Saturday, 2 November 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 2b Word Count 1676

Andy gingerly took hold of the bizarre object. It shone in shades of yellow and orange, highly polished on every flat or smooth surface, but covered in sticking out bits, interlocking parts and all manner of random parts. The elder Andy indicated the handles, bound in what he called “leather” strips to make the grip more comfortable and directed him to the central panel containing a series of displays: they contained the destination date, time and global co-ordinates. He spoke for a moment about the Julian calendar and inaccuracies travelling back more than a few hundred years but concluded with a triumphant flourish calling out that it was all “an adventure! And how can it be an adventure if you know exactly what you're going to find at the other end?”

Cautiously, Andy prodded the dials. The elder Andy suggested he set the destination to the current time, but switch the physical location to the other side of the pod, replicating his first test. Andy complied, pushed the buttons as instructed and was on the other side of the pod.

She blinked, confused. She was about to ask when he was going to do it, but became aware of the elder Andy's attention, focussed solely on her.

“What?”

“I've always found that fascinating. Where was Andy standing when I showed him the dials?”

“Right in front of you.”

“And where is he now?”

“Over there.”

“How did he get there?”

Her mind fused. She struggled to focus: “You showed him how to teleport and then...”

“Yes?”

“Then, I don't know – did I look away? I didn't see him walk over there.”

Younger Andy watched the conversation with mounting incredulity. “I teleported. You saw it happen. What's wrong with you?”

“She can't remember. The mind cannot make allowance for what has actually happened. Even having experienced it several times myself, I can't see the point at which the traveller stops being in one place and begins being in another. It's very helpful in many respects as it enables you to teleport from a public area without causing a disturbance, but can cause problems if you're trying to start a chain of events from the point of exit because anyone who sees you leave immediately forgets the specifics.”

“Cooool.” Andy gazed at the device in his hand.

“Very cool. But I need to know … what will you do next?”

“I can go anywhere?”

“Anywhere, any time. But remember time effectively runs out here within a few years unless you stop me and the work of the Bonaparte scientists.”

“And I'd have to what? Go back, intercept you at the inn before the French pick you up and then I'm free to do what I want?”

“Ideally, yes. But if you can't extract me before I'm picked up, get me out before 1820. I demonstrate the wire principle in 1823, shortly after Napoleon instated the Musee Science funding for research into communications but I'm not sure how far before then people started asking me questions. As a point of interest, in my world Napoleon was killed in battle in 1809, but my improvements to their muskets meant that the battle he would have lost was won. If you have any problems contacting me, ridding the world of Napoleon will also prevent or at least delay the invention of the aeroscaff product.”

“Wait, now you want him to kill someone?”

“I'm sorry Melissa, but thousands of people die regardless of what Andy does now. Everyone dies if he does nothing, thousands die if I am extricated before any of the critical battles and fewer will die without Napoleon to lead them into war.”

“You're not doing that alone, Andy. I'm coming with you.”

“You won't have the protection of the device and that world is a dangerous place. This world is so sterile, you will almost certainly contract some local disease and die within weeks of arriving. Furthermore, women have very little freedom; you need either immense wealth or a high ranking husband to be able to live life in the way you are accustomed.”

She frowned and shook her head. “I'm going. Andy will need some support. Besides, I think I can supply immense wealth, which should be helpful to both of us! I'll need to make a trip, but if you don't object to loaning me the device, I should be back very shortly.”

The younger Andy immediately handed over the device: it was the elder who covered the dials to prevent her from using it. “Can you really trust her? What if she doesn't come back?”

“If she doesn't get the money, how can we go back? You were able to live on the spur of the moment, but I have to be able to chase you around the country, while avoiding suspicious parties and learning how to live in a world that has none of the amenities I'm used to. I may not die, but I'll certainly get the same diseases she does and I'd like to be able to afford medical help!”

Reluctantly, the elder slid his hands off the device. It wasn't that he believed in her, but that Andy's mind was clearly made up.

She flicked a few dials and left. Within three minutes she returned, with a canvas sack and a triumphant expression.

“What's in the bag?” She opened it and out spilled a random assortment of jewels and coins. Both men stared.

“Where in the Hell did you get that! We're not thieves!”

“Quite right, we're not. You might be a murderer, but I wouldn't want to throw nasty accusations like that around!” Her voice was snappish an the triumph of seconds before had been replaced with defensiveness.

“Melissa, please, we're merely surprised.” The elder's voice was calm and non-confrontational. “Where did you find this?”

“Last week in economics we were talking about the effect certain items have on the market. I wasn't that interested, but one guy mentioned there was a shipwreck of a pirate galleon which was reputed to be carrying a chest full of gold and gems because they'd been at sea for a long time but had a spectacularly successful run; he said that all of those gold and jewels wouldn't devalue however full the market was. Anyway, he mentioned the name of the ship and I looked it up. It was a huge thing – it was taken out in a battle actually, and the guy who sunk it just wanted the money. I figured I could get there and nab it first.”

“When was it?”

“Early 18th century. Roughly a hundred years before we land, so no-one will be looking for the goods!”

Both Andys smiled. “Good job,” the elder was quiet with his praise but she knew it meant a lot.

She held up one hand and her clothes began to reform. The skirt and bodice were plain and simple but well fitted and made of good cloth. Once they had formed, a belt began to appear. She stuffed handfuls of the treasure into the pouches swinging from the belt, then raised her skirts and began filling the pockets, the additional pouches on her legs and finally slid a few choice pieces onto her fingers and arms.

Andy watched, impressed, then realised he should probably do the same. His clothing morphed into a mimicry of his elder counterpart, but he was stopped. “No good,” the elder shook his head. “You're carrying jewels and gold, you can't afford to be suspected thieves. Make the boots taller, turn over the tops – show a white lining. Wear a waistcoat – no, shorter. That's right. Embroider it. You're travelling so you should wear trousers, but make them much more form fitted. Perhaps gold or silver buttons? And the coat – you need a form fitting coat and then a greatcoat over the top. Make your outer coat like mine, but much thicker, more flamboyant around the collar. I can't help you with the inner coat: copy one you see when you get there but remember you need to make it form fitting, a good close weave and of a dark fabric. The hat, not like mine. Try a top hat, now narrow it at the top, put a band around it. Cane. Men of importance still carry canes. Better. You'll do.”

Melissa watched the instructions being given to Andy and frowned. “What about me?”

“I can't help you much. The women I mixed with were not wealthy. And those that were; well, they were not often properly clad. I can only suggest a corset from the hips to underneath the bust and several layers of petticoats. If you wrap yourself in a fur lined cloak, the dress beneath should go unnoticed. Definitely wear a bonnet, but I don't know anything about style or colour.”

She frowned, then snapped her fingers, walked to the wall and entered a command on the control pad. A book appeared, flicking through it she found a panel showing how wealthy people travelled in 1807. Andy's costume was incredibly close to the one described. Hers was not, but as Andy had said, the fur coat would probably have helped a lot. She mimicked a lot of the details and then added her own personal touch in the form of a few frills and furbelows.

Andy's costume was too form fitted to stow away much of the treasure. The only place it could be stashed were the many flaps of the greatcoat, but eventually they had stashed away the majority. They left some for the elder Andy to live off, but then were ready to go. “OK” the younger Andy turned and shook his elder's hand. “I guess we're off then. Let's go party like it's 1807!”


Melissa smiled, tapped the correct details into the device and, each holding a handle, they were off.