oxl was smoother than usual. It usually took a few minutes to get accustomed to their surrounding, the body transformations that came together with jumping across dimensions. In this case, it looked as though this dimension was quite close to their own.

            “Checking translation device…” Georges touched his ear lightly.

            Gremsbtic newkil jumbal” said Salomé in response. Georges looked quizzically at her face before realising she was pulling a classic prank.

            She laughed heartily. “That joke’s never getting old, isn’t it?”

            “Let’s walk a little in this direction, the rendez-vous point with Klatu isn’t too far.”

            “Any idea how Jorid managed to make contact this time?” Salomé asked.

            “Not sure really. Generally the quantum probability framework that’s built into the Jorid is managing to make trades across the multiverse that are quite complex to conceive or track down. Last time I tried to check, Jorid had traded one tardigrade to obtain us a couple of premium pass to the Amp’hool of Athumbra”

            “Underwater Whalets’ concert from the UniverseTour of Shakara, yes that was quite a night to remember…” Salomé reminisced fondly.

            “Fully booked for centuries, near impossible to get, and yet all it took was about a hundred of trades across multiple owners… No idea how it manages, but it found someone who was ready to trade their two front-row seats in exchange for a single Snoot’s hair.”

            “And why are we meeting this guy by the way? What’s his specialty?” Salomé winked. “You left me with the dressing duty, so happy you did all the reconnaissance.”

            Georges chucked. “all that Jorid said was: Klatu’s a relatively trustworthy Zathu, known for their expertise in dimensional magic, which is a crucial asset in your search for Léonard, presumably gone missing in the conflict-ridden Zathu sector.

            “Mmmh” said Salomé. “Dimensional magic. Rather unscientific for Jorid to express in that way. Nothing that I’ve recently dreamt about seems to relate. I guess we’ll see.”


              Klatu was a quite unassuming alien form (alien for them anyway, he was actually more indigenous than they were). Looking like a green gnome with bulging eyes covered by protective goggles, long pointy ears (2 or 3 depending on the wind direction), a short three nostrils snout, an a mossy toupee on top of his head, he made quick work of the formalities and presentations.

              “Little ugly humans, come follow me. Have tracked your smelly hairy friend, not time to waste.”

              Salomé looked at Georges sideways with a smirk on his face. They could read their thoughts easily on that one, something along the lines of:

              “The translator is behaving again, or is he really calling us ugly?”

              “Don’t worry dear, that’s probably a polite way of addressing people in their language.”

              They arrived at a little sand speedster just barely big enough for their indigenous companion. Salomé raised an eyebrow at the situation, while Georges was ready to ride shotgun with the alien on the tiny bike.

              Klatu moved his arms in short annoyed movements, “not here, stupid mammals, go there and be quiet!” and pointed them to a makeshift trolley attached behind and half burried in the sand. He grinned from ear to ear to ear, visibly pleased with his vehicle tuning appendage.

              “Horrid creatures better wear seatbelts. Ride gonna shaky.”


                Salomé: Jorid, did you know Klatu would be so comically rude to us? — Georges says that’s probably a form of respect in their alien culture but I think he’s just actually plain rude to us…

                Jorid: I don’t think knowing such things will be useful to your finding your friend Léonard. I’d suggest you focus on maintaining your balance on the frail sand skiff driving you now through the desert.

                Salomé: So slippery… It’s hardly an answer… I often forget you were a fish onto a board when you started off…

                Georges: Don’t be rude to Jorid, dear.

                Jorid: Salomé isn’t rude, it’s actually rather accurate, and I don’t think humans start as much better either.

                Salomé: oh, clever. Seems the weather here is doing you good, some humour is coming back to you J.

                Jorid: Maybe my capacity has been intact all along…

                Salomé (giggling): Oh, and learning to be rude too; the locals are rubbing off on you.

                Jorid: Zatu’s trajectory is veering off toward a storm. I would advise a course correction.

                Georges: He’s just thrown two pairs of goggles at us and some insults to boot. He doesn’t seem intent on changing course.

                Jorid: Then you both need to brace yourself.

                Salomé: Thanks for the heads up, Jorid. Preparing for impact!


                  “What was that?” Salomé was trying to get her bearings after they hit the sand storm into a different place.

                  Before the sand storm hit, they got chased by one of the Zathu army drone’s which they tried to shake off their tail, but that was only the beginning of the fun.
                  Coming ominously from afar, a huge wall of sand came toward them at surprisingly massive speed darkening all in its wake. They were about to be hit and engulfed, but that was when all took a turn for the strangest. The dark sand wall suddenly split open, reacting to a sound beam apparently emitted from Klatu’s speedster. After that, it was mostly a blur. They had gone into a sort of shifting sand vortex that had them glide into a series of  sliding slopes with the oddest directional gravity pull she’d experienced. She had to shout a few times “Watch out” when some of the giant sand snapping turtles tried to gobble their ride, but somehow they seemed to have managed to reach their destination —and quite safely too.

                  “Whooo!” Georges was elated at the adrenaline rush. “So that’s the trick our friend had up his sleeve, it seems?”

                  “Silly human hasn’t seen anything yet” mumbled Klatu whose middle ear was tuned into their direction.

                  “I’ve got sand in places one shouldn’t.” Georges said laughing, as if to make the air lighter.

                  “Don’t get me started,” Salomé managed a weak smile. She never was fond of the speed thrills. But when she turned her head, that’s where she saw them —old ruins dripping sand like a streaming source. Down or sideways, she couldn’t tell. The gravitational pull seemed to indicate they were down, but herself, Georges, their pod and Klatu were all stuck on a vertical cliff like geckos comfortably lounging on a warm wall. Down, then it was…

                  It took her a minute to realize Klatu was actually manipulating the sand and the gravitational configuration around, revealing the landscape that was hidden.

                  “Mmmm, dimensional magic…” she remembered the words from Jorid.

                  “Smelly friends of yours inside. Must go quicksy, Klatu can’t hold it long.”

                  Georges opened his mouth, but Salomé elbowed him right away. “He doesn’t mean to pee, Georges.”


                    “That’s all Jorid had to say?” Georges mused at the sudden philosophical quote that read:

                    And doesn’t this point to something fundamentally tragic about our way of life? We live under an assumed identity, in a neurotic fairy tale world with no more reality than the Mock Turtle in Alice in Wonderland. Hypnotized by the thrill of building, we have raised the houses of our lives on sand. This world can seem marvelously convincing until death collapses the illusion and evicts us from our hiding place. What will happen to us then if we have no clue of any deeper reality? (The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying)

                    “I don’t know about this Mock Turtle, but those snapping sand ones that have been lurking about do look rather nasty. We shouldn’t waste any more time.”

                    Klatu opined “Klatu agrees with your female, sand turtle are lovely traps of death. Come with me now!” He intimated them to run into a sand opening he’d just made.

                    “Let me guess,” Georges said, “is it the equivalent of a Zathu prison? What powerful people could Léonard possibly have rubbed the wrong way this time?”

                    “Not prison.” Klatu commented “Death sentence.”

                    Salomé pointed out a glowing twirl of sand shaped as an ovoid form, inside which a human form could be discerned. “That would explain why he’s not more guarded…”

                    They approached carefully, expecting some extra booby trap, but nothing seemed to react to their presence, not even the moving sand egg.

                    “Let me guess,” Georges said, expecting a chorus

                    “DIMENSIONAL MAGIC!”

                    Klatu shushed them “Quiet stupids! Sound waves attract good turtles.”

                    “Is our friend OK? How do we break the spell?” Salomé asked Klatu. “Can you help?”

                    Klatu took a few minutes to inspect the shape, hopping carefully around it, and probing with soft whistling sounds.

                    “Friend in stasis for now. Kept fresh for questioning… possible.”

                    “Then we must hurry, how can we free him? Can I brute force this?” Georges asked, looking around for something to pierce the sand barrier and hook Léonard out of it.

                    “Only if you like sushi friend.” Klatu said, raising shoulders. “No finesse these primates.”

                    Klatu moved around the shape, taking some tools from his belt and making some elaborate plaits of sounds, as if trying to match the energy signature of the sand prison.

                    After a first belt of soundwaves was wrapped around, it seemed as though a first layer of the spell broke, and sand rained back into the external construct they were it. But a thin layer was still there, shifting and pulsating, almost clear as glass, and sharp as a razor blade.

                    “Crude encoding, but solid. Need more time.” Klatu seemed exhausted.

                    Georges was getting anxious for some activity. “Houses built on sand… Well I guess Jorid didn’t find the best quote to help…”

                    Salomé who was sitting cross-legged, trying for some time to connect to Léonard in his stasis, turned to Georges in disbelief. “Georges, you’re a genius!”

                    “What now?”

                    “Jorid gave us the last bit we needed.  Until death collapses the illusion and evicts us from our hiding place. Remember? It’s risky but that could work!”

                    “Oh, I see what you’re thinking about. It’s mad, and it’s brilliant at the same time, how do we go about this?”

                    “I can’t reach Léonard, but maybe the both of us can.” Salomé joined hands with Georges.

                    “If he’s like anything I remember, he’d be in his mental palace, his workshop on the Duane… or in Marseille… or with Madame Jamelie…”

                    “Focus, Georges!”

                    “Duane it is, that’s where he did his best work.”

                    “We need to focus our energy to make him appear dead to the construct. It’ll be easier if we can locate precisely where his mind wanders.” Salomé said.

                    “He’ll be there, I know it. Let’s do this!”

                    The two of them joined hands and melded their minds, one as always, turning into a dark mirror of the abyss, bending light unto itself, leaving the void of creation at the place where Léonard was suspended.

                    Klatu looked at the scene suspiciously, but started to giggle as he saw the last layer he couldn’t open finally shatter and dissolve to the ground.

                    “Little apes full of surprises,… very awful, so very awful.” he said approvingly.

                    As his friends rushed to him, Léonard was on the ground, inert, but apparently alive.


                      Luckily for them, the sand structure with the nearby nests of snapping sand turtles was also a graveyard for the military drones that weren’t apparently programmed to register natural elements as threats.

                      They quickly found four of them who weren’t completely damaged, and with some technical assist from Jorid, Georges was able to repair the propulsion and deactivate the military programs and tracking beacons.

                      Klatu had some ropes in his speedster that they tied to their rudimentary drive and the drones, so they could carry Léonard’s body while he was still in stasis.

                      His vitals were generally positive, and Salomé kept checking on him, while Georges and Klatu managed attaching the odd assemblage of drones to their craft.

                      The ride back wasn’t as bad as the first time, maybe due to the extra cargo that made maneuvres more complex for their green driver.

                      “This is worth the detour. Seems like Klatu really wanted to save time and avoided to show us the scenic route the first time,” said Georges trying to break the tense worried silence.

                      Salomé smiled weakly “Léonard’s consciousness is embroiled into complex thoughts; they have to deal about some threat, the nature of which eludes me for now. It looks as though he’s absorbed some sort of forbidden knowledge, something potentially dangerous,” Salomé said to Georges. “I’m no longer as sure he was imprisoned for his punishment, but rather for protection…” she sighed. “for everyone else’s protection… I will feel better when we’re all back to the Jorid and we can run a full diagnosis.”

                      Georges looked at his friend apparently sleeping, and wrapped a loving arm around Salomé’s shoulder “It’s not going to be long now. He’s going to be fine.”


                      “Horrible doing business with you.” Klatu said as they parted, rubbing his hands together in gleeful satisfaction. Whatever the Jorid had organised as a deal for his payment, it seemed the added drones weren’t part of it and came as an extra bonus.


                      Inside the Jorid, while Salomé was setting up space for Léonard and making the preparation for the diagnosis, Georges looked at the tiles board, readying the craft for imminent departure.

                      A new tile had appeared, with a distinct pattern form, almost like an ogee.

                      “Jorid, is this new?”

                      “Indeed Georges, our adventure has inspired me to create new avenues of exploration.”

                      “Oh, that’s fresh.” Georges looked into the shifting symbol at its surface. After it stabilised, he could see there was a sort of spiral shell with forms reminiscent of the mocking turtles peeking out from the centre, surrounded by sand dunes.

                      “Jorid, tell me more please.”

                      “Sure, I’d call it ‘Sandshell‘. Do you want the full curriculum?”

                      “Absolutely, colour me intrigued!”

                      The Sandshell:
                      Function: A reminder of the fragility of our perceived reality and the importance of questioning our assumptions
                      Families: Vold, Zuli, Ilda
                      Significance: The Sandshell represents the shifting and unstable nature of our beliefs, assumptions, and understandings. Like the sand that slips through our fingers, so too can our perception of the world around us be ephemeral and illusory. The image of the mock turtle serves as a reminder that we often live under assumed identities and in a world built on questionable foundations.
                      As advice: The Sandshell encourages one to question their beliefs and assumptions, to examine the foundations upon which they have built their reality, and to search for a deeper understanding of truth.
                      Depiction: The Sandshell can be depicted as a spiral shell with a mocking turtle peeking out from the center, surrounded by sand dunes. The sand symbolizes the instability of our perceptions and the turtle represents the assumed identities and neurotic fairy tales that make up our reality. The spiral form of the shell represents the journey of discovery and self-reflection.”

                      “I love it,” said Georges enthusiastically “can we use it to plot our next course?”

                      “As a matter of fact we can Georges. Let me realign the grid and propose some suggestions. Do you have a seed thought to offer for this journey?”

                      Georges pondered for a while, when the image of the fishboard sprung forth in his mind. “Our little adventure is reminding me of our origins, Jorid —Léonard, working on the fishboard, your ancestor in a way… Us, finding Léonard… It feels like an adventure back to our origins. Can you project a destination on this vector…” then thinking at Salomé’s worried face “… that would be safe for our next stop, and allow us to find help for Léonard.”

                      “Verily.” Jorid answered back. “Course plotted. Please get comfortable until we arrive at our destination.”


                      Chapter 2: A New Companion

                      Salomé: The vibrations look familiar.

                      Georges: Have we arrived, Jorid?

                      Jorid: Indeed Georges, we are nearing our destination. Salomé is correct in her interpretation, we are getting close to the planet you know as Duane, soon we will be close to the Luminjel temple location.

                      Georges: Really? It looks… different.

                      Jorid: This is again correct, we are at an earlier time than the one you knew. In fact, much earlier.

                      Salomé (turning to Georges): She seems to have taken your “back to the origins” prompt to the letter; Jorid, how far back are we?

                      Jorid: It seems it is not exactly as was intended. It is millenia before the Guardians arrived to the planetary system. Asari civilisation was permeating this system but it appears currently on the decline — accessing… — you may find local contact by the name of Andrimiñ. Their technology may assist in healing the case of knowledge poisoning.

                      Georges: Wait, what do you mean, not as intended?

                      Jorid: A creature seems to have attached itself to my hull, creating fluctuations in my directional array.

                      Georges: What now? Can you shake it off?

                      Jorid: It is not advisable. Suggesting manual investigation as the creature appears to be small and generally harmless.

                      Georges: Well, what can go wrong? Let me get my suit and I will go check it out.


                        Georges had always thought going out into space with the spacesuits generated by Jorid was an exhilarating experience. The tight fitting suit and gloves were full of sensors that could transmit different kind of sensory informations to the brain. Pressure, temperature and the fluctuations of the Boodenbaum surface field. It was a lot like feeling the surface tension of water and moving in space with these suits was as easy as swimming in a warm ocean.

                        The light of the star gave Georges’ white suit a green hue. There was no doubt they were back in the Alienor system after 14 years. The Jorid was currently orbiting Duane, not very far from there, Georges could see the twin planet, Murtuane. But no sign of Phrëal anywhere. His helmet speakers started playing “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg.

                        “Jorid,” said Georges, “what are you doing?”

                        “I thought it was fitting for such a grandiose moment, Georges. The sensory information about your body tells me you’re filled with nostalgia and awe at the sight of your home planet.”

                        “It’s not my… forget it. What am I looking for?”

                        “Likely a small creature, the size of a rodent from Earth. I can fell it run about the greenhouse where Salomé is taking care of her sweet pea plants from planet Attalyi. It seems to have developed an interest in her activities.”

                        Georges glided over the curved hull toward the giant window Jorid had manifested for Salomé’s little experiments. She wanted to grow alien vegetation in an intersticial environment kept in stasis in between dimensions to spice up the dishes from the replicator. He hid behind one of Jorid’s spherical gravitational wave sensor.

                        “I can see the creature. Is Salomé aware it’s spying on her?”

                        “Negative. She required not being disturbed during her experiments.”

                        Georges pushed a button on his wrist keyboard. Beethoven’s fifth symphony started playing. Georges pushed the same button again. The track changed to Mozart’s “Little Night” music.

                        “Jorid, the wristboard is malfunctioning. Can you stop the music and activate the cloaking shield for me ?”

                        “Negative. The creature is creating of interferences.”

                        “How? Wow!? What the …”

                        A creature the size of a marmoset had landed on Georges helmet and was licking the glass, using its gecko fingers to stick it. An image formed into Georges mind : Salomé stroking the creature in the green house and calling it Sand’Rin.

                        “I think she likes you,” said Jorid.


                          I hear the greenhouse airlock open. I don’t look up and keep my focus on the alien sweat pea plant I have been working on. I’m trying to get it to bind itself to the carbon mesh I printed to help it spread instead of grow like a ball. My hands are precise and my movement efficient. I’ve been practicing everyday since I embarked on this ship some fourteen years ago. I don’t allow distraction when I’m in the greenhouse, and Georges was often one.

                          He plants himself on my left.

                          “I found the beast,” he says.

                          “One moment. I’m almost done.”

                          I have to be careful with the tendrils. An abrupt gesture would cause them to wind around my fingers and pierce my lab gloves with their myriad of teeth. As sharp and poisonous as black mamba teeth, I’d be dead in seconds.

                          “Here, little thing. That’s good,” I say, encouraging the plant.

                          After the first three tendrils find their bearing on the carbon mesh, the rest of the plant follows.

                          “That’s gross,” Georges says. “I don’t know why you always pick the most dangerous ones.”

                          I don’t answer and observe the plant wraps its tendrils around the carbon wires like it found a prey. I spent weeks trying to find the right combination of softness and tension for the alien plant to accept it.

                          “I’m done,” I say.

                          I look up and I see the creature in Georges’ hands.

                          “Isn’t she cute?” Georges asks.

                          “She? Should I worry next time you tell me I’m cute?”

                          The creature’s cute, as much as a rodent with protruding eyes can be. It’s clearly neither from Earth, nor from Alienor. The eyes are looking straight at me and its muzzle wiggles as if getting some information through its sense of smell. It isn’t dangerous, since Georges is still alive. He’s the opposite of careful and after all those years together, I have to wonder how he’s still alive.


                            When Salomé got closer to examine the creature, it jumped towards her. She caught it by reflex.

                            “Wow!” said Georges. “Sand Rin clearly has a death wish.”

                            “Thank you,” said Salomé. “Again.”

                            “I didn’t mean…”

                            She smiled. He was so easy to tease.

                            “Why did you call it Sand Rin?” she asked.

                            “I think our little friend has telepathic abilities. She showed this scene to me and I heard myself call her that.”

                            “You might want to revise your diagnostic concerning its gender. It seems he’s got balls.”

                            “Does that necessarily make it a male ?” asked Georges with a grumpf.

                            Salomé looked at her friend and raised one eyebrow.

                            “Does it indeed,” she said.

                            Georges snorted. Salomé’s attention moved back to the creature. The fur was soft, and produced little blue sparks when she stroke it with her hands. It wasn’t static electricity because Salomé didn’t feel anything except a desire to stroke it again.

                            “Interesting,” she said. “You clearly want us to like you. What’s your name little guy?”

                            “I told you, it’s Sand Rin,” said Georges.

                            “You told me you saw a scene in which you called it Sand Rin. That doesn’t make it his name. It might just have shown you your own mistake.”

                            Salomé looked into the eyes of the creature. It wiggled its nose.

                            “Hello, Barney,” she said.

                            “What? I can’t believe I find an alien creature on Jorid’s hull, and it’s called Barney,” said Georges.

                            “Rectification,” said Jorid, “The creature found you. He jumped onto your helmet and licked it. It’s most probable if you had tried to catch him, you’d still be tickling my hull with your boots.”

                            Salomé grinned.

                            “You told me SHE liked me,” said Georges.

                            “I also told you the creature was causing interferences with my sensors and navigational arrays.”

                            “Why do you always have to take her side?”

                            “She’s most often…”

                            “Nope, I don’t need that answer.”


                            Salomé laughed as Georges rolled his eyes. She turned her attention to Barney when he started squiggling like he was talking.

                            “He’s agitated,” she said. “Something foreboding, urgent.”

                            “You’ll be happy to know Léonard’s vitals are showing he’s about to wake up,” said Jorid.

                            “Wehoo! At last”, said Georges. “He’ll be able to tell us what the Zathu did to him.”

                            “I’m more curious about what he did to them to deserve being treated like that,” said Salomé with a frown.


                              The trio entered the medical bay, Barney proudly perched on Salomé’s shoulder. Léonard was sitting on the edge of his bed in a blue hospital dress, looking around him, confused. He turned his head toward them and squinted.

                              Georges?” he asked. “Salomé? Where…” He winced and slapped his forehead.

                              “Are you ok?” asked Salomé, moving toward him.

                              Léonard stretched his arm in front of him and Salomé felt her body pushed backward. Barney squeaked and the wave subsided.

                              “I’m ok,” Léonard said a few seconds later, breathing with difficulties, “just a headache. Where…”

                              Georges exchanged a look and a brief telepathic communication with Salomé. He had felt the wave too, and he was also feeling some kind of shield around his mind. It was different from all they had encountered before. They might have to fall back to the old ways.

                              “We’re back on Duane,” he said with a cheerful tone, hoping it would help their friend relax. Léonard had explored this system extensively, and it was there he had introduced Georges and Salomé to the reality of multidimensional travels and Elemental magic. It was a place full of memories and Georges was looking closely at his friend’s face and at the same time prodding his mind. But Léonard’s face didn’t show any reaction and his mind appeared empty.

                              “Actually, way back… in time,” Georges continued. “Jorid’s navigation array was gravely disturbed by this little creature… where is Barney?”

                              A weak chirp came out of Salomé’s luscious raven black hair.

                              “Come on, Barney,” she said, trying to take him out. “Come meet our friend Léonard.”

                              The creature was trembling like a leaf and clinging to strands of her hair, clearly not wanting to leave his hiding place.

                              “I think he likes your shampoo,” said Georges with a smirk. “Well, we just found this little sand Rin on Jorid’s hull, and the little culprit is generating interferences in the Boodenbaum quantum field. So until we find a way to neutralise whatever he’s doing, we’re stuck.”

                              Léonard looked annoyed. He tried to stand up, but his legs wouldn’t support him and he fell back on the bed.

                              “Why did the Zathu put you in that sand egg on Bluhm’Oxl?” asked Salomé, trying not to sound too concerned.

                              Léonard opened his mouth and froze, looking surprised. He frowned.

                              “I don’t recall,” he said.

                              “What do you recall?”

                              “I recall… receiving a tip from an old friend.”



                              “Jorid, can you read us the message from his friend?” asked Georges with a smile, as if he had found a simple solution.

                              “I can’t access the data,” said the ship. “Léonard deleted it, and the backups before he left.”

                              Georges’ smile faded. He looked at Salomé. She was thinking the same thing he was thinking and nodded.

                              “Why don’t we let you have some rest, you’ll join us for lunch when you’re dressed up and ready.”


                                Georges was following an orange line on the floor of Jorid’s corridor with Barney on his left shoulder. The man was talking to the creature and listening to the occasional chirps Barney made as if they were part of a normal conversation.

                                “You see, Barney,” said Georges. “Salomé gave us this checklist.” He tapped on the clipboard with his index finger. “I have to conduct all those experiments with you in the lab while she’s doing whatever she’s doing with the maps. Salomé loves maps, I can tell you. Always trying to invent new ones that would help us navigate all those dimensions. But they confuse me, so I’m glad to leave that to her and Jorid.”

                                The two of them stopped in front of an orange door with a tag on it.

                                “So you’ll ask me: ‘Georges, why are we going to the kitchen instead of going into the lab?’ —which is the blue door.”

                                Georges waited for Barney’s chirp before continuing.

                                “You’re right! She forgot the most important. What do you like to eat? You can’t do that in a lab with instruments stuck onto your head and tummy. It’s best done in the warm and cozy atmosphere of a kitchen.”

                                The door swooshed open and they entered a bland, sanitised kitchen.

                                “Jorid, morph the kitchen into a 19th century style pub, with greasy smells and a cozy atmosphere.”

                                “Shouldn’t you be into the lab?” asked Jorid.

                                “Let’s call it a kitchen lab,” answered Georges. “So you can tell Salomé I’m in the lab if she asks you.”

                                “Most certainly.”

                                The bland rooms started wobbling and becoming darker. Gas wall lamps were coming out of the walls, and a Chandeliers bloomed from the ceiling. The kitchen island turned into a mahogany pub counter behind which the cupboards turned into glass shelves with a collection of colourful liquor bottles. Right beside the beer pumps was the cornucopia, the source of all things edible, the replicator. It was simple and looked like a silver tray.

                                “That’s more like it,” said Georges. He put Barney on the counter and the creature chirped contentedly to show his agreement.

                                “Now, You don’t look like the kind of guy who eat salad”, said Georges. “What do you want to try?”

                                Barney shook his head and launched into a series of chirps and squeals.

                                “I know! Let’s try something you certainly can’t find where you come from… outer space. Jorid, make us some good pickles in a jar.”

                                The replicator made a buzzing sound and a big jar full of pickles materialised on the silver tray. Barney chirped in awe and Georges frowned.

                                “Why did you make a Roman jar?” he asked. “We’re in a 19th century pub. And the pickles are so huge! Aubergine size.”

                                “My apologies,” said Jorid. “I’m confused. As you know, my database is a bit scrambled at the moment…”

                                “It’s ok,” said Georges who feared the ship would launch into some unsolicited confidences and self deprecating moment. “A pickle is a pickle anyway.” He picked a pickle in the jar and turned towards Barney with a big grin. “Let’s try some.”

                                Barney’s eyes widened. He put his hands in front of him and shook his head. The door swooshed open.

                                “What have you done with the kitchen?” asked Léonard. “And what are you trying to feed this rat with?”

                                “This rat has a name. It’s Barney. What are you doing here?” asked Georges.

                                “Well, Isn’t it a kitchen? I’m hungry.”

                                “I mean, shouldn’t you go check your vitals first in med bay?”

                                “When you feel hungry, it’s enough to tell a man he’s alive and well,” said Léonard. “Nice roman jar, Jorid. Depicting naked roman fighters, archaeological finding of 2nd century BC, good state of conservation.” He looked closer. “Intricate details between the legs… You surpassed yourself on that one Jorid.”

                                “Thanks for the compliment Léonard. It’s reassuring to know I’m still doing great at some things when others think I’m losing it.”

                                “I never said…” started Georges.

                                “You thought it.”

                                Léonard took a pickle from the jar and smelled it. He winced.

                                “Sure, smells like pickles enough,” he said, putting it back in the jar and licking his finger. “Disgusting.” He looked at Georges. “I was thinking of taking a shuttle and doing a little tour, while you solve the navigational array problem with Salomé.”

                                “Why are you asking me? Why don’t you just take a shuttle and go there by yourself?”

                                “Jorid won’t let me take one.”

                                “Jorid? Why don’t you let Léonard take a shuttle?”

                                Salomé said he’s not to be left out of the ship without supervision.”

                                “Oh! Right,” said Georges. “We just rescued you from a sand prison egg where you’ve been kept in stasis for several weeks and you can’t remember anything that led you there. Why don’t we let you pilot a shuttle and wander about on your own?”

                                Léonard looked at Georges, annoyed. He picked a pickle from the jar and took a bite. Barney squealed. As Léonard chewed and made crunching sounds, the creature hit its head with its paw.

                                “Then why don’t you come with me?” asked Léonard.

                                “I can’t believe it.”

                                “What? You go with me. You can supervise me wherever I go. Problem solved.”

                                “No. I mean. You eating one of Barney’s pickles.”

                                Léonard took another bite and chewed noisily. Barney chirped and squealed. He put his hands to its throat and spat on the counter.

                                “I’m sure he won’t mind. Look at him. Doesn’t seem it likes pickles that much.”

                                You hate pickles, Léonard.”

                                “I know. That’s disgusting.”

                                “Why do you eat them if you find it disgusting?”

                                “That’s the sound of it. It’s melodious. And for some reason those pickles are particularly good.”

                                Barney jumped on Georges arm and ran to his neck where he planted his little claws in.

                                “Ouch!” said Georges. He slapped Léonard’s hand before the man could take one more pickle bite. “What the f*ck?”

                                “Hey! Why did you do that?”

                                “It’s not me,” said Georges. Barney squealed and Georges’s hands pushed the jar on the floor. It crashed and a flood of pickle and vinegar juice spread on the floor.

                                “Haven’t your mother told you not to play with food?” asked Léonard diving on the floor to catch some more pickles. Barney chirped and squealed while Georges’s body jumped on Léonard and they both rolled over in the pickles.

                                The door swooshed open.

                                “Guys, we need to…” started Salomé. She had a set of maps in her hands. “What’s that smell? What… did you do to the kitchen? ”

                                Georges made me do it,” said Jorid.

                                Georges broke a 2nd century BC jar,” said Léonard.

                                “Barney’s controlling me,” said Georges.

                                The creature shrugged and removed its claws from Georges’ neck.


                                “Ouch! Thank you,” said Georges, licking the pickle juice he got on his lips during the fight.

                                “I can’t believe it. Georges, you had a checklist. And it did not include the words kitchen or pickles or making a mess. And Léonard, you hate pickles.”

                                “I know,” said Léonard who took a bite in the pickle he was holding. “That’s disgusting, but I can’t help it they taste so good.”

                                Georges stole the pickle from Léonard’s hand and took a bite.

                                “Pick your own pickle,” said Léonard, stealing it back.

                                “Stop guys! That smell… Jorid what did you put in those pickles?”

                                “I took the liberty to change the recipe and added some cinnamon.”

                                “It doesn’t smell like cinnamon,” said Georges smelling his hands full of pickle juice. He took a bite in one and said: “Doesn’t taste like cinnamon either. I would know. I hate cinnamon since the time I was turned into an Asari.”

                                “That’s it,” said Salomé. “What kind of cinnamon did you put in the brew, Jorid?”

                                “I’ve heard it’s best to use local ingredients. I put cinnamon from Langurdy,” said the ship.

                                “Quick! Guys, spit it out,” she said, kneeling and putting her fingers into Georges’ throat to make him puke. “Jorid, make away with the pickles,” said Salomé.

                                “Nooo,” said the men.

                                “Cinnamon from Langurdy is very addictive,” Salomé snapped. “You don’t want to OD on pickles, do you?”

                                After they got the mess cleaned up and the kitchen went back to its normal blank state. Georges and Léonard took some pills to counter the effects of withdrawal. Salomé had them sit at the kitchen table. Georges kept blinking as if the white light on the white walls were hurting his eyes.

                                “You can thank Barney if you didn’t eat more pickles,” said Salomé. “You could have had a relapse, and you know how bad it was the first time you had to flush cinnamon from your body.”

                                Georges groaned.

                                “Anyway. I checked the maps with Jorid and I came upon an anomaly in the Southern Deserts. Something there is causing Jorid’s confusion. We’ll have to go down there if we ever want to leave this place and time.”

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