1. #3771
    jahura's Avatar Senior Member
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    Sep 2004
    "We'll need grass for it," Z replies, "long grass. I don't think you'll find any outside."

    Jahura's hand ****ps the back of her neck. "Sheol, you're right," she says, "we may have to import it."

    "Well, why don't you just..." Zander spreads out his hands in a grand gesture. Jahura raises a brow.

    "And why don't you just grab a pen and write some grassy garhohevtee into the back of our Relto book? It's just that easy, isn't it?"

    "Jahura!" Zander is taken aback by Jahura's sarcastic outburst.

    Jahura's head tilts downward, eyes to the food on the floor at her feet.
    "I'm sorry. That was disrespectful. This whole mess is getting to me. We're surrounded in disrespect."
    She picks up her head and looks around with a contemptuous glare.

    "Well, we'll be done soon enough." Zander reassures her, "and back to the usual misadventures."

    Jahura chuckles.

    J calls down the stairwell.
    "I think I know where a linking book is."

    Jahura responds, "do you see it?"

    "No," J replies, "but there's this link sound to my left and the pile shifts downward a bit every couple of minutes."

    No need for further comment was necessary. Four sets of hands soon start grabbing things and tossing them out the door of the hut.
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  2. #3772
    Amid cries of "What the heek is this??" and "Ewwww!" (or "Urgh!" in the case of the Nyronds) the pile rapidly shrinks, and reveals...

    "Gira," J sighs, relieved. "Okay, maybe this is the only Age it got to."

    "You forget the A&C," Z points out. "Though that might be just the effect of these two."

    "On behalf of both of us, I'd just like to say 'oi!'" Zander says.

    "Well, it certainly wasn't us," Z retorts.

    "ANyway," Zander says with considerable attack, "Now we have Gira, the influx will stop there--I hope--and we can get through to Kemo and harvest some grass for the thatch. I have no idea how you thatch something, but I think I remember having a book about it somewhere stop groaning Z. I suggest, in line with my original plon, that Jahura and I concentrate on that, and on finding the remaining books, while you two, if you are agreeable, go find either the hotel or some friends, or of course both. But before we do any of that, since we now have three books to the same Relto, let's try turning off the rain again and see if the majority rules. Okay?"

    Jahura nods, and J and Z reluctantly assent. They open their books and touch the rain symbol simultaneously. It fades to dark green in all the books, and does not glow again.

    Zander lets out a long breath. "Thank gods for that."

    Z picks his way carefully up the now even more cluttered steps. "Um," he says. "I don't want to--as it were--rain on your parade, but it's still raining."

    "What?" Zander looks panic-stricken for a moment, then his brow clears. "Of course. We have to link out and then in again."

    "All three of us?"

    "I think so."

    Quickly, one by one, they link to Eder Gira--where, as far as anyone can tell, the garbage has indeed stopped appearing--and then back. The sun shines down on a soggy, junk-strewn, but rain-free Relto.

    "This doesn't take thatching off the table entirely," Zander says, "but it does put it well down the list, below book- and friend-finding. Also it means we can dry the grass, which I think is one of the steps. Are we all up for that?"

    Jahura, listening to him, is sensitive to the almost subliminal undertones in his voice. Zander is stressed out, near breaking point, holding on by the sheer force of his will. She understands; the enormity of their lapse has taken its toll on her as well.

    "Come on, sweetie," she says, taking his arm. "Let's sort some piles. You two, you know what needs to be done. Please...don't be long."
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  3. #3773
    jahura's Avatar Senior Member
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    Sep 2004
    Jahura smiles sadly as she lets go of a moldy nightgown and watches it waft downward into the purple clouds below. Although the 'keep' pile in the center of the island is considerable, Zander has been flinging over odds and ends with relish.

    At least that's doing something for his stress
    , Jahura thinks to herself.

    KI 2 KI J to jahura
    What are we supposed to do with all this stuff?

    Jahura shuts her eyes tightly for a moment, resisting temptation to micromanage.

    KI 2 KI jahura to J Throw it in the river for all I care.

    Soon, Z sends a message to Zander.

    KI 2 KI Z to Zander Nyrond This grass, right?

    An image from Z soon arrives.

    Zander's KI-less hand strokes his beard, thoughtfully. Of course, this was Shomat's personal garden, and the grass would be perpetually finely manicured. That grass would not do at all. They needed tall grass, straw, or reeds of some sort. On the other hand...

    KI 2 KI Zander Nyrond to Z Yes, precisely. We need three or four fifty pound bags of the stuff. Do you have anything to thresh it with?

    KI 2 KI Z to Zander Nyrond I have my pocket knife with me. I think that should do.

    Zander smiles an evil grin.
    KI 2 KI Zander Nyrond to Z Splendid. Keep me posted. Zander out.

    He feels a pang of guilt as he lowers his hand, but it is soon dissipated by a pang of something else as he watches Jahura donned in a huge brimmed floppy straw hat hurl a box of items over the side and shout, "buh-bye!"

    She really looks cute in that hat.
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  4. #3774
    Wait a second.

    Did I send them to...?

    Zander puts a hand to his head. Then he shakes it and dismisses the momentary worry. Everything's fine.

    "I wonder how Hugh's doing?" he says, discarding a full set of telephone directories for South Cheshire from 1983. At least it does seem possible to throw things off without them coming back, though if there is land down there it might just be shifting the problem...

    "Call him up and find out?" Jahura suggests, half turning with a hand raised to keep her hat on. Another pang goes through Zander, and quickly he raises his KI and takes a picture.

    "What was that for?" Jahura says.

    "Just catching a moment," Zander says. "Making up for lost time."

    She laughs and turns away to discard a box of broken plastic robots into the--hopefully--illimitable depths below.

    KI 2 KI Zander to Hugh Sacristan

    How are you getting on?


    KI 2 KI Hugh Sacristan to Zander:

    Not. Speedy really knows how to disappear when she wants to. Though considering the number of universes this place touches on, I have a feeling finding her might be a little above my pay grade. Also, something rather odd happened a while ago while I was trying to get a signal. I think the hotel's been moving around--or been moved, and I don't know why or by whom.

    Basically all I can do here is mark time till somebody turns up. Unless you want me to start sorting out your room?


    KI 2 KI Zander to Hugh Sacristan

    No. Don't do that. We'll get to it when we find our linking book. But do let us know if anyone turns up, and ask them if they'd be willing to help us here. This is a big job. How are you getting on?

    Zander looks at the last line and tuts at himself. Memory going. He deletes the question and turns back to the culling.
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  5. #3775
    jahura's Avatar Senior Member
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    Sep 2004
    "So, how's Hugh? Did he make it out okay?"

    Zander looks up from his KI. "No, he's still there. He seems to be all right and standing by, although he suspects the hotel may be moving about on its own."

    "Really." Jahura replies, "it just grew legs and started walking around, or something? Not that it would surprise me."

    "I'm not sure what he means by that, actually." There's slight concern in his voice. "only that he's marking time until someone shows up. Also another odd thing - did you happen to see Z and J link out of here? The three of us went to Gira, then we came back to fix the rain, and now Z is in Kemo where I seem to have placed him on a red herring errand I wouldn't do to my worst enemy."

    Jahura frowns, "what do you mean?"

    Zander shows her the KI messages.

    "Odd. Really odd. Inconsistent, to be more accurate." Jahura responds after a moment, "something or someone perhaps is not paying attention." She takes the floppy hat off her head and tosses it like a Frisbee over the edge.

    "I'm beginning to think lack of attention is what's going on here. Everyone gets involved with their own thing and other things get left behind or neglected. Devolution in process."

    "That sounds a bit like blame, Jahura." Zander replies.

    ""It does." Jahura nods in agreement. "There is. I'm to blame for all this, for example." Her arm makes a sweeping gesture at the debris. "I didn't care enough to keep things in order, and now it's all a big jumble of - what? You were right, you know. I could snap my fingers and it would all be gone if I really wanted to do that and hang the consequences. I'm kidding myself about the thatching, we could repair that roof same way we did with the rain. I'm to blame for Z and J, and the Hotel seems to be doing just fine without us."

    "So - what now? Do we keep at this?"

    "You don't have to do anything you don't want to," Jahura says to him, "so if you would rather keep Hugh company or something I would understand. I know you're very stressed right now and that could be part of the reason for inconsistency. But right now I owe a couple of clones an apology and then it's on to facing reality."

    "Don't shuttle me off so easily," Zander replies, "it doesn't work like that."

    Jahura turns toward the doors of the hut. "I'm not shuttling you off. Not at all. I've missed you too terribly to do that. But someone around here has got to start caring before the whole thing falls into the Cleft." She walks to the doorway and steps through.
    "Now where was the last place I had my Relto book?"
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  6. #3776
    KI to KI
    Angie Eagle to Jo Tyler


    Sorry, Jo - no sign of the Hotel here.


    KI to KI
    Jo Tyler to TOOO


    Sorry, TOOO: the Hotel hasn't returned. It can't just get up and walk away, can it?


    KI to KI
    TOOO to Jo Tyler


    Stranger things have happened, Jo. Are you familiar with the story of Baba Yaga?


    The Infirmary Age

    Despite all the efforts of the healers here, they had merely postponed the inevitable. The creature inside Carlota Staralla had returned. But this time, the Change felt Different - less chaotic. It was as if the process had finally gotten its act together. She didn't feel like the horrible monster she was before. This body felt a little more... streamlined.

    She dared herself to face the mirror. The image staring back was that of a bahro.

    All she could do was wail in that strange chittering language of these creatures. Until she looked closer. I thought bahro had blue eyes? I still have my brown ones! That's Something, isn't it?
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  7. #3777
    "You know it's not just you, my love," Zander says, following her down the stairs, and steadying her when a pile of birdwatching magazines slides under her hand. "We are one, and at least half of this stuff is mine. You aren't responsible for making my mess, especially if I'm doing things in my sleep, and we're both going to clear it all up. What was bothering me was that I could have sworn I was sending Z and J off to find some help, not to get grass." He looks around at the piles and starts sorting.

    "You did," Jahura says firmly. "I was here. What the heek happened?"

    "Something is preventing us from contacting anyone else." Zander frowns at the object in his hands. "A euphonium? I can't even play brass instruments."

    "I remember that one. You said you liked the shapes and you were going to polish it up and paint it."

    "But I can't paint either." Regretfully, he puts the instrument on the discard pile.

    "You wanted to learn. All this free time, you said, so much we can do." Jahura sighs. "I can't remember ever having free time."

    Zander's KI beeps.

    KI 2 KI Z to Zander

    Oi, Grampy. This stuff won't work for thatching. How about I get some of the bamboo stalks and we see about weaving a whole new roof?

    "It's affecting them as well. Grandiose and unrealistic intentions, no stamina to follow through." Zander shows Jahura the message. "If I said yes, we'd have a whole lot of bamboo here that we'd never do anything with."

    KI 2 KI Zander to Z

    Never mind that now. Did I ask you and J to go find us some forumites to help?

    The response comes back swiftly.

    She says she can't. High Path doesn't work like that. And anyway, she's not your tame sheepdog, and neither am I. Go yourself.

    "Well, that told me," Zander says ruefully, but Jahura is already typing.

    KI 2 KI Jahura to Z

    Is there a Nexus book in Gira?

    Zander looks at Jahura admiringly. "I never thought of that. Nexus to the city or the hood. There's bound to be someone there, or even if not they can leave a message on the imager. Darling, you're a genius. We'll beat this thing yet."


    Hugh tries once again. It's no good. He can't seem to register where the hotel is. Every time he tries to look around, he finds himself looking at the ground, or back at the hotel.

    "This is ridiculous," he mutters, as he holds his KI hand up and snaps a picture of whatever it is he cannot look at.
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  8. #3778
    jahura's Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    KI 2 KI J to jahura

    As a matter of fact, we just found it laying under a faded Pink Floyd The Wall T-shirt. Too small to be Zander's, must be yours. When were you ever into them?? Whatever, yeah, there's a Nexus book here.

    KI 2 KI Z to jahura

    Yes, there is. Don't pile anything more on it. It may be weeks before that burning smell blows away.

    Jahura frowns in puzzlement. Burning smell? Oh, yes, she told J to throw it all in the lava river.

    KI 2 KI jahura to Z
    Can you check the other Ages via the Nexus to see if any of them have been affected?

    KI 2 KI jahura to j
    Can you check the other Ages via the Nexus to see if any of them have been affected?

    After a long moment, Jahura's KI beeps in response.

    KI 2 KI Z to jahura

    Don't you think we have enough to do cleaning up your mess here and in the Relto? Like I said to your mate there we're not your lackeys and we're busy as it is. You want to check on things or go find help do it yourself. That's final.

    Jahura's jaw drops slightly in disbelief. A low rumble on the moon side echoes in the distance. Zander checks his rain page to be sure it hasn't reactivated, then places his arm around her shoulders in a comforting gesture, anticipating a storm of fire and brimstone. Jahura clicks her bezel once and then starts turning furiously.

    KI 2 The Institution from jahura


    Zander's KI beeps and shows the message Jahura had just sent.

    "Dear one," Zander says, "was it really necessary to broadcast that over the Neighborhood channel?"

    "Saves me from having to type it twice," Jahura replies with a shrug. "Besides, who else is going to read it and think it's about them? They're involved in their own adventures."
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  9. #3779
    An atavistic chill runs down Hugh's spine as he reads the message on his KI. Then he shrugs.

    "Can't be for me," he says to himself. "I'm not one of two anything, except with Jo, and she's back in England."

    He looks around. The act of taking the picture seems to have broken the compulsion, and the hotel's surroundings are clear. It appears to have manifested on a low hill on the outskirts of a flourishing coastal town. The technology is pre-gunpowder but post-Iron Age, the climate warm but not excessively so. Ships are bobbing at anchor in the harbour, single-sailed affairs with one, two or three rows of oars, and small fishing boats in profusion. And off in the middle distance, a thin plume of smoke drifts lazily from the top of a mountain.

    Hugh notes a sign carved into a stone by the roadside. POMPEII AVRIGAS CVRIOSAS EXSPECTAT.

    "Great," he mutters. "I'm in at the ground floor of the pumice stone market."
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  10. #3780
    jahura's Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Eder Gira

    Z senses a chill down his spine as he reads the message on his KI. J, on the other hand, starts to spark with anger.

    "Oh yeah?" She mutters, "two can play that game, hon."

    "J - " Z starts, "don't - "

    J starts typing.

    KI 2 The Institution from J

    Well listen to you Miss High And Mighty. Yeesha would be so proud. Oh wait she has this THING about pride. Sounds like someone needs to redo their Journey again.

    Z recoils in response to J's broadcast.
    "Are you insane?" He cries.
    "I know her." J replies calmly, "she'll balk."

    Zander and Jahura's Relto

    Another boom echoes through the skies, a bit closer than before. Zander tuts at the KI message. Jahura immediately starts spinning her bezel.

    KI 2 The Institution from jahura

    If I had known you would turn out so rude I never would have grown you in the first place. Three...

    "Jahura," Zander says, "think about this."

    Eder Gira

    "J, this is suicide! Is that what you want? Please, just apologize, let's go back to the Relto and we'll talk about it like adults!" Z's face is a portrait of desperation.

    "Like I said," J replies while typing, "I know her. Relax. Here's the pitch - " She presses SEND.

    KI 2 The Institution from J

    So take us out and YOU can explain it to AM. At least we won't have to. Four.

    Z also starts typing on his KI furiously.

    KI 2 KI Z to jahura

    At least let us remove our belongings before before you zap us into quarks.

    J's hand reaches outward and grabs hold of Z's as she closes her eyes and silently prays.

    KI 2 KI jahura to Z

    You have one yahr.

    At least that bought us a D'ni day, Z thinks with a sigh, now to prepare a Spiel.

    Pompeii, 21 November, 79 A.D.

    On the road below, Hugh spies a toga-clad man leading a laden donkey in the direction of the town. He side-steps into a nearby clump of bushes so as not to be seen in his strange attire. The man and beast casually pass without so much as looking upward, but the toga he wears heightens Hugh's suspicions about what may be possibly happening here.

    He looks back at the entrance of the Hotel.
    "At least there's no shortage of clean sheets," he grumbles.
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