Landing six miles from the nearest hut, I arrived by land, though I had to dispatch of a mire crab on the way, which continues to be a frantic exercise that feels exasperatingly random.
Before approaching the hut, I figured I ought to consult the computer. Launching CULTS, I entered TORBION, the name of the region I had landed in.
DICTO gave me some words in the Torbion traders' antennae semaphore language.
I entered the hut.
With the dictionary, I knew to answer "friend," and the trader signed "O.K." I explained I sought The Most Amazing Thing and requested a clue, not seeing much else to do here.
Well, damn. I don't have quite enough, even if I were to trade all of my other chips at their exchange rate.
I could have gone back to Metallica to sell more junk, but instead, I checked the continental exchange rates on all 25 mire cultures. Sloping, some 500 miles east, would trade green-for-red at a 1:4 ratio, quadrupling my riches. And so I went there, a journey that required me to rest and refill food and fuel along the way.
For the last stretch, I didn't bother trying to math my way into a precise wind, and instead just relied on alternating burner/vent to keep in the generally correct direction and constantly switched between DIR and Hut1 to check drift. This landed me within 2 miles of a hut, where I could change 11 green chips into 44 red.
Then I set a course for Treliss, where I could trade red back for green at 4:1.
They still only demand 26 green chips back for a clue, but then asked for Musix once I put them down.
CULTS shows they enjoy "long, complex" Musix, so I went back to the ship and made something.
Musix is a simple line-drawing program that plays a monophonic song as it draws, each note determined by the next point's Y position.
Thankfully, this primitive chicken scratch satisfied them. Unfortunately, I had to repeat the whole barter process and they wanted more, and when I tried to replay the Musix I had absolutely nothing, pissing them off and making them demand more Musix before they'd even talk to me again. So I had to go back and repeat the procedure two more times before I could buy the clue.
|I call this composition "Malicious Compliance."|
Okaaaay. Back to Torbion it is. At least I have money this time.
That's about 760 miles to travel, at about 200 degrees. I refueled at take off, catching a good wind at 740 feet.
I should note, that this is not realtime, but it still takes about 15 minutes to travel about 600 miles of the distance, during which time I must keep an eye on the DIR instrument and often adjust altitude to compensate for drift and wind changes. The SLEEPY! warning, which I'll note even makes it annoying to land, forced a landing just at the Sloping/Torbion border, hence the note about going 600 miles.
The second leg landed me four miles due west of a Torbion hut, where I made another staircase-shaped Musix to trade. As before, a clue cost 26 green chips and a song.
"Zeners" are one of the many useless things sold at Metallica - the manual describes it as a radio-controlled back scratcher. So I engaged autopilot to return - learned the hard way that you shouldn't sleep with autopilot on as you'll wind up way off course - and returned and bought one with my deep pockets.
The trip to Solvaque - I'll skip the usual notes on navigation, eating, fueling, sleeping, crab dodging, etc.
The Solvaques like simple Musix, so I composed a real simple one.
The traders accepted my Zener, but demanded 65 red chips for the next clue - once again, just slightly more than my entire chip value at the local exchange rate. So I traveled back to Sloping for its favorable green-to-red exchange rate, and back again to buy the clue.
|20G for 80R at Sloping.|
|Thankfully, I didn't need to buy another Zener.|
They demanded Musix, my "simple" one was accepted, and I received the next clue:
That's a long trip!