(written by Vangeek and Kokuten, posted 7-8 August 2007)
I groaned and rolled (literally) out of bed. My own fault I suppose for staying out late with the other Watch fen.
The Watch were good lads and lasses for the most part. They, like most fen, took their faction seriously. Late nights at the Broken Drum or some such were common, especially since some of them literally did hire themselves out as Watchmen, running security or working as private eyes. Nothing too rough, for the most part, but everyone likes to relax after a hard day of work.
But ye gods, the hangovers. I mean, I don't overindulge as habit, because the last thing anyone needs is a fen like me getting drunk and acting the ass. But when you've got a barkeep who's idea of a fun time is creatching Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters, real ones, out of a biomodded mixer...
I eyed the coffee maker from the floor. Well, espresso maker. It was a beat to hell thing I got from an old job once, but it did the trick. Hell, given the proclivity of some of Ptchika's crew's for caffeine, we even had fresh beans around usually. I vaulted myself up and dragged myself to the little machine, prepping the grounds and groaning as the delicious smell of coffee drifted through the cabin.
"There has got to be... got to be a better way of dealing with this. Espresso and raw eggs just don't cut it when dealing with Gargle blasters." I slurped down the black liquid when it was done. "Ye gods... hmm..."
Perhaps I should be a little more careful with my ideas. I've been given funny looks before when I ever so innocently ask for advice from KJ or Mal. This one was tamer then most. After all, what better way to cure a hangover resulting from a PG then biomodded coffee? And I wasn't thinking throwing some guacamole into the mix, no way.
I tapped my fingers, then tapped out a email. Finding plants, or seeds, might be tricking... heaven knew getting 'wavium wouldn't be a problem either. I hit enter and then waited for the shit to hit the fan.
"What's that?" I glanced at Kat.
"It's a seedling."
"Coffee tree. Beans. I'm not sure how it grows yet." I said cheerfully, packing, ah, fertilizer into the soil. Kat pinched the bridge of her nose and wandered off, muttering something about me being a crazy woman, and I continued to pack, very very carefully, a very small amount of 'wavium treated fertilizer into the pot. This was yet another project of mine, joining the two or three already in progress. I wasn't ready to open up shop yet, but I had wood treating for the cricket bat, and I still needed some special metal for my signature item...
I don't think Mal was... pleased with my shouts the next morning. I woke up in a tangle of plant life and coffee beans. Seems the three small pots I'd planted had mutated quickly, even overnight, and they were already blooming. Gorram handwavium... I plea bargained my way out, carefully sealed of the clippings, and kept a watchful eye on the now lush bean plants. My cabin was crowded, but we were making landfall in a couple days and, well, I'd see about either harvesting these bastards and properly processing the beans. No doubt someone would know how to.
Here we were, Phobos. I eyed the coffee plants. Sure enough, they'd already started sprouting beans, cheerful little green pods ready to pop off the vine. I don't know if it was the fact that I knew they'd been grown with 'wavium, or the fact that the Watch (my cheerful, loving bunch of fen) didn't know yet what I had done, but the plants were vaguely menacing to my eyes. I'm not a caffeine fiend, as previously stated, by some people out there...
I loaded the three plants, in their protective cases / terrariums, onto a handy cart, or attempted to. I wanted to haul these things off the Ptchika, as per orders, and get them to a safe place where I could study them better and figure out a way to harvest and prep the beans properly. But yuck, the terrariums were heavy. I was half on and half off of the Ptchika's cargo bay ramp, struggling with the cases and praying I didn't spill them.
Seventy-four tons of Battle Aluminum - the finest nonferrous building material, shielding, plate, track, well, anything metal that I've yet seen enter mass production in Fenspace.
And I had to boss it down to Phobos base, which, fortunately, had a big parking lot to drop it in. The load was a 8 wide, 5 tall stack of 20 foot beams of 1 foot square Battle Aluminum, with 4 pallets of tools and dies for working it on top, and it was the single biggest order I had yet recieved (that I'm willing to discuss in public).
And I didn't think I could handle it. I had choke rings around each end, and two of The Boys on each ring, running the whole show from V, with Millie doing overwatch and holding a working crew. The Boys had chivvied the load into Phobos wee little gravity well, and we were dropping slowly towards the edge of the big tarmac.
"Doc, Sleepy, bring your end up a tiny bit." I commanded, eyeing the awkward bundle nervously. We were approaching the bulk cargo pad quicker than I liked, and as the load came back even, I opened my mouth to tell all four boys to slow their rate of descent, and it happened.
Phobos gravity took over. We went from the weak attractive force that Phobos naturally puts out to the 'wave-powered Terran Standard G, and all four of my Boys plummeted out of sight.
"Abort, abort, get that load out of there NOW!" I screamed, followed by a blue streak after the mic was off, and the boys popped back into view, almost immediately.
I sighed in relief, and V cleared her throat.
"Uhm, boss.. "
"Where's the load?"
I punched manual and pointed V's nose at Phobos, just in time to see the entire freaking bundle hit the tarmac and bounce twice. I swear to anything you care to name, and at most of them, that I saw the entire moon shake.
The bundle held, though, so I had at least one thing going for me, as we spiralled down towards the crewlock. Ptichka was sitting on the other side of the main lock, in the passenger parking area, and I hope noone had been paying attention..
I was still struggling with the terrariums when I heard a whistling sound that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I managed to get all three on the cart, but this of course induced the wild batch of white curls to spring free of their bandana. I glanced up, muttering to myself, and then jaw dropped.
"OhgodsohgodsohgodsshitERISNO...!" I saw the biggest gorram pile of...well, something, rocket downwards and hit the tarmac at the far end with a hellalot of force. My hair literally exploded all over the place as the shock wave knocked me off my feet, and the terrariums bounced merrily off the cart and shattered all over the tarmac. Hell, Ptchika even shook. Hell, the entire bloody moon shook. And that meteor or whatever bounced.
I got up of my ass in a daze, the clouds of dust from impact making my cough. Once my ears stopped ringing, I heard other people shouting, inside Ptchika and elsewhere. As I got progressively angrier, given that my precious coffee plants were now littered over the ground, I narrowed my eyes at the place where the load had hit. Another ship was coming, heading to the crew lock.
I quietly gathered my plants together. They'd survived the strike in one piece, but there were bent branches and handfuls of missing leaves, and the poor things looked ragged. I figured Ptchika was in good hands... but I was pissed.
I stomped over to the crewlock. White hair with the black streak completely out of control and in full Susan mode, an angry face, and a cart of damaged Klatchian coffee plants in tow. Gorramit, some beans had been crushed and you could smell it already.
"Who the HELL IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS."
I'm not a Discworld 'fen, I'll admit. I'm, if anything, a Generic Dwarf Fen, but I've read Discworld.
So, when I open the door and see Susan Sto Helit staring at me with murder in her eyes, and she asks me what the hell I was thinking.. in The Voice..
My jaw dropped and I wasn't capable of speech for a moment, so I said the first thing that came to mind-
No, that wasn't right.
Not that either. I scrubbed at my face with my hands and looked back up at the fairly imposing figure.
"That was at least somewhat me - though I'd like to talk to whoever adjusted the artificial gravity that far out. Did I break anything?"
I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and calmed down. I really hated getting angry...especially at other people. The way the guy was staring at me made it obvious that he'd at least heard of Sto-Helit. To be honest, the hair kind of overrides my other features. I'm not as skinny as the character, and I have brown eyes. And I'm shortish. But.
"Sorry. You more scared the living daylights out of me, but you did damage my coffee plants." I sighed and stuck my thumb at the bruised plants behind me. Sure enough, the smell of coffee beans was already on the air. I needed to get those things sealed but quick. "I don't know much about the gravity, I'm stuck on the shuttle usually. You know where I can get some air tight containers?"
"Air tight I can handle, we can steal some tupperwares I have, the commisary here can just wait until I can get more."
"Now, did you say... coffee... plants?"
I rolled my eyes, reaching for a treated scrunchy and attempting to tame my hair back. "Yes, yes I did. Can't be that much of a surprise." I looked back at the plants and sighed. "I have my hobbies. Now, tupperware? Got anything big enough?"
About half the tupperware stuffed in V's vestigal back seat later, the coffee plants were resealed behind inert plastic, and I was on my way- seedling and bill in the same hand.
I was about to comment on the strangely lively behavior of the plants when the crew-lock opened, revealing a glowering face atop a Phobos Plant Services coverall stared out at me. Interrupted, I made my farewells.
"Well, it's been fun. I have to go be executed for my sins now."
The Plant Services man nodded, and escorted me down the labyrinthine halls of Phobos towards my punishment, leaving a bemused Lena behind me with an armful of tupperware.
I don't know what the hell came over me, giving him that seedling. Well, at least I had some petty cash, and word would get out about my little experiment in horticulture.
Oh gods. I had to go and say that, didn't I?
I just let the secret of Klatchian coffee out to the fen. The fen. Eris...no, please no, not her. Heaven help me.