Gazebo on the Edge of Forever

"The strongest emotions are the most mercurial. To turn from love to hate takes but a moment of betrayal."

- Franklin Luz, Speaker for the Defender, Mainwell, AS 2329

Tyrell's Folly

Ace, with Katya's help, decides to try and cure Sharra of her Black addiction once and for all, by taunting her into needing more dice. As it turns out, being taunted doesn't so much make her want more dice as irritate her.

More things are pondered. There is a brief digression into wondering if the reason Geoffrey Oxford doesn't think that things are the way they are now has anything to do with the Dr. Anderson / Neutrino / Mirris weirdness of the universe changing. This idea is tossed about for a while, until Sharra puts her foot down: "This doesn't have anything to do with Geoffrey Oxford, he's just screwed up because Dylanna's been talking to him."

Dr. Kye suggests spacing the Decider prisoner, so it doesn't try to escape again. The ship is sitting on the ground, so that plan doesn't actually work, and the impulse to tidy up the prisoners is quelled.

Moment Before Dawn, Night Blooming Wisteria, and First Frost of Autumn head out to visit relatives for a little while.

Dr. Jamie Romero, an IPX postdoc, calls for Dr. Kye. He asks if Dr. Kye has heard that Dr. Garrity and Sons, a shoestring archaelogical team, reported finding a city on Obsidian (the outermost planet in the Tyrell's Folly system) and then stopped reporting in. There's a Memento Mori team in system heading out, which would give them first dibs if the Garrity team is gone. Ace thinks that he can get the Hippocrates there a bit faster than the Fleagle (the Memento Mori ship), so there's a little bit more time to play around on planet.

Kith offers her services as a Wisewoman to the Army prison, to try and help the troubled Dylanna. The Army is somewhat dubious of using the word "troubled" as opposed to "psychopathic", and doesn't seem to think that getting her psychological counseling is high on their priority list. Eventually Kith drops the Hippocrates' name, and gets a bit more respect and an appointment to talk to Dylanna. Major Mason is steadfast that only one person gets in at a time, no matter how much Kith wants Max's protection.

Kith talks to Dylanna for a bit, and gets the feeling that Dylanna knows at least as much about psychology as Kith does (and comes away from the conversation with the feeling that Kith herself isn't a very good social worker). Kith confirms that Dylanna's just waiting to die, and isn't about to escape. On the other hand, if she was let go Kith thinks she'd just walk away. That doesn't mean she'd be nice to Jim if she saw him again, but she probably wouldn't try to hunt him down or break his projects again.

Puttering wrapped up, the Hippocrates heads for the outer reaches of the system, trying to catch up to the Fleagle. Ace redlines the engines, and Sharra is a bit appalled at the extent to which the normally staid plasma flow in the engines has bulged to resemble a cheese puff. As long as everything goes right, the plasma flow doesn't quite touch the outer edge of the engine wall.

Kith notes that Oxford is influenced, much like Kith was by Dylanna, but much more so. She holds down "counter influence" for a while, and the group talks to Oxford. He's almost communicative now, as opposed to completely dazed; he supposes he should go back to Stannis Law. The group offers to take him, though he does think he can probably arrange to hire passage.

After turnover (which doesn't explode the engines, happily), Max ponders where the nearest ruined city is. Back on Tyrell's Folly. Hmm. Well, how about Garrity and Sons? Vaguely forwardish.

The Hippocrates gets to Obsidian with about twelve hours to spare before the Fleagle. A quick orbit around the planet shows no cities, ruined or otherwise, but one ship, presumably Garrity's, on the dark side of the planet (it's tidally locked to the sun). Ace lands the Hippocrates close by, and promptly passes out. Kith thinks he's had some sort of neural shock, and Sharra notes that there were also several brief power glitches.

The group decides that there might end up being a problem with takeoff, so best to check it now. Everyone suits up. Since Max's current Pierogi ghost can pilot a ship without being one with it, Max pilots for liftoff. In fact, there is a problem with takeoff - the rest of the ship outside of the bridge vanishes. Except for Sharra, who thinks that the rest of the ship outside of Engineering has vanished.

The blueprints seem to match the current state of the ship - implausible as it seems, the bridge records indicate that the bridge of the Hippocrates has always driven around on its own. However, as people try to figure out what is on the other side of any given door, it becomes clear that declaring something is there causes it to become there. Which is good, for the bits of the ship that people know the locations of, but causes some trouble for things like Sludge Reprocessing, which no one really remembers the location of.

As the crew carefully traverses the ship (and manages to link Engineering and the Bridge), it also becomes evident that everyone wearing a spacesuit (which is everyone but Kye, who has a belt force field) is becoming rather... amorously inclined.

Max tries to get Sharra alone, but she's flirting with Martan, who is making eyes at Katya, but so is Ace. Kith declares Dr. Kye to be "dreamy", and the two head to the Diversity. Martan returns to Katya's stateroom to find Ace and Katya in an embrace, and flees, only to be pounced upon by Sharra. Katya recovers long enough to try and figure out where Martan has gone to - she reads his mind for long enough to see that he's with Sharra, at which point she stops trying to resist Ace. Fade to black and commercial break for everyone...

...except Max, who (having missed out on the pairings) is still trying to put the ship back together, and is becoming somewhat righteously indignant that everyone else is too distracted to help. Katya, Ace, and Martan all start avoiding each other.

Putting rooms together wrong is not permanent, but forcing them apart causes a certain amount of damage to their reality. Sludge reprocessing is put in the wrong place, causing a lot of sludge leakage - Kith and Dr. Kye have to go take a shower, and another commercial break. By the time the ship is back together, several doors (to one of the enlisted crew quarters, and to the Sharra/Sook stateroom wing) are now irises, Sludge Reprocessing has a different arrangement of pipes, and the conference room (which nobody can remember the location of) suffers the oddest damage - it's now decorated in red velvet and gold trim, with a brazen red eagle decorating the far wall, and the Hippocrates cameras are no longer connected.

The group ponders whether to take the Hippocrates in again. It's large and difficult to put back together again. On the other hand, if they leave it in orbit and take the Diversity down, it would be really embarassing if Memento Mori picked it up (and it's Dr. Barton, so it would be particularly ironic for him to steal stuff the Hippocrates crew leaves in orbit).

Max scans the area near the Garrity ship as hard as possible, and begins to pick up some faintly detectable jaggy edges in reality - including several where the ship landed before. He lands again, this time on fewer jaggy edges.

Before the group heads out, it is deemed time to deal with the interesting atmosphere. Kith verifies that everyone (except Dr. Kye) is dosed to the gills with Affection, and starts curing poison. This fixes about half of the effect, as with the other alchemicals. Max notes that the Affection is in the suit air supplies. Everyone looks suspiciously at Dr. Kye.

Max can't find any direct evidence of tampering on the suits, and investigates the air supply for the suits. Yup, that has Affection in it. And the most recent fingerprints on it seem to be somewhat small. Max tries to sense the past there, and is briefly Ruthie, who is grumpy because everyone on the crew is grumpy at each other and grumpy at Akito. But First Frost of Autumn mentioned the Affection alchemical as one of the things his parents make, and she knows that affection means being nice to each other, so she will put it in the air for the ship to make people nice.

Of course, it's still possible that Dr. Kye put her up to it.

Ace pours some mentholated tea into his space suit liner - Kith suggests drinking it next time.

Katya tries to scan for presences, and then thoughts, in the area. There's maybe one kinda-presence - its thoughts are "What's that? What's that? What's that? What's that?" over and over, like a broken record. The first stop is the Garrity ship. Its security system is no match for Ace; the computer records indicate that they were poking around here, found an invisible city, came back and called it in, and then went out again to explore it. They haven't been back since.

Max sets up his tricorder to try and detect the sharp-edged jaggy reality shards. At the first, the group throws one of Kith's teddy bears through it. Six small colored bears come out the other side: a red one, an orange one, a yellow one, a green one, a blue one, and a purple one. Another toss of a bear through another shard severs its arm, which falls to the ground as a stuffed tentacle. Kye builds a Deathtrap Detector by mounting all the teddy bears on a forked stick, to wave around.

Following the footprints left by the Garrity group, the party walks past a spot where - not a city, but something smaller, like an open building or a gazebo, can be seen. It's as if they've walked past an open doorway to see something that wasn't visible before, and isn't visible if they walk further on. The structure is hexagonal, and appears to be of faintly shining white crystal, with curved ribs outside and a flat roof.

At this point, the footprints also turn, and head towards the gazebo. Then, as the group crests a slight rise, they see what might or might not be four bodies, in what Max thinks is a particularly dense cluster of reality splinters:

The only one with any hint of life is the standing figure, who seems to have only about five seconds to her, being suprised over and over. She can probably be pulled back out, but it's not clear what you can do with five seconds of a person.

For the moment, though, she's left behind, while the group keeps trying to reach the gazebo. At this point, there's something of a well in reality; it's like trying to climb down instead of just walk forward. People anchor themselves carefully, trying to avoid the jaggy reality shards - Kith and Ace both nick themselves and have bits of themselves shaved away.

Dr. Romero is first to lower himself to the gazebo floor, but others follow. Dr. Kye thinks that the structure was built by the Tamorai, in pre-Alliance times, and that it was basically a scrying pool, to let them see other places. Sharra thinks that the jaggy reality shards were caused by the explosion of a large crystal, probably the power source for the structure. She can cobble together a power supply from ship's engines, but it will probably burn it out after one use (the power crystal, not the engines).

Max flies the Hippocrates (which has enough mind dice to see the jaggies) over the site, and scans. Ace flies the Diversity, as Max beams him targetting data about the jaggies, and (two karma later) brings in the power cable. The cable is lowered to the gazebo; Sharra hooks it up.

A number of possibilities for what to scry are discussed: the Terrans? The Decider homeworld? Vance? Xanthippe? In the end, Kye and Sharra view the Terran headquarters in the Linked Worlds. The power supply burns out, and the group climbs back out of the reality well, bringing the five-second slice of Leona Garrity (though it's not clear that anything can be done for her). The Garrity ship is also recovered (though it's been sliced a couple of times by the reality shards).

Dire warnings are issued to the Fleagle (now only a few hours out) about reality being very perilous in the area, and to make sure they memorize their ship plans before landing. That's such odd advice, they may actually even believe it. With that, the Hippocrates heads back to Tyrell's Folly.


  • Dr. Kye sends the spatial anchor back to IPX
  • Kith is kept pretty busy, trying to restore her and Ace to normalcy, teaching power projection to the two Crux guys, and trying to bring Geoffrey Oxford back to normal.
  • Jim, Night Blooming Wisteria, Moment Before Dawn, and First Frost of Autumn talk to the Philosophical Guidance Council and the Tactical Guidance Council about the Flames, a peace treaty, and Dylanna.
  • Jim talks to Geoffrey Oxford.