The Sea Gypsies of Ngoguyon
Everybody got up in the early morning. They got ready. The naked children came into the hallway. They met their father. He was wearing white shoes and pants and a blue shirt. Their father said, “Get some clothes on. We don’t know if he is used to children like that. We’ll eat breakfast on the way.”
The children ran to their rooms. They dressed in short sleeve shirts, shorts, socks and shoes. They came back to the hallway. Their parents were waiting. Their mother wore a dress and shoes. The children chorused, “We’re ready.”
They went out the door. Quenan looked right. The red sun was at the western horizon. Their father closed and locked the door.
They walked left to the ladder on the eastern porch edge. They climbed down the ladder one at a time. It led to the family boat. It was side and long. A cabin was near the bow. The red cabin roof extended close to two feet from the stern. On the roof over the cabin was a white mast holding some rods on top. The cabin and the roof’s eave were painted a light blue. The deck was bare stainless steel. The rail around the gunwale was varnished mahogany imported from Earth. A small crane was near the stern on the port side. The air was still. The water was calm. The boat floated steady.
The father walked onto the bridge. It was in the cabin’s front section. A post supported a seat. Right of the seat was another post that supported a bank of eight toggle switches and a lever. The switches were arranged in three tiers. Three switches were in the front, one in the middle and four at the back. In front of the seat was a black panel with the helm on the back edge. On both sides was a black panel angled back. On the panel’s front edges were glass windows.
He sat in the seat. He went to the top three switches and flipped them forward. All three panels lit up. The left panel was the gps system. It displayed a map of their current location. The middle panel displayed the speed in knots, voltage and amperage. The voltage and amperage were at nominal values. The right panel displayed two frequencies and radio controls.
He stood up. He walked around behind the seat. He walked to the right end of the right panel. He reached for a drawer under the panel. He pulled it out. He pulled out a headset with a mike and earpiece. He put it on with the earpiece in his right ear. He listened to the weather report. Clear weather was reported all the way to their destination. It was all in Sarginese.
Quenan past the cabin to the bow. He untied the painter from that pier. He coiled it on the deck.
Boupha-Kannitha walked to the stern. She did the same thing with the stern painter.
An-Toan Kim and their mother stood beside the port wall of the bridge. They watched the two kids work the painters.
Their father had gone back to the seat. He watched their mother. When Quenan and Boupha-Kannitha were done, their mother gave the all-clear signal.
Their father turned back to his task. He flipped the middle switch and back four switches next to him back. He grabbed the helm and lever. He saw Quenan enter the bridge.
Quenan walked around behind the chair. He walked to the same drawer. He pulled it out. He got his own headset out of it. He put it on with the earpiece in his right ear. He closed the drawer. He stood watching his father.
His father pushed the lever forward about an inch. The boat backed away from the house along the piers. When the boat cleared the porch end, He cranked the helm to the left. The bow swung to face east. He pulled the lever back. He straightened the helm. He flipped the four back switches forward. The boat stopped. He gradually pushed the lever forward. The boat moved forward.
Their mother and the two remaining children walked below deck. Their mother said, “It’s time to prepare breakfast.”
Boupha-Kannitha entered the galley with her mother. She helped her mother cook breakfast. An-Toan Kim entered the mess. He set the table.
Their father turned to the map. He touched the screen in the lower left corner. He said, “Launfrabeng.”
A map of the city appeared. A voice spoke Sarginese, “Is this your destination?”
“Yes,” their father responded in Sarginese. The map returned to their current location. He touched the screen in the lower right corner. The autopilot took control. He turned his head toward Quenan. He said, “Que, time for us to go below for breakfast.”
Quenan nodded his head. His father stood up. They walked off the bridge on the port side. They walked around behind the cabin. A door was in the middle of the back wall. The father opened the door. They walked through the doorway. They walked down a ramp below the deck.
They entered the mess. An-Toan Kim was sitting in his seat, having set the table. Quenan sat next to him. Their father sat at the end to their right. Boupha-Kannitha and their mother entered with the food. There were scrambled local eggs and fruit with baco, milk and coffee imported from Earth.
After they ate, they took the dishes into the galley. Boupha-Kannitha and Quenan loaded them into the dishwasher. Quenan closed the door. The dishwasher automatically started washing.
They entered the lounge. Windows were on both sides. The ceiling provided additional lighting. They sat at a round table. They played games until the alarm sounded.
Quenan and his father walked up on deck. The father entered the bridge. He touched the lower right map screen corner. The autopilot turned off. He sat in the chair. He steered the boat starboard to follow the shoreline.
Quenan walked to the bow. He stood facing it. He watched a reddish pink sandy beach approach. He watched the bow swing starboard. He watched as the shoreline went past. He watched Launfrabeng appear. There were buildings of various heights. Some were quite tall.
The harbor appeared. Piers and docks ran along the shoreline. Boats and ships, some larger than the one he was on, were docked. Cranes were where the larger freighters docked. There were long buildings. Various vehicles moved along the docks. Boats and ships moved about the harbor.
Their father adjusted the frequency on the communications radio. Chatter came on the radio. Quenan listened to it. The chatter was between harbor control and the moving ships. Some were between ships.
A break in the chatter came. Their father spoke Sarginese, “Launfrabeng International Seaport Control. This is Kiribourey Tekai. Requesting permission to dock.”
He was answered in Sarginese, “Kiribourey Tekai, permission is granted. Proceed to Dock Three Twenty Seven. Be adviced, there is a freightliner off your starboard stern.”
Kiribourey looked starboard at the mirror. Quenan walked to the starboard rail. He looked astern. They saw the freightliner. Kiribourey responded, “We are aware of said liner.”
They came to a river’s mouth. Kiribourey steered the boat to port into the river. He watched the liner laboriously turn to port as well. He pulled the lever back. The boat slowed to a safe speed. They went upriver.
Quenan turned back to face the bow. He walked up to the bow’s tip. He put both hands on the railing. He stood watch. Docks on both sides went by. Other boats and ships plied the river. Some were harbor patrol boats.
He looked on both sides of the river. He spotted the designated dock. He turned to see his father. He raised his right arm. He pointed starboard at the dock. Kiribourey looked where his son was pointing. He saw the dock. He nodded. Quenan lowered his arm. He turned back to his watch.
Kiribourey got on the intercom to the lounge. He spoke Sarginese, “Boupha to your post.”
He steered to the dock. When they were close, he steered the boat to point directly at the slot. He pulled the lever back, slowing the boat tremendously. Boupha-Kannitha came on deck. She walked to the stern. Kiribourey eased the boat into the slot.
Two men and a gangplank were waiting on the port dock. Kiribourey pulled the lever all the way back. He flipped the middle switch forward, cutting power to the motors.
Quenan and Boupha-Kannitha threw their painters to the dock. The dockworkers caught them. They pulled the boat into position. They tied the boat to the dock. Boupha- Kannitha and Quenan walked to the middle of the port rail. She opened a gate. He helped the dockworkers set the gangplank in place.
Kiribourey flipped the front switches, shutting off the panels. Quenan walked onto the bridge. With his father, he put up his headset.
They walked off the bridge. They joined Boupha-Kannitha. An-Toan Kim and his mother came up and joined them.
They walked onto the gangplank. Kiribourey paused to close the gate. They walked across across to the dock.
They walked to the office that serviced that section of the harbor. They entered the office. Kiribourey walked up to a counter. A clerk stood behind it. She had brown skin and black shoulder length hair. She wore a short sleeve white uniform shirt. On each sleeve was the national seal. Above the left pocket was the harbor insignia. A gold tag with her name was on the pocket. Kiribourey pulled out his bank card form his right pants pocket. He handed it to her. She took it. She slid it through a card reader. It credited the fees to his account. She handed the card back. He put it in his shirt pocket.
Their mother called for a taxi from the office. They exited the office. The autonomous taxi was waiting for them. They got in. Kiribourey sat in the left front seat. His wife sat in the right front seat. The kids sat in the back seat. Kiribourey took his card out. He put it into a slot in the dashboard. The taxi spoke Sarginese, “Your destination?”
He said to the taxi, “Launfrabeng Interstellar Spaceport.”
The taxi took them to the terminal. The taxi credited his account. The card popped out of the slot. He took the card and pocketed it. They got out of the taxi. The taxi left.
They walked to the terminal entrance. A pair of doors slid open. They entered the building. They encountered a kiosk. It was a box slightly taller than Kiribourey. It was silvery from the floor up to his chest. It changed to black up to his forehead. The rest was silvery again. Kiribourey walked up to it. The black turned white with a sequence of black bent lines and dots. The sequence was in rows down the screen. The lines scrolled up. At the bottom was a line that did not move. The scrolling lines were a list of incoming and outgoing flights. Kiribourey touched the screen on the lower left corner to select incoming flights. The list changed. Kiribourey found the flight he needed. He touched the screen at that line. It stopped scrolling. All other flights disappeared. His flight centered on the screen. He studied it.
They turned right. They walked along the terminal’s corridor. Other people walked in the corridor, some with luggage. The Tekais stopped at a shop. Kiribourey entered the shop. The rest waited outside. Kiribourey picked up an adequately sized white card and a black ink marker. He walked to a counter. He handed the items and his card to the clerk. The clerk rang up the items and credited his account. Kiribourey took his purchase and card. He rejoined his family.
They arrived at the gate. They walked into the waiting area. They sat in the seats. Quenan sat next to his father. The flight had not arrived yet.
Kiribourey took the card he had purchased. He laid it across his lap. He took the marker in his right hand. He pulled the cap off. He wrote on the card. Quenan looked over and watched. Kiribourey was using a script the children rarely see. The other two got up. They walked over to watch.
Maximillian Walker was of average height. He had light brown skin and brown hair. He wore a white short sleeve shirt, black pants and shoes. He had come to the city on business. He was waiting for the shuttle to the station. He knew only English. He was sitting close to the family. He heard Quenan speak Sarginese. He said, “Apa kedang?”
Kiribourey spoke Sarginese, “It says ‘Jonathon Seville’. That’s who we are picking up.”