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Thursday, March 18, 2004

THE GREAT EXPEDITION II, PART THE FIRST: FROM THE SHORES OF BAKER, TO MUIR, LIMANTOUR, GUALALA, TO THE ELVEN PEAKS OF SEACLIFF, TO THE FIELDS OF JENNER

AT THE HEART OF BAKER: 12:14PM (PST); 4th of March, 2004 anno Domini

"Good explorers!" I say, when I arrive at the coast of Baker, for my party is already there, waiting and eager to begin. "Many a stalwart here!"

"The troops are ready for your command, sir," says Brad Lupis, the expedition's cartographer tells me.

We are indeed ready, though not without trepidation. Already, ominous threats have emerged, and an ambush is expected in any of the "damage-enabled" regions up ahead, where death can arrive by bullet, or other flying projectile-- especially when the party passes through Rausch or Jessie, for these are irrevocably hostile terroritories.

"I may chicken out and ride in the balloon through those two sims," Miss Pendari Lorentz says, "I have yet to fire a gun in Second Life."

Balloonist Cubey Terra offers Miss Lorentz a seat in his airborne craft. "[W]e can't be killed while sitting on the balloon." (For mysterious reasons, a person who remains sitting within a battle zone is impervious to violence.)

My departure speech is delivered to the party, and published to the world. "It's 47 sims to our destination," adds Alexis Fairchild, "we got a full tank of Mountain Dew, half a pack of gummy bears, it's daylight, and we're wearing clothes."

"Actually," Miss Lorentz offers modestly, "there are 92 sims."

"92?" says Pituca Chang, taken aback.

And for the first time, I discern my party grasping the full enormity of the task ahead of them.

Too late to turn back, in any case, for Lupis is calling out, "To the NORTH!", and we already well are on our way toward the hills of Muir. Once there, I call for a voice tally:

“How many in the party are we?" I shout. "State your name, all here!”

“Cubey, here!”
“Pituca Chang.”
“Cua Curie.”
“Pendari here!”
“Zana Banana-for-fanna Feaver.”
“Brad, here.”
“Anaraxis Romulus!”
“Merwan Marker.”
“Fred Noir.”
“Zero Medici, here!”
“Victoria Moonflower.”
“Alexis Fairchild!”

Thirteen souls, including myself, begin in Baker, and then Muir, and onward to Limantour. An unlucky number, I think, that perhaps shall haunt our course.

"Whoa did someone pack oxygen?" cries Zana Feaver. "We may need it up here." For Limantour is mountainous terrain, and approaching us beyond the marshy fields of Gualala, lies the treacherous climes of Seacliff.

"For God, country and Lindens!" shouts Merwan Marker, undeterred.

And so we make for the highest mountain in Seacliff, leaping like goats up its rocky face. "The land of Seacliff here is inhabited by Wood Elves," I warn my fellows. "Exercise caution!" No elves dangerous or otherwise are forthcoming, however, so we are able to make our way down and South, toward Jenner.

But something is already troubling my walk, and my perception seems to be amiss. I shall not even make it to Jenner without life-threatening danger.

To be continued...

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