Episode 4 – Tet-Net

Layan’s Cabin – Early next morning

The sun began to creep its way over the valley ridges and a soft golden glow wrapped itself around the cabin in a warming embrace. The chill nor’ lazy however was still not quite done with its mischief, persisting in its desire to find its way into any small undefended nook and cranny.

Layan was already up and doing, busying himself with his morning chores – mending the fire, putting on a fresh pot of coffee and soon the sound and aroma of sizzling bacon began to wend their way through the room. In one corner a patchwork bundle of grey blankets stirred. A nose tentatively poked its way out from under the said bundle to interrogate the taunting redolence wafting from the pan on the stove.

Layan: Good morning young cub!

Jaak’s tousled head appeared further out from under the blankets. He blinked a couple of times as his dawning consciousness remembered where he was.

Jaak: Oh! Um. Good morning!

Layan: Hungry?

Jaak: Oh yes! Something smells really good – I’m starving!

Layan: Well then. Let’s be having you. Time for a good mountain breakfast.

Breakfast was just as delicious as dinner from the night before. Bacon, eggs, wild mushrooms, toast and fresh coffee made with sweetened milk from a can – poured in a gloriously viscous stream from one of the holes punched on either side of the top.

Layan: The wind is still with us this morning, but I think it will die down a little later on. Why don’t you go and get yourself cleaned up a bit – there is a spare toothbrush in the drawer under the wash stand.

Layan’s demeanor, then changed somewhat abruptly as he threw his paws in the air with theatrical alacrity …

Then together we shall make our splendiferous plans for world Tet-Net domination! Mwa ha ha ha ha!

Jaak wasn’t sure how seriously to take him or not, but there did seem to be a playful glint in his eye as Layan threw back his head and flashed his toothy smile. Jaak was grateful of the new toothbrush, as his mouth was starting to feel like it had more fur in it than on the outside of his entire body.

Layan: Excellent! Now about your Tet-Net problem and lack thereof. We must plan – and I have a cunning plan, a plan so cunning you could put bells on it and call it Christmas! It involves a dish! Yes! No, no – not a dish of figgy pudding… you will see young cub, you will see!

Now Jaak was starting to wonder if maybe his Dad did have a point – but his interest was piqued. Layan had indeed enabled to him connect very successfully with the outside world last evening, and he had been able to catch up with his friend Dieter. He had got the latest tit-bits of news and goings on from Aoraki – or at least the part of it that mattered to young teenage boys.

Jaak: Layan – how do you connect to the Tet-Net? Tenzing says that there is too much interference from the high iron content in all the volcanic rocks around us.

Layan: And you and Tenzing would be right – however I think it is better to show you rather than for me to try and explain. I think – if I do say so myself, which I frequently do – you will find it rather interesting. Now. That wind is still fairly fresh outside so I think we shall have to take an alternative route up to where we need to go. Come young cub – come!

With that Layan pulled back a rug on the floor to reveal a trap door leading down to the cellar. When he lifted it up, a wooden ladder appeared leading downwards into the gloom below.

Layan: Right then. Pass me that paraffin lamp from the side board would you please, and the box of matches next to it. Let me show you how to light the lamp.

Layan then pushed down on the lever at the side of the lamp, and the glass and cage lifted up. He then carefully raised the wick with a small wheel.

Layan: OK, young cub, strike me a match and light the wick in the lamp.

Jaak, selected a match from the box, and struck it causing it to flare into life. He carefully touched the wick in the lamp and it began to burn with a high smoky yellow flame. Layan trimmed the wick back down until just the yellow flame burned brightly, but now without all the smoke. He then lowered the glass back into its original position.

Layan: Right then! Shall we? Onward to our quest for adventure and Tet-Net connectivity!

Layan peered down into the gloom of the open cellar door…

Roll for perception!

Jaak just looked at Layan blankly as if he really was a bit bonkers.

No? Oh well, never-mind – we can explain that one later…

Layan then climbed down the ladder while holding the lamp and when he reached the bottom he held the lamp up so it shone on the steps so that Jaak could see where to place his paw-feet. The cellar was pretty much what you would expect with jars of preserves and food lining the shelves and other supplies and miscellaneous items dotted around the floor. The walls of the cellar were not constructed but were of natural rock. The cellar was in reality a lava cave and the cabin had been built over its opening. It had a sandy floor that sloped up towards one end where there was an opening into a narrow fissure like passage or hollow lava tube. Jaak then noticed that there was a heavy black cable that snaked its way from down under the floor of the cabin, across the cave and then on up, disappearing into the lava tube entrance.

Layan led the way, and Jaak followed behind him. The passage led steadily upwards winding in places, and in others the roof lowered so they needed to duck down to pass. The cable ran right through the entire length of the passage. The journey was not overly long and after about ten minutes of steady climbing the tunnel began to level off and widened into another small cave. Jaak could now see a sliver of daylight shining down through a small opening near the cave roof.

Layan: Almost there! Go on ahead young cub you will find your way easily now.

Sure enough, the cave opened out into a rocky outcrop, the bright morning sun making Jaak blink and squint for a moment as it reflected off the surrounding snow and his eyes adjusted.

What Jaak then saw almost made him revert to full frontal potty mouth.

Jaak: Holy fluking flying fluff a duck!

A moment later Layan appeared behind him.

Layan: Welcome to the Valley Tet-Net ground to sky satellite station.

The Tet-Net station was a visual contradiction – high-tech meets steam-punk ingenuity. Next to a very large and high-tech satellite dish was an out-house familiar to any of the valley cabins. A regular out-building shed was anything but regular, with a spinning radar and a smaller satellite dish on its roof. Finally a very old fashioned looking steam engine with a large spinning flywheel chuffed happily away in front of the main dish.

Jaak: This is amazing! But how does this all work?

Layan: Come and I will show you!

The pair closed the short distance between the cave opening and the fence that surrounded the station. Layan opened a gate and they were within the yard of the station.

Layan: The steam engine here provides for all the power needs of the station and this shed houses the main communications equipment. The outhouse is for – well you know.

Jaak: But how do you keep the steam engine stoked? You can’t have been up here since yesterday – even if you had stoked it right up, the wood would not last for long enough.

Layan: Well! You are a bright one! You have indeed spotted the one potential ‘flaw’ in this rather brilliant set-up. Come and look – I will show you…

Layan then moved closer to the steam engine, and opened the door to the fire box. To Jaak’s amazement, instead of a glowing fire, a bright blue light came out instead. Jaak leaned in for a closer look and right in the middle of the fire box there was a small blue stone about the size of a pebble spinning slowly. It was glowing brightly.

Layan: This, young cub is the secret to our planet’s success. This one stone releases enough energy to power this entire station, with a little left over to mooch a supply down to my cabin. This my boy, is a Cyanos Stone. They are mined exclusively right here in the valleys – nowhere else. In fact, you know those Tets up there in orbit?

Layan motioned with his paw toward the sky…

That’s how they are powered – although they flatly refused to use my steam engine technology. Some pompous clip-board waving twit from the space agency, going on and on about health and safety concerns. Pfft. They do need a slightly bigger stone than this one of course, to power that huge glowing power core.

Layan flashed his trademark toothy grin.

Jaak: That’s incredible! I never knew such things even existed.

Layan: Every day is a school day eh? Now – we are not yet done here lets get over to that shed yonder and see what we can do to help you with your Tet-Net problem.

With Jaak’s skepticism fading rapidly, the pair then moved over to the rustic looking shed with its very non-rustic still revolving radar, and small satellite dish. Once inside, the interior was anything but rustic. Along one wall was an entire bank of computer displays and communication equipment, which would have been sufficient to light the room even without additional lighting. Layan then sat at one of the consoles and tapped the keyboard. A wide map of the valleys appeared, and he quickly zoomed in onto the ridge where they were and the trail leading all they way back down to Jaak’s cabin nestled at the head of the valley. Layan made a few more taps and clicks and what looked like a flowing blanket of green lava was overlaid on the screen.

Layan: Ah hah! There you see? As I expected there is no coverage at the end of your valley. Normally if you had your own receiving dish at your cabin, you would have been able to pick up the Tet-Net repeater signal that beams across the valleys from this station. Now let me see…

Tap, tap, click

The image on the screen then changed, and the green overlay now included Jaak’s cabin.

Layan: That should do it. When you go home, you should now have full Tet-Net coverage at your cabin without the need for your own receiving dish.

Jaak: Wow! Really? Thank you so much Layan! I don’t know how to thank you!

The rest of the ‘quest’ was less exciting, which involved retracing their steps back down to the cave opening, back down the lava tube tunnel and back to Layan’s cabin; re-emerging though the cellar trap-door. By this time the wind had dropped as Layan had predicted and he then saw Jaak back to the trail by the rocky out crop at the crest of the ridge.

Layan: Ok then, young cub, follow the trail now – be sure to stick to the trail all the way down and you’ll be just fine. Give Altai, my warm regards!

Jaak: Thank you, I will and bye for now – oh and um… can I please visit again?

Layan: Of course you can! I shan’t be using that tooth brush myself ya know.

With that Jaak grinned broadly, turned, waved and headed back down the trail to his cabin, where he could not wait to try out his new Tet-Net access.

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