Good old Artimus – while an excellent ambassador for science and exploration, he does still maintain a number of very…. quaint ideas about cultural interaction. I blame all those pulp novels he read back in boarding school. Co-pilot should never had let him take the lead when they arrived in the Mukootuk village, but that’s by the by. One good thing to come out of the debacle was that the pair met one Tork T’abora, whose invested interest in NOT following cultural tradition (or rather, not having cultural tradition drag him to the altar in a headlock!) made him an unexpected ally in an otherwise hostile – if mockingly derisive – environment. I had no idea what was going on at this point, of course…. merely that my firends were engaging in a spot of ‘interactive anthropology’. Little did I know how ‘interactive’ they intended to get!
For his part in proceedings, Tork had effectively made himself an exile from his tribe – you don’t play the ‘God gambit’ without some repercussions, after all. But, as he told me later, it was a price he was willing to pay: he’d always been a low rung on the totem pole in the village, stuck between his overbearing mother and the restrictive social norms imposed by the tribal elders…. here was a chance to escape, and he was going to take it! As a member of Explorers Inc., his tracking and wilderness experience have added vital new skill sets to the team repertoire – because, of course, we still had Artimus to deal with….
Can you believe they still hadn’t told me what was really going on yet? Long radio silences are nothing unusual in the exploration business (as long as we hear from each other once a day, that was fine) but one would think a simple “Actually, we’ve been CAPTURED by the people we’re visiting” or “On the run, large predators in pursuit” would have been polite, don’t you? But no, I had to find out like this:
Eventually, though, we lost our assorted pursuers and found our way back to The wanderer, where – pausing only to assure Chief Chaaron that, yes, really, honest, we wouldn’t be bothering him again anytime soon – our motley crew set sail, celebrating the fact that not only had we escaped (relatively) unscathed, but Explorers inc. had brand new team member! All in all, it was just another day in the bold world of adventuring…. and I don’t think I’d have it any other way….
TO BE CONTINUED….