[Extra-bonus episode 'cause I just won NaNoWriMo! -BB]
Tarcuna obviously loved the Museum of Visible Experiments. “I haven’t been here since I was in school. Prof. Wulpmegarn was running an exhibit on intrascopy. Kangbok was my special friend at the time, we were taking Wulp’s class. She talked me into helping out setting it up.” Tarcuna peered at me as though she had said something secret and significant. I didn’t know what and didn’t feel like asking; she’d probably tell me. “That exhibit is long gone, but the permanant exhibits are still there, and they’ve surely got something fun in the rotating exhibit hall.”
And the word ‘rotating’ was quite correct. The rotating exhibit hall was on torque batteries. Those are tiny squat cylinders which store torque. You can wind them and wind them and wind them and wind them with a big red plastic crank using some big red plastic gears. Then you flip a big green plastic lever and scoot the battery into one of four positions. And then you push a big blue plastic button, and release the torque more or less quickly in a violet beam. They don’t do the full mighty twistor beam in a science museum with children around! But they do make a heavy wheel spin, just as if you had been cranking it by paw. Or hand, if you’re a hoven or something.
They even showed us the insides of a battery. Something about a self-polarizing niobium slush. I didn’t understand it very well. Tarcuna had studied it in school a lot, so she explained it all to me. My brain was a non-self-polarizing non-niobium slush and I didn’t understand it any better. Fortunately I don’t have to think, I’m on vacation.
After an unmemorable lunch, we went to the St. Cheerior Amusement Park. It’s what I was hoping to see on Hove in the first place: small people playing games with technology. So there were engines projecting spirals of rainbow energy, or floating and bounding balls in the air, or whirling hovens around at alarming speeds, all for no better reason than being pretty or having fun.
So Tarcuna and I sat in a big plastic cart shaped somewhat like a huge-toothed lion and somewhat like a cow and adorned with some holy symbols, and got spun around in the air. It’s not much like flying, not even like barrel rolls. If you try hard, you can persuade your kineception that the plastic cart is standing still with you in it, and the whole rest of Hove is whirling madly around you. I don’t think you can do that kineceptive trick if you’re flying by yourself. It goes reasonably fast, measured in body lengths. And of course you don’t have to flap anything. Except for your clothes and your hair, and they flap themselves.
I think that it feels fun somehow, too. I’d rather snarl than talk about that.
St. Cheerior has some more sedate rides too. We rode the iron wheel, which is huge and tall and not very dramatic, but gives one of the best views of the city that one can have without flying.
Oh, and there are games too. They are not built for dragons. I played the Brick Lift, where you lift one huge brick on a rope pulley sort of thing, then two bricks, and so on to ten bricks. Not very many real hovens can lift ten bricks; Tarcuna could lift four, and she’s reasonably strong. I won a six-legged blue-green stuffed animal with big plastic bubble-and-bead eyes and a hideous crimson tuft on its tail. I wore it on my head for a while. Then it fell off and knocked over a child’s ice cream, so I bought the child more ice cream and give her the stuffed animal too. Everyone was happier that way, including the stuffed animal I’m sure.
We went back to the hotel to clean up before dinner. Tarcuna changed clothes to a sinuous sparkly-black sheath sort of thing that clung tightly to her hips and udder. I stared at it long enough for her to notice.
“Like it?” she asked.
“It’s quite nice. I was thinking of copying the sparkles.”
She stuck glittery metal and paste gemstone things into holes in her ears. “I don’t quite understand, Spotty.”
“Well, I’m flat black,” I started. Tarcuna looked me over, but of course I’m not flat black as a hoven, I’m brick red. “Which is nice and feminine of course. But sometimes I like to look a bit more interesting than that. I was just thinking I could go shiny sparkly black, like that, um, garment thing that you’re wearing. Still feminine, but more glamorous. Not like wearing glowing blue spikes or something.”
Tarcuna stared at me, either trying to keep a straight face, or trying to figure out what answer would give her the best tip. Then she twirled around right under the light, to make it sparkle more. “That would look beautiful on you.” I had to wrinkle my nose at the sewage impression of her lie. She continued, “You’re welcome to borrow this tonight if you like. I can pin it to fit you, I’m sure.”
“No, this is fine. I don’t like wearing clothes much.”
She looked at my face, and at my dress (which isn’t clothes, it’s shapeshifted scales), and at my face again. “Well, if you’re naked enough to suit you, let’s go to dinner. The restaurant won’t mind you being completely nude under that dress, I don’t imagine. We’re a bit late as it is, even for someone with a regular appetite.”
We were a lot late for dinner, actually, and went to the opera first.