It’s a happy, though somewhat bloated, ship that makes its way through hyperspace en route for Egypt.
The Horkalites rustle up an endless succession of meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. It’s really too much, but it’s just so goddamned tasty that no one can resist. After a few days of non-stop banquets, the party members have to break out the unused gym equipment for the passenger lounge as otherwise they know they’re going to each put on five kilos before they’ve managed to get the Horkalites to Mertactor.
Autumn spends much of her time in the galley with the Horklites, picking up some of their tricks of the trade. She picks up the techniques a lot quicker than Joshua. Ambrosia confides to her that the kid looks like he is going to be hard work. The Horkalites will persist at all costs though – they never leave a man behind.
When not eating or exercising, the party members continue with their regular chores and their training regimes. In engineering, Grim suddenly finds himself wishing he’d gotten a tattoo on Overnale before they left. “W.W.W.D.?”, was the tat’ but he didn’t know what it stood for, or even what the letters meant. It seemed funny to be wishing for a tattoo that he didn’t understand. Maybe he’d comm Will and ask him about it. Yeah, that was it! He’d find out what Will would do in a situation like this…
Evenings are always spent chatting over the seven-course dinners that the Horkalites provide them with. The party members and passengers are all getting on like a house on fire. Miranda loves her wine and never stops talking and laughing once she gets a chance to sit down and enjoy the fruits of her labour. The biogeneering geeks and Will soon become great friends as well. They are fascinated with all Will’s planetological theories and case studies which they take as challenges to their own knowledge.
“Hmmmmm – 5% methane in the atmosphere? That shouldn’t be too much of a problem,” Xin says. “Splicing a human genome with that of the Marsupial Woomrat from Nasemin has been proven effective, allowing Humaniti to breathe methane levels up to 8.5%.”
Grim, never a fan of the ultra-religious, nevertheless seems fascinated by the Horkalites, asking many questions.
All the talk of atmospheres and genomes proves dull to the rest of the party, and the endless chatter about food becomes less than fascinating after a while also. However, they find some entertainment in chatting with Stein. After listening to some of the party members tales of their exploits at InterSol, Stein can’t keep his mouth shut any longer and admits to them that he is a bounty hunter so that he can spin a few yarns about his previous missions as well. No matter how drunk they try to get him though, he refuses to reveal details of where he is heading or who he is trying to track down. He does reveal though that he’s heading back to District 268 which is where most wanted fugitives from the Glisten sector tend to head in order to try and avoid pursuit. He seems to know all of the shitholes in District 268 like the back of his hand, having spent plenty of time there hunting down his quarry.
Once all of the passengers have gone to bed, the party members crack open one more bottle of ufffleberry wine and chat among themselves.
“Those Horkalites aren’t bad at all,” Arvor comments. “Hey – if you have to invent a supreme being to run your life, you might as well have one that’s fun.”
“Couldn’t agree more!” agrees a now very drunk Grim. “Ultimately that’s why I left the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster: The ‘Parmagian Cheese Orthodoxy’ constantly arguing with the ‘Romano Cheese Heresy’ was getting too serious, especially when it exploded into open fighting after the ‘Capellini is the One True Pasta’ folks got involved. Every supper was like a final supper; lots of yelling and storming off to eat desert apart. Now I’m an Ovo/Lacto/Vegetarian Climate Change Denier with a strong feeling for random Reincarnation as the cyclic engine driving the universe.”
“Down with Millenarianists! Long live endless cycles of birth, death, and rebirth! There is no Climate Change, only seasons! Wait, why do I have to chant that? Isn’t it self-evident like everything in the great Book of Circular Logic? Oh, it reinforces the orthodoxy? That does it, I’m outta here…[mumbles]…gonna find me a heretical belief system that’ll stay cutting edge, that’s what I’m gonna do. Even if I have to invent a new belief system every morning. I’ll call it the A.M. Genesis Church…”