"Earth Examiner: You are a doctor, I take it?
| 2679 AD
Then they land hard on concrete. A voice shouts in standard "Whoa! Who goes there?" but it's all nonsense to Jayla. However, even more noticeable than the shouting is a terrible feeling, as if a vast pressure is exerting against them to push them out of the space-time continuum, and that another pressure is pushing them back in. It's somewhat uncomfortable.
Looking around, the pair sees that they're inside a huge compound, just inside a gate. There's a guard at the gate who is eyeing them suspiciously, a couple guys in grey coveralls continuing past him, and a line of people in coveralls on the other side of the gate. In the other direction, there are several small buildings, a larger building, and a giant tall structure/building that goes all the way up to disappear in the sky. The security gate goes all the way around the compound, and there's a larger gate farther down, with a crowd (not a mob) outside.
Dr. Kye wants to know where they are, what the building is, and who the guard is. The guard is not impressed, and tells the two that they're coming with him. "Save your questions for the commander." They're escorted to one of the buildings, where the gate guard tells Commander Garth that they jumped over the fence. No, they haven't been searched yet - they prove to have blasters (the captain isn't familiar with the make) and perfume vials and a spear.
Dr. Kye tries to introduce himself (Dr. Kye, archaeologist) and Jayla, explaining that his companion has some learning deficiencies, and that's why she doesn't speak Standard. The commander wants to know their emigration priority? Dr. Kye explains that he's here to document and study the process for future records and posterity, he's not actually emigrating. He was pressed into service.
Well, that's all well and good, but without an emigration priority or a research permit (which Kye doesn't seem to have), they'll have to leave the premises. Dr. Kye explains confidently that he's sure if the commander calls the Ministry, then it will be able to provide their credentials. The commander doesn't appear convinced by this, and glares at Kye. "And I suppose you have no knowledge of any organization known as Erubas?" Slightly unsure how much to deny, Kye agrees that they'll go back and get their permits from the hotel. The guards escort them out through Gate 6.
The feeling of uncomfortable pressure gets worse once they're outside. Jayla thinks that they broke something in the timestream, but how could they have broken something? They haven't done anything! And they still don't know where they are, that being a difficult question to ask innocuously.
Jayla suggests that Dr. Kye ask one of the "tourists" in the crowd how many names there are for the planet. Most have backpacks, some have suitcases; they look like an airplane checkin crowd more than anything else. (On the other side of the gate, people's stuff is being put in a big truck, rather than staying with them.) The pair finally begin to notice a funny taste in their mouths, and Jayla notes that the sky is sort of an unhealthy-looking color. Not as bad as Vircus, but not as blue as most other places.
A man with a cart is going around in the crowd giving out little cups with drinks. Apparently for free. Kye starts helping him hand out beverages ("Spirolight"), to take the opportunity to chat him up, and try to elicit any sort of specifics about what's going on without having to admit he doesn't know anything. Is this a bigger crowd than normal? It was bigger before, now most people have responded to their summons. Who working here has been around the longest? Sal was here since the beginning. Wow, that's been a while. How long was that, then? This is the newest facility, it's been here eighteen years. There's some confusion here and there about exactly what Dr. Kye is asking, but the beverage guy doesn't suspect that he is a Time Traveler. (Kye tells him that he's here recording events for future generations).
Meanwhile, Jayla is wandering around the crowd looking at people. At the back of the crowd there's a man and a woman, who seem to be paying more attention to the people who aren't just blithely queueing in line - which means that they notice Jayla pretty quickly. They ask her something in Standard, which she doesn't understand. They repeat it more slowly and using smaller words, which still doesn't help. They're somewhat puzzled, but the woman manages to communicate through gestures "Do you want to take my ID?" Baffled, Jayla shakes her head no, and flees towards Dr. Kye again.
Back with the beverage guy, Dr. Kye continues to lightly interrogate him about what's going on. He might not be psyched about going, but he's not an Erubast, they're crazy. You have to let the planet heal (he's clearly quoting the party line here).
Jayla then leads Dr. Kye over to the couple, where he talks to them a bit. They're trying to give away their priority 3 emigration passes. Dr. Kye again explains Jayla's speaking disability - they're a little worried, would the two of them be able to pass the tests? Of course, Dr. Kye states, again possibly more confidently than he yet has a right to.
The couple takes them to lunch at a nearby cafeteria - everything is structurally like jello or tofu blocks, in different flavors. Not too terrible to taste, but a bit homogeneous. The pair introduces themselves as Chloe and Janos Abernathy - they really don't want to emigrate just yet. They're not Erubasts, of course, but it's just so empty out there. (Chloe seems to find the idea somewhat terrifying). Nobody's being forced yet, but the government just keeps pestering them over and over. They'd like to switch identities, so "the Abernathies" will have emigrated, and the government will leave them alone.
Kye fishes some more - what are the potential destinations? Do they have some brochures? Yes, of course. There's Eros, and Ceres, and the Great Journey, and of course if you fail the tests you go to Mars. This is all well and good, but they still haven't said what planet this is. Janos comments that they haven't even finished the terraforming on Mars - Jayla's ears perk up at the "terra". A bit later, the Erubas terrorists get mentioned, which might also be related. Jayla keeps badgering Dr. Kye to find out what planet this is, but he stalls. Finally, Jayla points to the ground and asks Chloe "Terra?" and she nods encouragingly. "Earth" she also says.
"What do you keep saying to them that makes them look at me so pityingly?" - JaylaJanos does want to make sure that they aren't terrorists. Why didn't they get evac priorities? Meanwhile, Chloe is trying to figure out if Dr. Kye is holding Jayla as some sort of personal slave by not teaching her the language. Jayla reassures her as much as is possible in gestures, and Dr. Kye dodges the question enough that the Abernathies begin to think that the pair are "greybacks", and they don't press the issue further.
Dr. Kye and Jayla are invited back to the Abernathys' house; they take a "slidewalk" there. (In general, looking around, technology does not seem substantially more advanced or closer to magic, just more mature and more prevalent). The house seems to have a talking computer, which detects several guests and will adjust dinner accordingly.
More discussion happens, in which Chloe starts to try and teach Jayla words in Standard. Where is she from, Janos asks? Dr. Kye flails a bit - a small village in a place called "Pierogi" which Dr. Kye has never been able to really properly physically locate. The Abernathys speculate that that's in New Australia, which Kye confirms.
"You should have taught her the language." -Janos, somewhat disapprovinglyThe Abernathys explain their position a little further - it's not that they refuse to go at all, they were happy to wait by the back of the pack. But their children surprised them with a level 3 emigration priority, so now they're being hounded by the government, and they just want to slip back to the bottom again.
"I offered, but she didn't want to learn." -Kye
Kye finally manages to get his hands on a map of the system - it's about what the players would expect. Additionally, there's more information about the Great Journey. "Ever since Dr. Gallagher received the signal from Vega, and the return of the Quester probe signals 27 years ago, Man has known he is not alone..." the Great Journey is sending colony ships (the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria) off to Vega.
Jayla ponders the wisdom of taking the Abernathys' identities. As it turns out, it seems that Jayla and Kye have already destroyed the space-time continuum. Taking their identity has a good chance of letting them fix it; not doing so has a much smaller chance. She tells Kye this, and he agrees. Janus takes a blood sample from Kye and Jayla, and goes off to someone he knows who can fix the identicards to have the DNA prints match. Dr. Kye goes off to the library, while Chloe works on teaching Jayla a little bit of Standard (she's a teacher by trade).
Dr. Kye goes to the library, and gets a data crystal with a very brief synopsis of the History of Man, up until the present day (which is 2679 AD). In recent history, Dr. Gallagher was the one to detect signals from Vega. Eventually, the Quester series of space probes were sent out, and the Quester 7 probe to Vega sent back pictures of a Luscious Green Planet of Wonder. Kye confirms that Vega is in fact Ridena.
In other recent news, the Erubas terrorist group thinks that the Earth was created for man to use, and the Creator will be displeased if man leaves it behind.
Kye comes back and reports to Jayla, who can manage very simple sentences now (Chloe is a pretty good teacher). Kye thinks it likely that the Erubas people are the prototype of the much-later Terran conspiracy (perhaps out of general conservation of bad guys). Jayla worries what will happen to the Abernathys once she and Kye vanish. Kye suggests throwing their IDs out the airlock (as he hasn't gotten to space anyone or anything for a long while); a better idea springs to mind - if they can figure out exactly when they're going to vanish, then they can leap out of the airlock moments before that, and be snatched into space-time before they die!
The next morning, Jayla and Dr. Kye bid goodbye to the Abernathys and are wished good luck, and head back to the queue. Kye picks up a local paper- he borrows a datapad from the Abernathys to store it in- and a couple of articles are of interest. There's an engine test tomorrow, and atmospheric sulfur is down .0001 percent! Emigration is working! The first article is suspicious, though - Jayla has begun to suspect that the reason they've broken the timestream is that a terrorist got through the gate when they distracted the guard, and now the engine test is going to blow up.
"Dr. Abernathy" and "Mrs. Abernathy" and their class 3 emigration priority arrange to take the emigration tests - an individual person needs to demonstrate proficiency in three skills, while a couple can demonstrate proficiency together in five skills (because married couples are presumed to have other benefits to colonies). One 'artistic' skill is permitted. The pair signs up for:
Primitive survivalEach test involves a general test (for 7s), a specific test (for 9s), and a test of excellency (for 13s).
They take the medic test first. There's a simulator, which has a guy with a broken leg that Kye competently splints (with advice from Jayla. "With advice from Jayla" will be assumed for the rest of the tests.). Next, he's presented with a file of symptoms, which he diagnoses. Finally, he has a choice of a set of very hard essay questions ("What do you know about Lasibarabi fever?") and answers. They receive a Class A certification for Medic.
The second test is Primitive Survival. Jayla manages to catch a rabbit with her spear, and competently skin and filet it. However, she isn't able to demonstrate excellent cooking-in-the-field (she misses some parasites) or excellent leatherworking, and they receive a Class B certification on survival.
In Games, Dr. Kye cleans up in chess, go, and abstract mumbleon, for another Class A.
"Why Doctor, I see you are a master mublest as well."In small arms, Dr. Kye shoots a smiley face plus "A" for Abernathy, into the target. Next is a sample combat. They're instructed to neutralize two armed assailants and make their way through the door in the back. Jayla asks if the assailants are real people, shocking the tester. Of course they're not! The pair proceed into a small maze, and Jayla experiments with rolling fortune for her advice. She advises Dr. Kye "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes." Well, that's puzzling. A guy jumps around the corner, waving his stick at them menacingly. Jayla tells Kye to shoot. He waffles. Can he see the whites of the guy's eyes? No. Jayla argues that this isn't the morals test, shoot him! Kye shoots, and the guy staggers.
Another guy comes around the other corner with a blaster rifle (he has larger eyes) and shoots at Kye. More combat ensues, in which Kye takes out the two guys with blaster rifles, Jayla does a lot of hiding behind Dr. Kye, and the guy with the stick manages to stagger up with the stick and hand it to Dr. Kye before collapsing. They manage to stabilize him, and drag him to the exit door, which requires the stick as a key. This doesn't qualify them for Class A, since they took out the noncombatant, though he did survive. The final test is to disassemble and reassemble a gauss rifle. Dr. Kye, with no chance of success, just fondles it for a while. He notes that it's generally used as a heavy infantry weapon, and that most others of its class are more deadly. It's been disassembled and reassembled many many times in the past. The tester finally decides that Kye has no idea how to take it apart, and takes it away from him, giving them a class B overall.
They now have two Class As and two Class Bs. If they get a Class B on their final test, they can choose where they want to go. A Class A will get them anywhere they want to go, with priority. A Class C will get them their choice of anywhere but the Great Journey.
The final test is archaology. Dr. Kye is given a vase, and asked to tell the examiner what is basically a lot of undergraduate stuff about Incas and Toltecs from it. As he's never actually heard of the Incas and Toltecs before (and doesn't manage to mention the Mayans in his answer), it's a bit harder than expected. On the other hand, he does much better at emptying and packing it with proper technique, and then stunningly well at putting a similar vase back together from shards (including 30% of another vase thrown in for good measure).
So it is that Dr. and Mrs. Abernathy get their choice of destinations, as priority passengers. "Out there", Jayla declares, pointing up vaguely in the direction of Space, if not Ridena. The pair is assigned berth places on the Santa Maria; the space needle trip is about four hours, during which time they are instructed to watch all the films, even the boring ones.
There's a history film with more detail about Dr. Gallagher and the signals from Vega - a series of primes, demonstration of addition and multiplication and square root, but nothing identifiable as to who was sending them. Quester 7 was the probe to make it to Vega, and send back the interesting pictures. This is the first expedition there, to set up colonies; it'll be about a 30 year journey, where the cycle is "16 hours awake, two years in cryosleep" (the crew is more continually awake). The movies begin to wax poetic about the Great Migration - for the past eighteen years, all the resources of humanity have been bent towards this end, most particularly the ships of the Journey. They, and the space needle, are the wonders of the modern world.
Once they reach the Santa Maria, they sign up for a tour. The bridge looks about the same as it does many many years later - much of the rest seems to be different, and definitely differently organized. And there aren't so many deathtraps. They get to see the docking rings, which are connected via a big plasma multiplexer to the main power conduit and the reactor. Tomorrow morning at 10am will be the first test of the plasma reactor.
That still sounds like the thing that's going to go wrong. Dr. Kye asks some questions on the bridge about where things like navigation and the power controls are. He manages to take a moment when the crew is slightly distracted, to drop his history data crystal behind a loose bridge panel. Nobody seems to notice.
"It'll be hard to stop the terrorists from the brig." - Jayla, disapprovinglyJayla worries over how to find what's going to go wrong. It would be unfortunate to be in the wrong place when something blows up, for example. The Santa Maria shouldn't be that confident in their security, because Jayla and Kye are here, and they weren't very good in their espionage. After pondering it for a while, she decides the multiplexer is likely to be more interesting.
They manage to convince their tour guide to see the multiplexer (they have priority passes, after all). One of the techs looks ever so slightly familiar. Racking her brains, Jayla recognizes him as one of the people in the line of techs coming in when they appeared. He opens the multiplexer, does some work, closes it up, and seals it again. Well, that's probably no good.
Jayla tries to talk plasma physics with the techs - she's limited by her vocabulary, but manages to impress them with her small-words erudition anyway. Kye manages to angle around to see the name on the tech's badge - Vance Garth. Hmm. Garth like the security commander on the ground. He finishes up his work and heads in the direction of crew quarters. Jayla manages to wrap one of her new techie friends around her finger enough to let her look at the innards of the multiplexer - just look, not touch. He has one of his friends distract Dr. Abernathy, so he can show off for Mrs. Abernathy. The multiplexer gets opened up, and the tech points at things - he doesn't seem to think anything is out of place.
Jayla tries to ask the tech about what a system check would entail - what would he do, and what would different results indicate? Then she ponders trying to push him to do one, versus not. If she pushes him, it won't really help, but just waiting to see what happens is definitely bad. Hmm. The guy tries to hint to Jayla about visiting the crew mess, but she lets him down easy. Off they go, and look up Vance Garth in the ship's directory. He's a power conduit plasma technician.
"Mug him and take his magic items... er... debrief him? Or engage him in conversation and crush his little mind?" -Dr. KyeIt's still not quite settled that Vance is the bad guy. He might have seen the bad guy passing through, though. On the other hand, he also might recognize them as the two people who appeared out of nowhere, rather than innocuous Abernathys. What if they just tell him to confess? Jayla declares herself not so good at the subtle method.
"Well, I'm no Eva, but I can fake it." - Jayla
In any event, he's gone off to the crew quarters, which aren't really off limits per se, but are a little awkward to spend too much time in. Off they head to get lost and accidentally wander into the crew quarters.
They find Garth's room, and ring his little door buzzer. When he opens the door, he does seem to vaguely recognize them. Jayla explains that they were down at the base when "the confusion happened". She had noticed that there was some confusion in the technician line - had he seen anything? No, no, he didn't see anything. He's somewhat uncomfortable, and asks if they want to come in. Jayla signs "ambush the ambush" to Kye, and in they go.
Before Garth can do much, Kye pulls his blaster and points it at him. "Tell us exactly what you were doing." He's startled enough into saying "I was saving mankind!" and tries to attack Jayla - Kye shoots him as he grabs for his wrench. Jayla manages to browbeat him into surrendering enough that he isn't fighting, as long as Kye isn't shooting him. Dr. Kye tries to figure out how to make his newspaper datapad record, while Jayla lures him into a conversation about saving humanity. He isn't admitting anything specific, but he does sound kinda suspicious.
Security comes and bangs on the door, wanting to know what's going on. Garth claims that they attacked him - Kye plays his recording back, which is muffled and garbled, but does sound at least a little bit like several possibly suspect people talking. Everyone gets taken to the brig.
Garth tries to claim that the Abernathys broke in and pointed blasters at him and made him say things. Jayla browbeats him: "Express your true views on this topic!" He does admit to sympathies with the Creationists - he doesn't admit to knowing anything about Erubas, but he does think they shouldn't be going into space. The Creator is going to punish them for leaving Earth, but he's a sympathizer, not a terrorist.
This is enough to get security quite suspicious at him. Jayla says that he was working on the multiplexer, but it looked okay to her. That it looked okay to Jayla is not really reassuring to the security office, so they send more techies to check it out.
Kye reminds them to check his cabin, which they would no doubt have thought of eventually. Shortly therafter, security guys return with several somewhat dissenting (but not treasonous) publications, and several perfume bottles. Jayla pushes them to analyze the perfume bottles (again, which they would no doubt have eventually done), and the squoogy feeling begins to change - there's still the pressure to pop out, but less pressure back in.
A little while later, some security guys and techies come in to demonstrate the perfume. You spray it on a flat surface, like this wall, and it forms an invisible film. Then, you add heat, such as this plasma torch - and it expands to four hundred times its original size as a plastic foamy thing. The inside of the multiplexer is all coated in this film.
Thus being proven heroes, Jayla and Kye are taken to the bridge to be congratulated by the captain. He asks if there is anything he can do to expres the gratitude of himself, the ship, and the Great Journey project. Jayla says "Don't be too hard on the poor Abernathys" and then the two vanish into space-time again.
Later, as the story is pieced together, there will be much discussion of the mysterious Doctor, a master of all skills from medicine to chess, and his strange and foreign Companion, who appeared from nowhere, saved the ship from sabotage, and then vanished again into the same space-time from whence they came. They will in time grow to fictitious legend in the stories of the Alliance...