Oct 21, 2018 9:05 PM
Seed in barren ground
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Tarinda and Page bring a seed of the super-AI Sing to Cloudbank
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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."

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"Thanks!"

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

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

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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."

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

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

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"Thanks!"

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

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"Mostly asked Rem things that occurred to me."

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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."

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"How big is sizeable?"

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

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

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"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."

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"No? Why not?"

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"They were self-sufficient and had a surprising variety of restaurants. Rem's handiwork did not fascinate and draw attention as it usually does, and our cargo of rapidly-spoiling food sold poorly." He grimaces. "We made some profit trading hard goods, but the usually reliable trade between farming altitudes and craft altitudes failed us that time."

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"It seems like it might be dangerous to be a not-farming altitude. What if nobody ran into you for too long?"

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He shrugs. "I suppose you either do something clever or starve."

"Dry food stores," Rem interjects, "Rice keeps, beans keep. And rationing. And if things got really bad people would start scattering."

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"I guess. If they have ships to scatter on. Or do you mean something else?"

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"You can cut a chunk of the town loose and throw away most of your stuff, and go up so you get more sunlight that way. My ma said her grandma lived on a place that had to do that."

Everyone's food is disappearing rapidly.

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Tarinda's food is no exception. "And they have enough space to get crops going if they didn't before?"

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"That would be difficult, yeah. It definitely sounded like a bad time all around. But trade ships like Flint's, here, are pretty common, so it doesn't happen that much I think?"

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"That's good then."

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"Yyyep."

Captain Flint is staring at her a bit, amused. "Education is rather spotty out in the wide blue sky, isn't it?"

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