Sunday, January 30, 2011

Star Traveler Update - One quarter power

“One quarter power,” I instructed. “Let’s back away slowly.”

Ma-rye-a came to life and slowly and carefully we edged away from the Maelstrom.

“We have made the first sighting of the entity in the Maelstrom,” Ma-rye-a stated. “I wish I had been able to record it.”

“I think we should contact the Valarian officials at the academy. When we get up to full power see if you can get us a connection.” I continued to sit immobilized in my chair. I was a bit shaky still. It had been a very close call.

“Tea,” Horus announced, as a hot mug appeared in the prep unit at my elbow.

I moved the tea out of the unit. “I think I will be needing something a little stronger than this, Horus.”

“Hot or cold?”

“Hot. I think my blood has frozen,” I admitted.

“Hot coco with a shot of Marson’s Nectar.” Another mug appeared.

I took a sip. It burned nicely all the way down. “Better, much better, thank you.”

“My pleasure,” Horus replied. “Ma-rye-a shut us all down. We are now back up to speed and we have downloaded what information there is in her processors. What did it look like?” Horus asked.

I took for granted Horus’ curiosity, but it was really unique. Daniel was truly a programming genius. “It was frightening and fascinating at the same time. It was spiracle with globes that seemed to be a part of it, like attached probes. It radiated like pent up energy. It glowed. The scary thing was the derelict ships that it appeared to be towing.”

“I could not scan with the power at minimum, but I believe the entity may have been magnetic and that the ships were not towed so much as unwontedly attached,” Ma-rye-a added.

“Spooky,” Cassie chimed in. “To think the crews were probably still inside.”

I took another gulp of my drink, to hell if it was blistering hot, it made me feel alive. “Let’s not talk about it anymore right now. I will be looking over my shoulder for months.”

“It is not following us,” Ma-rye-a stated in her crisp official ship voice.

“Good, but all the same, I want to put a lot of space between it and us before we go to full power,” I ordered. “Call me when we are far enough away we can contact the Valarians. I’m going to take a shower. I feel like I have been violated after having that think ooze over the viewport for over an hour.”

“You feel like you have been violated?” Ma-rye-a said. “Sam? Can you get the scrubbers to the outside hull right away?”

“Will do,” Sam affirmed as I headed toward the shower.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Star Traveler Update - Moving Maelstrom

“What was that?” I demanded from the floor of my cabin where I was thrown by a horrendous jolt. Ma-rye-a was still rocking in the wake of whatever it was.

“It is the Maelstrom,” Ma-rye-a said. “It has moved.”

Even for an A.I. she seemed surprised and I didn’t blame her. I ran toward the stairs to the bridge as fast as my heavy spacer boots would allow. “What do you mean, it moved?”

“Either the Maelstrom we all know has moved or there is another one right off our port bow,” she said. “And, it is shifting even more as we speak,” she warned.

I hit the bridge at a good clip, swung into my chair and started reading the information Ma-rye-a was gathering on the stream beside us. “Don’t let us drift in. We need to put some distance between us and it.”

“Every time I move, it alters its course,” Ma-rye-a said.  She seemed honestly worried. After all, in her data base was listed all the missing ships that had been lost to the Maelstrom anomaly.

“It’s reading our energy signature. If we shut down will we be able to stay parallel to it?”

“Yes, unless it shifts closer, in which case we will be sucked in,” Ma-rye-a cautioned.

The entity in the stream of the Maelstrom seemed to sense our presence. The fields in and around the stream acted like currents forcing the ship to rock from side to side in its wake. The Maelstrom is a swiftly moving stream in space. It is believed to be created by an entity that feeds off of the energy from the stars at the edge of the stream it creates. The problem was that the Maelstrom that was on my set of maps was weeks away even if you jumped through several windows in order to get there. This one shouldn’t be here.

Some people were crazy enough to ride the stream in order to arrive at their destination faster than any jump through a window, but it was extremely dangerous to maneuver. Very few lived to tell about the ride. If you dropped into the stream too close to the entity it could read your energy and turn on you. Once you were in the stream you had to cut off all power except basic life support and manually keep the ship in the stream. It was like struggling to keep a boat heading into a waterfall. If you lost control while in the stream it chewed you up and spit you out. No telling where you would land and in what condition.

“Shut down, Ma-rye-a, everything except minimal life support. I want to play dead and hope it doesn’t come true.”

The steady hum of the ship’s engines ceased immediately. The instruments and lights on the bridge dimmed. I found myself holding my breath.

Out of the swirling mass of space dust, debris and gases carried by the stream came something both fascinating and frightening. It was spiracle in shape, but dotted with small globules of some foreign matter that glowed neon green. As it emerged further I could see it was dragging battered and broken ships in its wake. Ghost ships.

“I count partial debris from seven ships,” Ma-rye-a said, as she scanned. “I can identify at least four from the I.N.C. missing records.”

“Shut down your scan,” I hissed at Ma-rye-a.


But, it was too late. One of the neon globes detached itself from the main entity and moved slowly toward us. I could see that it was still attached via a long umbilical type cord that pulsed with what appeared to be electric charges or lighting.

“Ma-rye-a?” I whispered.

“It has attached to the hull,” she answered my unasked question. “Orders?”

“Sit still and be quiet.”

I could see the green globe ooze its way over the edge of the hull onto the front portal. It emitted sparks so bright that they hurt my eyes as it glided over the surface. The ship vibrated with pulses from the globe. I could feel the hair on my arms and head rise like I had touched a ‘hot’ wire. I sat oh-so-very still. I didn’t know if it could see me, or even if it cared I was there, I just knew I wanted it to go away.

After making a full survey of the portal, as though it were studying every aspect of the bridge, it let go and floated back to the main entity as the attaching cord coiled tighter and tighter. The larger entity shifted back into the Maelstrom and disappeared. I took the first deep breath I had taken in over an hour.

“Boy, am I going to have a story to tell the guys at Jake’s birthday party.”  

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Star Traveler Update - An Invitation

Andrew gave me a delivery back to Trade post 1313. Nice of him to supply me with a reason to get back closer to the normal transport area I work in.

“There is a message waiting for you,” Ma-rye-a informed me when I hit the deck.

“Play back, please,” I requested as I hung up my jacket and placed my blaster in its rack.

It was a message from Tim O’Malley - his annual invite to Jake’s birthday party. Jake will be the “Big 4 - 0” this year.

Tim was Jake’s dad’s best friend. He picked up on the tradition of Jake’s dad throwing him a party each year. He gathers all of us together and we give Jake the most ridiculous gifts we can find. I think Tim is the only one who gives him anything useful. The parties are usually a three day bash in which Tim arranges for a suitable location (one that can handle a couple dozen slightly inebriated spacers without getting complaints), food and entertainment. I am sure Tim spends a considerable time planning the event. For the last couple of years he has put together a vid of Jake with hilarious subtitles and voiceovers.

The guests are a combination of mercenaries, transporters and old family friends. I am one of the few women invited, sometimes the only one that shows up. I was raised with several brothers, so they can’t get too rowdy for me. It is an adult only party. We get a bit raw at times with our gifts. We all talk about our missions/transports and the places we have been. The conversation normally digresses into a ‘gross out – one upsmanship’ of who has had the worst job the past year. 

It’s a networking time too. All of us keep a log where we exchange useful information – good places to pick up leads, new Outposts or Trading posts that have cropped up and their potential, business associates that are either, good or bad news, etc. etc.

All in all, one of the best places to be each year.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Star Traveler Update - Obsession

Whoa! I am back up on Ma-rye-a after a full day and night of partying on Madelor. Got to give the guy credit, he knows how to throw one hell of a birthday bash. It was like a smaller version of GTD.

Yesterday morning the guests started to arrive. We were all jockeying in space for an orbit location without drifting into each other. Seems some of them pooled their resources and came together in one ship. I would estimate there were at least a thousand people, all human I noticed. The guy is a Humanid (the spacer term for someone who only frequents beings of their own species). I am embarrassed that the word is based on our species. Shows how open we were in the beginning. Thank the heavens most of us have evolved since then.

Non-the-less, it was a real wild event. The theme was carnival – everything a twenty four year old young lady could wish for; fortune tellers, magicians, acrobats, tumblers, flame eaters, sword swallowers and knife throwers among others. The live music kept the carnival atmosphere going long into the night. The refreshment tent overflowed with food and libations of every sort. They even had a mixologist on hand to match your mood to your beverage.

Sarah gave tours of her menagerie. She is quite the collector and thrilled with her new pets, the pair of Golden Screamers. Daily introduced me to his daughter during their presentation where he spoke briefly of the trials ‘he’ had gone through to get them here on time for her birth date. She is just as spoiled as her portrait indicated.

She looked me up later in the crowd and asked me if I knew Jake Harcourt and Arr. I told her I did. She was ecstatic. She pulled me to one side and gushed about Arr and how wonderful a specimen he was. (Specimen? Sounded like she was studying a lab slide.) 

Did I know that Jake had saved her from the Hydra? (Hadn’t a clue. He didn’t mention it in our last meeting.) 

Seems she was kidnapped by that slaver race. Nabbed right off her own planet. (How dare they!) 

She rattled on about Arr and how fascinated she was with him. What cool fur he had. Weren’t his cat eyes just incredible? Did I know he growled? (Did she know he could speak any language he heard?) 

He would make a great addition to her menagerie. (I bristled at the audacity of the child.) 

Her father had offered to buy Arr from Jake. (Bet that went over like a Free Rider being dropped in unknown space.) 

She talked a bit more about places she knew the guys had been lately. I don’t think, given what she said that the guys have been in contact with her. The little minx is no doubt following their movements via her father’s I.N.C. connection. I will have to remember to tell the boys about her continued interest in Arr. Someone this obsessed, with this much money, could be dangerous.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Star Traveler Update - Madelor

I arrived at Madelor in record time, Golden Screamers being a great motivational tool. Andrew Daily was prepared to receive the little noise makers. He had an enclosure built with the burrowing sand they love and their favorite natural growth grasses. Of course, a guy that is beyond wealthy thought of everything, the unit is sound proof. The little buggers seemed to settle down as soon as they got their burrow lined with the grass they harvested and the hair they pulled out of their chests. They were down to yelping instead of screaming by the time we exited the premises.

“Come up to the house and I will arrange for your payment transfer, along with the bonus,” Daily offered.

“Thank you, sir. You wouldn’t think something that small would be that difficult to transport, but I must admit I am glad to have them off my ship.” I took the headphones off my neck and hooked them on my utility belt. “The trip down in the pod was the worst. I thought my eardrums were going to burst even with the headphones.”

We climbed in his ground transport to head up to the house. House…Sure for him maybe. More like mansion or estate or castle to the rest of us. Mr. Daily likes to live old world. The place has the look of an earthling’s southern plantation mansion out of a history book. Huge three story pillars line the porch. You climb a flight of ten stairs just to get to the entry. Before you even reach the porch you have to travel through the acres of manicured gardens, up the tree lined main road and past the towering three tiered fountain out front.

There was a crew setting up tents, tables and a stage, people with linens and flowers everywhere. The place was a buzz of activity preparing for the birthday celebration in two days.

The entry of the house is dominated by a massive sweeping staircase that comes down through the middle of the house. I suppose the bedrooms are upstairs. Huge portraits hang on either wall to the sides of the staircase like he was royalty or something, and I guess in his mind, he is. There is one of him, his late wife Madeline and of course the birthday girl herself, Sarah. Sarah looks spoiled even in her portrait.

The floors are hardwood, a terrible waste of natural resources if you ask me. Guess when you are wealthy you can act like a Krackow and rape the environment all you want. After all, he owns the planet. To think rich folks used to just own islands.

Part of downstairs is an extensive library with shelves and shelves of real cloth bound books. No flats here that I could see. Daily uses the library for his office. There was a desk almost as big as my landing pod in one corner made of some old world wood carved with lion’s heads on the front, and ball and claw feet. It may have looked old, but when Daily sat at it, it transformed into a high tech work station with all the bells and whistles.

Daily transferred my funds as promised and then invited me to stay for the celebration. I guess one more wouldn’t matter to an event with God only knows how many people attending. I decided to stay for the show. Not every day that I get an invite to a party for a semi-celebrity. I will get to meet the birthday girl day after tomorrow.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Star Traveler Update - Screamers

In case anyone should ask, three bulkheads are not a sufficient barrier between a pair of upset Golden Screamers and the human ear. However, three bulkheads, the Milky Way Galactic Rock Revival at full volume and noise cancelling headphones do the trick.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Star Traveler Update - The Shift

I picked up a load today. It went something like this:

“Hi, I’m Bronwyn Remstedt. May I sit down?” He was short, stocky and rather young. Not my type at all.

“Not today, thanks,” I answered. I motioned him away with my half full mug as I brought it to my lips.

“Oh, no, it’s not like that,” he said. “I understand you are a transporter and need a load. I have one.” He gave me what he thought was a winning smile.

I looked at him from head to toe – spacer suit, rather new (like him), spacer boots – nothing about him said planet bound.

“Now, I’m really not interested,” I confirmed. He was looking to ‘shift’ something. I don’t do shifts. They can only lead to trouble. For those of you who do not know the industry term, a shift is a load that goes through two or more hands before it gets to the recipient. It is a dangerous practice to take on a load someone else started with. You don’t know what they may have mixed in with it. All I could think about was MT2424 stopping me on the way here. I was confident when I met them then. If I had a shift, I wouldn’t be near so sure of myself and my load.

“Yes, it’s a shift, but not like you think.” At this point, he was getting desperate. He pulled up his own chair without an invitation and sat down. “Let me at least tell you about it.”

I shook my head and looked over his to catch Katka’s eye in case I needed him to help me eject this guy.

“I’m doing a delivery to Madelor for Andrew Daily,” he started to explain.

This just kept getting worse and worse. If this kid was looking to unload something, he should have made up a better story. Andrew Daily is known as the largest transport tycoon in the Verse. He has a fleet of ships. Why would he hire some young inexperienced goon to transport something for him?

“I may be young,” the kid said with a look of defiance, “but I am not so stupid to know this doesn’t sound really bad. Just hear me out, please.”

I gave Katka a nod to indicate I was okay for the time being. I instinctively moved back my chair in order to reach my blaster, but that wouldn’t help, you had to check your weapons at the gate when you entered a Trade post. I hadn’t had my gun for days. I really didn’t think this kid was a threat anyway. I picked up my mug and took a sip. “Make it good,” I told him. I could hardly wait.

“I worked for Mr. Daily in his fleet crew for a couple of years. Six months ago I bought my own ship, a Class 1 Drifter.”

A Drifter is a very small, fast ship. Usually they transport medical supplies. The supplies are small and needed as quickly as possible.

“Mr. Daily contacted me,” he went on. “He arranged to house a pair of Golden Screamers in his daughter’s menagerie. The Zoo at Gamma 12 was going to loan them to him. He wanted them delivered in time for Sarah’s birthday so he needed a fast ship in the area. He was willing to pay big and throw in a bonus if I was early enough on the delivery to settle them in before her birth date.”

Okay now I understood. Golden Screamers are an endangered species. They are extremely small primates with incredibly loud voices. From what I have read they like a static environment, if it changes, they get really upset. When they get upset, they scream. They also scream when they are looking for a mate, when they mate, when they communicate in any way. In the wild a screamer can be heard for miles. And, they do scream. They don’t call, bark or talk. They scream. As I have said a Drifter is a small ship. I am surprised the kid made it this far without jettisoning his cargo – live or not. I could take this on provided he had the proper papers to prove I wasn’t transporting illegal cargo. I could put them down in the pressurized section of the cargo bay. The screamers wouldn’t bother Sam. Between the Cargo Bay and my quarters were at least three bulkheads. That should take the edge off their screams. I decided to test the waters.

“What kind of deal do you want to make?” I asked.

“40% for me getting them this far and 60% for you taking them the rest of the way,” he said. “I need 40% just to cover my costs this far or I would offer you more.” He was pretty desperate.

“Do you feel comfortable contacting Mr. Daily?” I asked. “I want written permission from him to shift the load and I want a vet to have a look at the screamers to certify that they are fit to travel on from here.”

You could see the relief on his face. He suddenly looked five years younger. “Sure, let’s contact him right now.” He accessed the NET from the keyboard on the edge of my table.

A woman’s face appeared on the monitor – no 3D holographs here, a monitor was much more private in a place like this. “Hi Bron. What’s up?”

“I’m at Trade post 1313. Can you connect me to Mr. Daily?”

“Sure. He’s out in the field. Let me put you through.” Her fingers flew across her keyboard and a moment later Andrew Daily’s face appeared. I knew it was him from the news vids I had seen over the years.

“Daily here,” he said. “Bron, where are you?” he asked when he recognized his caller.

“I’m at Trade post 1313, Mr. Daily.”

“Nothing wrong with the Screamers is there?” he asked anxiously.

“No sir,” the kid hesitated a minute. “You know I wanted to do this job for you, sir. I’d like to still be a member of your team, but those screamers are just too much in too close a space. I can’t fly any further with them.” Daily started to say something, but the kid cut him off. “I have it covered though, sir. This is another transporter, 3su. She has a very good reputation in the area. I’ve checked her out. She flies a larger ship and can take the screamers the rest of the way to your place. I’ve calculated the distance and even though her ship is slower, I made good time getting them this far. She can make it in plenty of time for Miss Sarah’s birth date.”

“Do you agree to this shift,” Mr. Daily asked.

“I want to check out the transport papers and have a vet check out the screamers,” I answered.

“Of course. Have you two agreed to a split?” he asked.

“40% for me, 60% for 3su,” Bron answered.

“Is that agreeable to you?” He asked.

“Agreed,” I said.

“Bron, I’ll transfer funds to your account when 3su confirms she has taken on the load. 3su, I will forward written permission to shift the load within the hour. I will have your funds waiting for you when you arrive on Madelor. Did Bron tell you about the bonus?”

“Yes, sir. Looking forward to picking that up too,” I said with confidence.

“Then I will leave you to it.” Daily signed off.

I stood and stuck my hand out to Bron. “Let’s go find a vet. I want to make good on that bonus.”

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Star Traveler Update - Stuck

It’s been three days and I still haven’t located a load for delivery. Trade post 1313 seems to be a dry hole at the moment. I can’t afford to run Ma-rye-a with her cargo bay empty. I have to locate a delivery. I guess if I have to be stuck somewhere, being stuck where I have friends is better than being at some awful Outpost. Daniel and I have been out to dinner twice, but he still won’t give me even a hint about his new program. He has tantalized me enough that I have decided to attend GTD. I have to see what he is up to.

Currently, I am sitting in SS’s (translation: Katka’s Slow Sip) hoping to catch some info on a load. The SS serves everything Katka can get his hands on. You could live here if he supplied the cots to sleep on. It’s a comfortable place with NET and I.N.C. access. He doesn’t mind if you crash in a corner for the whole day as long as you have a glass, mug, cup or utensil in your hand. I started off with a liquid breakfast this morning called a Sunrise Special and moved on to a Smokin’ Tokin at about mid-morning. Now I’m slowly working my way through a plate of raw Pebble Fruit and a glass of Mid-day Madness.

It’s too bad Trading posts are not organized enough to have a dispatcher. You have to rely on your own ability and reputation to pick up a load at one of the local gathering holes. You post your availability on the NET and you keep your ears to the ground. I don’t mind waiting so much. Daniel is right, the place is a gold mine for people/alien watching. It’s not often that I see a species I can’t identify, but I must admit there have been a few today. Katka said the two with all the eyes were Licktode’s. I can’t say whether they were male or female, or if they even have a gender, both looked a bit reptilian with long faces and three sets of eyes running up the side of their faces. Their tongues would periodically sneak out to lick across the eyes. Don’t know what that was all about, but I passed most of the morning speculating on it.

One really surprised me. When it crawled in, I thought it must be lost. More like a slug than anything else I have seen in the Verse. However, when it made its way up to the bar Katka seemed to be on a first name bases with the thing. Turns out HER name is Delic and she speaks better than passable English through that sucker type mouth of hers. She sounded like a person singing as they gargle. She does have a bit of trouble with her ‘B’s and P’s’. When she tries to pronounce those she blows bubbles that unfortunately for Katka they burst. He tried to keep a bar rag close without getting in the line of fire. She likes Hardhat Spritzers – through a straw of course. Crazy with a capital ‘C’.

I spotted Yakutis and his mate in the crowd yesterday at the market. They are good folks. We had a bite to eat together. Lucreal is pregnant. Her species’ term is a year and a half so she is nowhere near delivery. In fact, I wouldn’t have known if she hadn’t told me. Yakutis is in love with the idea of a child. He can’t keep his hands off Lucreal and that is saying a lot cause their species has four arms.

They are doing a short shift of a load from here to the other side of the planet. Lucreal told me they have developed a mining station over there that’s in need of supplies. Then Yakutis says he has a load to pick up at the mine for a Window jump to Gamma 12 and then a delivery to Galnon Station #41. He’s hooked up with the mining trade to see how he likes the duty. He is fearless. He doesn’t mind taking Windows to speed the delivery, but it leaves me as cold as a spacewalk without a suit. I keep remembering those simulations you have to work through in order to get your license, maps and software from the Vularian’s at the GTD workshops. Those were so hairy. You pop through a Window and there sits a floating Free Rider from a bad jump and your ship careens into it. If the Valarian’s want to scare you about the dangers of Free Riding and Windows, they certainly achieved it with me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Star Traveler Update - Daniel's Place & GTD talk

Daniel passed me the plate of sushi. I waved it off. “Try the small ones. They are just crab with rice wrapped in seaweed,” he suggested.

“No thanks. I don’t eat anything that might bite me on the way down.” We were at his place now. It was comfortable – lots of colorful pillows and low furniture. Daniel seemed to live on the floor. Even if there was a chair available, he tended to crash on the lowest surface in the room.

“Are you going to GTD this year?” he asked, as he stuffed a sushi roll in his mouth.

GTD is Galactic Treaty Day for those of you who don’t get out much. It is celebrated throughout the Verse. The date never changes on Valaria (where the original treaty was signed), but it may shift on other planets due to the planet’s cycle- check your calendar.

If you haven’t been to GTD on Valaria, you certainly should. The event runs a full thirty cycles on their planet. They have a permanent facility set up for the shows. Everything and everyone you could ever want to see is there during that thirty cycles. Vendors and buyers come from all over the Verse.

Most of the event is indoors. There is a building for the latest gadget you might consider for your home or ship – from the galley to the cargo bay, from the bridge to the bathroom. They have a complete display of every weapon available on the market. Of course, you have to register to get in the door to see them and go through the whole intense background check to buy any model. You might see your purchase by the next GTD event. There is a building just for A.I. programmers and buyers and a building dedicated to entertainment of every sort imaginable. I love the food court, which is huge. There are things there that you can’t get enough of, and things that you wish you hadn’t seen, but it is all incredible. Two years ago when I attended there was even an animal show and sale. You could buy everything from a dardolf (from protect class to draft) to a Mahserį, or even a malfit on the hoof.

I told Daniel I hadn’t really planned on attending this year.

“I’m going this time. I have a new program I want to get some feedback on. I intend to set it up in the playroom.” Oh, that’s another building I forgot to tell you about. They set up a game room so all the programmers can let customers test drive facsimiles of their wares. “You might have a look at it when I get the proto type done. It would help with Cassie’s program.”

“Really? What is it?”

“Can’t say yet,” Daniel said, “still in the smoke testing stage, but if it works like I have it planned it should make me a very rich man.”

“When have things never worked like you had them planned?” I asked.

“Well, admittedly, hardly ever. Oh, I almost forgot.” Daniel hopped up and dug in a nearby drawer. When he came back he presented me with a very intricately designed box. “It’s a puzzle box. I ordered if from Delightful. I thought you would like it.”

I turned it in my hand, a box without a way in – as far as I could see. Daniel loves unique packaging. You could almost say he is obsessed.

“When you find the way in, it has a surprise for you – a Muldavian chocolate – Rainbow flavor.”

I tugged at the corners thinking it might pop open. I sat it on the floor and pushed down in hopes that it would spring open. Muldavian chocolates are my favorite. I was not going to be thwarted. I tried twisting it a bit. It still wouldn’t open. The nice thing about Daniel is that he is so excited about the packaging that once you have given it your initial effort, he is more than willing to show you how the delightful thing opens. “I can’t figure it out,” I said and handed it back to him.

Daniel held it in one hand, pushed on the two opposing corners and the box literally popped open and played a tune as the center rose up and presented the chocolate (dipped in gold) in all its magnificence on a small black lacquer tray. “Is that something or what?” he asked.

I didn’t know whether to eat it or applaud. Temptation got the best of me – I opted to eat and applaud later. It is the most incredible chocolate in the Verse.

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