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Last Updated     February 16 2017
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Getting Into Town
    And Trouble


Sorting The Morning Out

Jae Tellona      At five am, Aiden's alarm went off and the pilot slapped it off as he pushed from his bunk to take his post.  Forty minutes later, after taking care of his hygiene needs, dressing and passing through the ship's galley for a quick breakfast. Aiden arrived in the ship's bridge.  By six, Aiden had tested the ship's systems and alarm logs to see all was normal.  Knowing the ship's sensors suite didn't include landing field area observation, Aiden used his expertise to try tying in vis-light sensors with the sensor computers.  Once he had his systems running as close to his specs as he could get them, Aiden turned his attention to the coming expedition.  He considered what of his gear he felt he might need and started making a list.

After that, Aiden planned to work on the effects of the desert on each item.  As Aiden was working on that, Rol's alarm woke him at seven, and he fought off the cobwebs and rolled into his morning routine.  By half past the hour, Rol had cleaned, dressed and moved out to the ship's galley to take up work as the ship's cook.  As Rol looked around, he saw someone had been at the galley earlier that morning and knew someone else was awake.  At the same time, Ms. Vik's alarm was waking her.  Moaning a bit at having to face a new day, the former Director paused to consider her major objective of the day.  That was contacting and working with the port offices to get the ship access to the local data network.  By eight, she emerged cleaned and dressed, to find Rol finishing the work of cooking breakfast.  Ever wanting to be polite in tighter quarters, Inger asked if he was cooking for the whole crew and Rol said he was.

Rol added, "Let me know if there are any side effects", with a slight sarcastic edge and smile on his face.  Not rushing the cook, Inger grabbed a stim-drink from the galley's cooling unit instead of dipping into the ship's coffee supply.  She sat at a terminal to try and tune to a local radio transmission.  Inger planned to contact the port offices after nine, giving them a chance to settle into the day themselves.  Meanwhile, alarms had sounded waking Zach, Mikah and Brian.  While the two Knights simply cleaned and dressed, the former Merchant began his daily exercise routine before showering and dressing.  So, when Mikah and Brian emerged from their staterooms, Rol and Inger were eating and working at terminals, and Zach was just getting ready to shower.

Mikah nodded to Brian, who made a bee line straight for the food.  She followed him, grabbing some food before hitting a wall mounted comms to call Aiden on the bridge.  When he answered, Mikah satirically congratulated him on keeping the ship safely intact overnight.  As she talked to the pilot, Mikah asked if the ship had any method of receiving local broadcast video or radio information?  Aiden said they would need to create settings for their comms systems to receive and translate that.  So Mikah ordered Aiden to get on it and he said he'd start investigating the job.

As Mikah and Aiden talked, Brian took his plate of food and moved down to the engineering section, below decks.  Having emerged from jump space almost twenty four hours earlier, he'd done precious little of the work needed to attend to the ship's active and inactive systems.  Brian suggested that Mikah and Inger join him and continue their course of study.  Once done talking to Aiden, Mikah said she planned to shop for supplies with Zach as she headed for his stateroom door.  Ms. Vik said she needed to contact the port first, but would be down after that.

Being dirtside for what was likely to be at least a week, Brian had the perfect chance to catch up on the work.  And with almost everyone off-ship for a week, his life would be made so much easier.  On the bridge, Aiden planned calling the port tower to ask for the proper frequencies before creating settings in the comms software that would add local radio and video broadcasts to the ship's entertainment suite.  Having gotten a status report from Aiden, Mikah moved on to her plans for the day as she reached Zach's stateroom door.  She first knocked and waited, but soon she pounded a bit harder when he didn't answer.  Mikah was unaware Zach had finished his work out, and couldn't hear her in his shower.  She eventually comm'd him, but the merchanter's comms were on his bedside table and he was in the shower.

Realizing she'd have to put her shopping plans on hold until Zach returned to the living, Mikah went below decks to help Brian work.  As she did, Ms. Vik finished her breakfast while working at a terminal, trying to find and tie into one of the local radio broadcast frequencies.  Rol organized the data he'd been gathering about the planet.  Most critical at the moment, Rol's data showed the local day was nine hours long.  That gave alternating shifts of roughly four and a half hours of light and dark.  The local year was a long one at 1,275 days, but Rol only cared about what season it was.  He figured he'd get that once they connected to local data services.

Once he was done eating, Rol wrapped up his research and headed into his stateroom.  There, he planned to spend an hour to an hour and a half organizing and preparing his gear for the trek into the desert.  On the bridge, Aiden called to tower control and asked for frequency information for local radio and other broadcast services?  Once they gave him the data, Aiden realized it would take him an hour to set up the connections.  Once done on comms, Aiden called Mikah to let her know the ship would have access to those items in an hour.  Everyone settled in to work while Zimzod's alarm went off and he did his morning routine before emerging.  Then he brewed a small container of coffee from his stash and grabbed a plate of the now cold food Rol had made.  After eating, he returned to his stateroom to start organizing his gear, and to work on desert proofing it for the expedition.

Looking For A Port Connection

     Ms. Vik waited until quarter after nine to call the port, and got a field traffic control officer on the comms.  When he picked up the connection, she introduced herself and gave her credentials as a Retired SPA Port Director.  She asked if she could speak to their director?  The officer gave her the comms frequency to reach the port offices and professionally wished her a good day before cutting the connection.

Inger called the Field operations office and got an audio-only connection to a port offices operator.  For the second time in the morning, she introduced herself to this new contact.  That done, Inger said she was interested in getting the ship access to the port's computer data network.  She also said she made it a point to introduce herself and offer her skills and assistance as well as pass on her regards to the Director of each port she visited.

The operator said the Port Director was not in his office yet, and not expected for another hour.  He did say he could connect her with the Shift Director on duty.  As far as the port's network was concerned, the network was proprietary to the port, and access was not generally given to ships unless it was approved by government request.  When Inger asked who was the correct person to speak to about getting that access, the operator said Inger would have to talk to the shift director before further discussing the matter.  The operator's manner was not particularly emotional, but he did convey that he could not help her at all with the issue she was pursuing.

Coming to that point, Inger asked if she could be transferred to the Shift Director?  The operator transferred her comms and the connection pick up was audio-visual.  When the Shift Director picked up the connection, Ms. Vik saw a very striking looking human male in a military uniform who appeared in his mid-thirties.  The man introduced himself as Captain Hiroko Auls.  Her thoughts were that the man was "too shiny" to really know what he was doing.  His appearance, to her, was one of those hired to skew the perceptions of those he dealt with.

After Inger introduced herself a third time, the Captain very smoothly welcomed Ms. Vik and her ship to the port with that easy and polished delivery that left one trying to clean the snake oil off.  His shining smile and bright eyes were welcoming, even as he shifted to the subject of the port's network, saying it was 'closed access' for security reasons.  He did say connections to a civilian data network could be contracted.  When she asked for more information, he said the ship could contact any of the authorized local network providers.  They would provide contract service through their links to the port.

Once that was done, he said, it was a simple matter to tie up a data cable from the ship's external data port to existing "hard connections" the port had.  These ran from their perimeter to the ship berth pads.  The service provider could then connect at the port's perimeter to service the connection.  The Captain made it understood that the fees for that would be negotiated with the network connection provider.  He also made it clear that, as non-nationals, any feed they'd contract for would be censored to protect national interests.  Unhappily, Inger accepted that and he said he could transfer her back to the operations office.  There, she could get those frequencies and data that were needed to set some on-board communications systems to receive radio and video broadcasts.

Not once did the captain seem less than pleased or even in danger of losing the smile on his face. Inger thought that his rank and apparent office said he had to have some level of qualifications.  But his appearance and demeanor constantly argued with that in Inger's mind.  Inger changed tack, saying she liked to meet the Directors of those ports she visited and to offer her services as an expert in port operations.  The Captain thanked her for her offer, but pointed out they were newly arrived and not familiar with the circumstances planetside.  He mentioned there was, "a little bit of tension between us and one of our neighbors."  Given the advanced state of security, government facilities were not accepting contract work from non-nationals.

When Inger asked if the tension was something they needed to be concerned about, Captain Auls answered, "I wouldn't say so."  Watching his face, Inger could not tell if he spoke the truth or if the "tension" was just an excuse meant to brush her off.  Anyway, she thanked him and promised to send him her account address once she could get a log on into the local civilian network.  He thanked her and the conversation ended.

As Inger was starting to reach out to the port, Zach finished his shower and dressed.  After he stepped out of his stateroom, Zach saw the food and Ms. Vik talking to some military type on vid.  He grabbed some food, sat down near a terminal to eat as he tried to connect to an outside network.  As he scanned the frequencies, he didn't find a feed.  At the same time, Aiden called Brian to ask for an engineer's view on protecting the ship's external fittings in the desert environment.  Working on his own gear reminded him that the ship's exposed systems might also be at some risk.

Saying, "Hi Brian," Aiden asked, "I was wondering what sort of stuff we should get to protect our gear?"  Confused, Brian looked at Mikah and said, "Well, weren't Zach and Mikah planning to go shopping for that sort of thing in...the marketplace this morning?"  Aiden clarified, "Well, for the ship itself.  Like the weapons turrets, sensor stalks, the extended gear and things like that."  Brian said that, with basic maintenance and periodic work to clear sand build up from inset slots, there really was no danger from desert sand.

With some misgivings still, Aiden said OK, but pushed the point, saying he was more concerned with sandstorms and major events.  Brian comfortably assured Aiden there was nothing to worry about as long as they kept on top of checking the ship's vulnerable spots for build-up.  Ever the paranoid, Aiden eventually took Brian's word for it and got back to his work.

Emkir eventually finished his morning routine, and made his way into the lounge where he saw Inger and Zach working and found the cold remains of breakfast.  Emkir piled what was left onto a plate to eat, and quickly finished it before heading into the bridge.  Aiden was there, standing watch and working at something on one of the communications panels.  As Emkir arrived, Aiden said, "Hey" and Emkir asked, "What's up?" Aiden explained that he was working to patch the local radio and broadcast video into the ship's entertainment systems.  Deciding to keep Aiden company, Emkir opened up his sensors studies and settled in to see what he could learn by scanning into the deserts.

Gearing Up To Shop

     Zach tried various methods to find a feed from outside but failed to connect to anything as Ms. Vik finished her conversation with the Captain.  Curious to see how she got an outside feed, Zach asked, "Do we have any news feed?"  Mentally reviewing her conversation with Captain Auls, Inger said they needed to call a provider to get a network connection.  Then they'd have the port connect up a hard-wired land line to one of the ship's data ports.  Nodding at the new information, Zach thanked Inger and decided to try to pick up his original plans, by finding Mikah and heading out to get supplies.

Not certain where she was, but sure she wasn't on the upper deck, Zach went to see if she was below, working on the engineering systems with Brian.  Heading below, Zach was careful to keep clear of gear he'd long ago learned to avoid, and found Mikah working on a wiring harness to save Sir Brian time.  When she saw him, Mikah said, "Oh!  You're awake!"  Confused at her tone, Zach responded, "I've been awake." and Mikah asked, "Why didn't you answer your door or your comms?"  Zach said he must've been in the shower when she tried to get him, and seeing she was busy, he told her he would be in the lounge when she was ready to go shopping, unless they needed an unskilled hand with anything in engineering.

To that, Brian asked, "What do you know about engineering?"  Zach answered, "A little bit about this and that.  Not a great deal."  Not happy with that, Brian asked "What do you know about electrical systems?" and Zach answered, I'm color blind.  I really don't mess with electrical systems."  After he said that, Brian said, "Yeah.  We have something you can do to help.  You can go topside and wait for Mikah."  Shrugging, Zach went back to the lounge, to wait.  Mikah told him, "I'll be done in twenty minutes.  Stay out of trouble for twenty minutes.  That's all I ask."  As he was heading up the access ladder to the crew deck, Zach heard Mikah receiving a comms from Ms. Vik.

When Zach headed off, Ms. Vik figured she might as well try to contact one of the network providers to see how soon they could get a service provider to connect to the ship?  Inger called the frequency given and was routed into the provider's basic phone system.  There, she was routed into a standard conversant system, which meant they were doing this on local tech and the former port director settled in for a long haul as she got to a standard hold recording, "Hello.  We want you to know your call is valuable to us..."

Eventually an operator picked up the audio connection at the network provider's office and greeted Ms. Vik.  Inger said she was trying to set up a data network connection to her ship at the starport.  As if this happened every day, the operator smoothly asked how many months they wanted this set up for?  Caught by surprise, Inger asked the operator to please stand by.  Inger then called Mikah and asked, "Dame Mikah, how long are we planning to stay?"  The Knight responded, "Ummm, as long as it takes?" as she tried to calculate days in her head.

Inger asked, "So, a month...?" and Mikah interrupted her, emphatically saying "No!  God No!"  Inger then asked, "So should I tell the nice operator who is offering to provide us with network service that we will only be here a month?" Mikah said, "Yeah.  But, also tell the nice operator that if they don't provide us with customer service, we have been known to shoot..."  Ms. Vik interrupted Mikah sardonically, saying, "I'm not telling her that."  Mikah laughed, letting Inger know it was just a joke.

Thanking Mikah for the help, Inger got back on the line with the operator and said, "We only need the connection for a few weeks.  We are not going to be here that long."  Behind her, Zach had arrived and listened in on the conversation but didn't get involved.  As she spoke, Zach sat to re-read his notes on the local world and nation before doing some searches for more data.  Despite the small amount of time he had, Zach decided to concentrate on local trading habits.

After Inger said they'd only be in port a few weeks, she heard the 'tell-tale audio only pause' that said the person on the other end was blinking in confusion.  Eventually the operator said, "We only sell service in packages for months..."  Inger said, "OK, I'm confused.  You do provide network services for ships visiting the port.  Correct?"  The operator replied, "Well, I have heard of it being done, but it hasn't been done in a while.  Realizing she perhaps expected more from this port than the level of activity supported, Ms. Vik said, "Oh well, why don't you tell me about your smallest package?"

Happily, the operator launched into a description of the "Cr 50 - two month package."  That was Cr 50 per two month period, on a one year contract with an early termination fee.  She made sure to say clearly that the network access would be limited because they were off worlders.  It did include redirected entertainment radio news feeds...  She went on listing services that Inger really was not used to not seeing bundled together.  As the operator realized she was not getting the positive responses from her pitch she eventually mumbled to a halt.

Ms. Vik went back over the key data she was given and confirmed the pricing with the operator.  She then asked how much the plan cost over all?  Doing some basic mental math, the operator added up the cost of the six cost periods over a year and told Inger the cost to the ship for the entire year would be Cr 300.  Then Inger asked how much the early cancellation fee was, and learned it was Cr 1,000!  Hearing this, Ms. Vik once more asked the operator to hold on as she checked with Mikah.

When Mikah heard the details, she decided the ship was just going to have to live without the service.  Asking if there was any way they might need the service when working with the Countess, Ms. Vik was told they'd only need internal and external communications capabilities to do what they wanted to with the Countess.  Inger agreed, but said she did need some kind of network access to send her email.  Mikah said she could go to a library or someplace that had publicly available terminals.  With that, Inger got back on the line with the operator and said, "OK, my Captain has decided that we will not be signing up for the service but thanks." and disconnected from the operator.

After that, Ms. Vik considered heading into the port city, for a place with public terminals she could use to send an email.  She remembered she'd said she'd help in engineering and called down to Brian and Mikah saying, "Hey guys, I need to send an email at some point.  Should I try to find a place to send it now or would you like me to help a while down there and I'll find it later?"  Asking Ms. Vik to hold on, Mikah asked Brian just how much help he was going to need?

Brian said that one reason he was staying with the ship was the amount of work he needed to get done.  When they were in Risek, they had two days as they were arriving and two more as they departed, during which he could handle the maintenance on the jump systems.  He also had the time they were in-system to handle regular engineering maintenance.  But since they'd arrived in Jae Tellona, the basic maintenance hadn't much been done and the jump systems reset work were barely started.  That meant having the help was good, but he'd be working the whole week the crew was gone.

That point made, he told Mikah to wrap up what she was working on if she had something that needed to be done.  Mikah said, "Ok. We'll go out and do what we do and be back to help you later on today", then told Inger she'd be done in twenty minutes.  She said Inger could come to town with her and Zach.  Mikah then worked a bit harder to get the cabling she was working on finished, closed up and stowed so she could head 'into town' with the others.

Flying Into Town And Trouble

     Once done below decks, Mikah came up to the crew deck and cleaned up before telling Zach and Ms. Vik she was ready to leave.  As they went aft, to the air-raft bay, they discussed their plans and Mikah said she'd be piloting the raft.  Once strapped into the raft, Mikah opened the bay and called traffic control for permission to make a short flight into town.  The controller who picked up her comms told her she had to land at the field control building for inspection before they could leave the facility.

Rolling her eyes at overbearing authority, Mikah said she'd do as told, and lifted the air-raft before gliding it out of its bay.  Once free of the ship, and the closing bay door, Mikah slowly hovered over towards the port office buildings.  As she approached, they saw a fire team of five uniformed and armed men coming out of the port facilities!

With a sinking heart Mikah called the controller saying, "What's happening on the ground over there?"  The controller asked, "What do you mean?" in a confused voice and she said directly, "Well, there's a fire team on the ground..."  Mikah was cut off by the controller, who told her that those were the inspection team.  Not really happy, Mikah replied, "OK" and the controller repeated, "You must submit to inspection."

Mikah tried to keep her voice light as she answered, "All right, but you could have said something about them."  The controller tartly replied, "You should read our laws." and Mikah replied, "We tried to" a bit less tartly.  The flat answer was that the inspection team was waiting for them, and they broke contact.  By the time she finished with the controller, they were arriving and Mikah set down where the team were directing her to.  They could all see the "inspection team" consisted of one Lieutenant, a sergeant and three troopers.  All were uniformed, with web gear, equipment and were armed.

The Lieutenant had a holstered pistol, the sergeant had both a pistol and rifle and the troopers had a local form of an ACR.  While the troopers were only holding their weapons at rest, they formed a semicircle around the air-raft and its occupants as the officer stood just behind the sergeant.  Everyone in the air-raft noted the ammunition magazines extending from the rifles so they were loaded for combat.  Even though no weapons were being actively aimed at the moment.

Once everyone dismounted from the air-raft, the sergeant directed them to the Lieutenant with their papers.  As the three stepped to the officer, they heard the sergeant and two of the troopers "searching" the vehicle.  Presumably, the other trooper was standing by as "security".  When they handed their Ident cards to the officer, Mikah figured what the hell and asked, "Once we get into the city, Do you have any idea, where is the best place to land to do some shopping for fabric and clothes?"  Zach joined in, saying, "Yeah, we want to shop the markets and stuff." Mikah added, "Yeah, where is the largest market".

Not used to these types of requests, the Lieutenant said, "Well Ma'am, I would suggest that when you boost into orbit you will find clothing and items that more fit in with your society."  Zach turned that back saying, "We'd like to taste the local culture."  He tried to use as inviting and friendly a tone as possible.  Giving a group a look that said, 'No accounting for eccentricity', the Lieutenant paused before trying to look seven foot tall Zach in the eyes and said, "To be honest with you, Sir.  I don't believe we have anything that'd fit you here."

Hoping to step in smoothly, Ms. Vik said, "Where's a place where I can send an email?  Just locally."  The Lieutenant said, "Well, we have places where you can rent time on the network, but you're going to have to sign up with somebody, in order to send and receive messages."  Getting somewhere, Ms. Vik asked, "OK.  Can you give me a general idea of where to go?"  The Lieutenant described how a major highway originated outside the city-side gate of the base.  It was the main road leading to the city center.  Spaced along it were market squares, some of which the base personnel shopped in.  He was certain she could find a place to rent a terminal from along that road.

Clarifying her interests, Inger said, "I was wondering, aside from those market squares, is there a central market place?  Somewhere where everybody goes, or is it just the road?"  At this, the Lieutenant seemed to back off before answering, "Well, the market square closest to the base gates tends to be the largest and a fairly central market.  That's because it's convenient to the base and most of the personnel shop there."  Ms. Vik turned to Mikah and said, "I think, once we find a place to log into the network, we'll find what you guys are looking for too."

Mikah agreed, and turned back to the Lieutenant, who was just finishing filling out a transient passage permit.  This allowed the team to play tourist anywhere in the city so long as they followed all other rules and laws.  While he did his work, and recorded his data, on an electronic PDA style device, not likely made locally, the document was filled out on a silicon pad with an etching stylus in enough copies that each of the three got their own.  With this, they were told they could go into the city to shop all they wanted.

That done, the three again mounted the air-raft, which had been brusquely treated but not actually damaged by the sergeant and his team, and lifted to search for an appealing market square.  They looked down as they flew, on a city that seemed to grow from a distant, modern and technologic hub out to a point where, more and more, it was swallowed by wasted ground or sand.  Large buildings were very few, even at the distant city core.  And, much of what they could see was sandstone construction at best.  In the distance to any direction, the city was surrounded by wastes and desert.  Nothing was visible except the grey smudge of mountains on the south and south west horizon.  Despite the general planetary technology, providing the ability to build fission nuclear power plants, the city was a mix of modern, desert survivalist and surprisingly medieval technologies.  And the port they were at was another hub of modernity on the outer edge of this sprawl.

Flying at roughly two hundred feet, they found an air-raft in flight was so unusual that they were getting as much attention as they put into their search for the sorts of storefronts they wanted.  Despite the availability of technology for automobiles, the metal poor city state displayed a great many citizens using animal transport instead of more modern means.  Every so often, one of the team spotted something as modern as an air-raft, in use or parked, showing this was not as backward a place as it seemed.  And while none of the buildings was larger than five or six stories, there were diesel and fusion-powered cranes working construction at many sites throughout the city.

Eventually the team saw signs of the type of market square the Lieutenant described, and they noted evidence of a bazaar in an open area.  That was surrounded by what looked like stores and some storage type buildings.  One ominous thing they all saw was a rather large ratio of what appeared to be law enforcement vehicles and officers in uniform on foot compared to the population.  Once Mikah had her sights set on a clear area in the square, she began her descent.

Avoiding some groups of pack animals mixed in with a few trucks, Mikah carefully guided the craft down to settle on the ground.  As if perched to pounce, two local police officers immediately stepped up, even as Ms. Vik and Zach were climbing out of the air-raft and Mikah was still shutting down.  The lead officer said, "Excuse me.  May we see your paperwork?"  Suppressing her need to roll her eyes, Mikah smiled sweetly and handed over her permit as the others joined in.  The officers spent several moments checking their paperwork with familiar looking PDA-like devices, and even called the port on their walkie talkies to verify data.

Once they were done, the lead officer said, "We've confirmed you have a valid permit to be in the city, however you've parked in space assigned for vendors who have permits for this market.  As a result, we are issuing you a fine for mis-parking.  Once we are done here, please move your vehicle over to that area, where you can legally park."  He pointed to an area with a few trucks and a number of Tanir tied up as he instructed Mikah.  He handed her the silicon strip, and Mikah read the ticket to see it was only a Cr 5 ticket.  Mikah was still bothered by the apparent ambush.

Not wanting to incur yet another ridiculous charge for something else they hadn't found in the encyclopedia of law, Mikah did her best to swallow her growing anger.  She asked very detailed questions about the parking restrictions, and learned they were very loose about how you parked so long as you did so in the right place.  She did an excellent job hiding the desire she had to suddenly pull the gauss pistol she didn't have from thin air and show these "police" some 'real' law enforcement.  After Mikah got instructions, Zach walked over to help guide her to a clear spot while Mikah tried to pay the ticket.  The officer told her she had to pay the fine in person at a police station.

Getting Things Done On The Ship

     Back at the ship, Aiden finally managed to tie in the audio and video broadcasts to the ship's entertainment suite.  Once he had them running, Aiden did a quick scan through and found there were a total of three state run video channels, and a small handful of similarly state-run audio channels.  He wasn't so much disappointed as he was disturbed.  But he made a ship wide announcement to all aboard that video was now available.  After that, Aiden listened in on some of the broadcasts to get a feel for the tone of the channels.  What he heard was unsettling.

All the entertainments seemed to be moralistically packaged stories, puff packages encouraging happiness and social homogenization.  Any news was delivered from the sure and able point of view of a "state in charge".  Citizens were encouraged to trust in and rely on the state and its appointed officers.  On the whole, each broadcast was pre-packaged to encourage stability and subservience to the state.  Worry not, they would say.  Every crisis will be overcome by trusting in and working with the state.

Working with the sensors, Emkir started doing a bit more experimenting and suddenly started getting "remote hits" from orbital assets!  Working back over what he did, the Admiral realized a concept he'd missed often enough in the past.  Going over his steps a third time, it now made much more sense because he better understood the device settings and what they gave him!

Zimzod finished working in his stateroom and headed out onto the tarmac to do some acclimation work in a ship's suit.  He planned to spend two hours during daylight, and two hours at night, in ships suit to make sure he was ready for anything he might face.  As he exited the ship, Zimzod realized he needed to read up on the life forms in the deserts around the cities.  This included the wildlife as well as the bugs, small critters and other living threats.  Seeing that Mikah had left the ship already, he comm'd her to ask if she could pick up a good book on the subject while shopping?  In his stateroom, Rol continued the work he'd planned for the day.  He also figured, when he got the chance, he'd ask at the port offices if anyone could suggest where to pick up a simple pair of binoculars?

Getting On The Grid

     As Mikah flew to a landing, she saw there was no form of "pay to park" in view.  She also saw, with everyone else watching the unusual event of an air-raft appearance, she was being watched by yet another pair of police officers.  Once she set down and powered off the raft, the three had time to finally look around.  Done "properly" parking the air-raft, Mikah told Zach and Ms. Vik about Zimzod's request, so they all knew to keep an eye out for a bookstore too.  What seemed an impromptu bazaar from the air now seemed like a street market inside a ring of well-established stores.  Despite the sand stone appearance, the stores appeared similar to any other stores one might expect in any modern city in a non-interstellar society.  The most noticeable oddity were the large number of police that seemed to be normal for this area.

The sounds from the street market were the same a visitor might expect from such venues the galaxy over, including the ever-present argument between a merchant and the police writing him up.  Oddly enough, as the team gazed out to find any sign of the various businesses they came for, they realized they were the center of attention for most of, if not all, the people in the bazaar.  Especially seven foot tall Zach, who looked like nothing any of these people had ever seen.  Sensing this, Zach decided to turn on the charisma, which had no effect on the outright shock of his appearance.

As the three got their bearings, they were mobbed by the ever-present horde of street urchins any impoverished society produces.  The horde swept up selling everything from nick-nacks to out-right garbage.  This was swiftly followed by adults, also hoping to sell the off worlders things of no value, simply because they thought the visitors had never seen such bits.  While Zach kept his eyes open, in case any of these dregs actually had something real to sell, Mikah considered calling for a police escort.  Eventually they pushed a path through the crowd, to a store front advertising rented computer terminal access.

Once inside, the store seemed to be a general tech services store, offering everything from photo-static copy sending to network terminal rentals to generic mail boxes and shipping to any other related services.  When Inger walked up to the desk, the clerk responded to her as an obvious new arrival, saying, "Welcome to the area.  Where are you moving to?  We can have the cable hooked up very quickly!"  Ms. Vik said, "Actually, we're just here on business, but I was wondering if we can make some sort of arrangements?  I just need a temporary account.  I'm trying to do some business with the local port authority and I just need a simple account from which to send and receive messages."

The store manager pointed to the set of cubicles they'd noticed when they entered, saying he rented access for Cr 10 an hour.  He then told Inger that she could then sign up with one of the various on-line communications providers after she bought time on his network.  When she signed up with him, she'd get a placard identifying some providers.  she'd also get some bulletin boards that "might" give free access, though their quality might not be what she expected and he gave no guarantees.

After she made sure she understood the deal, Inger said to Mikah, "I'll probably be here for a couple of hours maybe.  Is there something for our particular job?  Do you see us needing anything in particular on line?"  Mikah said, "Well, we're gonna look for a book on desert flora and fauna.  See if you can find anything on there that we may be able to use if we can't find a book.  Not sure how much she might find on this disconnected network, Ms. Vik replied, "Well, why don't we try to find a book first 'cause that would most likely be a bit cheaper.  I mean, we can't sit here for hours.  For now, I'll just set up my own account and get mail access.  If we need something else, I am sure the kind gentleman will be glad to help us."

When Mikah agreed, Ms. Vik bought two hours of network access for Cr 20, got her access codes and took her place at a terminal.  Seeing this, Zach said, "You're going to work on it for two hours.  So, we'll go shopping for two hours while you play?"  Inger answered, "Yeah.  I don't even know if I'll need two hours, 'cause all I really want is just email.  I'll catch up with you guys."  Zach said, "Yeah.  Check it out.  We're on the comms."  Mikah threw in, "Check out the local news."  After that, Zach said, "We're heading out to the right and in that direction." as he pointed where he thought Mikah and he planned to go.  Ms. Vik began searching through her options for access to the national network as Zach and Mikah left.  Zach would have said more, except that Mikah cut him off, reminding him that they were all on comms in a tone that said 'DUH!'.

Looking at all the advertisements flooding onto the screen as she logged in, Ms. Vik first looked over the major providers.  She then checked the bulletin board offerings, to see if there were any special interest boards on desert information?  While she didn't find the hoped for "desert enthusiasts board", she noted the commercial services ranged in cost between Cr 5 and Cr 100.  Not happy with the choices that were being pushed by that screen, Inger broke out of the broadcasting program to the operating system prompt.  Using simple commands, she isolated the network provider's base address and pulled up their list of services.  From there, Inger looked at their menus but saw they didn't advertise any other services.  As a result, she decided she needed to get some kind of sign in and get on main street before she could walk down to find what she really wanted.  Re-launching the advertising browser page, Ms. Vik selected one of the less expensive services.

The computer connected to the service and Ms. Vik answered several screens of "not very personal" personal questions.  Finally, she was prompted to create both a unique user name and secure password.  With this came an "In Your face" warning, telling Inger that if her account was hacked, the account owner was just as liable as the hacker for any laws broken and both would be prosecuted.  Once Inger submitted her information, there was a final notice that all network traffic was monitored for illegal activities or content.  After she acknowledged that warning, Ms. Vik got to the "pay me now" screen and checked out the payment methods.

Examining her options, Ms. Vik realized the only option that would get her on line was the "Wire Payment" method.  Asking the store clerk if she could wire payments from that location, the man said "Sure".  When she asked, "How much is it to wire?" Inger was told it cost Cr 10 per transaction.  Checking the screen again, Inger saw she could get a one month account for Cr 5.  So, Ms. Vik paid Cr 15, and watched as the clerk spent several minutes with arcane transactions on his machinery.  Finally, he reached for a stylus and silicon pad, and scribbled some data down before handing it to Inger saying, "This is your access code."

Sitting back at her terminal, Inger entered the code where prompted and hit enter and got a welcome screen and access into the national network proper.  Once in the provider's GUI, Inger found and opened the email client, and began typing out a message to Captain Auls.  Further introducing herself, and providing a basic history with certifications, she again thanked the Captain for his help and offered her help in any circumstances they might have.  After she finished and sent her email, Ms. Vik planned her search strategy for desert survival data.  Finding a search client, she did some basic searches but didn't see anything initially inspiring.

Considering her options, Ms. Vik thought about hitting the bulletin boards too.  Given the apparent tech level of the city around her, she decided she might be more likely to find local people with better andmost specific information.  So, Inger started looking for information on the locally available boards.  Sadly, the level of advertising on this network was based on the restrictions placed by the owner of the feed.  That meant Ms. Vik wasn't able to get much information at all.  Knowing these kinds of boards were usually independently owned and operated, she wondered how many boards she could explore in the time she had, and dove into the work.

Looking For A Bookstore

     Mikah and Zach left the storefront through a small crowd of on-lookers who were curious about the aliens walking their streets.  They turned right and began their search with part of the crowd following along.  But the crowd also grew a bit with the turn of each corner as their appearance caught new eyes.  Again, Zach did his best to project any charisma he could as they searched for book and clothing stores.  Zach asked Mikah more questions about the expedition the Countess described while looking for any shops that might sell water skins and other supplies.

As they walked, Zach said he was hungry and Mikah admitted she could eat.  About the same time, they spotted a clothing outlet down the block from where they were.  Deciding to check the store out before eating, they found the shop tended to have loose fitting, generic "City-ware", like the styles they'd seen on the streets.  Nothing looked remotely familiar to what they had seen or heard of in relation to nomads. While some of the styles claimed a nomadic base, nothing looked like what they were after.

Finally, Mikah turned and left the shop as Zach followed her out onto the street side.  There, they checked what the various food venders had to offer?  Zach made a joke about 'Rat on a stick' as they passed a vendor roasting the meat of some reptile or other.  But hunger got the best of them and they each bought a meat stick for a total of Cr 5, which Mikah paid.  As they bit into the meat, each dealt with the new spice flavors.  It was a bit more than Mikah was used to, but she still thought it tasted OK.  They ate as they walked, and eventually came to yet another market square.

As they finished the meat sticks and looked around, they noticed some kind of yelling angry mob across the square.  They wouldn't have cared, in the very active streets, except that Mikah saw it was moving towards them, even if they had not been seen by the locals yet.  Not wanting any trouble, Mikah told Zach to move as she tried to get out of the way.  The commotion fed a wave of activity moving before it, and as they tried to get out of the way, part of the wave broke on them.

Dodging as outcries suddenly came from their left, Mikah and Zach saw what appeared to be a boy in his late teens, seemingly dressed in rags, coming almost right for them!  Oddly, as he seemed to fight his way through the crowd, he didn't seem panicked at all.  In fact, As Mikah and Zach stepped out of the way of the charging man, they saw his face had a very determined look.  He appeared to know exactly what was happening.  They also recognized that what looked like rags at first looked very much like robes up close. Possibly nomadic robes!

Unfortunately for Mikah and Zach, they didn't have much time to observe as a wave of police officers followed the young man through.  The officers bowled people over as they pushed through in pursuit of the boy.  The one thing that was notable about the chase was that the running teen made very controlled moves through the crowd, not disturbing more than a handful of people, even at his speed.  In fact, the wave of noise was being raised by the shock and anger as the police pushed through.

When Zach suggested they step in, Mikah strictly stopped him.  She pointed out sharply that, if they interfered with the police or tried to help the kid in any other way, they risked being arrested.  They were swallowed by the wave as Mikah and Zach stood their ground and let it pass them by.  They became part of a landscape surrounded by angry merchants and those picking up their tables, wares or getting up from the ground themselves.

Once the wave passed, they continued looking for shops as Zach suggested they should feel sympathetic for the boy he assumed was a nomad.  Mikah said, "Great.  You go help the kid.  And, I'll bail you out in a couple of weeks."  When Zach tried to argue, she firmly said, "Anything we do, if we're helping the kid or not helping the kid, will be construed by the police as interference.  And we will be held accountable."

Once the chase passed beyond the next corner the urchins and their elder garbage sellers returned to the task of trying to separate either Mikah, Zach or both from money.  Pushing their way through the pan handlers, they finally came on a clothing store advertising its products as a "Desert-wear".  They read signs for survival gear and even saw displayed some canteens that were obviously over-priced and under quality.  But it was the closest thing they'd seen to one of the things they wanted so they went in to browse.

One of the first things they noticed was the shop's gimmick sand floor.  Getting over that quickly, they browsed and saw every class of low to extreme priced survivalist and desert tourist item on the shelves.  But as they came around one set of displays, they suddenly stopped in their tracks.  In the space opening past the display, they came face to face with four mannequins.  Each apparently wore one layer of what was billed as 'authentic nomadic male clothing'.  The left-most wore the outer robes, next to the right wore the main external garments with the next wearing the minor external garments.  The last mannequin held those accessories a nomad would presumably carry.  As they examined the display, they saw a strong fabric that didn't seem to be uniform machine-made sewing but hand made.

Each item appeared very authentic to the two, and the documents suggested it had been bought for just over KCr 3 worth of goods from a nomad.  While worn, the material looked like it had held up well against its usage.  But this was not a museum so the pair were not able to devote as much time as they'd like while they did take two or three pictures each.  Zach tried to gain Mikah time to take pictures, using his appearance to distract the store owners.  He was not successful, as there were many more locals than aliens.  Eventually he tried to build on his cache by asking for prices and generating lots of "let me see this" activity.  But this still didn't buy Mikah more than three more snaps, only two of which were close ups.

The more Zach bargained, the lower the pricing got on many items, except where he asked about buying the nomad garb.  In the end, they did produce a book, for Cr 50, that seemed to detail everything they wanted in a desert survival manual and more.  It was completely illustrated, and seemed to exactly fit the bill for what they wanted.  It even gave patterns and instructions for personally creating nomad-style outfits.  This sparked a thought about who was going to sew all this?  Zach confidently said, "We can hire a seamstress, and buy the fabric."

When Mikah accepted that, and they asked the store staff about a seamstress, they got offered directions for Cr 10 more.  Ever the merchant, Zach said, "If we buy the book and a few more things from you, we should get the information for free."  One of the locals said, "How about, for Cr 55 we'll give you the information and the book?"  Zach said, "OK, that's better.  But I want to look at your web gear too."  He then inspected their offerings, comparing them with his own in his mind.

The materials used in the locally made stuff was substandard.  The off-world items the shop had were of good quality, but significantly over priced.  As Zach and Mikah also inspected the stock of canteens and water skins, they found the store's merchandise only good for sale to those who didn't know it was crap.  Finally, the hovering store staff were pleased when Zach stepped up to the register to buy the book.  Once he paid, they gave him verbal directions to the seamstress, which Zach committed to memory.

Off To Find The Seamstress

     Once they owned the book, Zach took some minutes to scan through it, attempting to speed read so he could remember as much as possible.  But while he was able to commit some striking pictures to memory, the words required him to spend time actually reading the book, not just scanning it.  Zach saw, while scanning the table of contents, that the book didn't seem to have any data on night sky navigation using the stars, and asked about another book with that?  But their questions only seemed to confuse the shop staff, so they left to look for someplace else.

As Zach and Mikah checked the book for other failings, they noticed an extreme police build-up, with more officers coming in from all sides.  Stopping to look at their surroundings, they saw another apparent riot.  As Zach looked in the direction of the disturbance, he saw over the heads of almost all and Mikah asked, "What do you see Zach?"  Thanks to his height, Zach could see where the same teen they'd seen fleeing earlier had been cornered and taken down by local police.  More officers were arrowing in through the sudden crowd, to assist in securing the young man as they dragged him and he struggled to escape.  It wasn't uncertain if he was caught and was in danger of escaping or was just being heavily secured.  As Zach watched, the teen disappeared in a knot of police and Zach saw the beginnings of blows.

Turning to Mikah, Zach said, "The kid's been caught."  Tongue in cheek, Mikah said, "We'll see if we can get his robe."  Zach answered, "Actually, what I am thinking of is.  What if we go to the police station, see what the kid did?  If we bail him out, we might get a couple of brownie points with the nomads."  Mikah considered his idea but, as they discussed it, she thought there were too many "if"s and holes she could punch into it easily.  As they discussed the pro's and con's of his idea, they saw the crowd break up and, from the knot of police, saw some officers dragging the beaten young man away.  The other officers quickly cleared space through which those dragging the teen moved, presumably toward a police station.  Turning to Mikah, Zach said, "Now we know where a police station is."

As the excitement died down, the two followed the directions to the seamstress while Zach kept looking for more book stores.  As they walked, they passed street dealers of almost every variety from food all the way up to items described as authentic Nomadic daggers!  Given the local law restrictions and lack of metal, this was beyond doubtful.  Glances at any of the displayed or presented "daggers" showed a shaped piece of what seemed a tin-like substance or a ceramic item.  As he looked at them in passing, Zach figured they were not likely even real daggers, much less nomadic daggers, if they were not legal to own.

Ordering The Robes

     Once they got to the seamstress' shop, they found it was a small affair with some chairs, a counter, changing area and what appeared to be a decent selection of fabrics.  Most were course, and all seemed like they'd fit as the basis for desert wear.  As well as the fittings for the business, there were a much older woman, some apparently middle-aged women and a girl who appeared to be about thirteen.  The women were all chatting loudly and animatedly in such a way it was amazing anyone could understand the others.  Things quieted down quickly as the pair entered and the younger girl slipped behind the counter shyly.

Stepping forward, the older lady asked what she could do for them, in Galanglic.  The hint of an accent in her words suggested the world's verbal path was slipping.  As the young girl fixated on Zach, and gave up her hiding for staring, one of the other women grabbed her and pulled her further back into the shop.  Realizing he stood out more spectacularly because of his height, Zach looked for a place to sit and put them at their ease.  Apparently thinking Zach was turning to leave, as he turned, the elder woman urgently said, "No!  What can I make for you?!"

Stopping, and turning back, Zach said, "Well, we want some garments made."  Happy she wouldn't have to completely sell the strangers, the woman smiled and asked, "What kind of garments?"  Moving as she spoke, she didn't give Zach a chance to take control as she said, "We have all the best fabrics in town," as she ran her hands along bolts and piles of fabric, or picked up folds to show patterns.  While she moved into her 'sales dance', Zach pulled out the book of desert survival and held up drawn pictures of nomads.  As soon as she saw the pictures, the woman stopped with a sudden and stern look on her face.  The pictures also silenced all the other women in the shop.

The woman quietly said, "No.  These, you do not need." and Zach firmly responded, "Yup, We need some of these."  Softening her expression to a more motherly but still stern look, she said, "You're not from here, so I'm going to give you a little advice.  No, you don't.  You do not want to go into the desert.  You do not want to get hurt.  You want to go back.  You want to buy some nice suits and you want to go back to your ship."  Pausing to look Mikah and Zach in the eyes, she then firmly finished, "This is what you want."

  When Zach replied, "No, we really do not", meaning they didn't just want to buy some suits and leave, she cut him off, saying "You need to trust me.  You do not know these people and we do know these people.  You are not from this world.  You don't want to go out in the desert."  Zach equally firmly, but politely, said "We do not have a choice."  The woman stopped, and looked at him.  After a brief pause she asked, "And you would like to look like them?"

Mikah answered first, saying, "Yes."  Zach picked up quickly saying, "We just need the outer robes...For protection from the sun and what not."  The woman gave them a look reserved for foolish tourists out to get themselves killed, before switching to a calculating look.  She then asked, "And when would you need these...robes?"  When Zach said they needed the robes in two days, she asked expectantly if each of them needed a robe?  Zach said they both needed robes as well as four others. Still not happy about the idea, the woman confirmed, "And you need this in two days' time?"  Zach said, "Yeah.  And I figured there were enough of you that you can handle it", as he glanced around at the handful of ladies.  After stopping and thinking about it, she asked, "Do you have credit account in the city?"  Mikah held up her Ident happily and said, "We have a credit chip."  The seamstress smiled politely and said, "I do not have these electronics here."

Realizing they'd have to go somewhere to get local money, Zach said, "We will get you the funds you need."  Hearing this, the woman said, "OK.  You bring your people here so I can do my measures.  You bring your money."  As she spoke, Mikah realized taking measurements meant doing measures for folks like herself and Zimzod in their armor.  This was an issue because they knew they couldn't bring their armor into the city legally.  Making the same connection, Zach said, "Perhaps it would be easier if you came out to our ship."  This got a strong reaction as the woman refused to come to the port.  She also made it very clear she thought they were fools, going out to the desert to get killed.  She would take their money, but she wasn't going anywhere with them.  They had to come to her.

Eventually, they talked money after agreeing to bring their crew to the shop.  The price circled down to Cr 70 each.  Considering their situation, Zach asked, "We can't bring all of our people here, so can we just give you the measurements?  Of what you need?"  The seamstress looked sternly at him and said, "You want something that fits.  Right?"  Realizing they were at another point of disagreement, Zach dejectedly answered "Right".  With a satisfied and stern look, she answered, "Then you come and do it right."

Zach looked her in the eyes and said, "There is one person who is not going to be able to come here", as seriously as he could.  "So, I am going to have to give you the measurements for him, because he can't make it.  She considered this, and apparently the money won out.  The woman agreed, and grabbed a silicon pad to begin scratching out a crude drawing of a man crossed with gashes.  Once she was done, she said, "I need this" for each of the lines, before saying, "You bring me this information."  Zach said, "OK, and I need your type of measurement."

The woman rooted around in her supplies and pulled out an old and battered Imperial standard ruler.  Turning to Mikah, Zach said "OK.  Should we get on the comms and tell them what measurements we need", only to see that Mikah was activating her comms already as she answered, "Yeah".  Once connected, Mikah got everyone's attention and said, "OK.  We're gonna need everyone down here who is going on this excursion except Zimzod, 'cause you can't come."  Zach interjected, "Zimzod, we need measurements of you in your battledress."  Mikah agreed and, when Zach interjected, "Without the dreams." Mikah laughed.

As she explained the situation, Mikah sent the measurements needed from Zimzod as she told them why they were needed.  Ms. Vik said she could walk over once she was done on line.  Rol started to ask how the folks at the ship were going to get to the seamstress and they decided Mikah would fly the air-raft back to the ship to pick up Rol and Aiden with Zimzod's measurements.  They would also need her combat armor, which had to be measured too.  Once she gave Ms. Vik the address and general directions to the shop, Mikah asked the seamstress where they could exchange money from their identChips to pay her?  The woman said that anyone who could take electronic payments could transfer funds as Zach said, "We should need 420 Credits worth."

As this was happening, Zach figured he might as well save some time and get himself measured.  While the seamstress worked, he tried to explain that he needed the robe to be cut loose so it would fit over his vacc suit without actually saying this.  He feared being told to go back to the ship and get the vacc suit.  Eventually, the woman stopped his fussing, saying not to worry repeatedly as she promised to make it loose enough for him.  Soon, the woman called out instructions and numbers and very quickly the work started on Zach's robe.  Once she finished measuring, Zach asked her if she knew of any book shops in the area he could visit?  In answer, she simply waved away the question saying, "I do not read much."  When Zach pushed the question, she suggested he hire her daughter's daughter as a guide and find the place himself.  Zach agreed to this and let her finish her work after calling the little girl.

Mikah's Ferry Begins Service

     Mikah pushed her way through the curious who'd gathered to watch through the shop's windows, and brought a trail with her as she left.  She headed back towards the air-raft, planning as she walked to ask at the port if she could get permission to carry her combat armor with her to be measured in it?  She was thinking of stopping in at the shop Ms. Vik was at to exchange money.  At the same time, Aiden went aft from the bridge to help Rol measure Zimzod as Zimzod strapped himself into his battledress.

When Mikah got to the network shop, there were still some children and curious at the windows watching Ms. Vik.  As they saw and heard her coming, many in the crowd again rushed over trying to sell her any nick nack they had or had grabbed.  Ownership in that moment was...fluid.  Stopping in to see how Ms. Vik was doing, Mikah found Inger had just begun her data search.  Making the money transfer and securing the local cash, Mikah headed to the air-raft, which also attracted the curious and adventurous.  As she made her way through the crowd of urchins and garbage sellers, Mikah was glad she secured the transferred money well.  Soon enough she powered up the raft and called the flight tower for permission to return to the port.

Once back at the port, Mikah landed for the required inspection and was met by the same Lieutenant she'd spoken with during her earlier inspection.  She asked if she could bring her combat armor into town to have a garment measured.  After some questions about its weapon values and capabilities, he agreed she could bring the gear to them for inspection.  If it was inert, as she said, the Lieutenant said he'd have no problem letting her bring it into town with her.

With that done, he told Mikah the port had gotten registration of a legal infraction against them.  He told her the port can't allow their ship to lift until their fines were paid.  Mikah said, "Yes, we know", finding it disturbing how well connected their legal and military systems were.  Mikah added, "I have to go to the police station to pay it when I go back."  He made sure Mikah understood that, as time passed, the port would be obliged to restrict more and more of the ship's activities until payment was made, in addition to adding additional fees.  Mikah assured him again they were going to pay the fine as soon as they got back into town.

Zach Hunts Bookstores But Finds Bars

     At the Seamstress' shop, taking Zach's measurements was done and he was ready to find a book store.  He tried asking the thirteen year old where a book shop was and found she knew the streets but didn't know, or care, where books were sold?  She was a guide to keep him from getting lost, or to run for help if he got into something dangerous.  He also realized they expected him to pay Cr 10 for her services and he needed to exchange money to do that too.

Once Zach said they should get moving, they worked their way through the small crowd of curious on lookers still there, and into the street.  Once out of the shop, Zach had the girl take him to any shop where they had electronic money, a concept she understood.  It wasn't a long walk, and soon they were in what passed for an electronics shop locally.  When Zach said he wanted to exchange Cr 50 for local cash, the shop manager said, "No, You Buy something.  You Buy Something."

Giving in to the inevitable, Zach said, "All right" and started browsing.  But what he found were tape recorders, calculators that were huge and barely able to do any real math.  These were things that they might call electronics, but Zach called children's toys.  Zach almost had to laugh when he saw watches being promoted as 'advanced', just because they were digital!  Eventually, Zach hit on an electric compass that was priced at Cr 20 and came with a set of batteries too.  Zach picked up one of the digital compasses and figured he'd pay Cr 100 and get Cr 80 back in local currency as well as the compass.

But when he stepped up to the register, the man told him there was a Cr 10 transfer fee.  Zach said, "Then I won't buy the compass." and the man angrily said, "But you are exchanging money!"  Zach threatened to find another store and the man argued, "I already rang it up!"  Zach answered, "Tough!  You should have mentioned the fee earlier."  The man said, "Well, Fine!  Get out of my store!" and Zach answered, "Fine!" as he set the compass on the counter.

Looking down at the now very worried thirteen year old, Zach said, "We'll find another store."  As he led the girl out of the store, the man followed yelling insults all the way.  Even Zach's crowd of curious on lookers made way and backed off.  Once out the door, Zach started walking away and asked the girl keeping up with him if there was a bank nearby?  Behind him, he could hear the store owner, who had started calling for the police.

The girl said she knew where the bank was and Zach asked her to take him there.  They started moving as she led him off, only to be stopped by the police a few minutes later.  One officer was talking into his radio as the other stopped them saying, "Sir, you match the description of someone who has had a complaint lodged against him."  Zach didn't even bother considering the odds there might be more than one seven foot tall thin interstellar visitor in the city.

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Next: Fines, Judgements And Measurements