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Home Again, Home Again...

    The morning dawns. Some time in the night, the rain stopped, and the sky cleared, leading to a bright and clear morning on a damp and softly dripping world. The overfull tent is very warm and filled with the sounds of sleeping trolls. In the night, Feina has rather contentedly cuddled up with Sakura, and she awakens only reluctantly.

Sakura doesn't seem to want to move any more than Feina does and any initial attempts to wake her are met with sleepy, mumbled protests, "go'way..." Douglas opens his eyes a bit and, mindful of the close quarters, doesn't move at all. His eyes flick about as he comes awake, and then he closes them, lazily enjoying the early-morning drowsiness for a little while longer before the peaceful calm is shattered by trolls in motion. Vash wakes up very slowly. Still half-asleep, he decides to just leave his eyes closed another few minutes, and not ask himself what exactly his head is resting against. Kerry has passed a rather dull night with his datapad -- since he'd slept most of the previous day, he was the on watch. He'd heard nothing unusual, though.

The morning calm continues, as slight rustling sounds of waking trolls occur, no one quite interested in being the one to disturb everybody. Eventually though there is a notable yawn, and then a long stretch, accompanied by deep grating noises as Hallifred wakes up. He sits up and looks around the room, then says, "Ay, look, nice morning. No rain." Standing and casually stepping over people, the older troll walks to the tent and flings wide its flaps, letting a burst of cool, fresh morning air in along with a shaft of light.

Sakura winces as the light comes pouring into the tent, then yawns deeply. She didn't want to get up, but it was inevitable... Feina sighs and snuggles up against Sakura some more, hoping the other vixen can make it go away. At the yawn, she gives up and stretches slowly before sitting up. Vash keeps his head carefully down, turning his face in to whatever it is he's lying against. He's not ready for this, and he's a lot less useful when he's blind. Kerry chirrips and slips his sun-goggles back on as Hallifred makes his way toward the entrance. It's dawn... I'll nap until they take the tent down.

Douglas blinkblinks, and decides that if Hallifred is going to be rousing the trolls the way trolls usually rouse each other, he'd better be more awake than he is to be prepared for it. He stretches felinely, arching his back and stretching out his arms, seeming like he's going to fold himself in two. His claws extend briefly before he yawns largely; then relaxing from the stretch, retracting said claws, and sitting up, blinking away sleepiness.

Alfdis says, "Hi, Vash," and idly pets him again, clearly who he's hiding from the sun at. "Morning, ja?"

Vash opens one eye experimentally, and grins crookedly. He sits up a little. "Morning... yeah." He glances around, and a thought occurs to him, "Have we been like this all night?"

Kerry chuckles from overhead. "That you have."

Alfdis replies, "Ja. Warm fur," and smiles happily. Gudrun, on the other side of Vash, grins and tugs at the end of his tail.

Trolls stretch and stand up slowly. Once up and about, though, they pick up energy quickly. A voice outside says, "Not much mud. Look like we go by afternoon, ja." Katla giggles and idly fuzzles Kerry as she moves by him in the tent.

Kerry returns Katla's caress with one of his own as the troll passes by. "Very boring night watch, I'm afraid."

Vash grins a little, still a bit sleep-loopy, and lies back. "We aim to please... heh." Sakura finally manages to crawl out of her haze and gets out of the tent to stretch and get a bit of air to wake herself up. Kawaii seems all too happy to leave the overwarm tent, trotting curiously outside to make sure the trolls don't do anything they probably shouldn't be doing. Douglas stands, stretching a little (not nearly as much as before) and meanders outside, attempting not to step on any still-lying-down trolls on his way out.

Katla grins toothily at Kerry and says, "Dull watch best kind, ja?" and doesn't seem to mind his caress at all. However, things need doing, and she doesn't become distracted, heading back outside and calling "Sigwulf, you need help with breakfast?"

Feina finds Vash, and bounces on the balls of her feet expectantly. She has dressed this time, and eaten, and is obviously feeling better. Vash sits up with a little groan and nods. "Heh, all right, niña... all right. Just let me get my stuff together." He smiles to the little one and thanks his trollish companions, getting dressed relatively quickly. Alfis hands him his shades back. "Thanks... can't leave without these. Okay niña... let's go."

Feina says, "No, first you have some breakfast. You'll feel better. C'mon." She takes Vash's hand and pulls him over towards Sigwulf and the fire.

Vash grins, "Okay, Feina, lead the- oof..."

Troll enthusiasm soon returns, as does the smell of food and some herbal tea drifting around. All the trolls pitch in, and it's not long before food is prepared and the tent is broken down and packed up on the truck. Douglas helps out with the breaking down of the tent where he can and isn't getting in the way. Sakura helps where she can and makes sure that she hands Dramamine to the crew while they're eating, to lessen the effects of the movement as much as she can. Kerry clambers up to the top of the first truck, surveying the surroundings with ultrasound now that the rain is no longer interfering.

Feina, having made sure Vash is fed, leads him off in to the woods, sniffing happily at the air and saying, "Rain makes all sorts of things come out; let's go see what's around here!" She leads the way, not actually dragging Vash along, but close.

The vixen keeps Vash in the woods for the better part of the morning, burbling effervescently about bugs and flowers and animals and seasons and rain. She shows him a beehive and explains how it stayed dry, and points out a squirrel's den, which didn't. When they finally come back she is happy and energetic.

Sakura smiles at Feina on her return. She's pleased to see the vixen looking so much better and trying not to worry about her... Douglas is helping out with the trolls, but when he sees Feina and Vash returning he makes note of her condition, her exuberance, and tries to see if Doctor notices the change in the little -- What did Doctor call Larrikan's people? Kitsune? -- as she returns from her walk in the forest. Vash returns along with Feina, stretching slowly. He looks to Douglas, nodding and adding, "That's gonna be one pissed off squirrel," regardless of what the engineer may or may not know about local squirrels and their general disposition.

Douglas blinks to Vash, opening his mouth to ask... then closes it and simply settles for nodding sagely. "I... can imagine, Captain..."

The trolls aren't in any particular hurry, it seems, and sit in the sunshine talking and laughing, letting it do its work of drying the ground. After lunch they once again load up the trucks and try and move out. Everybody climbs back aboard, Hallifred and Styrkar checking the ground under the wheels to make sure they won't have any trouble starting up. Feina looks uncomfortable and unhappy, but again not complaining. She sticks close to the doctor again, finding solace in another vixen, even if she doesn't understand why the trucks don't seem to bother Sakura much.

Sakura is more than happy to let the vixen stick close by her. She seems to genuinely enjoy the girl's company, even if she is feeling ill. Kerry climbs back up to his usual perch and settles himself to sleep again. Douglas clambers up to the truck as well, finding a nice, comfortable... uhm, stretch of metal plate to lie on and try not to get sick. Vash stretches out on the floor near both vixens, folding his arms under his head and settling down as comfortably as he can. Oh yeah. Life of the rootless adventurer... yeah.

Kawaii also stays near Sakura, squealing irritatedly at the truck when its loud engine is started, and again when it lurches oddly in to motion. All three trucks have no problems starting up, and Hallifred tries to urge them to go faster to make up for lost time. The forest doesn't cooperate, though, and they are forced to wend through the trees at about the same pace as before.

Kerry doesn't sleep well, in spite of the Dramamine tablets. The motion is different today, and he's drowsy-queasy much of the time. Besides that, he begins to develop a headache for some reason, which only gets worse as the day continues. Sakura curls her arms around the other vixen... she's got a headache but it's really very minor compared to her worry for Feina. She strokes Feina's hair, trying to provide what comfort she can.

Douglas gives a low, quiet, moan. I'd have sworn I'd taken that Dramamine, honest, Mom... As the kitten once again uses his temples to practice the 1812 Overture, he closes his eyes tightly and tries to think of anything other than food, water, getting sick, his body, thought itself... he starts to imagine that he's developing a really strong dislike for moving machinery, in fact.

Vash feels a mild headache coming on. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. Here comes another one... Just then, the requisite root passes under the wheel of the truck. Vash doesn't even open his eyes this time as the floor comes up to meet him. Ah. Yeah. That'll do it. He curls one arm under his cheek, and the other over his head. It has to get smoother. It just has to.

Douglas mutters quietly, "I think Doctor is very much right," in a pained voice, "and there's more to this than just getting motion-sick. At least... I hope so. Twelve Flags Park never made me feel like this..." Ooooooh, make it stop, please... thank God they don't have headlights here -- and that trolls don't go in for all-night road trips. Please, please, please, don't let the trolls get into a drag race, not before Pilot can show them how to make ATV-class shocks...

Kerry nods miserably at Douglas' comment. "And I've never been ill even doing six-gee inverted barrel rolls. You think it might be fumes from those engines? How do they deal with exhaust?"

Vash growls muffledly, "Didn't I ask you that last night?"

Douglas says, "Wood, coal, coal gas... OSHA would have a field day." He groans softly as the floor taps him lightly on the back of his head -- oh, no, wait, that was a half-foot-high rock. "I'll be happy to report them to the EPA..."

Vash rrghs softly. "All you said was that it looked like coal. That doesn't mean it is coal..."

Kerry skrees, "Seriously, though. Headache and nausea... that is the effect of carbon monoxide poisoning."

Sakura opens one eye. "But there's lots of fresh air coming in..."

Douglas blinks, looking up to Kerry. "Wha-" *THUD*WHACK* "OW!" A few muttered/growled choice words follow, then a little more pained-sounding, "The stack seems to be moving it all away from here pretty well... doesn't look like it's leaking to the bed, and we're open air and moving..."

Kerry skrees, "Hmm... good point. But if it's the magitech incompatibility, it shouldn't affect us."

Vash takes a deep breath, then forces himself to sit up. "Well... look. We'll ask the trolls about their fuel when we stop tonight. It's getting late... won't be long now."

Douglas gives up, and just tries to rest his head on his arms, not feeling much better with the cushioning they provide. Just... just let the engine blow up, PLEASE! Let it end quickly instead of another day like this... "Mmmph... shouldn't... not sure, though... argh, we should have asked the Professor before we left..." He blinks, then looks woozily to Hallifred -- No, better not bother him, he's navigating. I'd hate to make this thing swerve... oooggg... no, don't think about that... I'll ask when we stop. "Don't get my hopes up, please, Captain..."

Vash lies carefully back down and throws one arm over his eyes. He's grateful not to be nauseous, and for the nonce is content to blame his headache on his choice of head and neck support. "It can't be long now. We don't have any headlights."

Kerry skrees, "The professor wouldn't have known... or did you mean the trollish one?"

"Don't give them any ideas..." Douglas manages to deadpan. "The dwarvish one, Pilot... ask him about magic versus technology here..."

Vash grumbles. "They're energetic, Doug. They're not stupid. They know better than to drive in the dark. Hitting trees bad."

Hallifred, who is listening, looks back, and says, "Ja, trees might hit back. Very bad." Even the trolls don't mess with the dryads.

Douglas groans a little, closing his eyes as he feels his stomach raise another complaint. "Wunnerful," he mutters.

The day passes slowly, as uncomfortable rides are wont to do. Hallifred pushes them farther into twilight than they had before, but eventually they must stop due to failing light. Everybody disembarks and enjoys a trollish dinner by firelight. Kerry is quite happy to stretch his wings as night falls, launching from the top of his truck to see how far he can glide. Vash herds his crew down out of the bed, but only disembarks partway, sitting down on the edge of the tailgate and rubbing his eyes. He looks up at the gathering twilight and breathes deeply. It just gets prettier as we go. Almost makes the headache worth it. Shaken from his reverie by the sound of his pilot whizzing past his head, the captain stands and wobbles his way down toward Gudrun and Alfis.

Sakura eats a little bit of the trollish food, but seems to have lost a bit of her normal appetite with all the bouncing, jostling and worry of the day... Feina's appetite is a little less than normal, too, but her eyes are bright and she seems very relieved to be off of the truck. She stays near Sakura, despite the presence of so many obviously friendly trolls. It's hard to say who she is trying to comfort by doing so -- herself or Sakura. Douglas manages to recover from the ride, enough to get some good food into himself -- he wants to try to find out from one of the older trolls if there are any mages numbered among the trolls...

Douglas finishes his meal, and after the meal, if Hallifred isn't preoccupied, he politely approaches the troll, and asks, "This may be a silly question, but... have there ever been many troll mages?"

Hallifred answers, "Ja, lots troll mages. How else build labyrinth and trollhomes?" The older troll chuckles, and says, "You the one who met ancient troll mage, ja?"

Douglas blinks, and nods, "Now that you mention it... yes, he was, wasn't he? Yes, we did. Uhm... I was wondering because we've been told that... technology and magic don't work well together."

Hallifred nods again, and says, "Ja."

Douglas says, "Then... well... I admit to being confused then, sir. Do the trucks, er, count as technology?"

Hallifred says, "Ja, trucks are. Big technology. Some say dangerous." He shrugs.

Douglas grins quietly. "Ah, okay. Just wondering, really. Ah... I guess troll mages don't like trucks much?"

Hal shakes his head and answers with a large grin, "Trucks not like troll mages, either."

Douglas blinks a little. Magic and technology apparently really don't mix. Hey... I wonder if this is such a bad ride because Feina is with us. The truck is not liking -- er, that is, the truck doesn't like her right back. I wonder if she'll get a laugh out of that... He nods a bit, grinning. "I can understand that. Thank you, Hallifred."

Hallifred grins and says, "Ja, welcome, Doug."

The trolls don't bother with a tent on this clear night, either, merely laying out ground cover and using blankets and/or each other for warmth. They are perfectly comfortable with any of the crew who wants to share that warmth, or not, as the crew sees fit. Sakura beds down as soon as is polite after dinner, ears back in misery and definitely not looking forward to another day on those trucks. Kerry finds a tree to nap in after dinner. That was a miserable way to spend an afternoon. I wonder...

Vash eats hungrily, as the nausea doesn't seem to have hit him extremely hard thus far, and opts to share his blanket space with Gudrun and Alfdis again, since they've been both accommodating and pretty mellow, as trolls go. Feina doesn't hesitate to join Sakura again. Not only is she warm and furry, Feina trusts -- even admires her. Kawaii, on the other hand, is all too happy to explore sleeping trolls, who laugh at his poking around, until he has worked his way under one of their blankets and found a warm place among friends. Sakura manages a half-smile for Feina and gladly curls up with the other fox to sleep.

Kerry naps for a bit, but wakes up in the middle of the night. I wonder... if it's not motion sickness, then the machines should affect us regardless. He thinks about this for a moment, then glides down to the trucks and climbs up to his usual daytime perch. If it's something to do with the machines, then maybe I can set it off while we're stationary... He settles in for the rest of the night, wondering if anything will happen.


Kerry winces early the next morning as it gets light, his night in the truck having proved his tentative theory rather forcefully. Oh, makers... He lets go of his perch, only just barely landing on his feet as the motion drives a migraine spike into the headache he woke up with, and stumbles off the bed, dragging himself away from the truck in the direction of the fire. Sacrificed on the Altar of Science. And I did it to myself...

Douglas yawns and stretches -- his usual morning routine -- thinking back on his conversation . This gets more and more interesting, he thinks. Magic and technology separate, and never the twain shall meet... or something like that. He glances over to awakening Doctor and the little kitsune-vixen. I don't think she'll mind, really, being with Larrikan in a non-technology culture, he thinks, as he settles in, a faint twinge of something in his mind which he shakes off easily. Just that when she tries to apply her advanced medical knowledge in an emergency -- whoa, hold it, Doug. This is Doctor you're thinking of. She knows enough about non-modern medicine to do a lot of people a lot of good here, including the kitsune, without getting technology involved.

And you, after all... it seems you at least have found some of the few folk who like technology. Though you probably won't make many friends among the troll mages. With that thought cheering him, he straightens, yawning mightily, and heads towards the fire. Thus it's a surprise to him to see Kerry staggering horrifically in that direction. "Pilot!" he exclaims. "What... what happened? Were you attacked? Was it the wolves...?" He looks around hurriedly for what he imagines must me a mob of in-coursing fantastical beasts.

Kerry huddles by the fire on the side away from the truck, letting the warmth bake the pain out of his head. "No." The bat's normally piercing voice is more of a wheeze this morning. "It's the trucks. It's not motion sickness."

Douglas blinks, looking back at the machines. "What... what do you mean?" he asks. "The stacks are pretty far from the bed, we don't have to worry about carbon monoxide..." Sakura gets up, bleary eyed and walks over to the morning fire, arms wrapped around herself... Feina wakes up when her warm, snuggly vixen friend moves away. She stands, stretches, and looks around, beaming happily at the trees. The forest makes her feel good, apparently.

Halldis comes up the fire, and says, "Hi, little bat!" brightly. When he winces at her seeming earth-shattering voice, she says, "What happen, Kerry? You okay?"

Kerry shakes his head, then winces at the motion. "I spent the night on board. This is exactly how I felt the first day... only this time, it wasn't moving and the exhaust couldn't have been it, either."

Douglas frowns to Kerry. "But then... that means..." A cloud passes over his face, and the kitten reminds him mockingly of his thoughts that morning. We've become... susceptible to technology... as if we're like Larrikan's people... people of magic... Is it the quest's tendrils wrapped around us? Oh, dear heavens... "If...," he starts to ask softly, worriedly, nervously. "If we're like this around the trucks... how will we be around the Alshain...?" His voice trails off, as he answers his own question silently and simply: Worse.

Kerry looks blearily at Halldis. "The trucks are making us sick, I think. I don't know why... Feina I could understand, but it shouldn't affect us spacers... unless... bozhemoi. It's the translators!"

Vash sits up slowly, hearing some kind of mild commotion. He reluctantly detaches himself from Gudrun and Alfdis, moving toward the fire and the knot of people. The fire is a busy spot, with lots of trolls waking up and trying to get hot drinks, and Sigwulf starting to try and cook real food. Halldis says, "What? You sick?" She looks at him critically, and says, "Ja, you not look good." She turns to Hallifred, and calls, "Hey, Hal! We need stay here today!" and walks over in his direction.

Sakura's ears perk up a little at Kerry's words. Does that have some significance? Douglas frowns slightly, looking at the small, innocuous band around his wrist, until now present without his having to think about it. "Wouldn't it be more that the translator would function poorly if around technology, rather than affect us? But, then again, what about us is magic-" He blinks, then slowly, deliberately, lifts up his paws, looking at them as he unsheathes his claws. "What about us is magic?" After what we've been through... what about us isn't magic...?

Vash coughs blearily in the morning air. "You forget, Doug? Some of our blood's in that..."

Kerry strips off his translator anklet and starts to hand it to Douglas. "Here, hang onto this a second... oh. The quest dream. Oh, my. This could be bad."

Douglas sheathes his claws quickly, and looks over to Vash. "Oh... yes, I had forgotten about that, Captain. Yes. That should be it." Suddenly, the long years as an engineer seem to be very fragile and important to him. He nods quickly to Kerry, accepting the bracelet. Please let Pilot be right, please let Pilot be right...

Feina gets herself a steaming mug of something hot to drink, and comes over to listen, sipping quietly, the warm drink filling her with its energy. She says, "Oh? Kerry feels bad? Oh, the trucks." She considers, then brightens and says, "I know I always feel better after a walk in the woods. Would you like that, Kerry?" Because his translator is off, he doesn't understand her.

Kerry shrugs at Feina. "What'd she say, Sakura?"

Sakura smiles at Feina, then looks at the ailing bat. "Feina has just suggested that walks make her feel better and thought that maybe it would do the same for you..." She explains to Feina, "These armbands allow us to speak your language. Kerry doesn't have his on, so I translated. Douglas-san? What are you doing?"

Kerry skrees, "Ah... hmm. Let me see if taking the translator off helps. I don't think I want to take a walk with a bouncy, chatty vixen that I can't understand..."

Douglas peers at the translator in his hand. "It's worth a shot, Pilot. Though frankly, a walk in the forest would do anyone good..." He looks to Sakura. "If I understand Pilot right, Doctor, he would like to do an experiment of seeing how the trucks affect him without the translator, hoping that it's the translator being affected by the trucks and not we ourselves."

Sakura nods at Douglas and Kerry, "That makes sense... it's worth a try. Kerry-san, do you still want Dramamine today?"

Kerry nods. "It's been helping, whatever is going on."

Feina says, "Well, if he wants to try to see if a nice field of flowers will make him feel better, I'm going to go for a walk." She looks at the armadillo, then grins and adds, "And Vash is coming with me."

Vash looks at each of his crew in turn. He shrugs. "And Vash is going with her." Douglas blinks in surprise at Vash's comment, a bit speechless. Feina beams happily and takes up his hand in hers, then almost skips off with him in tow.

Sakura grins at Vash, "May I join you as well, Vash-san?"

Kerry caught "Vash" in Feina's comment, and just chuckles at the armadillo. "Oh, what the hey. If you're all going, I'll go too. Just not too fast yet."

Feina is glad to say, "Oooh!" and pause long enough to take Sakura's hand in her other hand, beaming happily. She says to Kerry, not quite understanding he doesn't understand her now, "You coming?" When he moves with them, she says, "Yay! I bet you'll feel better." So saying, she skips merrily off into the woods, pausing often for others to keep up.

Vash doesn't have time to reply as he's dragged off, but waves her after. "C'mon if you're coming..." His voice fades quickly. Sakura comes along with Vash and Feina, translating as she goes for Feina and Kerry...

Douglas just... blinks, and stands to hurriedly catch up with the others. "Well, a walk in the forest would do anyone good..."

Feina leads the crew off through the woods and along a stream for a while, burbling almost as happily as the water, and pointing out things she thinks will be interesting, and naming all the plants and animals and fish for them. Eventually the stream opens on to a field of grass with patches of bright wild flowers, and Feina stops to simply admire the view for nearly five whole seconds before she asks, "So, isn't it nice, don't you feel better, are you glad we came, isn't it a nice day?"

Vash grins a little, though it might be better construed as a wince, shading his eyes with a hand. "Heh... yes, niña, we're all glad we came."

Kerry nods. "I do feel better. I might have if I'd stayed back, though, too." He looks around the field, wondering if there are any grasshoppers...

Douglas controls some unusual impulse to flee in terror from someone who is not only more of a morning person than Kerry is, but has as her natural state something that can only be termed 'effervescent exuberance' -- that term alone is enough to make him afraid. But the kitsune is right; it's a very nice day and he feels much as how he does after taking in the fresh morning air on days where he isn't being hauled hither and yon by a trollish truck. That is, he corrects himself, as good as I've felt waking up here on Crossroads. I doubt I could feel this good back on Earth. Heck, at this time of the morning I'd be wandering into the x-bicle farm...

Kerry grins at the others. "Just a moment... I saw something." He moves off into the field, spreading his wings just a bit as he stalks the tasty bugs...

Vash uh-ohs. "Bat on the hunt. Get your cameras, kids."

Feina says, "What's a camera? What's he doing? Is he all right?"

Sakura grins at Feina. "He's hunting bugs... and far from being alright, I think he's in his element."

Vash says, "Oh, he's fine, Feina... he's just... getting some breakfast."

The vixen ohs, and says, "Grasshoppers? Okay!" and trots off in to the field. She cheerfully combs the grass, stopping to pluck things from it, which she puts in her pouch.

Douglas glances in the direction of Pilot, his sharp eyesight spotting the sprinting form of a rabbit bounding away from the trespasser in its territory. Genetic imperatives almost kick in, and he barely manages to keep from going into a hunting mode himself. Remembering the carniphobe rabbit from the training back home -- no, back on Earth, he finds himself correcting himself, not surprisingly -- and the (rather embarrassing) way he found himself a bit hungry soon after they rescued Kawaii from the vampiric rhododendron (or whatever it is) shame him into not giving in.

He is surprised at first, but accepts it after a moment. I've been a lot closer to my roots here, ever since the first day, he thinks. That's not something to be ashamed of, but... frankly, I think there's enough human DNA in me to make digesting raw rabbit something of a challenge... besides, I like my burgers well done. I think. When was the last time I had a real burger? Not in college; I could only afford soystuff back then... He lets his mind reminisce pleasantly, watching Pilot's own technique for hunting his supper.

Sakura giggles at the antics of her crewmates. She doesn't hunt herself, but does wander around the area near where her friends are hunting to watch them. Kerry doesn't spend too much time in his pursuit, content with a few handfuls, which he stuffs in a carry-bag. He comes back, feeling a little better. "Garnish for the eggs. Maybe I could get Sigwulf to make some grasshopper omelettes?"

All thoughts of food-on-the-foot flee Douglas's mind. "Urrr... I'd pass on that," he murmurs, the nausea from the day before returning briefly. "You seem to be doing better, Pilot."

Kerry nods. "Can't tell yet if it was the translator or something else. I'll leave it off for today and see what happens."

Feina continues cheerfully picking through the field, occasionally ooohing happily and pausing to crunch on something herself. Eventually she returns, licking her chops and saying, "Beetles and ladybugs. Mmm." She offers Kerry her pouch, which contains many grasshoppers.

Vash blinks. "Wow. She's good."

Kerry grins and gives the young vixen one of the body-wrapping wing-hugs that the troll ladies are so fond of, when he sees what she's brought him. "Thank you, Feina. Viele danke. Spasebo. Gracias."

Douglas blinks, looking at Feina, then to Sakura. "Ah... I thought... foxes weren't insectivores...?"

Sakura looks at Feina, blanches a little and sticks her tongue out before she responds to Douglas, "Well, this fox isn't."

Feina giggles at Kerry's hug and nuzzles him cheerfully. To Douglas, she says, "Silly! You eat what you can find. This is a lovely place to find all sorts of goodies. My people live in the woods all the time."

Douglas nods slowly to Sakura. "We noticed. Belatedly," he deadpans, grinning a little, then looks to Feina, managing a smile. "I'd forgotten, your people are wanderers extraordinaire, travelling everywhere."

Feina says, "We should start back. The trolls might want to leave." Taking Sakura's hand again, she asks, "Ready?"

Sakura takes Feina's hand and smiles, "Yes, I am."

Douglas grimaces slightly at the thought of going back onto the truck. "Urgh... we should, yes, just in case..."

Vash nods, "Yeah... I think it's time to get underway."

Feina nods, and leads the way, still showing things off. She stops at one point and says, "Oooh, these are good!" She shows the crew some berries; small, round, red, and very tart if they try them. She eats some, and tries to feed some to Sakura.

Sakura takes one, trusting Feina not to poison her... "What are these?"

Feina says, "Weneberries," then, "Nice, aren't they?"

Sakura nods, "They're very good!" She holds out her hand, with a few of them in towards Kerry, Vash, and Douglas.

Kerry delicately takes a berry and pops it into his mouth. "Why not?"

Douglas blinks a bit at the name, peering cautiously at the berry, But if Doctor approves them, he reasons, he tries one, taking a cautious taste of one of them. "Thank you, Doctor..."

Vash very carefully takes a small berry in his claw tips, turning it a little to look at it. He shrugs and pops it into his mouth, tossing it up in the air and catching it in his mouth. "Hm! Not bad, Feina, thanks."

Eventually even Feina's glee over the tart berries fades, and she continues on, leading them back to the troll camp. It's not quite noon, and the trolls are having an early lunch before preparing to go. Halldis finds Kerry and asks him, "Okay now? Want rest day?" although he doesn't understand her, aside from her concerned look.

Kerry smiles at Halldis while muttering to Sakura, asking for a translation. "I forgot how much of a pain it was not to be able to talk..."

Sakura grins at Kerry, "It's alright, Kerry-san. I'll translate for you. I don't mind."

Kerry skrees, "So... what'd she say?"

Vash mumbles around a mouthful of berry juice, "Wants to know if you need the day to recover."

Kerry skrees, "Ah. No, I'm feeling much better. I want to try a day without the translator to see if that helps. I'm going to figure out this thing sooner or later. Let's eat and move out." So reassured, the trolls prepare to leave, and the trucks are loaded and set in motion again, pressing onwards to their destination.

Doug curls up in a little ball and hopes the headache goes away soon. If it is the translators, he will do without. It's a good thing all he has to do is ride, because he couldn't do much else. Vash feels pretty good this morning... the fresh air and a full stomach seem to have done him some good. He finds he doesn't mind having promised Feina a little constitutional much at all. He feels well enough to sit up against the skirts this time, and settles down near to Sakura, as to better keep an eye on the guide.

Sakura alternates between trying to comfort the two people that are curled up to her. How did I end up being the Big Brave Mother Hen? Kerry squeaks miserably from his perch after an hour or so of travel. "It's not working. Must be the quest thing. Or something. Might as well give me the translator back."

Vash raises his head, having fallen asleep with his head on his chest, arms folded. He opens one eyes, "Kerry? You need the bucket?"

Kerry skrees, "I'm not that bad off today. Just feeling headachy again."

The ride is long and rocky but uneventful. The trolls stop in the evening and make another camp, talking about getting home and being pleased to be getting closer. The long drive is wearing on even them.

The next day the trolls seem eager to get started, and even get moving again before noon, although not by much. Everyone slept well and seems to be getting used to the ride, having only mild headaches, except for Douglas, who has more of a headache and a bit of nausea.

At camp that night, the trolls talk animatedly about how they hope to be home tomorrow night, or maybe the next day, depending on how the drive goes. Sakura looks a little uplifted at the thought of being away from the trucks soon. It means walking, but it also means a settled stomach... and appetite and more comfort in general.

Again, the trolls break camp early, barely into late morning, and only shortly after Feina and Vash return from their morning walk through the woods. The vixen is looking forward to the ride ending almost as much as the trolls are, and is feeling talkative and cheerful, asking questions of all the trolls about how far is left.

The ride is a little rougher, and Douglas suffers again, as does Feina as well, while the rest of the crew merely has the headache and grumpiness. It seems that the trolls are making good progress and are eager to get home -- at least until there comes a huge SPANG! from the baggage truck, a single pointed troll curse -- then that truck begins to accelerate down the hill they are descending, apparently having lost power. Its brakes engage and great furrows are torn through the sod as it comes to a lurching halt. The other trucks stop more gracefully. Hallifred and some others climb out to see what has happened.

Vash sits up and sighs deeply, alerted by the odd sproing and now watching the baggage truck dig a trench in the sod. "Ay, cagada. Now what." Sakura can't help but gape a little at the truck. I'm glad I wasn't in that one!

Kerry hops out as well. "Drive shaft?"

Alfdis, who was driving, tells Hallifred, "Power gone! Have control of engine, no load on it." Hallifred is looking under the truck, and confirms the near obvious to Kerry and Douglas, "Drive shaft. Load pin or flex connection." He calls over to Ingrid, "Hay, we got spare flex joint?" and walks over to the other passenger truck.

Kawaii trots busily under the truck to make sure Hallifred doesn't miss anything... then changes his mind at the over-strong scents of hot metal and over-heated grease -- and trots just as busily out. Gotta keep an eye on the vixens anyway... much more interesting than any silly machine. Sakura giggles at Kawaii. Sometimes he's the smartest one among us...

Ingrid and Arnfinn climb down, Ingrid saying, "Ja, think so." The two of them rummage on the baggage truck, and Arnfinn calls back, "Ja, we got spare." Hallifred says, "We fix here, then." Everybody disembarks. The sound of trolls talking about work and hammering energetically on something under the truck soon fills the woods, as the others wait.

Sakura says to no one in particular, "Anything we can do to help?" Kerry retreats away from the trucks as long as the noise continues, idly catching and munching the occasional grasshopper.

Hallifred says, "Not know yet. Wait-see what broken. If problem, probably make camp here." As it turns out, it is a problem, with Ingrid saying, "Flex joint fused on. Need chisel off. Take couple, three hours."

The trolls make camp then, setting out for a quiet evening. Several trolls take turns banging enthusiastically on the broken part under the truck, until Yngvar cries out, "Ja!" and apparently breaks the old part off with a huge racket. Ingrid and Arnfinn make their way over and talk approvingly, tools and spare parts making their way under the truck.

Vash takes a brief walk around the campsite, stretching, and generally just trying to stay limber after all this time pent up in the truck. He meanders back toward the fire before very long. Sakura settles around the fire with her crewmates, "Kerry, has taking the translator off helped at all?"

Kerry shakes his head and holds out his ankle where it's strapped back on. "Didn't work. I think the quest dreams made us magical enough to be affected. I don't know what is going to happen when we get to the Alshain."

Sakura frowns, "...and those dreams seemed to affect you more than any of us, Kerry-san. Maybe that's why..."

Vash wanders up to rest of his crew after swinging by the edge of the camp to check on the fitfully slumbering Douglas. "Still shaky, Kerry?"

Kerry shrugs. "No worse than usual. Whatever's doing it, I seem to be getting used to it. I hope."

Vash says, "Well. We only need to deal with it for a few more days at most. You can hang in until then?"

Kerry nods. "Not a problem."

The night passes quietly. In the late morning the trucks set off again. Hallifred and all the drivers are determined to make the drive today, and are rewarded late in the afternoon when the trollhome comes into view with a happy cheer from many of the trolls. This is a larger trollhome than the other, partly built of stone above ground and partly sinking below ground, although that's not visible right away.

The return of the trucks and trolls is regarded as a very good thing, and guests an even better thing. A big feast is laid out, with much drinking and story telling and all the gossip from the fair being passed around. The long tale of the visitors and the details of the horn are very well received, and the talking, eating, and drinking, run long into the night.

Vash does his share of drinking and eating, as it would be impolite not to do so, and tries his best to put on a pleasant face for the party of spacers. Not that it's been much of a problem thus far, but... He grins to himself. Well, someone has to do it.

Sakura stays close to Feina during the evening at the trollhome. She's still a little uncomfortable around the trolls and having another fox for reinforcement seems to help. Feina is all too happy to be close to Sakura, although it's not entirely clear that it's solely for that reason. She does shake her head and say, "No share," to one of the inquiring trolls, who just grins, and says, "Ja, okay," and leaves it at that.

Kerry shares hugs with as many of the trolls as are interested, but remembers his promise to Zil and neither drinks too much himself nor wanders off with any trolls who have overindulged. He'll tell tall tales about his life in the Aerospace Forces if anyone wants to listen.

The trolls, in their usual laid-back and unconcerned-with-time manner, don't expect anything to be done the next day, merely some sleeping, talking, and general recovery from overindulgence. The day after that, things become more normal, and Feina begins to say, "So, are we going to go? We're two thirds of the way there now, right? Which way is it? Can I see that picture you had again?" and to be generally incredibly energetic and curious.

Vash frowns a little. "It's a bit to the south from here... but, well, I'm a little worried about you, niña. I'm a little worried about all of us, right now."

Feina looks quizzically at Vash and says, "Worried? Why? What's wrong? Isn't everything okay?"

Kerry has unfolded the maps again and is plotting -- or at least trying to plot -- a reasonable route from the trollhome to the location of the Alshain. "I just wish we could be sure she hadn't been moved. Next time out we make sure the hand-helds can talk to the mother ship."

Vash says, "I'm not sure yet, niña. But it looks like all of us are affected, at least a little, by technology now. And Alshain is a lot higher-tech than the trucks. I'm concerned, more for your sakes than ours, that it's going to make you sick."

Feina says only, "Oh," and looks downcast for just a moment. She then perks right back up and says, "Sakura will figure something out." She seems completely unshakable in that belief, adding, "We won't know till we get there, will we? We should go and find out!" Sakura chews her bottom lip, nervous despite Feina's faith. She's not sure she can do anything for Feina... and that bothers her.

Vash smiles a little and pats the little one's shoulder. "Yeah, niña. Won't know until we get there." He tries to hide the frown that he's sure his eyes are giving away. I just hope we don't regret what we find, little one.

Kerry skrees, "And we'll have to sneak in. Against what opposition I don't know yet -- and find this Horn that scares even the trolls, and steal it from a wizard. And then probably dump it on the moon... We're not free and clear yet, Feina."




Last modified: 2001-Jun-16 10:04:33

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