Freefall d0321

Freefall 3211

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Would you like to stay on the ship tonight? You're already packed.

Sure. The ship doesn't bother me. I'm fine with spaceships as long as they're not in space.

It's having a hundred million kilometers of nothing in every direction that bothers me.

A common fear, though it took civilization a while to advance to where it could be discovered that it was common.

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There's still quite a bit to do. I need flight plans. I don't want to hit an exhaust plume or hit anything with our plume. I also need childproof locks for the vital systems.

Won't Sam go through those in seconds?

If I used a good lock, he would. If there's no lock on it, he might play with the settings.

Childproof locks he considers beneath his dignity and won't touch them.

Social locks are more effective than physical locks anyhow.

H A U S T

If you're kzinti and you can read this, you're too close.

Kzin

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You're back.

We needed to get off the ship to work out a few details.

In that case, I'm sure you've asked him the most important question about the trip.

Will you be paying with cash or credit?

SAM!

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How are we going to make a profit if we don't chea… I mean charge our passengers?

I'll cover his expenses. He's my guest.

Ah, well. At least we'll have plenty of time for cards and dice while underway.

Not really. Winston will be in hibernation for the entire trip.

When I get real passengers, I'll need to charge extra for that to offset my loss of income.

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Does everyone have their own cabin?

Yes. There's not much room on a ship. Everyone needs privacy now and then.

Then there's your fellow crew. You have a bad day or they have a bad day and you need a space not to be around them.

It's the terrible twins of interplanetary travel. Too much isolation and not enough isolation.

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If you can spare Winston, I'd like to ask him a few questions.

If you're good with it, I'll finish connecting the polywell reactor.

The robots are going to help engineer a planet for my species. You know more about how ecosystems work than anyone else who will talk to me.

Please try not to answer my questions too quickly. I'll remember this better if I'm stealing valuable terraforming secrets than if we're just having a talk.

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I need to know about isolation. I need to be sure no dangerous earth life like ducks gets loose near my people.

Ducks?

Even Terrans know they're dangerous. People may shout “Lion!” or “Shark!”, but the most common warning is “Duck!”

They used to be dinosaurs. You can see it in their eyes. Their genes remember. They'll wait patiently until there's an opportunity to express themselves and once again a world will fear the sound of quacking.

Непереводимая игра слов. “Duck” означает и “утка”, и “ложись”. (Mitrill)

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My world is about where yours was during the Devonian period. If a breeding pair of ducks got loose back home, it would be a disaster.

With evolutionary advantages like bigness, feathers and warm blood, they would devour everything in their path like a web footed von neumann swarm.

My kind could defeat individual ducks. We wouldn't be able to protect the ecosystem. Doom would waddle across my planet and our only solace would be down pillows and very warm blankets.

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Our ecosystem would shift and ducks have advanced terran evolutionary code. They would compete. They would adapt. Eventually, intelligence would arise and our dominant form of life would be this.

All Hail Carl Barks

Snerk

Sure, to you it's a funny cartoon. For us, it's the duckocalypse if those death nibblers ever get loose on my planet.

Carl Barks

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It's not only ducks. Before I got a complete environment suit, I made a list of everything that's tried to eat me.

Dogs. Cats. Rodents of unusual size. Rodents of usual size. Birds, including humming. Papilio rutulus.

Papilio rutulus? Is that correct?

Technically, it's the caterpillars that found me tasty, but yeah, I made a species of butterfly go carnivorous.

Западный тигровый парусник - практически ничем не примечательная бабочка на западе США, гусеницы питаются листвой деревьев типа платана, ивы, тополя, сливы и сирени

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