The team is on Mirabelle, the first planet on the tour. They visit a museum and the result is typical Iskandar.
Chapter 24: Museum
After they had walked a block west, they reached the top of the hill and could see the museum about a kilometer away.
“Ugly sucker, isn’t it?” quipped Chaoschick.
There was open area all around the museum but behind it, stretching north was a wide swath of grass extending into the distance.
“That’s weird how all the buildings are crowded here and there, nothing,” commented Zinaida.
“Apparently,” said Grabby, consulting his wristmon. “The first transport to land here missed the soft ocean landing and slid about two kilometers, knocking down trees and making a big scar in the landscape, finally stopping just where the museum is now.”
“And there was a lot of laundry to do that night,” quipped Chaoschick.
“So we’re going to go see a burnt-out hulk?” quipped Raven.
“It probably smells really bad,” said the brunette, continuing the joke.
“It seems amazing that the Bellans put up a museum to memorialize a mistake.”
Raven had her hood down as it did not seem to be too cold. This meant that people began to notice her. This really became apparent as they approached the doors of the museum. There was a ‘doorman’ between the two sets of doors and as soon as he caught sight of Raven, his eyes grew big and he hurried inside.
“Raven strikes again,” laughed Chaoschick.
Raven just rolled her eyes.
The fourteen of them began queuing up to the admissions booth. Raven hoped that the museum would be as flexible as the convenience store was.
An older Bellan woman with too short a dress for her age, came running on high heels to where they were queuing up.
“This way, please!” she said in her horrible accent while waving to the booth operator. She was wearing a nametag that said ‘Penelope Dermerot – Director’.
They pooled as a crowd in the lobby where the Director was standing.
“Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen of Iskandar,” she said.
“What did she say?” quipped Chaoschick.
Raven elbowed her. “Don’t start that again,” she hissed.
The Director hesitated when she heard that exchange.
“You can go ahead,” said Grabby. “We can be pretty silly at times.”
“Ok,” said Director Dermerot. “If you would care to wait a moment, we will have a special tour guide for you and you can tour the museum with our compliments.”
“Rah-vaan, Graa-bay,” Raven suddenly heard in hushed whispers.
Everybody looked up to see some Bellans beginning to gather into a crowd.
Raven smiled and waved and many of them sprouted cameras. One young guy, who had done something awful with his hair, gestured like writing.
Raven looked at Grabby.
“Sure,” they said together.
Raven snatched the pen out of the Director’s hand and walked over to the growing crowd. Chaoschick, Zinaida and Grabby joined her and they began signing just about everything. Luckily some of the people had pens also.
Chaoschick looked back. “Hey, Nova, get your butt over here,” she yelled. “And you too, skunk boy.”
Raven looked and noticed that the more reserved Badger had joined them. He must have been at the back of the group.
As they signed autographs, some of the group wandered over to the gift shop. A Bellan showed up in what looked like a ballerina’s tutu around his waist and around his neck. Chaoschick stared at him.
“This is,” he began in a less garbled accent. “The traditional formal dress of the early Bellan colonists.”
“I’m glad you mentioned that. I was about to call the police because you were in an accident,” she groused.
He just stared at the brunette.
Badger made a hand gesture over the top of his head and said, “Whoosh.”
Everybody laughed while the Bellans all around them seemed lost.
“O-k, why are you here?” drawled Chaoschick.
“I will be your museum guide. My name is Pierre Petain. You can call me Pee-Pee.”
Chaoschick put her face in her hand. “Oh, God, it’s just too easy,” she groaned. “Now we have the piss boy.”
The Bellan guide looked confused.
“You do realize that Pee-Pee is Galact slang for urination?” said Zinaida.
Pee-Pee turned red and his mouth moved but nothing came out.
Raven and Grabby moved Chaoschick behind them.
“Why don’t we just call you Pierre?” said Raven.
“Besides do you realize that your outfit isn’t used by clowns anymore because it’s too silly?” said Grabby. Raven elbowed him.
“Do…do you mind if I change first?”
“No, don’t change, we’ll just laugh at you,” quipped Chaoschick.
Raven rolled her eyes and gritted her teeth.
“Don’t bother. Why don’t you just show us the wreck?” said Grabby.
“Uh, no, uh, the spaceship is on the lower level and not on display,” answered Pierre.
The Bellan was very uncomfortable and Raven noticed that the Director, though she had walked a distance away, seemed to be debating whether to come back. Raven guessed that she was suddenly regretting inviting them in.
“Not on display!” Chaoschick whirled around and was right in his face. “You mean to tell me that the one object that helped create a world of 4 billion people is locked away so that nobody can see it! The one ship that hundreds of people risked their lives in to start a new life, a new life that you are enjoying and there’s no monument to them, no plaque commemorating their sacrifices? The people that nearly died so that you can have a museum where nobody can see…”
At that point, Chaoschick lapsed into Bellan and nobody, except the Bellans themselves, could understand her rant. Raven’s eyes bugged out. The brunette had said that she couldn’t speak Bellan.
Chaoschick was backing Pierre up. The director joined him and Chaoschick launched into her also.
“She’s going too fast,” said dark Max. “I can’t tell what she saying.”
“We can tell it isn’t good,” said Grabby.
“The Director is saying ‘please, please.’”
“Should we stop her?” asked Raven.
Grabby gestured as Bellans were gathering around Chaoschick, apparently lending their voices in support. Chaoschick and her supporters continued to back up the Director and Pierre. When they got back to a rather large door with a plaque on it, a short round Bellan man came out. He was totally gray, hair, bushy beard and bushy eyebrows.
“You are correct, Chaoschick,” he said in Galact with a deep voice with a horrible accent.
“Oh, ok,” stopped the brunette, returning to Galact abruptly.
“It is our shame,” the man continued. “That the great beginning of our society is hidden away to protect it. Yes, you and your Iskandar mates can view the spaceship. And any other of you that wish to see it.”
Chaoschick had a crooked smile. “Thank you very much,” she said. She gave him a hug and came back to the group.
“What’d you say?” asked Zinaida.
Chaoschick gave her a strange look. “I couldn’t be louder, I’d say,” she laughed.
“Yeah, but you were yelling in Bellan,” replied Zinaida.
“What you been drinking, girl? I can’t speak Bellan!”
Grabby tilted his head toward Raven.
Raven turned the brunette around and held both her hands. “Chaos, really, you started in Galact and right in the middle of a sentence, Bellan started coming out. You didn’t come back to Galact until the fat guy said something—in Galact,” said Raven.
“You’re kidding!?!” Chaoschick looked around. “I can’t do it now!”
“You were really cranking. Actually it was pretty cool,” said Zinaida.
“Thanks, Zinny,” said the brunette. “Crap, I had no idea I was doing that. You mean to tell me I’ve got to deal with a Bellan personality on top of the other three?”
Everybody busted up. There was some relief in the fact that at least Chaoschick was not taking it seriously. Raven believed it to be seriously strange.
The short round Bellan appeared again with a huge key. It was almost comical. Chaoschick moved up to him and took his arm. The Iskandar contingent and a large number of Bellans followed as they walked toward the back of the museum.
“Thanks again,” began the brunette. “You know who I am. Who are you?”
“Emil Blastior, I am the burgemeister of Nova Parienne,” he began. “And I am honored to meet you.”
“Uh, Chaoschick, burgemeister is an official, not a cook,” mentioned Grabby.
Blastior laughed. “In many ways, Mirabelle is stuck in the ways of ancient Earth,” he said. “I should mention that your genealogist has been in contact with me. It seems that you are an unusual case.”
“Probably from the day I was born,” quipped Chaoschick.
He opened up a large sliding door which opened up to a stairwell with a spiral staircase leading up and down. They proceeded down.
“I am very disappointed,” continued Blastior. “That your history is so difficult to find. It makes me believe that someone is trying to cover it up.”
“Well, he did find my grave,” quipped Chaoschick.
The short round Bellan stopped on the stairs to look at her. “Very unusual,” he said, resuming the climb down. “I have never heard of the like.”
They reached the bottom and there were no more stairs. It was a large area with huge sliding doors in front of them and behind them. The doors were a minimum of 20 meters high. The ones in front of them had a huge key slot into which the burgemeister inserted the huge key.
He turned the key and began pulling the left door back. They were linked doors so as one slid back so did the other in the opposite direction. Chaoschick helped him by grabbing the other door and pulling.
The crowd gasped at what they saw. A huge room towered in front of them and as the centerpiece was this long ancient space vessel. It was the ancient torpedo shape, probably a kilometer in length and just short of 20 meters tall. Raven figured that the doors behind them were the access that brought the ship inside.
The ship was mounted by metal bands to a platform and there were concrete barriers, waist high, all around it. Raven thought that they probably shouldn’t try to enter the ship.
Grabby showed no hesitation and walked right in, leading the group. People were taking pictures and Tri-Vs. Grabby used his wristmon as a pointer and indicated the markings that were still visible on the hull. The ship was in remarkable shape for its journey and landing.
“In case you’re wondering,” Grabby said to everybody. “This is the actual ship that took off from Earth and landed here. All the markings and reference numbers are correct. Most people who fake this kind of stuff wouldn’t think to put rocket boosters in line with the Helios drive. “
“How many people were on this flight?” asked Zinaida.
“Seven hundred and fifty-three,” answered Blastior. “Unfortunately twelve died in the landing and another one hundred and twenty-two were injured.”
“How many survived the first year?” asked Grabby.
Raven realized that this was the key question. They would have had to grow their own food after their stores ran out.
“We don’t know,” replied the burgemeister. “In those days all they had were radio waves. Bell EL communications was still a couple of years away. When the next convoy arrived five years later, they found a small city. The colonists had stripped the inside of this ship of everything they could use. What you see here is practically a shell.”
“Is there anything left of the original city? Crap, it started right here under our feet,” said Chaoschick.
Blastior laughed. “Actually, no,” he said. “When they left the ship, they walked a couple of kilometers east until they found the New Seine River and put up their enclosures there. That area has been built over many times, but never have we found anything old enough.”
“Oh,” said the brunette.
“We have had many people try to trace their ancestry back to the first landing,” continued Blastior. “However, none of the last names of the first settlers match any of our current names. Oh, we make believe, but no one knows for sure.”
“There must have been a lot more colonists to land, now that they knew the planet was habitable,” said Grabby.
Blastior laughed. “That’s where the name problem started. As more colonists arrived, they patched together bits of names as if that were the only entertainment they had during the winter.”
“So you’re not the only one with an ancestry problem,” said Raven to Chaoschick.