Three Hills, One Clue

Started by Sidney Applebaum, October 29, 2020, 12:55:52 pm

Sidney Applebaum

October 29, 2020, 12:55:52 pm Last Edit: November 04, 2020, 10:26:38 am by Lomari
"Pool?!"

It was a word he'd been saying about a hundred times a day now. Ever since he showed up planetside looking for the old pirate. The banker set out to find Pool, but the man himself heard there was a half awake man wandering around town just slurring the word "Pool" over and over again to everyone who spoke to him. As far as Sid knew, he was at one of those resorts where you can swim up to a poolside bar, order a drink then go float in the sun.

The ape of a man sloshed up to Sid back paddling in a rain water filled hole in the ground. The "pool" he'd found was used to cool a lot of the machines for local businesses, including the reclamation business Sidney could have found if it weren't for his magic airplane tic-tacs. He didn't even find the pool that Pool had in his actual property. It was a muddy recess filled up with water, and pipes snaking out of it going towards every bit of light industry in town. Somehow the goldfish swimming around him and the toxic sludge didn't seem to mind.

Location: Space Port

One week later, Sid was coming down from his sleeping medication, but this time it was a new brand. He felt a bit sharper. Though his mouth felt like a space-ship. They were on Three Hills, shuffling through a crowded space-port.

"Pool!"

He tried again to get his attention. Coming off a bit like an over-eager fan boy. Which he was. Finally getting the larger man's attention he inquired.

"Ship or clues first? I mean we can't really go look for any more clues after this if we don't have a ship really. Well, I mean I did the math, its cheaper to just lease out a ship for the whole thing rather than hire a bunch of different crews... its even a security thing if you think about it..."

Applebaum smiled, realizing something.

"I'm rambling, and you... know what you're doing."

They resumed walking. Sidney intentionally slowed down to then be walking next to his daughter, who'd tagged along.

"Hey, Pool-ling... Wait, Kiddy Pool! That's the one."

Sid snapped and then did a little fist pump move, proud of his dad joke. Then got right back on track from before.

"Ship first or clues...?"

Like a dog with a bone, he was having fun, and just eager to get to the next part. Sid felt like a new man. Maybe it was the side effects of the drugs and how they made him feel like his eyebrows were floating just above his skull, but he hadn't felt this excited about a new job since... ever.


Reinhardt Pool

October 30, 2020, 03:54:51 pm #1 Last Edit: November 04, 2020, 10:23:50 am by Lomari
Location: Space Port

"For cryin' out loud would you shut up?" Pool asked for what felt like the hundredth time. The guy - Sidney Applebaum - never seemed to shut up. Since he'd shown up at their scrap yard- yap yap yap yap yap. Pool actually liked that about the guy, but in this particular instance, it was to their detriment. He pulled the man by the elbow to the side, as if that would hide them from prying ears. No one seemed to be paying them any mind. Pool checked to make sure. "I told you I got a warrant out on Three Hills." The warrant was over thirty years old, but Pool doubted they had forgotten about him. The good ol' days. Before he had been saddled with...

His eyes darted in his daughter's direction. Pool tried to remember how much he had told Rhiannon, whom he affectionately referred to as Junior, about his past. Probably too much. She took after him in all the wrong ways, and yet, that's what Pool liked best about her. Either way, playing the heavy wasn't something he was used to doing in front of her, even though it had been his stock and trade for almost forty years before she'd been born. He let go of Sid's arm and patted the guy on the shoulder. "Just play it cool, okay, Slick? I don't remember much from my time on this rock. There was some folks I ran with, but I figure they're long gone by now."

He figured right. The Horse Thief Gang, as they were creatively called by the local press, hadn't operated long. But they'd made an impact. Their leader, a fella by the name of... what was it? Orenthal? Octavius? Orlando? Something with an O. Oscar? Orpheus? Orifice? No, that can't be it. Pool didn't remember, but he'd been strung up along with half their ranks. Pool had watched from from under a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses in the crowd. Felt he owed it to them to see them go, if not join them. And he sure as hell wasn't about to turn himself in. Their own fault getting caught and all.

"We'll play it as we go, but Three Hills is a horse planet. Not a lot of ships. So those that are dry docked will either be expensive or desperate." The old man looked around, trying to get his bearings. None of this seemed familiar. Even a backwater like Three Hills had progressed beyond his memory. "I dunno. Maybe coming here was a mistake. He half muttered.
Dialogue Color: firebrick

Ulrich Kruger

October 31, 2020, 09:08:38 pm #2 Last Edit: November 04, 2020, 10:26:55 am by Lomari
Location: The Ship

The thundering of hooves demanded Ulrich's attention, pulling his gaze from the device in his lap. 

A familiar beast raced by, ridden by a figure in a cattleman's hat.  The horse's mane eclipsed the sun just for an instant, gold on gold.  Then it was past, along with its rider, and the unfiltered rays of the sun blasted Ulrich's face.  He winced, both at the bright light and the odor of the animal that came to him on the morning breeze.

The universe was populated by machines.  Every germ.  Every insect, every mammal.  They were just machines.
 Machines of varying sophistication.  But the natural machines- those that had come to exist over millions of years of trial and error- they were dirty, depressing things.  Foul-smelling, prone to breakage, destined for degradation, bound to disappoint you. 

He dipped his head again, letting the brim of his own hat block the light of the sun.
 
The ship's catalyzer was mostly on his lap, and partly on the ramp he was sitting upon.  It had served for millions of kilometers before failing.  But it had not disappointed.  It had served valiantly.  It would have served forever if given the necessary maintenance.  When it finally broke, a victim of neglect, it had done so without foul odors or filthy emissions.  It would never decompose, nor become food for worms.  Ulrich could apply his skill and make it whole again.  The process was perfect, and if that process was perfectly replicated, it would give the catalyzer an eternity of service. 

These were machines Ulrich could respect. 

Had he been left with such machines, and the tools and parts needed to tend to them, he could have enjoyed his life to the end of his days.  He could have kept the ship in good repair, and worked on his prototype improvements, gradually walking the eternal march towards perfection.

Unfortunately, the world did not work that way.  Everything he did had to be filtered through the needs of organisms.  Foul, disappointing organisms.  The people were the worst.  People he had to impress.  People who were never satisfied, who never met his needs adequately, and who never understood the importance of his work.

He set the worn catalytic rod aside, replacing it with a slightly less worn catalytic rod.  Then he began snapping the assembly back together.  This was not the perfect procedure, replicated perfectly.  This was yet another disappointment from the world of organisms.  The flawed processes he was forced to improvise on behalf of a person who did not understand the reliable perfection of machines when they were reliably maintained according to proven practices.

He stood, and began walking up the ramp, back into the ship.

"Captain," he called out, "The failed catalyzer has been restored to a pre-fail state.  But it is not optimal."
Dialogue Color: burlywood

Rhiannon Pool

November 04, 2020, 11:02:59 am #3 Last Edit: November 04, 2020, 11:03:19 am by Lomari
Location: Space Port

Finally. Finally! Out of the junk yard and into a real, honest to goodness, adventure. Just like the ones her father had gone one in his youth. Probably. Well it was more of an adventure than arguing with her brother about who had to do cleanup duty. She loved the Yard, she really did, but she also wanted to see more of the worlds than the metal kingdom they lived in. She'd yearned for the adventures that she'd pieced together from tidbits her parents had let slip during conversation or from whatever her father had told her during times of hard work at the Yard or to get her to sleep and settle down at night as a child. More than anything, she wanted to be like her father and to have a plethora of secret stories to kind of share with her kids in the future.

"Hey, Pool-ling... Wait, Kiddy Pool! That's the one...Ship first or clues...?" The rambler's voice pulled her out of her gawking at the scenery, and she cleared her throat before eyeing him as he spun. Her brows furrowed and her expression became steel and stone. She wasn't sure if she liked 'Kiddy Pool'... Before she could tell him not to call her that, her dad had pulled him aside. She followed, shoving her hands into the pockets of her jacket and grimacing at them both.

"For cryin' out loud would you shut up?...I told you I got a warrant out on Three Hills."

Rhiannon noticed her father glance in her direction and a brow rose curiously. She fiddled with a piece of paper left in one of her pockets, folding it up between her thumb and index finger idly. She tried to remember what he might have told her about Three Hills, but sometimes his stories jumbled together from the lack of specifics. She knew he hid things from her, but didn't pester him for further details. One his mouth locked up, she knew no prying from her would get him to divulge anymore.

"...I dunno. Maybe coming here was a mistake." Junior slipped between her father and the loud-mouth, bumping into Pool with her shoulder and offering him a reassuring smile. It wasn't a great plan, going to a place that wanted to arrest you, but time had passed and he probably looked different, and if anyone tried to arrest him now she'd rip their eyebrows off, so it wasn't too bad of a situation. They'd be fine. "I wouldn't mind getting some horses," she told him in a hushed voice, her grin broadening. "But we should get a ship to use more permanently. If they're desperate, we can get the price down to something advantageous. Puts us in a pretty good bargaining position, I think," she wagered.
Dialogue Color - Indianred

Sidney Applebaum

November 04, 2020, 05:03:33 pm #4 Last Edit: November 05, 2020, 08:23:19 am by Lomari
Location: Space Port

Sidney had stepped in it.

"For cryin' out loud would you shut up?"

Really stepped in it.

"I told you I got a warrant out on Three Hills."

The fifty something Semite winced realizing the gravity of his lapse in memory. He was normally good with details but he was just so excited! And coming down from the spaceship pills. He mouthed the word slowly and slightly exaggerated: S O R R Y

"Just play it cool, okay, Slick? I don't remember much from my time on this rock. There was some folks I ran with, but I figure they're long gone by now...We'll play it as we go, but Three Hills is a horse planet. Not a lot of ships. So those that are dry docked will either be expensive or desperate."

Cool. Sid can be cool. He's Captain Cool. The smaller Pool walked up beside her father and Sid was now walking by himself. He started checking the scenery more. There were a lot of horses! Crazy. He thought it was just a weird rumor when he was a kid that horses were still a common mode of transportation and used for work much the same as they were in the frontier days of Earth that was.

As he admired the scenery and the many fine equine beasts he felt a squish under his foot.

"Ha! Shit!"

He pointed down at his shoe and smiled. Laughing at his misfortune.

"These folks still ride around on ANIMALS!"

Sid mused to himself, a couple people within earshot gave him a look but the core-dweller didn't notice. He hurriedly tried to wipe his shoe off in the dirt before jogging to catch up with the Pools. Applebaum still had a bit of the manure on his sneaker but he wasn't going to let that slow him down.

Dodging around another horse's leavings he noticed a shop selling guns. He stopped in his tracks. He could get a big pearl handled revolver! Or maybe a  shot-gun! The kind with two barrels.

As if a child asking for permission, when he technically was just as "in charge" as the Pools, he inquired:

"Can I buy some guns real quick?!"

Desmond Holt

November 05, 2020, 03:47:42 pm #5 Last Edit: November 05, 2020, 03:48:38 pm by Axe
Location: The Ship

The Captains chair had never really been something Desmond has sought out. Not because he lacked the drive, or the nerve. It just never felt worth the trouble of saving up money, finding a ship in decent repair, fixing it up, finding a crew, finding a job, etc. It was simply just easier to hire out his skills to established Captains.

Yet here he was, in the cargo bay of his very own ship, flat on his back checking the fuel line underneath the flatbed 4-wheeled mule that had come with it. He had always been pretty lucky at cards. One of his prized possessions, the pair of ornate hand-canons currently strapped to his hips, had come to him as part of the winning pot in a game of poker. The Arikara class ship had come to him in much the same way, roughly two week prior. He smiled to himself at the memory. What the hell, he was always looking for new adventures, and captaining a ship definitely qualified as an adventure. And if it didn't go well he could always sell it and be no worse off then before.

The ship itself was a little rough around the edges. It was an older model that had seen action during the war, though its weapon systems had all been removed. It was a little dirty, and definitely in need of some TLC, but overall it was a solid ship. It even came with its own mechanic! An odd man named Ulrich, who'd had an understanding with the previous owner. Ulrich had made quite a few upgrades to the ships engines, and continued to experiment with them. Desmond had agreed that as long as Ulrich didn't blow them up, the man was welcome to stay aboard and continue his work.

Satisfied with the mules fuel line, Des slid out from under the vehicle and wiped his hands on a rag. Ulrich was sitting on the open cargo ramp tinkering with one of the ships catalyzers that had failed turn an engine test. Desmond stood and glanced around. Just about all the important tasks were done. Once Ulrich got the catalyzer reinstalled they would more or less be ready to go. Which meant that it was about time for Desmond to start recruiting a crew, and to start looking for their first job.

Desmond pondered his options. They could do courier work. Or light transport, though the cargo areas probably weren't big enough for any of Three Hills major exports. Maybe passengers? The ship had nearly 20 beds, if people didn't mind sharing rooms. Somehow he doubted they could land enough passengers to make a trip worth it though. Probably a bit of everything... He thought, absent mindedly scratching his beard. He was dressed in a light cotton shirt, khaki cargo pants, and a pair of work boots. He reached up and pulled his hair out of the ponytail he usually wore it in when he was working, letting his mane of sun bleached brown hair fly free. Which means lining up several jobs at once, AND looking for passengers. He sighed, and shrugged. A task for tomorrow.

"Captain," Ulrich called out, "The failed catalyzer has been restored to a pre-fail state.  But it is not optimal." The tall man walked back up the ramp and into the cargo bay. "Catalyzers are finicky, but so far you seem to do good work, I'm sure it'll hold for a while. I think we're about ready for a job, gonna start lining up some work tomorrow. Once we hit our next port of call we'll see if we can find a better replacement for the catalyzer." Desmond stretched. "I'm gonna see if I can do anything about the cargo ramp squeaking every time we open it. Get that catalyzer plugged back in and we'll do an engine test a bit later. After that, assuming everythings green, all we have left is to double check the reactor and seals on the Runabout, tidy up a bit, and then I think we can take the rest of the day off."
"The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun."
Dialogue Color: darkcyan

Rose Wickson

November 06, 2020, 12:29:49 am #6 Last Edit: November 06, 2020, 02:29:49 am by Rose Wickson
Location: Space Port

It had been six years, and Rose still didn't like horses.

Unfortunately, living in a community that relied on them as their main mode of transportation meant that you just had to suck it up and put up with their presence, unless you were willing to become a total recluse, which Rose was not -- although admittedly there were times when she was tempted, most recently when Gus Jenkins had shown up at the clinic drunk as a skunk and serenaded her with "K-K-K-Katy" (substituting "R-R-R-Rosie" for the titular character's name, of course).

Alas, at the end of the day she wasn't the type to go live alone in a cave, and so she had no choice but to go the "suck it up and put up with them" route. She wasn't scared of horses per se, not anymore; that was something she'd had to get over in order to continue being a functioning member of society. Still, every now and then she felt a dull, bitter ache when she looked at one of those beasts. Resentment, you could call it.

"These folks still ride around on ANIMALS!"

An unfamiliar voice pulled the young widow from her thoughts. Three Hills wasn't a big place and strangers tended to stick out like a sore thumbs. Of course, there were more of them near the port, which was one of the reasons she enjoyed her strolls through the area. Rarer were the kind that were taken aback by the presence of horses. Anyone who could behold them with such wonder had to hail from a very different world than the rock Rose had been sitting on for almost 30 years.

The woman stopped in her tracks and turned to look at the man jogging away, as did a handful of other passer-bys. They soon continued on their way; Rose did not. Her curious gaze followed the stranger as he joined another, significantly meaner-looking man and a young girl, all three of them new faces to her.

Ulrich Kruger

November 07, 2020, 09:44:38 am #7 Last Edit: November 12, 2020, 12:58:40 pm by Lomari
Location: The Ship

Ulrich's eyes rested upon the Captain's features as he spoke.  Machines were usually best lubricated with oil, but Mr. Holt seemed to know that honey was just as good for the imperfect organisms known as humankind.  The compliment about Ulrich's quality of work disarmed him against his will, as he felt a touch of gratification at being recognized for his talents.

He had to remind himself that good work was no substitute for working parts.

But by the time he re-focused on the issue of the ship's quality of parts, the conversation had moved past where he could interject any additional complaints.  The Captain promised better parts soon.  That was good.  The Captain also promised to have a look at the ramp.  That the man was willing to get his hands dirty, helping to repair the ship and its embarked vehicles, was further disarming.  Ulrich felt himself soften towards the man and grimaced a bit in distaste at the sensation.

"Oil," he suggested, and then went to carry the repaired catalyzer to where it was needed. 

"...Not Honey."  The cryptic addition came when he was far enough up the hall that it could only be half-heard.

Within the hour, the ship would be fully space-worthy.  Now all they needed was a reason to fly.

Fortunately, that was not his department.
Dialogue Color: burlywood

Reinhardt Pool

November 10, 2020, 01:25:34 pm #8 Last Edit: November 12, 2020, 12:58:46 pm by Lomari
Location: Space Port

He felt beset on all sides. Horses. Guns. "What? No!" Pool snapped. He took a deep breath, like Chuck had taught him to do. In through the nose, out through the mouth. His notorious rage had been tempered by his wife over the years, though it was still a struggle sometimes. Pool offered his daughter an apologetic look. He knew she was just trying to be helpful, but the lunatic who'd convinced Pool to show his face on a planet to which he'd sworn never to return. Another breath. "Listen. We don't need horses if we have a ship. And guns, well I've got plenty. And neither of you are getting one."

Pool needed to think. They needed someone who knew the area. He wracked his brain trying to think of someone who might still be on Three Hills who might remember him... and not want him dead. A name popped into his head, but there was no way she was still around. She'd wanted off this rock worse than he had by the time the gang was hung up. But maybe. "I'm gonna try something. Old friend. Maybe she's still around. Maybe she isn't."

He pondered the foolishness of his errand for a moment before deciding it wasn't any more crazy than their "quest", as Applebaum had put it. Pool was there to do a job and this was him doing it. "Junior. Head down to the docks and find us a ship. Somebody who'll work cheap and won't ask questions. Keep an eye on Fancy Pants, here. You're in charge." A second thought kept him from leaving just then. "Don't mention the, well, you know." Then he walked away, but not before yelling behind his back, "No guns!"
Dialogue Color: firebrick

Rhiannon Pool

November 12, 2020, 12:58:22 pm #9 Last Edit: November 12, 2020, 01:07:24 pm by Lomari
Location: Space Port

"Can I buy some guns real quick?!" Her head whipped around to stare wide-eyed at the boy playing cowboy staring longingly at a gun shop. Her mouth opened to tell him to come back, but her father beat her to it.

"...And guns, well I've got plenty. And neither of you are getting one," he informed them sternly. Then it was her turn to pout, her lower lip sticking out just barely and her brows furrowing. She couldn't even have one? He had like fifty, he couldn't spare her one? Maybe two? She wouldn't hurt herself, she could manage it. Her arms crossed over her chest but she said nothing, not wanting to make herself seem similar to their financier by expressing her disappointment in her father's decision.

"Junior." The girl's arms lowered and her brows rose, waiting for his order (or maybe the changing of his mind about the gun policy.) "Head down to the docks and find us a ship. Somebody who'll work cheap and won't ask questions," he told her. She nodded and slipped a hand into her pocket again, one corner of her lips turning upward now that she had something to do. Find a shady shyster willing to sell a shady ship. She could do that. And if she did it well, he might change his mind and give her some kind of weapon. Maybe a long gun. That would keep her out of danger, if that's what he was worried about.

"Keep an eye on Fancy Pants, here. You're in charge," he added. Junior turned her head to grin mischievously in Sidney's direction, her eyes narrowed and lips turned upward like a crescent. She reached out to grab his wrist, holding him in place like one might hold a small child, despite him being much taller than she was. "You got it, Boss," she answered, watching him walk off.

"No guns!" He shouted back at them, and as she was about to make a face at his back, she spotted someone staring at them. So, instead, the woman looking in their direction got her 'face', which comprised of a scrunched up nose, a tilting of her head, a furrowing of her brows, and a swift jutting out of her chin as though to say, 'you got a problem?!'

"Come on, Fancy Pants," she muttered, walking in the direction of the docks and pulling Sid along with her and ultimately getting him away from the tempting gun store for both of their sakes.
Dialogue Color - Indianred

Sidney Applebaum

Today at 02:00:08 pm #10 Last Edit: Today at 02:03:41 pm by Sidney Applebaum
"Maaaannn...."

Sidney bellowed as the young woman several decades his junior dragged him along as if he was a toddler. The airplane pills were slowly wearing off. He wondered to himself how long he'd be in such an infantile state. Then it occurred to him that high level thought meant he was starting to snap back to reality. Then he realized the next phase of the comedown, dry-mouth was about to set in.

As they trudged along, the former finance bro was making exaggerated movements with his mouth, stretching it open as if that might help. He noticed a spacer walking past in the other direction looking at him like he'd lost his damn mind. Applebaum tried to clear his throat and ask:

"Can I get ah uhhh achhh..."

He tried clearing his throat again.

"Thirsty."

There had to be a bar nearby. He could get himself a soda water and take a minute to let the magic meds fade away. He tried to will saliva into existence but nothing happened. He needed to get as much of his idea out as fast as he could before he lost his voice completely. His throat was drying up too and he needed to act quick.

"AirplanepillsreallydrymeoutIneedtogetadrink...Reallybad."

As she continued to drag him along he pointed at a pretty crappy looking, literal hole in the wall bar in the dockyard.

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