Shipfish, Doll-Fins, Dolphins


Gaelene.jpg Xantin.jpg

Date: 1st July 2011
Location: Landing: AIVAS Complex Main Computer Room
Synopsis: Gaelene comes to read up on dolphins, and both she and Xantin learn more about them.
Rating: PG
Logger: Xantin

This room is large and empty, but for the huge screen at the front of the room. White walls and cream-colored tile floors give it a antiseptic feel, and the small stool in the corner seems completely out of place. Closer inspection of the screen reveals speakers to the top right and top left corners, as well as a small terminal and printer below. Information can be displayed on the screen, showing anything in the AIVAS files, or from any of the terminals via connection or disk.

While the sun rises on a cool morning, the computer room is at a comfortable temperature with just the right amount of light. Xantin's the only occupant of the room at the moment, a cup of strong-smelling, steaming klah on a mat on the table beside him as he sits at the terminal below the great screen. The black screen of the terminal displays a great stream of information, which the big man appears to be considering intensely as he taps at the terminal now and then with surprisingly accurate fingers, for all that they're large and rough-skinned. His hand comes up to rub the stubble on his jaw, and he leans back in his chair so that it creaks, a loud sound in the quiet room.

A cheerful greeting to the guard outside heralds the arrival of someone who has been largely… no, totally, absent from the terminal area recently. Once allowed in, Gaelene skips over and chirps, "Hello, Xantin! Anything interesting today?"

The noise outside of the room isn't enough to distract Xantin from his current work, but the greeting right beside him is. Turning his head from the terminal, the computerer blinks at the girl. Tick. Recognition. "Gaelene. You haven't been here for a while." He shrugs his shoulders at her question. "Nothing out of the ordinary. M'project's rumbling along as usual." He looks down at her as if expecting a request.

Gaelene giggles a bit guiltily. "I've been spending a lot of time swimming with the doll-fins. But because of the storm outside today, they're not letting any of us in the water." She cocks her head, anything if obliging, "If you get to a pausing point, may I use the terminal, Journeyman?" She's even being more formal than usual in the computer room.

"I thought it might be those doll-fins." He's calling them that name, even if other people insist on using 'shipfish'. "Good of them to keep you all outta the water during the storm." The question comes as expected, and Xantin cracks a smile as he turns to close what he was working on with a few easy taps of the keys, then shifts out of his seat to make room for Gaelene. "Go on ahead. I'll get a chair, you sit down. 'bout time I took a break." As he crosses to grab the stool in the corner, he asks, without looking at her, "you learning a lot about them, playing with them?"

Gaelene says, "Thank you! They're still serving breakfast, if you want something to go with your klah." She waits for the chair to be pulled up and chatters happily. "Learning a lot, but most of it is refining the things we learned on the first day. We're hoping to find some information in the computer," the word comes more easily to her than even "doll-fins", some more about them, like if they came from Earth like the bell did, or if the bell was re-purposed from some other reason."

Xantin does look tempted. "Might have to go have some of that." But rather than go for food, he crosses back across the room with the stool, sitting down on that so that Gaelene can have the comfier chair in front of the terminal. He seems interested in the doll-fins, even if it's in an absent sort of way. Swimming and open bodies of water aren't his favourite things. "I reckon there'll be plenty of what you want to know about 'em if they came from Earth. I'm told they talk almost as good as us - doubt you could get that in nature. Even dragons, they had to do something to them to make them talk, in the settlers' days," he adds, as he perches on the stool, the thing looking way too small under him. "You remember how to access the info, right?"

Gaelene nods, laughing merrily. "I haven't been away for *that* long." She taps in d-o-l-l-f-i-n. AIVAS may be, for all intents and purposes, gone, but the search engine is probably some descendent of google, because while it finds nothing on "dollfins", it suggests "dolphins" as one of its alternatives. Following a few of the links is enough to confirm to Gaelene that they now have the correct spelling, though she mutters good-naturedly, "The Ancients and their spelling." Then, as she begins to read in earnest, she exclaims, "Ooooh. A group of them is called a "pod"!"

Xantin smiles as he lets Gaelene do her thing. His gaze flicks over the screen as he watches how she does it, and his brow furrows at the spelling correction offered by the machine. "Huh." The word is more of a grunt, a noise of surprise at the true spelling. He's not quite close enough to comfortably read the information that pops up on the screen, so he leans back a little and just relaxes. Gaelene's tidbit of information gets a chuckle out of the man. "Like peas, huh?"

Gaelene nods absently, reading further. "And they're mammals, like us, even though they live underwater like fish. I guess that's why their skin is nice instead of scaly." She probably doesn't realize Xantin can't see everything she does, because she lapses into silence as she continues reading, with occasional bursts of talking, like when she says, "And they didn't talk originally on Earth. Well, not in human language. Ours were enhanced just like the Ancients enhanced firelizards into dragons."

Each new bit of information gets greater interest going in Xantin, and now the computerer leans forward on his tiny seat to get a closer look at the screen - without blocking Gaelene's view, of course. "Does it say if they were enhanced before or after they came to Pern?"

Gaelene scoots the chair over a bit to make it easier for Xantin to see, then answers, "It looks like before. Oh, huh. And they were brought over asleep like humans. Apparently the other animals they brought were just data. Or something." Genetics is not Gael's strong point.

It's not Xantin's either, but the idea of them being brought over as data is a novel one to him. "Clever way of doing it - saves space," he notes appreciatively. He's frowning at the sleeping thing though, collecting his thoughts to say, once it's sunk in, "sounds like they had your doll-fins on a level with humans, if they had to bring 'em over like the people." He's not sure what to make of that.

Gaelene nods thoughtfully at his observation. "Though they are definitely intelligent, at least as much so as dragons, I think. The settlers didn't know about thread," This fact seems to be somewhat alien to her, "So maybe they thought they could have dolphins explore the sea while humans discovered the land."

Xantin stops leaning so close to the screen again, back to listening to Gaelene. She's the expert on dolphins here, so he'll bow to her knowledge and let her explain things, and theorise. Although he can do some of the latter, in his own limited way. "Intelligent as dragons?" That gives him something to think about, and his eyes look distant as he considers that, eyebrows lowering. Those brows lift as he shrugs at the Thread thing. "According to AIVAS, there wasn't any Thread falling when they got here - seems to me like they didn't know about it, until it fell. For the first time since they'd been there, anyway." It feels odd, talking about something so far in the past, even after his time at Landing with the computers. "You reckon the doll…dolphins went out on their own to explore, maybe?" He asks, forcing himself to correct his pronunciation. Gotta keep up with the times.

Gaelene ods, absorbed still in what she's reading. "At least I think so. I've never really talked to dragons, only heard what their riders told me they said. And while dragons are more dignified than dolphins, there are some who are silly. Like Balkrith. L'ron said he thought the bell was a large turnip. And he was nearly jumping up and down while we were digging it up."

Xantin now turns, looking at Gaelene in disbelief. "Thought the bell was a turnip?" That just…doesn't comprehend. Aren't dragons supposed to be sensible, dignified creatures, and the riders are the ones who have the issues? "Jumping up and down…." He actually raises an eyebrow at the girl at the terminal. "Y'sure it wasn't a trick of the light or something? Never been one to meet dragons much myself but I thought they were all serious creatures, fighting Thread and all."

Gaelene shakes her head. "I bet he's serious when he's fighting thread, but he was definitely jumping. And he tried to laugh, too, when he heard me doing it. It sounded like he was coughing, but L'ron said he was just trying to giggle." She doesn't look completely convinced herself. "I don't think Master Donal was too impressed with him."

Xantin listens to all this without comment, or even changing his expression from disbelief. When Gaelene finishes up with her thoughts on Master Donal's opinion, the computerer shakes his head. "Guess dragons're more like people than I thought." He nods to the terminal screen, then. "So these dolphins, what're they like?"

Gaelene turns away from the screen to tell him from experience, rather than reading off dry facts. "They're very playful. Even when it's to do with bloofish, which they have us remove for them, it's all a game. Dare is the first one I met, and he lives up to his name. He's really bold and asks the most questions, plus he does things like back flips and, for lack of a better word, walking backwards on his tail."

Xantin looks like he's having an internal struggle as Gaelene talks about the dolphins. The man's eyes certainly have something in them…a light that wasn't really there before. "Backflips? Walking on his tail?" He falls into silent rumination for a moment, eyes shifting to look down as he thinks about something. "Reckon you could introduce me to some time? Actually," and now a more pressing question pops up, "how far in d'they come?" He looks up at Gaelene again, now, eyes more serious.

Gaelene nods. "I could do so now, except they won't let us into the water at the moment. They'll come pretty close to shore; the littler children can play with them without getting in over their heads." She has, for the moment, forgotten the computer completely.

Xantin looks relieved at that reassurance. If littler children can play with them, maybe he won't go and drown trying to meet the creatures in their natural habitat. "No rush on it. I've got my day all planned out, anyway." He nods at the terminal. "You want to print out any info on them to take with you?" Another thought occurs and he slaps his leg. "The plastic folks're working on a way of coating paper to make it waterproof. If y'want, I can take a sheet to them to try? Then y'could take it to the sea with you?"

Gaelene brightens up at both. "Yes, that would be wonderful." She returns to the screen. "There's a lot here about dolphins, enough to tide me over for several storms," she quips. "Oh, and there's more about the bell. They actually had code for calling the dolphins!" She also nods eagerly at the plastic paper, saying absently, "I bet Vee would like that. Then Beren could get up really close to draw one of them."

Xantin grins at Gaelene's quip, before his eyebrows go up again at the information on the bell. "Like drum patterns?" He looks eager himself about potentially getting some of this plastic paper stuff done, though he does add, "I don't think you can write on it, far as I know. Oh, it'll be a while likely, too. Gotta send the stuff to Telgar, then wait for 'em to do it, then send it back. You okay with waiting a while?"

Gaelene nods, "Just like drum patterns, but loud enough to be heard under water." Her smile fades a bit when he mentions that water-proofing will render it unwriteable. Then it returns, with a hint of mischief, when she asks hopefully, "Do you think they would mind if I printed out a copy to read while they were making the other one waterproof?"

"Under water. Huh." Xantin looks worried a moment when Gaelene's smile starts to fade, but she soon perks up and the computerer relaxes. He slowly smiles back at her hopeful query, a bit of mischief in his eyes. "I'm sure I can explain away a little extra paper being used. You pick out what you want to print and I'll set the printer up, all right?" And with that said, he leans over to start up said printer, humming tunelessly to himself as the machine clicks and whirs as it warms up under his approving eye.

Gaelene gets to work setting up the printout on her end, at first selecting everything on dolphins and the bell, and then reluctantly removing some of the stuff so that not too much paper is used. "Thank you, journeyman!" she remembers to say.

Xantin chuckles low at the thank you. The printer stops with its noises and sits, patiently waiting for its orders. The computerer straightens up, nodding at Gaelene. "Go on ahead and print it when you're ready." This time, he doesn't question if she remembers how; she's been a good student and has picked things up far faster than any adult he's known has. "How long's this storm supposed to be hanging around?"

Gaelene hits the appropriate keys and the printer once again comes to life. Turning to face him, she says, "I don't think more than a few hours. It's not going to be a big one like the other day, I don't think. Although who knows what we might find if it was? A special gitar for summoning some of those feathered avians or something?"

There's another chuckle from the journeymen. "Think we've got enough on our plates with the dolphins, at the moment." He goes quiet for a moment, considering Gaelene, before he's got another question for her. "How's it going with the healers? Still interested in that craft, or y'think the dolphins are gonna be more fun?"

Gaelene looks a little troubled at the question, and answers carefully, "I still am interested in Healing and Computering, and I'm not sure the Seacraft would take me, especially since I know nothing about boats. But if I had a chance to wotk with the dolphins, I think I would."

Xantin's brow furrows as he notes her troubled expression. "Sorry. Didn't mean t'ask you a bad question." He looks awkward now that he feels he's said the wrong thing, shifting his feet and looking at the printer as it slides out its neatly printed items. "Y'think the Seacraft are going to claim the dolphins for themselves?" He does ask, though he looks like he feels it's too deep a question for someone as young as Gaelene. But, she knows more about the dolphins than he does - and it's more a question about personal opinion than fact.

Gaelene nods. "I can't see who else would, unless there's some revelation in the records which would put them under the aegis of another craft. I mean, for the longest time they've been known as "shipfish", and even if they never heard them talking, Seacrafters say that dolphins sometimes rescue them in storms and shipwrecks."

Xantin hurms. "Seems sensible." He shrugs, then plucks Gaelene's papers from the printer's out tray, holding them out for her with a smile. "Enjoy yer reading. Not much else to do in a storm, is there? Might as well learn something instead of being bored, eh?"

Gaelene nods. "Definitely." She doesn't mention how usually during downtimes she would be spending time in the terminal room or haunting her parents. Once she has the papers in hand she says, "Thank you again! And once the storm is over and classes are done I can introduce you to Dare and the others. If I'm not around here, look for me in the cove."

"Sounds good to me," Xantin says, though the word 'cove' did bring a flash of…some emotion over his face. Hesitation? Dubiousness? "You take care, and don't go sneaking out in the storm or anything." Though she's a sensible sort, so the warning is more of a tease than anything, accompanied by a smile. "Let me know if you find out anything else interesting about your new friends, yeah?"

Gaelene says, "You bet!" She's been getting the request for more dolphin information quite regularly, so it comes as no surprise. She adds the assurance, "I won't be going out in the storm. Paper is wonderful, but it smudges so easily."

Xantin grins, glad for a person who appreciates new technologies and inventions. Or ancient ones, if you want to be fussy. "I'll let y'know when Telgar gets back to me about the plastic paper. Hopefully that'll solve the smudging problem." If they're going to keep having storms like this, it's going to be a priority, soon enough.

Gaelene nods, and heads out. "Take care, journeyman. And don't forget to get yourself a muffin before breakfast is over," she says with an impish grin as she heads out, trying hard to keep a dignified pace but not quite succeeding.

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