Jul 17, 2019 12:37 AM
Tarinda and Page bring a seed of the super-AI Sing to Cloudbank
Permalink

Cloudbank is a beautiful place, from a certain perspective. Blue sky and white clouds above, all around, and misty white clouds below.

Here is an island of solidity in the sea of sky. The wind is a steady breeze, the floating island sitting just barely on top of a dense, foggy layer of air. It's not an especially large island, perhaps two hundred feet wide and three hundred long all told, curved slightly like the back of some giant beast.

The sandy soil is thin, and wears straight through to a porous-looking sort of rock in places. There are grasses and weeds and shrubs and a few trees, plus a few small creatures. Some familiar, like the wild onions. Some alien, like the thickets of not-quite-grass with flimsy, transparent, bulging seeds straining upwards against their mooring.

A songbird casually swoops from its nest and catches one of these seeds in its bill, while something with tentacles and a large gas-bag clings to the island at the edge, nibbling on the alien leaves of something reminiscent of mangroves, a three-dimensional web of stems and flaxen roots.

And then someone else arrives.

Total: 384
Posts Per Page:
Permalink

Rem continues telling her biography in disjointed pieces and chatting about whatever comes to mind while cooking. Tarinda even runs out of potatoes to peel and is put to other tasks.

But eventually they have a lot of food, and the ship is no longer swaying quite as much, and she says, "Wanna do the honors and ring the dinner not-a-real-bell?" And holds out a big wooden spoon and a plate.

Permalink

"Sure!" And she taps the plate with the spoon.

Permalink

And the crew of the ship assembles! Most of them, anyway, Rem names people and says that Cliff, Benny, and Claire are still on post - elevators, helm, and engine respectively. "I'll fetch 'em a snack and they'll get to have a proper meal later."

 

Captain Flint is a surprisingly short man with wide shoulders, black hair, and a perpetually skeptical look. "Welcome aboard. Rem dragged you into the kitchen, eh? You would have said something if you needed patching up, I hope?"

Permalink

"Oh, sure, but I'm fine, not that the potatoes didn't really hit the spot."

Permalink

"Food typically does when you haven't had much for a while, yes. I'd imagine a warm blanket and a nice hammock will do the same. She's quite... Bright, isn't she?"

Permalink

"I'm not sure I know what you mean."

Permalink

"Cheerful? Unwearied by the world? Halfway genius with an oven?"

Permalink

"She is that!"

Permalink

He chuckles. "I apologize for the delay in welcoming you properly, but getting away from a firestorm is fairly urgent. I'm Captain Raymond Flint. Welcome to the Tricky Ray. Shall we sit and eat?" He gestures to the table where the crew who came in with him are already chowing down. Darien waves at her.

Permalink

"Can't scare me." She sits and takes some food. She waves back at Darien.

Permalink

Dinner conversation seems to largely consist of in-jokes and comments about each others' job performance. Darien suggests that he could show her how the engine works after dinner, then hesitates and says, "If that's alright, Captain."

"If that is how you wish to spend your free time I would not dream of stopping you, Mr. Verres," replies the Captain. "So long as you don't get in the way too much."

Permalink

"Thanks!"

Permalink

Flint asks, "Have you been on ships much, Miss Tarinda?"

Permalink

"Not that much, no! And never one like this."

Permalink

He raises an eyebrow. "I was under the impression that mine is a fairly typical example of the species. Single engine, semi-rigid balloon, hanging gondola."

Permalink

"Well, it's all new to me. I want to see it all."

Permalink

"I'm sure we can oblige our unexpected guest."

Permalink

"Thanks!"

Permalink

"You will have seen the deck, the corridors, and Rem's domain. Any burning questions so far?"

Permalink

"Mostly asked Rem things that occurred to me."

Permalink

Flint nods. "I intend to deliver you to the first sizable town we encounter without any conditions. I would want to discuss a work schedule or some other trade if you desire to stay aboard longer."

Permalink

"How big is sizeable?"

Permalink

"A judgement call. But let's say... Ten thousand souls. Most towns in the lower altitudes, our intended destination, are at least that large."

Permalink

"Huh, how big is the biggest town you've ever seen?"

Permalink

"A tangled maze of interconnected islands, a teeming hive almost one hundred thousand strong. Almura. It was a fascinating place. I do not wish to return - that stop was not very profitable."

Total: 384
Posts Per Page: