I noticed in the past few months that while my energy is finally returning (why was it gone so long, after that health-crash in June?), my muscle power is not what it was!
Alright, perhaps this sounds funny to you as I’m not exactly a champion weightlifter. But: Actually I am. My daily performing on the violin depends on how well my muscles can cope. To my intense annoyance, studies that I played fluently and easily at age 13 (and of course revisited regularly in all intervening years) suddenly give me cramps in my bow arm and left hand! Cramps are always a sign of muscles not working well enough.
I also saw today that while I’m feeling a bit tired, actually my complexion is quite yellow again. Liver?? Quo vadis? I could explain about the bottle of Tequila Chocolate Fusion, but don’t really think that bottle is at fault LOL. So I asked one of my students today… (I’m privileged to be teaching a young pharmacist violin, it always impresses me how that bug bites people of all ages).
When I was in hospital, they operated me twice in quick succession: The Friday and the Saturday. The first time the anaesthetist battled for a full hour to get me back to life… apparently I over-react to muscle relaxants. (All I remember was that wonderful state of tired, sleeping and not being in pain anymore.) Atropine, I think the substance is called.
So I asked this student of mine whether it’s possible that the muscle relaxant stays in the system months after to carry on interfering with normal muscle function, and she says, yes, definitely. Not only that, but I’m yellow because my liver in the now absence of a gall bladder doesn’t cope with toxins as easily (apparently the gall bladder produces a lot of bile that takes dissolved toxins with it out of the body, and the liver alone can’t do it that well).
She recommended that I take magnesium. Hope that works.
The Shooting Star: Another snippet
Wolf knew it.
He frowned and sat back in the luke-warm tropical seawater, trying to think of a plan for Federi. The real problem wasn’t the processor, or the ship sinking. The processor was finished; this ship would have to be controlled manually. The problem was the steering, and the drives.
He’d have to try to resurrect the drives. The solar drives were bound to be depleted. That left the fuel cell drives. Wolf meandered over to where they sat, bulky structures too large for the water to reach them in any case. How had Virian managed to disable these?
The bioluminescence threw a dismal green glow over the bilges. At least there was light. He glanced at the lake around his knees. His prime concern tonight was to keep them from sinking; in the daylight, things might look different.
There was a kind of compounding that you strewed over a leak like sugar, and that combined with the existing surface and expanded with the seawater to make a coating. They sometimes used this substance to repair leaks on the Solar Wind. If he could bring Federi some of it…
The pumps were another problem. Firstly they had to be reconnected, too. Secondly they depended on at least a drive working; probably, on the CPU. Which was fried from the water, and from Virian disabling it. Without the CPU, no pumps. Without pumping the water out of the bilges, no CPU. Oh dear!
He watched the water swish from one side of the bilgerooms to the other, erratically like someone rinsing their mouth. By the movements of the ship he knew it without having to go above the deck: There was a storm building, probably hundreds of fluffy white clouds in the moonlight at this point, mirrored by hundreds of wriggly little white heads on the choppy waves. They could converge within minutes to a real hell-raising hurricane. Federi and crew were in for a rough night. There was no way he was deserting them in this crisis. Ailyss was doubling up for him on the Solar Wind; she’d agreed to let him know when to teleport into the heads and emerge innocuously as though he’d never left the ship.
He glanced up at the unlikely man without bandanna who was watching his movements intently. Federi had done it again: Been so good at observing that he’d become practically invisible.
“Captain,” said Wolf, “this is close-on irreparable.”
“You’re not allowed to ‘captain’ me,” Federi pointed out, “unless you’re joining my crew.”
Wolf laughed. “You are Captain Federi now, you understand,” he said.
Federi smiled. “Say, Wolf. That thing you were inventing. That mist-creation machine.”
“The Mystifyer,” growled Wolf. “Completely pointless invention that!”
“Why do you say that?”
“Captain sure doesn’t want it!” He noted with surprise the slyness that crawled over his friend’s face. “Why, Federi?”
“So he won’t miss it? Want me to test-drive it for you?”
“You want it?” asked Wolf in surprise. “I’ll bring it! Whatever for, Federi?”
“You’ll see,” smiled the Pirate. “Think you could build me a really big one? I’ll pay you well!”
“I’ll do it for friendship!” said Wolf.
“Then I’ll give you a cash gift, out of friendship,” replied Federi. “Our own devices, Wolf. If I buy it, I own the device. Right?”
“Right,” grinned the engineer.
Federi stared at the grey-green waves that were rolling away wildly underneath the Shooting Star’s prow. From where he stood on his bridge he could appreciate just how fast the ship was going. Raindrops splattered across the windscreen that had been repaired in Samoa; Paean was right, ‘flying’ was about atmospheric effects, not merely speed.
The ship would be worse off if he slowed down, he knew this. It was a pretty bumpy ride in any case; but bumping across the tops of the swells was better than being tumbled around in their middle.
Hydrofoils were a must. But in his mind’s eye the Shooting Star evolved. There was some extreme material he needed to get his hands on; super-strong and minimally elastic telescoping beams; neo-canvas sail fabric. He’d seen something somewhere in the Sherman Files, from the heady days before the Unicate descended… and he was going to turn the Shooting Star into something like that. Hydrofoils would help lift her out of the bumpiness of the water and buffer her.
And now he’d fetched the Devil aboard. When he’d brought Adamson, he hadn’t thought that the man would be unwilling to hand over his vile associates. He hadn’t thought he’d have yet another hostage – and one that ought to be a friend! He’d saved the man’s life, for the love of the Rosetta Galaxy! What was this deal?
Lights of a ship appeared in the distance. Federi peered into the rain. A radar he’d not been able to secure; but by now, with the help of Wolf’s programming, he could access the satellite.
Except that he wasn’t sure that the system worked, even though Wolf had tested it; because the ship gave no satellite signal at all. He came a bit closer and peered through the heavy rain, through his binoculars that Virian had fetched for him.
White sails. It looked like… he smiled. The Solar Wind!
Well, if he’d seen her, she sure had the Shooting Star by now. He activated his com to the machine room.
“Wolf, we’re testing the Super-Mystifyer. Please direct the machine fifty degrees north-west, and give it all she’s got.”
“All she’s got? That will mystify an area the size of New York,” said Wolf.
“’s long as there’s still ocean left for us to sail on,” replied Federi.
“Authorities, Federi?” asked the young engineer.
“Worse,” laughed Federi. “Competition! You did override our satellite signal?”
“First thing, Federi,” said Wolf.
Radomir Lascek peered out through the window of the Solar Wind’s bridge.
“Bloody pea soup out there,” he growled. “Can’t see anything for the rain.”
“Send the minicam, Captain?” asked his daughter, who was keeping him company on the bridge, one of his grandsons on her lap.
“I could swear there was a boat out there a moment back,” said the Captain moodily. “But now there’s just rain and mist. Nothing on the satellite either. Must have been a trick of the light.”
Rushka smiled and activated the buzzcam. It came flying out of the top of the main mast and buzzed off in the direction they thought they’d sighted the boat.
Nothing but intense mist, lying under the heavy downpour. The sea was warm; the rain cold. The buzzcam returned.
“No boat,” said Rushka.