Tarin finally gets processed by the Temple, and finds a use for his skills. Mar 6, 1997
(Rephidim) (Tarin) (Rephidim Temple)
The lighting in this office tends to go out now and then… But it bears the unmistakable soft glow of fluorescent lighting. A large globe festooned with multiple gadgets sits atop one side of the heavy maple desk, next to assorted journals and papers and forms (of course, many forms), and the dentist chair near the desk is starting to leak out the side of its vinyl coat. A screen next to the door indicates where the intercom used to be, replaced with an open hole to the other side, with a panel that may be closed for minimal soundproofing's sake.

After an annoying thorough medical examination including large numbers of pin-prickings, a young-looking Jupani ensign and several Zelaks bring Tarin to stand before an open hatch. The ensign opens the intercom panel and says, "Invidicator Garuda, e vulapin afera vo te parlevas. E malefika perusava ia." He carries a sheaf of papers, apparently the findings of the healers.

A figure robed in violet and green robes looks up from its desk, the end of a green scaled snout the only thing visible in its dark hood.

Tarin looks very much like the angry fox he is after all the poking and probing.

The ensign peeks in. "Ne volani ia vulapin?"

"Esssstra vulapin ess kooss," the figure responds in a breathy whisper of a voice, gesturing with one gloved hand to the reclined chair.

The Jupani, a white tundra wolf, motions for Tarin to go in.

Tarin takes one look at the chair and his eyes go wide, all the color draining from his ears.

The two Zelaks, violet with chevron markings of yellow over their fronts, move in to block the doorway behind Tarin. They hiss and clack once.

Tarin points at the chair "N'verth?" He seems on the verge of panic.

The ensign says more sharply, "Vorar, vulapin!" He nods.

Tarin shakes his head. "N'VERTH?"

The Inquisitrix stands up slowly. She's a head shorter than the fox, and has a hunched-over posture. She begins adjusting some knobs and dials on the globular helmet resting on one corner of the desk.

Tarin tries to dart under the two Zelaks, not liking the look of that chair one bit.

The robed figure snaps a command, and the Zelaks grab the fox.

Tarin starts to put up a struggle with all the energy of a large and panicked fox.

By keeping Tarin up off the ground, the Zelaks prevent him from gaining any leverage. They carry him to the chair, and one uses all four arms to hold the squirming fox down so the other can secure the restraining straps.

The ensign looks at the fox, then back to the inquisitor. "Ia vulapin madar val madkapresta?"

The Inquisitrix shakes her head, and replies, "Aj gek zum ot el."

Tarin raises an unholy din, his teeth scratching and scraping at the chitonous shell of the Zelak as he jerks its hands about.

The ensign nods to the Inquisitrix, then closes the hatch and locks it behind him to keep the noises from disturbing the work of other Temple bureaucrats. "Ia volan, Invidicator."

The hunched figure waits until the last flailing limb is secured, then gestures for a Zelak to hold the fox's muzzle closed.

Tarin's eye are wide, his fur is floofed to its full volume, and his hackles make him look almost lupine. He gets in a good bite before the Zelak can hold his muzzle closed.

The Zelak closes its chitinous hand over Tarin's mouth, unbothered by the relatively ineffective small vulpine teeth.

The heavy helmet comes down over Tarin's head, blocking off all sight and sound… at least for a moment.

Tarin struggles, waiting for the end but not giving up.

Tarin's muscles ripple and strain as he pulls at the lashings, threatening to rip them as his adrenalin really kicks in.

The ensign snorts. . o O ( Another Exile who has to impress us with futile resistance. ) He stands by with a hand on the hilt of a chitin dagger and looks to the Inquisitor.

After a few more adjustments to the helmet, the ancient Inquisitrix throws a knife-switch mounted on the wall behind the chair.


The struggling fox finds himself tumbling over a waterfall's frothing surface, bouncing off slippery moss-covered rock and sinking deep into a bitterly cold pool. Glimpses out of the white-roiled water shows a deep forest of pink and green nudging up against a steep mountainside…

Then everything's dark turquoise, the depths of an icy mountain pool stocked with silvery-flashing fish.

Tarin's body goes rigid as his brain starts to receive the images, his mind thrashing his arms about wildly in the river.

A fish chomps! on Tarin's foot. It sends a surge of pain up his leg, numbed though it is by the extreme chill, but one that feels curiously electrical.

Tarin yelps and jerks his feet towards his chest. He snatches at the fish and tries to rend it loose from his foot.

The fish bitebitebites at Tarin, its jaws appearing… mechanical? It looks like a clockwork fish. Amazing.

Another fish chomps on Tarin's tail! *chewchewchew*

Tarin grabs one fish and smashes at the other with it. He tries to swim to the surface and stroke out with the current.

The fast-moving water sweeps Tarin down the stream, bumping against several rocks here and there, then against a steep bank where curiously tough grass hangs over.

The bapped fish lets go, and then the two clockwork automata start attacking each other…

Little nibbles show tinier fish attempting to latch onto Tarin's feet and arms…

Tarin scrambles at the bank trying to find a handhold to lift himself out, slowing himself with pawfuls of the grass.

The grass stretches, but holds… It feels like cloth. Tough, scratchy cloth. The fox struggles onto the riverside, to find himself amidst green trees mixed with deciduous trunks that lift cotton candy clouds of pink foliage to the sky. Nearby someone sits upon a rock, oblivious to his arrival: a golden foxine form, draped in long robes of pure white, the edges of which are embroidered with curiously intertwined patterns of silver lines.

A mechanical fish jumps after Tarin! Its voracious jaws go *click* *clack* *click* as it thrashes about on the grass.

Tarin looks about, panting before swatting the fish back into the stream. He drinks in the strange surroundings, remembering his last moments of life, and rubbing at his sore foot and tail, an unreal terror rising in his head. "Saint Kallile?" he asks the figure.

The fish chomps onto Tarin's toe and gnawgnaws for a moment before it gets kicked off into the stream. "Grr! *blub* *brrb*" And its sleek silvery body disappears into the water.

The vixen does not stir.

Tarin moves towards the vixen slowly, moving to the side of her so he doesn't surprise her from behind. "San'Kallile?" He asks again looking to her face.

"Tekalila enphian lea hanandora," the vixen says, looking to the pool as if looking onto another world through the glass of the water. "Ia tekalilen neh je hanandaren." Her voice seems sorrowful, and then as if suddenly realizing Tarin's presence, she lifts a hand up to him, palm up, as if inviting him to take it. Her eyes change color slowly, first blue, then green, then a pale silver-blue, never staying the same for longer than a few seconds.

Tarin hesitates but slowly takes the offered paw.

The hand burns to Tarin's touch, but the fingers curl around with unearthly strength to keep the fox from pulling away. The electrical shock is much like the fish bites, but reaching up to his brain… Words, images. The vixen's mouth moves, her eyes hold Tarin's, but the sense doesn't come through for a brief moment of pain…

Tarin jerks at the shock, his head spinning with the images. His first instinct is to pull away but something in the images and words keeps him there, mesmerised by the shifting colors of the lady's eyes.

"… Ship's Psychologist. System error. This subsystem has not been able to report for more than thirty days. I observe more than fifteen hundred cases of acute neurosis, well over the maximum psychosis allowance for this crew size… "

"It is imperative that decanting be conducted in tandem with appropriate psychoethical induct – " and the vision suddenly fades away to black.

Once again the fox can feel his body, strapped to the chair, his head confined by a sight-blocking helmet, his muzzle held shut by cool chitinous fingers.

Tarin blinks and slumps, his head aching as he struggles to pant, his body overheating as his nostrils flare to try to cope with the heat buildup from his struggling.

The helmet is lifted off, and Tarin can see the face of a wizened dragon looking down at him. "Nod if you underssstand me."

The Zelak removes its hand.

Tarin moans softly, his mind not comprehending for a second or two. Then suddenly his ears perk up and he looks at the dragon, nodding. "I do," flows out of his mouth, perplexing him as it's not the tongue of his clan.

The dragon nods, and shuffles back to her desk to set down the helmet. In that breathy whisper of a voice, she instructs the Zelaks to release Tarin from the chair restraints.

The Zelaks reach over to unbuckle the straps. Their long gutting claws cross Tarin's field of vision, dangerously sharp but for the moment, not aimed at him.

Tarin sits still for several seconds, his ears picking up the sounds of the building, his nose the scents. His body drifts tiredly as the adrenalin begins to wear off…

The dragon seats herself with an audible creaking of joints, and looks over the paperwork that was delivered just before Tarin was. Picking up a quill pen, she asks, "What isss your name, Exxxile?"

Tarin sits dreamily before he blinks and turns to the dragon. "How d' y' speak Clan Ayre, M'Lady?"

Tarin shakes his head to clear it, sitting up sorely, his strained muscles protesting every move.

The dragoness looks up at Tarin with yellow eyes. "You are now sssspeaking Rephidim Common. What isss your name?"

Tarin looks at the form. "Tarin Firepelt, of th' clan Firepelt."

The dragon writes it down. "I am Inquisitrix Garuda of the Rephidim Temple. Welcome to the world of Sinai. What world did you come from?"

Tarin scritches his sore temples, "Jen'is'a, I believe they called it."

Garuda pauses in her writing, the retrieves and examines a paper from another part of her desk. "Ahh… 'splainss much. You Genisisss foxess are an ornery bunch. Do you recognissse the names Zephyr, Jarik, Envoy or Ben'zhamin?"

Tarin blinks, "They are here?"

The dragon squints at a footnote next to Ben'zhamin's entry, and produces a magnifying glass to read it closer. "They have been here. It isss noted that the mouse Ben'zhamin claimed to have left your world in the company of a Tarin. Are you that Tarin?"

Tarin nods and rubs his head. "Aye. I suppose I am."

"The foxes Jarik and Zzzephyr are missing, pressssumed dead. The mouse is part of a trading clan. How and where did you arrive on this world?" the dragon wheezes.

Tarin's ears droop at those words. He thinks for several seconds. "I do not know the answer to those questions."

The dragoness looks up with age-clouded eyes, "What do you first remember after leaving Genississs?"

Tarin says, "Waking up in a blizzard in th'mountains."

Garuda examines Tarin's processing form. "It iss noted that you were found by a tribe of Jupani. Iss that correct?"

Tarin nods, "Th' Jupani are th' wolves, aye?"

The dragoness nods.

Tarin nods, "They sprung upon m' camp right after I arrived. Spent 3 days tied t' a log 'fore they marched me through th' mountains on a huntin' pole. Then they untied me an' sent me t' a city with a hunter and his mate."

The dragoness writes that down. "Are you or this Ben'zhamin wanted for any criminal activitiesss on your Genesisss?"

Tarin shakes his head. "No. Ben was a king there. The Wizard of the Coves. I was a Ranger of Queen Arwyn of th' Mountains."

The dragon squints at Tarin, as if trying to picture this, then just shakes her head slightly and asks, "Do you have any magical abilitiess or powers?"

Tarin shakes his head. "Nay, I dunna work any witchcraft."

The dragon redips her pen in the inkwell before asking, "What about ssskills with which you might support yourssself?"

Tarin says, "Forgive me. I'll answer what ya want, but please: What is this place, what is this machine, where am I and how d' I get home?"

Tarin says, "Yer th' first person t' understan' me in nearly a moon."

"Asss I ssaid… " the dragon answers, a bit of impatience creeping into the whispery voice, "you are in the Temple at Rephidim. The learning device wass used to teach you our common tongue. It is unlikely you will ever see your world again."

"Now, what skillss do you have that might be used to repay the cost of your processing?" the dragon asks again.

Tarin's ears droop at that. "I see." He tilts his head, "Cost of processing?"

The dragon nods, old scales crackling. "The fee iss one gold piece. Our recordss show you only had a few shekels when you arrived. Ssso, you will have to serve the Temple until your debt iss repaid."

Tarin's eyes narrow as that filters in. "I see." He frowns as he scritches his head. "Skills to support m'self you said." He looks over the forms to see if he can read the writing. "I am a carpenter by training. Small goods, housebuilding and shipbuilding is m'trade. And carving, high and low relief."

The Inquisitrix makes notes. "Fortunate that we have a prossperouss sshipping port on Rephidim, where such skillss are needed. Perhaps a shipyard will buy your contract from uss."

Garuda sets aside her pen and sorts the paperwork. "You will be assssigned to temporary quarterss until a Placement Offisssser can test your skillss."

Tarin says, "M'Contract?" He says, his muzzle turning into a scowl. "I'll negotiate a contract quite well but I kenna do a thin until I get m' tools back from those dratted… Jupani ya said?"

The old dragon manages an attempt at a smile, "The Placement Offissser will discuss these details with you. For your sake, I hope the third time is a charm for Genesisss foxes."

Inquisitrix Garuda gives instructions for Tarin to be escorted to the post-processing office for his billet.

Tarin Hmmmphs. "Thank you fur your… services," he says, looking disdainfully at the machine. "Before I go. What happened to the Jupani that brought me here? I will need to talk to him if I'm t' get m' tools back."

The dragon looks up from her other work, "That is something you will have to investigate yoursself."

Waving to the guards in a dismissive 'You have your instructions' gesture, the dragon returns to her work.

Tarin looks back and shakes his head, "Good Eve, M'Lady." He says with a slight bow. "OK. Lead th' way," he says to the Zelak, "And quit with th' pinchin' this time. I'm na going anawhere."

The Zelak leads Tarin through the maze of corridors and tunnels, stopping first at the dispensary where the fox gets a change of clothes. Next is a stop at the cafeteria for a simple, if filling, dinner before the fox is finally led to his quarters: a square, ceramic-walled room that has more in common with a cell than an apartment. In a clicking voice, the Zelak informs the fox that someone will come to fetch him in the morning. The Zelak leaves without answering any of Tarin's questions.

Tarin grumbles and makes faces at the bug as it leaves. He looks about the room and tap tap taps on the walls.

The room's walls are undecorated, solid gray ceramic. Light comes from an oil lamp set on a small wooden table next to the sleeping cot. In the corner is a simple bathroom with a sink and mirror.

Tarin frowns and looks at the walls. He tries the door handle.

The door seems to be locked, and the hinges are also on the outside.

Tarin snuff snuffs about the room looking for anything out of the ordinary.

The bunk rests atop a wooden base holding several shelves and drawers. Other than the bathroom fixtures, which are built into the wall, the furniture looks to have been added later.

Tarin grumbles and fidgets about in the room for awhile before deciding to curl up for some rest. What will come will come. He says a brief prayer to the Saints before crawling under the covers of the bed.

It is impossible to tell time in the windowless room, but just as Tarin is beginning to wake up the sound of a bolt being thrown echos through the room, and the door swings open to reveal a wolfish Jupani.

The Jupani glances at a clipboard. He doesn't seem to be wearing the same sort of uniform that the Temple guards do. "Are you Tarin Firepelt, Exile?" he asks.

Tarin bolts into the corner defensively until sleep starts to pass to awareness. He shakes his head, and then bows as his hackles start to drop back down to normal.

Tarin nods. "Aye. Who are you and what is this 'Exile' business?"

The wolf says, "I'm Mordecai Burrbiter, and I've been assigned as your placement advocate. All aliens arriving on Sinai are called Exiles."

Tarin nods as he rubs sleep from his eyes. "Aye. Well, what's the meanin' of this?" he says, waving his arms around the room. "Saint's Blood, I've na had such rude housin' since The Duchess Of Ayre ."

Moredecai shrugs, "We don't get Exiles that often, so we have to make do with the facilities we have. Why don't you wash up and we'll get some breakfast, I have an interview set up for you with DiMedici Shipping in a few hours."

Tarin nods and looks at the set of clothes from the day before as he pulls them on. He leaves his shirt to last, splashing water over his face and trying to straighten his fur out as best he can before he pulls the shirt back on. He looks at the Jupani and thinks of his former guides. "Are you from those mountains I came from? I had two guides, a wolf and his mate, that brought me to this place from there."

Mordecai glances at the clipboard, "Himar, most likely? No, I was born here in Rephidim. My job doesn't have a lot of travel oppourtunities." The wolf leads Tarin back to the cafeteria.

Tarin nods, "You said you were a placement man? What exactally does your job entail?" He snuff snuffs curiously as he enters the cafeteria, and his stomach growls.

The Jupani picks up a tray and leads Tarin down the line of food bins, picking some scrambled eggs and a few pieces of fruit for himself. The large room is packed this early, mostly with raccoons that are garbed in a cross between overalls and robes. Silent cheetahs tend to and serve the food.

Mordecai says, "Oh, I find jobs for people. I'm not even part of the Temple, I just work on commission for them. Like I said, Exiles are pretty rare."

Tarin picks up a healthy ammount of food, not Kamots proportions but nearly so. "Scuse me," he says to the Jupani, "I'vena had but ship rations fur a week. Poor rations t' boot."

A cheetah woman offers Tarin and Mordecai mugs of a steaming brown drink, which the wolf accepts.

Tarin snuff snuffs, "What is this?" He asks, accepting, as he starts to wolf down the food."

The drinks seem to be some kind of sweet, almost fruity coffee. Mordecai winces a bit at his first sip. "They never have decent coffee here… "

Tarin laps at the drink and then makes a face. "Ach. Aye it tis even worse than I remembured it." He wags a bit. "I prefer tea t' coffee M'self."

Mordecai grins, "Who doesn't? But good tea has to be imported."

Between bites of his own breakfast, the wolf asks, "Says here you've got carpentry skills. Ever worked on airships?"

Tarin shakes his head, "Nay. I havena. Cursed thin's they are full of no good." He winces as he says that. "I've never had a good thin happen t' me when those thins are aboot."

Tarin sips at the water he brought with him. "I am familiar with riggin' an shipwrite skills of the waterborne kind." He smiles, "That's th' way to be building a ship."

Mordecai blinks at the vehemence behind Tarin's words. "That's a shame. Airships are big business on Rephidim, and non-Guilded craftsmen are in demand. I don't suppose the rigging is all that different though… but I've never seen a watership"

Tarin nods, "I looked about the one I was brought on, as much as I could from the center. The construction seems t' be aboot the same, but I wasna able t' make much of an inspecton."

"Hopefully you'll change your mind about airships at your interview today. You'll be better off under an outside work contract than under the Temple's," the wolf comments.

Tarin nods, "Well, I'll have no trouble buildin' the thin's. I just dunna want t' be off th' ground in them."

Mordecai wipes his muzzle, and politely waits for Tarin to finish his huge meal. "Did anyone explain the work contracts to you yet?"

Tarin shakes his head, "Nay. They didna."

Mordecai nods, "Figures. Well, basically it goes like this: the Temple provides you with the language, room and board, medical care, and any skills training you need to support yourself. In return, you owe them one gold… that's 10,000 shekels… worth of work in return. Usually working in the Temple itself, where they control the pay rate. It can take a year or two to work that debt off… "

Tarin coughs on his water, "Saint's Blood."

Tarin works on the last of his bacon, washing it down with water before pushing away the debris to the center of the table.

The wolf goes on, "Now, they don't care how they get that gold piece out of you, so if someone buys your contract from them, they're just as happy. My job is to try and find somone outside the Temple that is willing to buy your contract for a gold, and still promise to provide the basics that the Temple does."

Mordecai grins, "Outside jobs pay better though, so your contract could be up in a few months… especially if you can work on airships. The Crafts Guild has been putting a lot of pressure on the industry, and shipwrights are looking for anyone non-Guild with useful skills."

"And… " the wolf adds, "I get a percentage of the contract fee, so it's in my interest to get you a good deal, see?"

Tarin nods, "D' they have room and board? And what sort of tools d' they have? Those dratted wolves in the mountains took my axe and tools. And the rest of m' belongins too, th' highwaymen."

"You'll be able to see all that for yourself when we get to the docks." Mordecai glances around. The morning rush has largely trickled out by now. "We should probably get on our way now, too."

Tarin nods and stands. "Lead th' way sir. I appear t' be at yur service."

Mordecai leads Tarin out through the maze, taking several moments at the main entrance to prove his identity and sign receipts and various other paperwork, including making a noseprint on some sort of litmus paper. Then the two are able to set out through the city.

The wolf points out a squat, two-story building not far from the Temple. "That's where my office is, if you need to find me again." He carefully skirts around the edge of the Bazaar on the way to the docks.

Tarin looks about as he tries to memorize the streets, wishing he had a map. He looks at the building and nods

Eventually, the pair come to the side of a huge, blank building that extends out over the edge of the island, not far from the docks but opposite the warehouse district. "Here we are!" the wolf announces, and wraps loudly on a one of the doors.

After a few more poundings, the door opens to reveal a ferret-like Kavi with a turtle strapped to her head. "Yeh? We don' want none!"

Tarin looks nervously at the edge of the docks, keeping to the side of the path away from the precipice.

Mordecai quickly says, "We're here to see Roscoe. Got an appointment even."

The Kavi eyes Tarin suspiciously, and says, "Appointment eh? Better come in den, and watcher step!" The kavi opens the door and makes 'hurry up' motions with her hand.

Mordecai leads Tarin through the door…

Drydock, DiMedici Shipyards
The open-air repair dock is large… large enough to accomodate a flying battleship. Two walls extend out into open space, where adjustable wooden supports are cradling a rather battered cargo airship. Rope catwalks, nets, and pulley cranes seem to fill all of the space between the ship and the dock walls, extending to the sides, belly, and even up into the gasbag rigging. Nimble Kavi swarm up and down, over and under every surface, and can often be seen to swing from lines or simply jump from section to section rather than use the slower (and presumably safer) catwalks. Humanoid bats supervise the work in the upper reaches, while foxes and poodles oversee work on the hull. The non-winged supervisors dangle from harnesses attached to Kavi-operated cranes, often barking out orders to be moved from one spot to another. None of the workcrew seems bothered by the open drop below them, or the gusts of wind that occasionally rock the entire structure.

Tarin follows Mordecai into the door… and his ears drain of color as he presses against the wall.

The kavi points to a long table near the back of the building, "E's over dere." She then goes back to her work; measuring out lengths of cord with her arms, then holding them up to her forehead, where the turtle cuts them with its beak.

Mordecai blinks at Tarin's reaction. "What's the matter?"

Tarin tries not to look at the drop. "Kenna… s-stand heights." He gulps and looks at the ceiling, casting glances to the floor and where he is supposed to be going.

From behind a table piled high with broken or disassembled parts, a young poodle approaches. He deftly dodges the various equipment and supplies being flung about by Kavi workers.

"Mordecai!" the poodle calls out, "Is this the alien you told me about? He doesn't look like an alien."

Mordecai pulls his face back into a smile before turning to greet the smaller poodle. "Yes, Roscoe, this is Tarin Firepelt, a carpenter and Exile."

Tarin looks up to the poodle and recomposes himself a little. "G'day."

The poodle steps up to Tarin, and holds out a hand. From head to foot, the canine seems to be covered in tools, especially the bulging apron that hangs from neck to knees. "Pleased to meet you, Firepelt!" the poodle booms. It seems shouting is the way things get communicated in this madhouse. "Roscoe DiMedici. I run this shop for my uncle."

"Coming through!!!" shout several kavi as they swing by on a large wooden beam that a crane is moving towards the ship.

"He has some experience building surface ships too, Roscoe," Mordecai comments.

"Great!" the poodle bellows, "let's get you harnessed up, Firepelt, and see what you can do!" He gestures to some kavi operating a crane, who stop and come over with an apron similar to Roscoe's.

Tarin stands back for the beam. "Aye. Anything from a single mast sailing boat t' a three-masted clipper. Although I was only a Journeyman assistant to m' master at that time."

Almost before the fox can blink, two Kavi's drop the heavy apron over his head and begin fastening all sorts of thick straps… far more than necessary just to keep the apron on.

Tarin yerks and quickly sees similar harnesses on others about and knows where they are. "Wait, wait," he shouts, batting at the Kavis. "Just a moment."

Tarin's ears are quite white.

Roscoe smiles, "What's the matter, Firepelt? The harnesses are for safety, I promise they won't get in the way once you get used to them."

Tarin shakes his head. "Sir if you drag me over that hole I wilna be able t' drive a nail with a sledge." He backs away from the edge. "D'ya have anything I ken test on on th' ground? Or in the middle of the deck?"

Two more Kavi come up and attach lines to the loops in the shoulders of Roscoe's own apron. "There are safety nets under the platform. Hmmm, you know your rigging you say?"

Tarin nods, "Aye. And carving. I specialized in high and low relief finishing of pieces in m' shop between drydock spells and in the cold season. D'ya need ana figureheads fur yer prow?"

The poodle blinks. "We build and repair ships here, not decorate them." He turns to Mordecai, "You said he was a carpenter."

Tarin nods, "I am." He sighs. "But I am also deathly afraid of heights." He looks at the harnesses. "Although I ken try if you insist."

Roscoe rubs his chin, "Not claustrophobic though, are you?"

Tarin shakes his head, "That I amna."

Roscoe nods, and says, "Okay then, I'll meet you on the deck. Don't look down when you use the catwalks, and not because of the heights. Don't keep your head up, and likely something will swing by and knock it off for you."

Tarin looks at the foreman and nods.

The poodle reaches up to tug on one of the harness lines, then bellows something to the crane operator. Like a puffy Peter Pan, the poodle is flown over to the deck of the ship in just a few breaths.

The poodle waves to Tarin from the deck of the ship.

Tarin erps and looks for the catwalk to cross. He wanders over to it hesitatingly and screws up some courage. Then he tries to run across – but his legs don't want to agree with his mind and he gets a slow, steady, carefully placed foot-after-foot walk.

A stone-headed hammer flies past Tarin's nose as one Kavi tosses it to another.

Tarin's ears flatten, but he doesn't react aside from hunkering down a bit. He concentrates on the end of the catwalk… not the view below.

Immediately below the catwalk is about twelve feet of open space, and then the heavy net that serves as an emergency floor. A finer mesh net rests atop it to catch tools.

Below the net, however, is a nearly two mile drop.

Tarin waits until he's right at the deck of the airship before looking down. "YEEP!" He hops and quickly moves to the center of the deck. "Saint's Mercy!"

A Kavi on a bunjee cord tweaks Tarin's tail as she zips past to retrieve something dropped onto the net.

"Beautiful view, isn't it?" Roscow bellows, thumping Tarin on the back.

Tarin grins wryly. "I'll answer that when M' voice returns t' normal." His tail wags.

"C'mon, I want you to look at something belowdeck." With that, the poodle turns and disappears down a hatch, having already disconnected his flying ropes.

Tarin nods and heads below, looking at the structure of the ship as he tries to figure out how they are built.

Roscoe waits for Tarin below in what turns out to be the rigging control room for the two large horizontal masts. The masts' bases join together here, along with the keel mast and main gasbag mast to form a heavily reinforced cross. The masts are three feet thick, and the port one is obviously damaged…

The poodle squeezes between the heavy ropes and pulleys that crowd the room, and points to the four-foot long crack running lengthwise through the port mast. The weight of the wood has forced the half below the crack to begin buckling. "Tell me, Firepelt, how would you go about making this mast true again?"

In another corner of the room, a Kavi tries to puzzle out a hopelessly tangled pulley mechanism.

Tarin looks at the mast and hmmms. "Well th' first thin' obviously is t' attach a steel band about th' fracture, here," he points, "Here… an' here. Then… " He looks at the wall. "How thick is th' sidin' here?"

Roscoe blinks at Tarin, and even the Kavi stops what he's doing to gape at the stranger.

"Steel bands? We may as well replace the whole mast then!" Roscoe says.

As Tarin's eyes adjust better to the dim light, he can see that there isn't a single piece of metal anywhere to be seen. Pulleys use glass wheels on stone axes, and some sort of plastic-like material is used for most connections. Otherwise, wooden parts are made to lock together like some sort of giant jigsaw puzzle.

Tarin blinks, "What d'ya mean? Surely there are some smiths or coopers about inna place this big who could fashion ya a band or two?" He notices the stares. "What?"

The poodle suddenly barks out in laughter… "Oh! I forgot… you're an alien! You probably had steel bedroom slippers or something where you came from, Firepelt, but on Sinai metal is scarce."

The Kavi takes a moment to understand what's been said, then giggles, "Hey, next you'll claim to have used metal TOOLS, eh foxy?"

Tarin nods. "Actually, I've forged m' own nails and tools fur years – although fur th' finer tools I had t' go t' a full smith."

Tarin tilts his head. "Oh… How scarce?"

Roscoe smirks, "This is a good ship, worth quite a bit. It's got an all metal compass."

Tarin blinks, "Saints." He shakes his head as this sinks in. "Well, I tell th' truth; where I am from, metal is so common it's used as clasps and buckles."

The poodle stares at Tarin. Then he pulls a tool out of one of the dozens of pockets on his apron, and hands it to the fox. It's about 16 inches long, with a handle on one end and one side flattened. The flattened side glitters, having hundreds of glass shards embedded in it. "Recognize this?" Meanwhile the Kavi just shakes his head. Metal wasted on buckles??

Tarin looks at the tool and nods, "A saw." He thinks, "Saints, what d' ya use as nails?" He looks at the siding. "Saints. It's pegged and tied."

The Kavi looks at his own unmanicured fingers at the mention of 'nails'.

Tarin thinks, "Well, let me think. How good are your rope makers then? Ya could wrap the spots I mentioned with several loops of strong rope for starts. Not rigging mind you. Strong support grade rope."

Roscoe says, "We've got lots of heavy rope."

Tarin thinks aloud as he walks about. "Okay, wrap the mast in wet rope in these three spots fur support. Then… " He locates some scrap wood and starts constructing a model frame on the floor. "What's above us? If we construct this frame, it would take the stress off the mast by divertin its weight through here and the force of the wind through here." He adjusts the wood pieces again. "Yes, this is better. Or ya could get almost the same with ropes."

Roscoe looks over the model and nods, "The rope we know about, but that support frame is a good idea. You say you made your own tools? Have any of them with you?"

Tarin shakes his head. "Nay. That I dinna have."

Tarin says, "They were taken from me when I arrived, along with m' axe and m' clan sword."

Tarin sighs thinking of all of the things he lost.

Roscoe blinks, and asks, "Metal tools?"

Tarin chuckles humorlessly, "M' life's blood." He looks at the foreman. "Couldna speak a word anyone could understand. Had no idea where I was and the first thin that happens is I get robbed of m' livelihood."

Roscoe asks, "Are you claiming the Temple stole your tools?"

Tarin shakes his head. "The Temple? The plce up there?" He points in the direction of the Temple. "Nay, I'd been without them fur long before that."

"So who has dem??" the Kavi asks, impatiently.

Tarin throws up his paws. "I dinna know. I've been speaking for one day. I dinna know m' geography yet." He looks at the Kavi. "Why d' ya ask?"

The Kavi blinks at Tarin, "Cuz deys worth a lot!"

Tarin looks at the Kavi and nods. "Aye. And I plan on gettin them back too." He shakes his head. As soon as I ken pay off this debt."

All this time, Roscoe has been tapping his muzzle in contemplation. "I'll buy out your contract, Firepelt. You know enough to supervise, and I'll be setting you to that… but if you had these tools of yours again, you could make tools better than we can buy I think. And that will put us ahead."

Tarin nods. "That I could, "He smiles, "With my peg board I could save you time on peg and biscut making alone…

Roscoe grins, "Genoh. I'll go fill out the paperwork with Mordecai, and have someone set you up with an apartment. For now, work out the details of this support frame of yours. Got anything that needs to be picked up at the Temple?"

Tarin shakes his head. "Whats on my back is what I own." He looks at the Temple issued clothes. "Not even those I'll add."

The poodle nods, "I'll get you an advance for getting some clothes and personal effects. I'll ask Mordecai about where you were brought in from, maybe he'll know."

Tarin fingers the worn charm of cream and white fur in the wood bead around his neck that he fought for until the doctor realised what it was.

Tarin says "Elamoore."

Roscoe blinks, "That far eh? Your tools are there?"

Tarin shakes his head, "No, but I ken pick up the trail from there." He frowns, "I memorised all the landmarks on m' journey."

"The name of the person that brought you would be better," Roscoe notes.

Tarin says, "I dinna know her name, but if she is still alive I know where I ken find m' former guide."

Tarin says, "And the one who brought me here." He thinks "She called him… Swishytail?" He uses the Lupine word.

Envoy says, "Okay, " the poodle nods, "I'll see what Mordecai can do with that." The foreman makes his way out of the tangle of cables, and disappears up the hatch."

"Heh… " the Kavi says, "Welcome aboard, Firebutt."

Tarin looks and raises an eyebrow. "Firepelt!" He switches to his language,"Fyrsket."

The Kavi shrugs, and gestures through the open panel next to the mast. "Sure looked like yer butt were on fire coming up the pansywalk, tail all poofed out and shaking liked it wuz." He then winks and goes back to untangling cables.

Tarin blink, then laughs! "I hope ya get forced t' work with a roomful of spiders or whatever ya be havin a skeer of!" =)

The Kavi shakes his head, "Grabbits works the nets… "

Tarin shakes his head and takes a look at the mast, wandering between decks as he begins to figure out where the support beams and pulleys will go. Soon he is lost in work, the name of his link back to Himar sticking in his mind. "Winnowei. Swishytail's mate who's in jail's name was Winnowei."


GMed by BoingDragon & Lynx

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Today is 9 days before New Year's Day, Year 26 of the Reign of Archelaus the First (6125)