So after a few days of saving wayward children, the time had come for our dinner engagement with Baron Hamish Vanguard and Lady Sandrean. The Baron sent a car around to our ship and, having made sure everyone was presentable, I got us packed away and we were off.
The Baron’s estate is quite nice. Obviously Wrench and I have seen more grandiose establishments, but I’m sure it’s quite impressive for the locals. Certainly Sanna was impressed. I wasn’t quite sure how to finesse it with Sanna. On the one hand, it’s pretty clear she needs a lot of self-medication to make it through the day. On the other hand, I needed her sober enough so that she could have an intelligible conversation. On the gripping hand, I’m pretty sure doing illegal narcotics in the Baron’s manor would not win us any favors.
Sadly, when one is invited to dine with a Noble, dining is pretty much an afterthought. We were introduced to all the guests. There was a military official, an ex-businessman, a local doctor, and Lady Selene and her daughter Evelyn who were gentry around the way. All of them were most eager to speak with us. None of them were under the stress of an earthquake or rescue situation and had time to formulate some rather piercing questions.
People want to know who we are, where we come from and all that, but we’re not so anxious to tell them. I’m afraid between the barrage of questions, riding shotgun on my partners and a steady stream of booze caused by having to ride shotgun on my partners, things got a little muddled. Sanna fled to the bathroom (which we covered as a sensitive stomach) leaving us to fend off the curious. In the end, the best defense is a good offense, so we started discussing the perfectly legal places we’ve actually been too and regaling people with long-winded stories about how nice they all were. This seemed to satisfy everyone, especially young Evelyn who was most keen to hear about other places...and hat festivals apparently. Oh and I learned where Wrench found Rocky (of course Wrench brought Rocky along. Why wouldn’t you bring your kleptomaniac pet to a formal dinner?). Apparently they met in a junkyard.
Sanna made it back from the restroom looking a bit more together until the Doctor admonished her for smoking...because that happens after dinner in the smoking room you see. I downed another glass of champagne in relief.
Finally supper was served. Sanna hit on the bright idea of just following my lead when it came to the cutlery. I wish Wrench had. On the other hand, Wrench ate well but leisurely, as opposed to Sanna who got to thirds before most people got to firsts. As I hoped, people were willing to overlook the foibles of “commoners” which was good because I was having an interesting problem with Lady Selene. She was distinctly playing footsie under the table with me. Over the course of a very genteel conversation I learned that she was, in fact, married and that her husband was, in fact, very far away. In point of fact, I should’ve been pointedly oblivious to her advances but...every man has his weakness I suppose.
Eventually, we retired to the smoking room for more booze and smokes. I very deftly stepped in and filled Sanna’s pipe with something local that everyone else was smoking. Not the same as blackweed, I’m sure, but I was hoping that by smoking something she’d be able to get by.
Myself, I’m not much of a smoker, but I do enjoy a good snuff from time to time. The Doctor happened to have some on her. Two varieties in fact, one local and the other from far off. She hinted that the foreign stuff was a bit stronger than usual. Again, I probably should’ve just stuck with the local stuff, but we’re either going to win or lose big so I tried the exotic stuff. Didn’t make me sneeze. Just gave me a tremendous headache for a few second and then...not much. I played a round of billiards and got trounced. Then the finger food came out. I took an hors d’oeuvere and was astonished by how amazingly good it was. A knowing smile from the Doctor suggested that she herself might be on some interesting medication.
Again, choosing to go on the offensive, I asked if anyone would like to play Backgammon (if they didn’t mind triflingly small stakes). They were agreeable and I promptly cleaned them out. I hadn’t planned this, they were just sort of terrible. Although my substantial winnings probably didn’t even lighten their wallets, no one likes to lose, so I suggest we go to poker next. Again, they were really terrible. I arranged it so that most of my previous winnings flowed back to the other players but I was drawing the most incredible hands and they would always bluff when they had nothing. Still, I managed to double my stake and keep everyone else happy so it was a good time.
Wrench meanwhile, kept playing and losing to Lady Selene. Sanna had followed Evelyn who had followed Rocky out onto the grounds. Apparently, Sanna talked Evelyn out of running away or something. It’s amazing how good she is with teenagers.
Anyway, it was midnight and everyone was exhausted. I thought we’d be toddling on home but apparently we are to stay for breakfast. Again, the longer we stay the more likely disaster will befall us, but there was no easy way to extract ourselves from our hosts and our guestrooms were amazing. Also, Lady Selene, who also spent the night, spent it with me and that would’ve been a terrible thing to miss.
Anyway, Lady Selene made it back to her bedroom discreetly enough and I roused Wrench so I guess it’s off to breakfast now.
Comedy bits. We had quite a few of these. Mostly “Alternate Universe” cutscenes.
[Discussing how high Sanna can be at dinner]
Beverly: Look, I just need to be able to make sure you can hold a sensible conversation with people.
Sanna: My conversations are always sensible!
MONTAGE OF STONER CONVERSATIONS THE CREW HAS HAD WITH SANNA
[During the ride to the manor house]
DM: Oh no, the ground car is very nice, it’s like a swanky limo.
Wrench: It’s even got Grey Poupon in the glovebox.
Beverly: Well it did. Now Rocky is snout-down in the jar.
[This explains so much]
Lord Vanguard (to Wrench): But surely a man of such technical achievements as yourself could easily find a place in the military. The chance to work on giant warships must certainly be appealing?
Younger Wrench: I’LL NEVER BE LIKE YOU DAD! NEVER!
Former Industrial Magnate: You do independent cargo runs? Surely piracy is a concern.
Wrench: Piracy!? We only carry legal cargo!
Beverly downs another glass of wine.
[This book will change your life]
Sanna: You know, maybe I should start keeping a journal.
Wrench: I’d love to read that.
Sanna: Hey! It’s a private journal for me! Don’t go sneaking into my room to steal my journal!
Wrench: Woah! Sanna, I would never steal your journal.
CUT TO PELICAN COCKPIT INTERIOR. WRENCH IS SITTING IN THE PILOT SEAT IN A HAZE OF BLACK WEED SMOKE. MARLEY IS PLAYING. THERE’S A KNOCK AT THE DOOR AND WRENCH LETS IN ROCKY WHO HAS SANNA’S JOURNAL.
Wrench: I mean, I’d never steal your journal. Now let’s see...
WRENCH OPENS THE BOOK BUT IT’S ALL A BUNCH OF ODD MARKS. WRENCH STARES AT THE PAGES FOR A BIT, THEN THE SMOKE TAKES HOLD AND LIKE A STEREOGRAM THE MARKS ALL COME TOGETHER AND FORM A VIBRANT FANTASY WORLD. READING RAINBOW THEME PLAYS AND WRENCH IS SUCKED INTO THE SCENE.
CUT TO: WRENCH WAKING UP IN A DITCH BY THE AIRFIELD
Wrench: Fuck. Me.
[It’s a homophone]
Wrench steps up to play billiards, but Rocky dashes down and steals one of the balls. Wrench deftly coaxes Rocky to give up the ball and allow play to continue.
DM: You handled that with aplomb (pronouncing “aplomb” as “aplum”).
Beverly: No, literally. He grabbed a billiard-ball sized plum from the serving tray and traded with Rocky.
[Maybe it’s the glasses]
Through this entire game the assumption has been that Sanna thinks Rocky is just a small kid and not an animal. That gag has run it’s course and now we’ve agreed that Sanna’s view depends on how high she is. When she’s super-high, Rocky is a small child, but when she’s sober (or closer to it) she knows Rocky is an animal. However she still believes there is a kid and a pet both named Rocky but they’re just never together for some reason.
Sanna: Where’s Rocky?
Wrench: Right here.
Sanna: No, I mean the kid.
Wrench: We….couldn’t bring the kid to a formal dinner?
Beverly: He’s back on the ship?
Sanna: Oh, right, that makes sense.
Beverly downs another glass of wine.
[It’s a super-classy establishment]
Rocky has dashed outside.
Wrench: Oh he probably just ducked out to find a bush and do his business.
Beverly: Yeah, he steps out from behind a bush -- *zzzzip* -- and then a squirrel standing nearby hands him a hot towel.
Wrench: Yeah and then Rocky tips him a peanut.
[It’s cruel of me I know]
Staff member: Excuse me, sir. We’re having some difficulty rousing Mister Wrench.
Beverly: Ah, if you fetch me an eggbeater I can get him up.
CUT TO DOOR OUTSIDE WRENCH’S ROOM. BEVERLY TAKES THE EGGBEATER AND SPINS IT UP TO A STEADY WHIR. HE STEPS INTO THE ROOM AND APPROACHES THE SLEEPING WRENCH. HE HOLDS THE EGGBEATER OVER WRENCH’S HEAD AND THEN STUTTERS THE BLADES SO THE WHIR GOES IRREGULAR.
Wrench (sitting bolt upright): The flywheel’s out of true! Rocky! We’re gonna crash unless we--
Beverly: Good Morning!