“Dyton Colony, armpit of the ‘Verse.”
“C’mon, capt’n, We’ve seen worse. Whitefall, frinstance”
“Any world that produced a psychotic lowlife like Badger is not goin ta be on my list of attractive tourist destinations, Kaywinnet.”
“But they can produce custom made parts for less than used parts cost most places, ain’t that worth a visit?”
“Other girls like flowers and perfume, how is it you go all mushy over engine parts?”
“I kin get flowers from Hope’s garden. She’s even got tomatoes grown in the hydroponics room. But nuthin can replace a vertical integrator when it rusts out. And ours has become a garden of iron oxide.”
Somewhere, Simon had found a tourist guide to Dyton, and persuaded Mal that a sightseeing walk through the ring city that made up Dyton’s primary commercial centre would be interesting and educational. Putting on his best grumpy face, Mal collected Kaylee and Derry and strapped on Babygirl in her back carrier for a shopping tour of the colony. Simon and David were planning to stop at the Apothecary Gardens to see what herbal and homeopathic medicines might be available.
“You know, if a herbal infusion works, we call it medicine.” said Simon.
David laughed, “Some of my ladies prefer the milder effects of homeopathic products.”
“Like belladonna? If the water remembers the medicine, why doesn’t it remember all the urine that has been poured into it over the centuries?”
The spouses continued their bickering as the party crossed Misbegot Bridge .
“The apothecary I was talking to said in some seasons, ailments can be cured just by breathing the air in the Gardens.”
“That would be the slicker whose stock seemed to be made up of penises from every species on Earth-That-Was?” asked Mal. “I wouldn’t go near that feller again less I was wearin a cup.”
The medics found a herbalist whose wares were less embarrassing than David’s informant, and stopped to shop for both medicinal and culinary products.
“See if they have any good hoisin sauce,” instructed Kaylee. “And lots of chili peppers to take the bland out of the protein.”
“Now, bao bei, we don’t eat that go se so much any more,” Mal protested.
“Nah, but dried peppers keep, and if we can get a good stock here, we may as well.”
The Reynolds family strolled further along their sight seeing route, passing the elaborate bandstand that local legend claimed was actually designed as a decoration for a wedding cake by an architect who was notorious for his inability to measure. Leaving the Gardens near an ancient boozer called the Mortar and Pestle, they turned onto Prouts, then turned left onto Misbegot Bridge to cross what the Dytoners mistakenly called a river.
The river was so thick with pollution and garbage that it was almost possible to walk on it, although doing so would probably dissolve the walker’s shoes.
The Bridge was wide enough that houses and shops had been built along both sides leaving only the narrowest passage for pedestrians. Kaylee kept her squirmy son firmly by the hand as they passed narrow house facades, many of which had been turned into shops selling pastries and candies, tobacco and sotweed, brummagem tat and fine jewellery.
As they approached Treacle Mine Road the street widened. On their left was a pleasant building in the Arcadian style, with a plaque that identified it as a Companions’ madrassa.
But the inhabitants of Treacle Mine Road were of a more practical bent than the graceful Companion House would indicate. In the tall buildings that lined the road, and in the basements and sub-basements of those buildings, were the workshops and factories of some of the finest craftsmen in the ‘Verse.
Dyton was originally colonized by convicts, especially when word got around that the terraforming company would pay to reduce sentences for non-violent criminals who were willing to work on the habitation. Many of those convicts had been counterfeiters, not only of money, coin and fiat, but of any high value product that had a ready and ignorant market for cheap knockoffs.
Kaylee was watching for a craftsman who would be able to turn out the parts she had been unable to find in her thorough winnowing of junkyards in every port they hit.
“Time is money, capt’n,” she explained again.”sometimes it’s cheaper to pay for the right thing right now, than to try to mod up something’ that ain’t quite quite.”
Mal just looked stubborn, and Derry was practicing his own stubborn face. She sighed. These Reynolds men.
Just before they got to Cable Street, Kaylee found what she was looking for, and left Mal with the children to find a snack in the noisy produce market with its array of possibly edible things on sticks and other Dyton specialties.
A vendor carrying a tray with small oil burners offered them meat pies.
“What kind of meat?”
“Oh, you want the special pies! With mustard!”
Mal and Derry were nibbling on BBQ dog with sweet chili sauce and discussing what might be in the baker’s Spotted Dick when she returned in triumph.
“He’ll make us a vertical integrator for five platinum and an extra for another two. Says the biggest part of the work is in making the model, then he can turn ’em out easy. But he asked that we let any other Firefly mechanics know that he can make ’em . Which is fine by me. Sou-fen was complaining’ that their mechanic always wants new parts and don’t know how to make secondhand ones work. I’ll send her a wave when we get back to Serenity.”
“Are you hungry, boa bei?” asked Mal, “That street vendor has hot pies, and there are some other things around. Prolly safer things.”
“Oooh! Rollmops!” squealed Kaylee. “i’ll get some of those, and look, baked potatoes with refried beans. And how about Sticky Toffee Pudding for afters!”
“Ain’t you the one fussin us all to eat our vegetables? ”
“There’s pickled onions in the rollmops, and potatoes is veg. So’s beans.”
Kaylee picked up a disposable bamboo bowl and chopsticks with her rollmops, but kept the potato in its little wooden bento box as being too difficult to eat while walking.
They reached a major junction where The Scours met Easy Street. The Museum of Antiquities of the Guild of Historians was on the corner. Street theatre, always a threat on Dyton, broke out as they passed in the form of a historical re-enactment troupe dodging sedan chairs, hover cabs, and rickshaws while re-enacting one of the skirmishes of the War of Independence that had occurred on Dyton.
They turned left up Easy Street to Rime Street where a Mr Scant , keeper of monuments, was showing his treasured architectural wonders, built by the same dimensionally challenged architect who had built the bandstand/cake ornament in Apothecary Park. For six coppers, Derry was allowed to gaze on the Dyton Colossus and the Unification Triumphal Arch, which Mr. Scant, kept in a small cardboard box in his pocket.
Turning right, they headed upriver along Rime Street from where they looked across to The Butts on the Isle of Gods, then on to Contract Bridge and up Contract Alley onto ancient Filigree Street.
“We better stop and feed Babygirl. She’s getting restless.”
“More important, she seems to have completed digestin her breakfast.” sniffed Mal.
“Baby made a poop! Baby made a poop!” laughed Derry.
“Right entertainin’ if you’re eight, and not carryin the little stinker,” his father muttered.
They were outside a pub called The Mended Drum, and Kaylee marched them all inside. She signalled the bartender to serve her men and a quick whisper to the waitress, a very short woman wearing leather skirt and chainmail top who seemed to need a shave, got her instructions on how to find the Ladies.
When they returned, Mal had a large pewter mug of beer and Derry a glass of something neon and bubbly. Both seemed content. Babygirl and her mother were somewhat shaken by experiencing the Ladies. “Ain’t this town never heard of a honeywagon?” she muttered.
Mal ordered her a beer and to calm her asked for a little something to add to it. “Something fruity, ” he specified.
The waitress looked doubtful. “We’ve got scumble. That’s made with apples… well, mostly apples.”
Kaylee was feeding the baby with the potato and beans. “Great. I like cider. That should be fine.” She directed Mal to give each of them some of the Sticky Toffee Pudding purchased on the street earlier.
Probably she should have been more attentive when the waitress brought the beer and shot in treenware mugs.
When Derry on a sugar rush from the pop and toffee pudding and his giggling mother started trying to harmonize on Browncoat songs Mal had taught them, Mal and his redheaded daughter exchanged old-fashioned looks.
They took a rickshaw back to the Docks and Serenity.
Kaylee was able, just, to take possession of the new vertical integrator when the stumpy bearded craftsman delivered it, two days later. But she complained that it was too shiny and had Hope install it because the engine was humming like a planet sized beehive.
We never saw enough of the variety of worlds in the Verse. This visit to Dyton was inspired by reading the Serenity MUSH, which seems to be an extension of the RPG, and getting The Compleat Ankh-Morpork City Guide for Christmas. The family follow one of the suggested sight-seeing walks in the Guide. I think the dwarves and BS “Bloody Stupid” Johnson fit in well enough and I was glad that Mal had the good sense not to eat one of CMOT Dibbler’s pies. Not even one with named meat. The BBQ dog on a stick was a better choice.