Scarlett prepares for her trip to Tanraga with friends Sanj, Margot and, of course, Brede. She hasn't told them about Viendenbourg yet. Before they go, the Kiteways have a family dinner. Violet mentions that Kurt's key has been subject to a 'military trace'. Sente says Kurt should focus on his job more.
I'm setting off for Tanraga tonight. It's all happened so quickly - my friends Margot and Sanj have made the final arrangements for the accommodation, my boyfriend Brede has finalised our itinerary - when we'll be taking the train, and when we'll be walking. And tonight I'll be on that train heading out west. I love trains; there's an old-world elegance about them. The ones that accompany the Tanraga walking tours are fitted out in the original style of 300 years ago; they have sleeper compartments and dark velvet seats and tiny bathrooms fitted out in brass and chrome. Beautiful. So tonight the four of us take the midnight train. It's scary and exciting. For me more than for my friends.
I haven't told them about Viendenbourg. I'm not sure why, except maybe that it sounds so crazy that I wouldn't know where to start. I've said I might want to take a detour. I'm not sure I really want to do that either. Of course, my friends said: a detour? Is it somewhere cool? Can we come too? And I couldn't tell them. I pointed in the general area on the map, told them I had a history project that had to do with that location. They looked at me strangely. Brede said: "what history project?" And I said the first thing that came into my head: "Family history." It must have been obvious that I didn't want to talk about it anymore, because they all went quiet. Maybe they think I have some terrible family secret.
In the past week, I've been trying to find out more about Viendenbourg, or Reynolds ionizers. Viendenbourg brings up nothing, literally *nothing* on any kind of search I try. I've been to five different libraries around the city, and I've even asked my sister Violet to do a search in the Academy library where she works. Nothing. She says she's going to keep looking while I'm away, though. About 30% of the Academy's material is still in hard-copy only. Maybe she'll find some clues.
Perhaps the only other lead is Kurt's key. I haven't told him what I'm doing, but I asked him, as if it was nothing important, whether he'd managed to solve the problems he'd been having with his key. He said he had to dismantle the system to get rid of the embedded programmes of the military trace. And while he was doing that, he managed to make them spit out a location code. It's a military code, so it doesn't give much location information, but he said the general area is: Tanraga. Of course the Tanraga area covers hundreds of square miles. Still, it makes me feel like I'm going to the right place. Or maybe the wrong place.
There is one other thing. I had a farewell dinner with my dad and Violet last night. I didn't bring Brede - not after the last time when Vi and my dad had a big argument, but actually it was nice, just the three of us, like when Vi and I were children. Vi was heading out to poker afterwards, and wanted to arrange to meet Kurt for a drink, but she had to call him on his temporary key, because he's been having all these problems. She told my dad the whole story, about how Kurt had been looking for Reynolds Ionizers, and been stung by a military trace and wasn't that a disgrace? My dad just went really quiet, and after a few moments he said: "Tell Kurt to keep his mind on his job. That's my advice. Tell him to get a new key, and stop worrying about any 'military trace'."
And he gave Violet one of his "I'm serious about this" looks.
I don't know what that means. Maybe nothing. But maybe soon I'll find out. My rucksack is all packed, waiting on the floor of my bedroom. And tonight I'll be taking the train.