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Reality Fault

Traveling in Style, if not Comfort

    The morning dawns clear and bright, and the trolls are up and about quite early. Fires are lit and food is prepared, sending delicious scents across the little meadow. Hallifred and Katla are over under the truck which got stuck in the mud, checking out its undercarriage. Nobody else pays any attention to the trucks yet.

Kerry flits over to peer under the truck with the trolls. He's been wondering how they put things together... Feina stays curled up a long time, before peeking out of her bedroll, then finally moving over and sitting very close to the warmth of the fire, not having bothered yet to put any clothes on. She looks like she slept all right, but is a little unhappy about the upcoming day. The boisterous trolls don't seem to help her feel better.

Douglas stands, stretching and yawning a little. The ride certainly could have been better. Then again, he somehow managed to sleep through most of it, sans a bit of queasiness. So much for the Big-Time Cougar Hero! he thinks jokingly to himself. He's in a fair good mood; they're heading towards the culmination of their quest, after all. He glances towards Feina's bedroll, a look of concern passing his brow as he considers something, a look that stays with him as he wanders over towards the truck the two trolls are working on. Hallifred is under the truck, and says something to Katla, who grins and says, "Ja, it look okay this time." Neither of them notices Kerry's quiet arrival.

Vash wakes up slowly, opening one eye and glancing around. He sits up very gradually, rubbing his eyes on the heels of his hands. The raging headache from yesterday has subsided, at least. It's something. He scratches the back of his head plates, glancing around for each of his crew. Everyone seems okay thus far. "Hey, Feina. You okay, niña?"

Kawaii sticks close to Sakura, apparently not much happier than the native vixen. Feina looks up at Vash, apparently unsure quite what to make of his question. She nods mutely and says, "Yes sir."

Vash says, "How are you feeling?"

Feina swallows, and says, "I'm all right now, sir." She doesn't say anything else, but glances towards the trucks with obvious misgivings.

Vash smiles a little and moves closer to the little vixen, and gently places a hopefully reassuring hand on her shoulder. "Thanks for toughing it out with us so far. There anything I can do?"

Feina shakes her head, obviously with an effort, and says, "The machines are uncomfortable. Hallifred is right, it's just for a few days."

Vash nods, and curls his arm around her shoulders. "I understand. You wanna get up and take a walk around the camp? Might help you get moving."

Feina nods and stands up, stretching. She says a little trepidatiously, "I don't know how much breakfast I'll want to eat, though," and makes a face.

Vash grins, and stands up as well. He doesn't bother to pull his jumpsuit on; it's still cool yet. "Yeah... me either. That was a hellacious ride, and I'm used to the damn things." He grins, and walks off with the vixen.

Kerry peers at the undercarriage and remembers something. "What's okay? What are you looking for?"

Katla grins toothily and says, "Hiya, battie!" Hallifred says, "Look at suspension. Make sure not broken by torque from towing from mud." Hallifred acknowledges Douglas with a grin but gets back to looking at the underpinnings of the truck. The trucks seem to be made of cast-iron with some steel. Big plates make up the beds, and strong bars the axles and leaf springs. The bolts and pins which hold it all together in a confusing mess seem to be made of steel, or some other metal besides iron. The trucks look pretty sturdy.

Kerry nods. "Ah... I wondered if you were looking for metal fatigue. We've got gadgets that use sound to check for that before it gets bad. Same sort of thing as my navigational sense. Maybe we could build one... hmm..."

Douglas returns the grin, and hunkers down to peer at what he can of the undercarriage himself. He's worked on trollish engines before once or twice, but is still amazed by the solidity of their design. "Hallifred? How long have the trolls had engines like this?"

Hallifred answers Douglas' question, "Oh, long time. Two, three generations. Work fine. Build strong to last."

Kerry blinks at Hallifred's comment. Did he mean to say this truck is that old, or just the design? Douglas blinks a little, fretting. "I can see that, definitely!" How long ago did they have the Horn...? "How did you come up with them?"

Katla laughs and says, "According to story, Korval the Ancient see how good some rocks burn, and try to make fire-lighters from. He boiled, and made gas. When gas exploded and blew lid off container, he had inspiration." She looks at Hal and asks, "That what, eight generation ago?" Hallifred answers, "Seven from you."

Douglas chuckles softly. Refining coal... wow, and from there to liquid petroleum. That's pretty amazing work without a chemistry lab! Well, not one that we would recognize. "That must have been an incredible piece of work."

Hallifred shrugs and says, "Once see in motion, just harnessed. Several work on engine, and now it good. Not use too many, even trolls."

Kerry frowns at a thought. "Hallifred... may I ask how long the trolls held the Horn?" Sakura seems to content herself with simply listening to the conversation around her and watching the scenery.

Hallifred says, "Not know. Legend say that chaos had all land in upheaval; madness and upset abound. Horn went from clan to clan, people to people, corrupt each in turn, cause more upset. Remaining people band together and wrest horn from last owner -- entrust to trollkin to hide, not use. Trolls strong enough to hold and keep safe, despite horn's changes. That became troll duty, and that what trolls did."

Kerry skrees, "Long before you started to work with machines, then?"

Douglas squints slightly, peering into the undercarriage. It's really pretty nicely done. There's a small crucible, and a small fire-pot beneath it to produce the gas. Once in motion it's hard to throttle up or down, but it gets the job done without a lot of horrific refining. he glances to Kerry, nodding quietly; he'd been thinking along the same lines.

Hallifred chuckles, "Long before settle into stable clans. This thing old, Kerry."

Douglas nods quietly, letting out a breath. For some reason, I'm glad for that. He stands and glances around, spotting Vash taking a walk with Feina. He nods quietly to himself, before his gaze settles on Sakura. He excuses himself from the trolls and Pilot, and meanders over to Sakura. "Doctor..." he says quietly, "-may I speak with you about something?"

Kerry looks relieved. "That's good to know. I was afraid that the Horn was somehow trying to convert Crossroads to machinery."

Katla sniffs, then grins widely and says, "Smell breakfast." She looks at Hallifred, "Truck okay, ja? Breakfast now." He nods, "Ja, food." The two trolls stand and head back over to the fires, waiting for the spacers to come or not.

The bat looks up at the mention of food. "Sounds good! What's on the menu?"

Sakura tilts her head to the side curiously, and smiles at Douglas. "Yes, of course you may, Douglas-san! Would you like to speak here or would you prefer some privacy?"

Douglas glances over to the cooking fires wryly. Bad timing on my part. He looks to Sakura a little worriedly. "Ah... it may require a bit of privacy, Doctor. Only because I do not know entirely what to make of these thoughts." He glances up and around again. "I am concerned about the young vixen-kit with us. Feina."

Sigwulf is cooking for all the trolls, and feeding the others is no problem at all. He beams toothily at Kerry, "Egg, fry potato, toasty brown bread." He grins cheerfully and offers Kerry a huge wooden plate full of food. Either he genuinely enjoys feeding people, or trolls are just plain happy.

Kerry grins. "Sounds fantastic!" He takes the troll-sized plate and sits down to munch happily.


Vash just walks with Feina a while, making sure she's okay. He's a quiet, reassuring presence, taking care of her like he promised. It's a rather lovely, peaceful morning... they see a few birds, a squirrel... but it seems the noise and smoke of the fires, and probably the big heavy trucks as well, have scared most creatures off.

Eventually Vash notices that the further from the trucks they go, the more at ease Feina is. He nods thoughtfully to himself. He's just going to quietly walk around a while with her, keeping a reassuring arm around her, since that's apparently not extremely taboo and it might be comforting to her... someone close and alive and not-technological. It bothers him that she was so ill -- he's not entirely convinced it was all completely related to the bumpy ride. Perhaps his presence will provide a balancing influence. Also, Vash himself is still getting over his own personal space issues, so he has no trouble with just holding her for a while, trying to help her feel comfortable also. Dryly he notes to himself, Alienating one's native guide would be a bad idea.

After a while Feina relaxes a little. She seems to appreciate Vash's presence, having decided he is very much safe, and begins to point out bits of forest knowledge... plants, places where animals might have burrows, what's good to eat and what's not. Once away from the truck she's brighter and more energetic, and knows a lot about the woods around her. Vash nods and listens and hms interestedly on occasion, determined to be as comforting as possible.

As the two of them get farther out into the woods, Feina gets more involved and exuberant. She drags Vash enthusiastically over to show him interesting things she's found, and is bouncy and full of happy energy. It's different... very upbeat and -- to Vash's way of seeing it -- terribly cute. He carefully doesn't do anything to stifle the bounciness, letting himself be dragged along and paying attention, asking questions and generally just letting her be happy. He's rather concerned about what the trip might do to her, so he tries to take care of her as best he can, by giving her some safe time away from the trucks.


Sakura stands up and grabs her medical bag. She motions off towards the woods and grins at Douglas, "Step into my office."

Douglas blinks, and laughs softly. "I haven't heard that since visiting the Stamford dispensary," he says quietly, then sobers as he walks with Sakura. "Doctor... I don't know how well you know Larrikan's people, but... well, I remember him being extremely uncomfortable about technology, from several things he said. Dr. Zildjian had said that technology and magic work differently, and they're almost antithetical to each other here. Magic has a negative effect on technology, like with the compasses, as we've seen. But, as we've been told, technology has a negative effect on magic." He glances around for Feina, looking as extremely discomfited as he has ever yet appeared. "Doctor... I worry that Feina's discomfort is more than just motion sickness. I think that... somehow... proximity to a machine is... antithetical... to her nature."

Sakura nods at Douglas, "I know that Larrikan is not very comfortable around technology. Do you know if we have much further to go before we reach our destination?

Douglas shakes his head quietly. "I don't know, Doctor. I think three or four more days. But once we get there, then we'll have to return to the University... in the Alshain. And... once we get to Drekaris... well, we don't know how much technology is being used by that madman." He pauses, then murmurs softly, "And... I'm sorry if this hurts you, Doctor, but... we have been told that Nippon in this universe had an... infatuation with technology. And that it destroyed magic in that realm. If Larrikan's people are, as I seem to recall them being referred to as, spirit-foxes given form..."

Sakura frowns, pausing in her steps. "Oh dear. I hadn't even considered that... how shortsighted of me. Of course it would hurt her."

Douglas sighs softly, rubbing his brow. "I hadn't thought of it either, Doctor. I don't think any of us did." He looks around for Vash. "Except that maybe Captain is starting to see it as well -- he was talking with Feina earlier. I feel rather bad about this. We simply do not know what technology will do to Larrikan's people, and I don't think Feina knows enough herself."

Sakura sighs, "And we've come too far to turn back now... maybe we could do part of our journey on foot to help?"

Douglas nods quietly, "That would be wise as it is, I think. It occurs to me that Drek-" He blinks and looks around. In a more cautious tone, "It occurs to me that the one we're looking for would be alerted by the movement of troll trucks..." He pauses for a moment, rolling that phrase around in his mind a bit, then shakes himself and focusses, darnit. "We'll have to go most of the way there on foot, but the less time we spend on the trucks the better." He glances back at the three flatbeds, then grins to the fox. "Besides... nothing against them, I think they're great, but they aren't exactly fission-core cross-country prime movers."

Sakura nods at Douglas, "Agreed, Douglas-san... and it would be better for the kitsune as well. I'd hate for something to happen to her."

Douglas nods quietly and emphatically. "We should probably tell Captain and Pilot."

Sakura nods at Douglas. "I'll speak to the captain, if you'd like..."

Douglas nods soberly. "And I'll inform Pilot. Should we..." He glances to the trolls. "Should we tell them, or would that just thoroughly embarrass the poor girl?"

Douglas nods to Sakura, then his nose twitches slightly. "We'd best go back; not good form to miss breakfast. And believe me, trollish cooking is something to experience..."

Sakura grins at Douglas, "Lead on, Douglas-san." Douglas grins and bows to the vixen, then meanders through the brush and forest with her back to the troll camp, keeping an eye out for Vash and Feina.


The trolls are a happy, laughing bunch, and sit and eat cheerfully well through the morning. No one seems in any great hurry to move on or go anywhere, and there's a number of rounds of laughter, often because of a cheerfully dirty joke, at least one of which sounds quite painful to the other travelers, but the trolls find hilarious. Katla grins toothily at Kerry, and asks, "So, you ask how long we had trucks. How long you have machines? I hear you have machine to fly. How old it?"

Kerry grins and pulls out his datapad. "Well, we've had flying machines for about 400 years now." He pulls up a picture of the Wright Flyer. "That's one of the first ones. Alshain herself is only about a dozen or so years old, and our main spaceship about twenty-five. Our folk try to fiddle with things, make improvements, so after a while the older machines are just placed in museums."

Katla looks kind of surprised, "Ship only dozen years old? You trust so young?" She seems impressed or... something.

Kerry nods to Katla. "Well, we've had ships like Alshain for much longer. She's just a new one."

Katla nods and says, "Ja, ja. But go out in new ship? How sure it safe?"

Kerry chuckles. "For our way of thinking a dozen years is time and enough to test. She's safe enough." He remembers something he read once. "Keero hasty folk, yes."

Katla hmms, then says, "They call troll crazy," and grins widely. Thorkel, Ingrid, and Dotta all chuckle.

Kerry looks injured, and gestures floridly with his wings, drawing one up like a cloak. "I have never said such a thing." He chuckles then. "Besides, we're just as crazy as you if crazy it is. Why do something yourself if you can get a machine to do it for you more easily?" Then he remembers something he wanted to ask. "By the by. Katla, can I ask you something about the drakes?" Katla takes a big bite of bread and nods, chewing happily. Kerry skrees, "We were talking to Schnel'pkebaov'qkgard'dow and her mother, and everyone they talked about in the clan was female. Mothers, aunts, and sisters... what do male drakes do?"

Katla shrugs and says, "Not know." She turns to Alfdis, "Ay! Alfdis! What you know about male drake?" The question spreads through the trolls, with friendly curiosity. Hallifred asks, "How you know if drake male or female?" Nobody seems to know that either. Eventually Yngvar reaches the conclusion, "Don't know much about drakes. Only ever seen those two. Usually not so good see them."

Sakura looks back to the camp thoughtfully. "Let's speak with the Captain and the Pilot first..."

Kerry chuckles. "That's a good question too. But that's why I was wondering... they didn't mention anyone at all of their kind who was male. Just a thought. Don't worry about it."

Vash returns just a little before the Doctor and Douglas, being led by a happily bouncing Feina. She seems to be feeling much better now, or at least back to her normal exuberant self. Vash detaches himself from her long enough to get dressed and roll up his sleeping bag. "Go and get some food, niña... you could use it." Feina nods and does so. She decides to get food while she can and pack later, going up and pestering Sigwulf for something. She is happily fed, and winds up leaning comfortably against Hallifred who hardly seems to notice her slight presence. She eats some, but not too much, worried about being sick later.

Sigwulf cheerfully thrusts large plates of egg and potato and big loaves of bread at Douglas and Sakura when they return, "Eat, ja?" Alfdis makes room on her blanket for Douglas, grinning happily (and not without suggestion) at him, while Arnfinn offers Sakura room to sit, with a cheerful and less predatory grin.

Sakura takes the plate that's thrust in her direction and smiles at Sigwulf, bobbing her head, "Thank you!" She settles next to Arnfinn with similar thanks and eats...

Douglas blinks at the heaping pile of food on the plate. Oh, my... and to think that Mom made me clean my plate before she let me leave the table. I'm gonna pay for that now. Thanks a lot, Mom... He thinks it wryly, though, and without rancor, smiling to Sigwulf. "Ja, thank you, this looks great!" He doesn't really hesitate to settle down near Alfdis, hoping against hope that she isn't going to propose anything... Alfdis doesn't much propose anything, but she does sort of scoot over next to Douglas and run her fingers happily through his fur. Arnfinn keeps his hands to himself, although he does admire Sakura curiously.

Sakura sets her plate of food down half eaten, and passes the Dramamine out to her crewmates -- and especially to Feina, urging them to take it with a little water before they finish eating. Kerry skrees, "Ah... a very good idea. Don't want to waste breakfast again."

Feina smiles, "Thank you, Sakura." She looks quite grateful; even though it didn't make her completely better yesterday, it helped. Every little bit helps.

Douglas gratefully accepts the motion-sickness pill, glancing a bit worriedly towards Feina. It helped her somewhat yesterday, he thinks, downing the medicine, so it can't do much harm if at all. He blinks then and stretches a little, giving a bit of a buzzing purr before realizing that he's supposed to be eating, not getting distracted by a troll. He gives a sheepish grin to Alfdis. Alfdis giggles and continues rubbing Douglas' ears, saying, "Nice kitty!" and grinning happily at him.

Douglas blinks in surprise, unable to keep himself from really enjoying the rubbing... For once, darn this genetic heritage... 'Nice kitty?' Good heavens... it just occurred to me, what kind of pets do trolls keep...? The sudden image of five-hundred pound saber-tooth tigers, built like nuclear reactor cores and inexplicably 'bouncy' and happy, comes unbidden to his mind.

Vash sits down to breakfast as well, looking fairly well rested and in decent spirits, the bumpy ride not seeming to have affected him extremely. He eats hungrily, noting that troll-sized portions are another thing he finds he likes about these folk. He swallows his pill with a nod of thanks, seemingly concentrating on his food. Sakura finishes passing out the pills, then takes one herself and settles down to finish her meal. Then, when she finishes up her eating, she goes to look for Hallifred, as he seems the best one to talk to about this.

Hallifred is sitting near the fire, relaxing contentedly. Feina is still leaning on him, filled with curiosity as she listens to the trolls talk about everything. Sakura sits down in front of Hallifred and half-bows to him, "Hallifred, may I ask you a question?"

Hallifred looks over and smiles, "Ja, pretty vixen-doctor." Feina smiles brightly at Sakura. She apparently likes the older vixen too.

Sakura smiles at Feina. "Feina-san has been quite ill in the back of the truck and I'm a little concerned about her. I wonder if it would be too much trouble for her to ride in the front? I hope that it will help her feel less sick."

Feina looks quite surprised at this suggestion, "In the front?" She looks at Hallifred quite nervously.

Sakura smiles at Feina. "Feina-san... I think this will help you be less sick. I'm worried about you, and as a doctor I want to help you feel better."

Hallifred says, "Not know. We ask drivers." He sits up and calls, "Ay! Dotta, Thora!" When he has their attention, he says, "You have room for little vixen in front? Maybe she be less sick if she looking forwards."

The two trollish women look at each other. Dotta shrugs and Thora says, "Ja, that good." She flashes a toothy grin, "Want learn drive, Feina?"

Kerry chirrips at that. "I don't think she has the muscle to steer a truck."

Feina yips and looks slightly mortified, shaking her head 'no' quite rapidly. After regaining a little of her composure, she squeaks, "No, thank you." The two trolls chuckle, and Thora says, "Okay." She tells Hallifred, "Is good, ja."

Hallifred says, patting the little vixen gently, "If you not like, you come back, ja? Is easy. Want make feel better, not worse." He tries to smile reassuringly at her. It's hard to say how reassuring having a mostly-jagged-stone creature three times your size grin at you with pointed teeth is, but Feina nods.

Shortly before noon, at some signal the others miss, the trolls suddenly pick up activity and break camp down, loading the baggage truck back up. Hallifred calmly blots out the fire -- he just uses one of his hands -- then says, "Okay, we go, ja? Back to trucks." People load back up in the same groups as before. Feina sits up front, between the two troll women. The one driving has her hands full of throttle and steering tiller, but the other leans back comfortably on a box, and keeps a companionable arm around Feina, saying, "Relax. Safe here, ja?"

Kerry settles on the overhead strut again, wrapping his wings up and chirring to himself, with a comfortable, full belly. Maybe I can sleep today... Sakura settles into the back of the truck and lays down to try to avoid getting sick this time. Douglas clambers up onto the truck and moves towards the front of the flatbed, as close as he can to where Feina is sitting, smiling to her pleasantly, -without showing the teeth, Doug, remember that, as he settles in for the trip. He's half-bracing himself, half lying on the bed, preparing for the next leg of the journey. Vash checks to see that the vixen is properly situated up front with the drivers, then circles around, hoisting himself up on the fender. He settles in flat against the bed again, and closes his eyes. Happy thoughts, Vashti. Happy thoughts.

Dotta gives Feina a reassuring grin, then gets out to crank the big motor over. A couple of sharp yanks has it running under its own power, as its little pilot-boiler fire has been lit for long enough for there to be gas. She hops up onto the truck and pulls a lever. With a grind, the transmission engages and the truck begins to move forwards, accelerating only slowly. She adjusts gas input, air mixture, and gear easily. Steering is apparently the least of her worries.

The ride is just as bumpy as it was yesterday, and the truck rocks and sways unpleasantly again. The trolls hang on and don't complain, and Feina clings to the strap she's been given, and to Thora, who doesn't seem to mind a bit. Kerry dozes off comfortably, the pill and a day to get used to the motion having done wonders for his stomach. He sways back and forth on his overhead beam as the truck bounces, not seeming to mind the motion at all.

Douglas rubs the back of his head slightly as they travel through the day. The ride is no different from the day before, and aside from an odd sensation from the bed of the truck itself, and a headache, he doesn't notice anything amiss. It must be the vibrations from the engine, he thinks. He glances rather enviously at the dozing Keero, then grimaces slightly and puts his hand to his head again, muttering softly. Sakura doesn't have nearly as much trouble with motion sickness today, even if she does feel a little "tingly" from the trucks still. She stares upwards into the sky, looking thoughtful, as though she were chewing on the solution to a difficult problem.

Vash lies facedown on the bed, watching a sliver of passing scenery through a gap in the skirts. The position definitely helps, though the occasional meeting of his head with the bed floor as the truck hits a good bump is starting to give him a mild headache. He shrugs it off and daydreams a little bit, wondering if it's a bad sign that he thinks he's starting to like this tingly feeling from all the vibration.

Just a few minutes into the ride, there's a little commotion as Thora helps Feina into the back of the truck. The vixen doesn't look green today, but does look very unhappy. Hallifred watches, but doesn't say anything. Thora is saying, "S'all right. Engine bothers people. You okay back here, ja."

Sakura smiles at Feina and pats the blanket next to her. "I'm sorry that it didn't work, Feina." Feina nods, and sits down next to Sakura, snuggling up against the other vixen and trying not to look terrified, and not to cling to her. Words elude her for a bit. Vash sits up a bit as the vixen clambers into the back, rubbing his temple a little absently... then moves over a bit and lies down again, close to Sakura's blanket. He gives the little one a sympathetic grin, and settles down so that he can keep one eye on her.

Douglas blinks, looking up to Feina and perking his ears at Thora's explanation. Is that a common thing? he wonders, still struggling with his headache and shifting a bit uncomfortably in his seat. I mean... it's only an engine run by gas boiled off from coal, nothing unusual. Well, horribly unusual. Would it be bothering us in the same way as it would her?

Sakura lifts her paw and scratches behind Feina's ear, trying to calm the frightened girl. The gentle rubbing helps relax Feina, and she tries to be brave. She gives Vash a little smile, murmuring, "It's so loud. I don't like it." Having so said, she hides in Sakura's fur. Sakura grins at Vash over Feina's shoulder. She just lets the girl stay as close as she'd like and keeps scritching behind her ear, hoping that it will calm her enough to go to sleep...

Vash smiles a little. "Try not to think about it, niña... remember, we're gonna walk tomorrow, like I promised. Think about that instead." He glances up to the Doctor, mouthing, "You okay?"

Sakura smiles and nods at Vash, mouthing, "I'm fine."

Vash nods, "Good. Here if you need me." He pats the little one's shoulder gently, then settles back down to the floor, closing his eyes.

Hallifred goes back to sleep. The trucks drive along the river for a while, then turn along the edge of a stream, using its break in the woods to make good progress for a while. They then have to creep and meander slowly through denser forest, and over some rocks. As time passes, Feina seems to relax a little. The rocks startle her; she jumps a little and winds up climbing into Sakura's lap, presuming the doctor doesn't seem to mind. Sakura doesn't seem to mind at all... she half-smiles at the vixen, managing to top it off with a half-concerned look.

Feina does finally manage to go to sleep, despite the rocking of the truck and the occasionally tortured noise from the transmission as gears must be changed in difficult places to get the drive wheels unstuck from rocks, and the truck has to back out of the occasional dead-end in the trees. The afternoon progresses, maddeningly slowly because of the rocking motion, although most manage to doze off at times, getting used to it. Hallifred and Kerry sleep rather contentedly through it. Douglas keeps his attention divided between the route and the truck itself, trying to distract himself from the buzzing feeling and the headache, somewhat unsuccessfully. He begins to consider their courses of action once they have to go on foot.

Sakura sits up, looking a little startled... almost as if whatever problem she was chewing on just bit back. "Vash-san... Douglas-san... if technology makes magical creatures sick... and it's making her sick," she says, pointing emphatically to the just-startled-awake kitsune, "Why on earth is it making us sick?"

Vash passes the time quietly, drifting in and out of light sleep. He does bounce again, once, as the truck frees itself from some rocks; Sakura gets a good glimpse of his face as it flashes past. He doesn't look quite so surprised this time... so much as somewhat resigned to the whims of gravity. He gives up on napping, sitting up slowly and rubbing the stinging side of his face. Catching the doctor's expression, he moves a little closer to be better heard over the engine. "I thought it was motion-sickness..."

Douglas manages (in between the little kitten of his mind seeming to beat his temples with its sledgehammer tail) to notice Sakura's sudden startlement. He frowns at her question as he sits up worriedly. "Same here... I thought it was motion sickness myself, but then again I've been having this wierd buzzing feeling, and a headache..."

Sakura looks at Vash, shaking her head, "I gave you Dramamine. That should have taken care of it and more!"

Vash looks around. "What are they burning for fuel, anyway?"

Kerry stirs at the talking, the last jolt having roused him a bit. "Hmmm?"

Sakura says, "Kerry-san... why did you get so sick the other day? Motion sickness... I don't believe that for a second. You're a bat and a pilot... so what happened?"

Douglas says, "What aren't they burning? They're using wood to boil a water-coal mixture, making coal gas, which they burn in an internal-combustion engine. That's how the last troll engine I looked at was running."

Vash squints. "Are you sure that's just coal?"

Douglas coughs. "Reasonably sure. It's, erm, acting like coal..."

Kerry nods. "I've been thinking about that, and today seems to make sense. I was the sickest of all of you yesterday, and I spent both the previous nights... umm... let's just say I may have been absorbing magic from the background. If it's worn off by now, maybe the tech isn't affecting me any more." He sighs at a lost opportunity. "I should have tried flying. Maybe I can arrange for the same charge-up again."

Vash says, "Not that way, I don't think. You nearly didn't survive the last one."

Kerry winks at Vash. "Not the trolls, mon Capitán."

Vash says, "Good thing."

Sakura looks at the kitsune girl. "Feina-san... how much do you know about how magic works?" She thinks, I wish Larrikan were here. I bet he could answer... I bet I wouldn't feel half as crummy if he were here... Douglas arches an eyebrow slowly at Kerry... then decides not to ask, and not to make any sort of issue about it. I'd be too easy a target... He sits up a little more and focuses his attention on Sakura and Feina.

Feina yawns and stretches a little, snuggling back into Sakura's fur. Realizing she's being asked a question, she blinks and says, "Mrrf? Uh," and thinks about it before she answers, "I don't know. I don't know if anyone knows how magic works."

Sakura says, "Do you know if someone from a technological culture can absorb magical energy over time?"

Feina shakes her head, "I don't know. Never met someone from Nippon."

Sakura smiles, "Thanks anyways, Feina-san." She lies back down, apparently content to have planted the idea in everyone's minds, so she's not the only one losing sleep over it. Kerry settles back down to nap some more. Vash shrugs and lies back down. That might be advanced topics for the little one. Oh well, whatever. No point in worrying now... everyone here's been... taking in the local culture. If it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen.

Feina nods, "Uh. Okay," and looks around. She doesn't look perky and chipper like she usually does, but isn't green around the gills, either. She closes her eyes and curls back up with Sakura, perhaps hoping to sleep through her discomfort. Douglas frets slightly as he lies back down, resting his head on his arm to cushion it against the flatbed. He hopes Feina will be all right for the trip once the set out on foot; she seemed to revivify once she got back from the walk in the forest with Vash that morning.

It's not long after this discussion drifts off that one of the drivers curses, saying something rather pointed-sounding in trollish that the translators miss. No one's quite sure what, although Hallifred sits up and moves to the front, saying, "What?" and then, "Oh," when he can look ahead. They confer, and Hal sits back down, looking worried.

Vash hrmns. He looks around, noting the sudden appearance of... very light drizzle. He crawls up toward the front of the bed, raising his voice to be heard when he nears Hallifred, "Hey, is something wrong?"

Douglas blinks, looking around in confusion at Hallifred's expression. "What... what is it...?" Sakura's ears droop. Oh great... now it's raining, too.

Hallifred grunts once, and says, "If ground gets muddy, trucks mire easy. If rain continue, must stop." He sniffs at the air and looks out, eyeing things critically... then adds, "Hope shower stop soon."

Vash nods. "Gotcha. Hey, you let us know if there's anything we can do, yeah?"

Kerry nods. "Makes sense. The wheels aren't particularly wide, and we're certainly not on metalled roads."

Douglas blinks... and then realizes that it's drizzling when a drop of water arcs one of his whiskers down a bit. "Oh, dear. Ah... that's bad, right...?"

The rain doesn't stop. In fact, it gets worse, turning from a light drizzle into a good solid rain. Hallifred doesn't have to order a stop because the heavily loaded baggage truck decides to mire, flinging mud into the air and making a good old mess behind it. Happily it's last in line, so no one is splattered. Vash huhs, watching the rear vehicle gutter to a stop. "Well. Guess that means we're stopping for the night."

Kerry skrees, "And we're sleeping in here, too. Gonna be crowded."

Sakura frowns, "Oh dear. What a terrible time for rain."

The trolls park the trucks close to each other, and spread a big canvas cover across all three of them, in an attempt to keep them dry. The last truck barely maneuvers into place before rain gets into its boiler and snuffs its fire, and it's only minutes after that occurs that it loses gas pressure and has little choice in stopping. Hallifred curses quietly, then adds, "Hope rain stop before morning, so will dry."

Feina looks up into the dark afternoon, with layers of canvas stretched overhead, "Sleep here?" She looks mortified at the idea.

Vash says, "We can probably move off into the trees a little if you like, Feina."

Sakura looks over at Vash, "Can we-" she stops and smiles as he has the same idea she did.

Douglas resists the instinctive urge to shake himself dry, and instead settles for trying to paw the water out of his fur. As a cat he doesn't really like the idea of being more wet than need be, and 'drenched' is a bit more than 'need be.' But he only says, "That shouldn't be a problem at all, Captain..."

Vash smiles. "Don't sweat it, Doctora. I'll take her, you guys stay dry, okay?"

Sakura smiles, "Thank you, Vash."

Kerry shrugs. "It's not a problem for me. I've been sleeping most of the afternoon anyway. I can take the watch here."

Vash grins. "Sounds good. C'mon, niña, I'll help you get set up; let the Doctor stretch a little, yeah?"

Alfdis and Thorkel climb over from the other passenger truck and ask Hallifred the same question. For the first time, one of the trolls says, "Don't want to stay in truck all night, Hal! Uncomfortable." Hallifred says, "Damn right. We set up tents, wait this mess out."

Trolls argue a bit, and apparently Thorkel, Styrkar, Arnfinn, and Hallifred drew the short straw or whatever, and get to go out into the rain to set up the big tent that they didn't bother with last night. They know how to do it so it goes up and stays dry inside, but they get quite wet themselves. Once it's up and stable, the other trolls make a dash for it, bringing specific pieces of the baggage. Hallifred comes back to the truck, "Come on. Tent little crowded, but drier and warmer. And softer." He goes to the baggage truck and picks up something heavy, even he grunting at the weight, and hauls it back in to the big tent.

Feina nodnods at Hallifred, and tugs on Sakura's hand, "Let's go!" as she urges them to the back of the truck. Sakura lets Feina tug her along, grinning at the younger fox's enthusiasm. Douglas grins quietly to Feina, and lets the other trolls out first, since he was towards the front of the flatbed. Vash clambers down, trying to avoid the deeper muck, and picks his way quickly over to the tent. Kerry waits for a letup in the rain, or at least until there's a clear line so he can scramble for the tent as quickly as possible, and dashes in. Once inside he'll get up on one of the cross-supports and stay out from underfoot.

Inside the tent is pretty crowded. It's big enough for all the trolls, but the five extra people weren't quite expected. Nobody seems to mind, though, and they pretty much solve the problem by being companionable and close. The furred party members in particular have no problem being near someone. The heavy object Hallifred moved in last was a squat stove, which vents out a special flap in the tent. The big troll is trying to light it, casually striking a piece of flint off of his arm. The atmosphere is quite warm and on the damp side. Four of the trolls are rather wet, and have shed their clothes in an attempt to dry off. Hopefully, the fire will help.

Vash settles down to one side, wedged not unpleasantly between Feina and a trollish lady. He blinks at Hallifred, "Whoa, Hal... I have a lighter, ese, you don't need to do that." Hallifred seems fascinated by the simple butane lighter, and wants to know how it works. Vash grins, and tosses the little silver rectangle to Hallifred. It's a simple windproof Zippo that he'd been keeping in his pocket as a good luck charm. Which, it would seem, it was, under the circumstances. "Pretty useful. Less painful. Try it out." He unzips his jumpsuit and wriggles out of the topmost part, finding that the going was pretty slow while trying to avoid the deeper mud, and he got fairly wet.

Once the stove is lit Hallifred stays near it, tending it. Douglas settles down, cheerfully resigned to being in close proximity to a lot of trolls and -- here there's a twinge of propriety -- his crewmates. He doesn't think he's particularly damp, however, and so remains clothed. He tries to spot Feina to see what her reaction to the stove is. Sakura stops before going into the tent to try to shake out some of the water, then dashes in and settles near Feina. Feina seems content to be wherever she is put now, as she is out of the truck. When it gets too warm for her, she rather casually removes her clothing, letting them air and dry, and moves near the fire to dry the damp from her fur.

The stove is prime real-estate, and Feina, in an attempt to get closer to it, winds up cheerfully sitting in Thorkel's lap, gesturing to Sakura to come up too, "C'mon, be warm!" Kerry grins. Plenty warm up here, but I bet she'd have trouble hanging on by her toes. Sakura does take the suggestion and gets a little closer to the fire, but draws the line at sitting in anyone else's lap.

Douglas remains where he is, well aware that in not very long it's going to get very much warm if not humid as well, but does settle down as comfortably as he can. Halldis sees Sakura standing behind them, and grins, reaching cheerfully to lift her over to Feina, but catches the look on her face and stops, deciding then just to offer his hand, instead. Sakura takes the offered hand a little shyly, but seems happy enough to sit around the fire with the others. Vash tugs the rest of his jumpsuit off, finding that he's sick of the damp fabric, and just positions himself where he can get as much of his furry bits oriented toward the stove. He rests his hands on his knees and soaks up the heat.

Alfdis and Gudrun both grin and offer laps near the fire for Vash, and Douglas has no trouble finding someplace warm and cuddled to sit... in fact, might have more difficulty finding one that wasn't. Sakura is left alone, to sit on the floor near Thorkel and a quite happily cuddled Feina. Vash grins back and decides to avail himself of offered laps. Ah, why not. I'm wet and funky... may as well relax.

Once people have settled down, and the stove seems like it's going to stay lit, Hallifred helps the long afternoon and evening pass by telling one of the epic troll stories, like Douglas has heard in the trollhome. All the trolls, Feina, and Kawaii (who has been trying to stay out of everyone's way and is only slightly grumpy at the rain and the trucks), settle down, apparently enraptured. Kawaii also has ended up in an obliging lap, and is busy succumbing to tummy rubs. Eventually he's snoring softly, all four little trotters up in the air.

Vash leans back a little against the trolls whose laps he's occupying, half-dozing as he listens to Hallifred telling his story. It's several minutes before he realizes dimly that Gudrun is petting him. He starts to tense up, then stops and just sighs a little, closing his eyes. It's way too late to be worrying about this... and if they don't mind the scars... well, hell. Neither do I. He allows himself the moment to enjoy himself. He suspects they're going to get fewer as the days progress.




Last modified: 2001-Jun-11 02:21:50

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