From Kyiv in Ukraine comes a mystical device under threat from a new kind of Death Star. This shaman drum is said to bring peace and healing and the authentic sound of Earth's oceans.
A little story from a satisfied customer:
I am old, but space is older. Born on Earth, I return now only during holy times. For many years, my meditations have inclined toward the sound of Earth's oceans. Here on the threshold of consciousness, my mind reproduces those sounds. But that shadow in the corner – it shouldn't be there.
"You should come out now and tell me why you are here," I said to it.
The shadow stepped forward and took form. That form reminded me of something ancient, perhaps a myth.
"Um," it said, "This is not how I normally do things. My name is Nicholas. Call me Nick. You see, I am in a bit of a predicament. I seem to have lost my TSCV — that's a time-space continuum vehicle. — They have taken it on a joy ride, these two children, a boy and a girl. They have taken it. And, well, there is no way they could know how to return. And I cannot intervene for," he grimaced, "technical reasons."
"My name is Gramms. You can call me Gramms. How about you tell me why you think I can and should help you?"
"I do apologize for the intrusion. They can't hear me, the children, but your reputation precedes you. It would seem you are the only one who can reach them. And when you convey my message to them, I too can go home."
He leaned forward slightly and almost whispered, "Never to bother you again."
I left Nick talking to my shadow as I took a deep breath and forced myself back to the surface. Pratchett sat waiting for my meditation to end. The best robot dog in the galaxy would already know the instrument, the marvelous magical device, I needed to point the children home.
"Pratchett, call the Liu twins for me, please. Tell them to pick up a package from Yelena and bring it to Red Bridge. I'll be in the cafe in 24 hours."
The next day, Red Bridge was busy as usual. People milling, shopping, chatting, hustling to the next transport. What certainly was not usual were those two. My couriers wandered toward me like children playing freeze tag.
"I know what you did." I leveled my eyes at the two.
Yin shrugged and held up a self-sustaining fish globe with the galaxy's smallest koi gracefully swooping inside. Yang stopped fidgeting with the drum box, now fascinated by the fish. Definitely children in there.
"Best to take The Junk. Come, Pratchett?"
"Do we have to take The Junk?"
Yang scowled at the robotic dog tip-tapping behind me.
"Yes. The faster we get back to Mystics' Bay, the faster we get the children home."
I sighed, satisfied that Nick was still be talking to himself in a corner of my liminal space.
"Yang, please stop spinning the fish. She's getting dizzy."
When Yin and Yang's jumpship, The Junk, was in sight. They ran for it. But they came back shortly.
As they approached, I stumbled over an invisible something. Yang caught me. Yin looked shocked. Yang looked scandalized. The children were gone. They did not want to go home. Good thing I have the drum.
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