Knock Knock Knock
Blackwood: "Come in!"
Icewind: "Hello Professor!"
Blackwood: "Well, if it isn't my old Friend Captain Icewind! What a pleasure to see you!"
Icewind: "Same, same ... I got your message about needing my help with a new project and, since I was coming to town anyways to get my boots fixed, I thought I'd pop in and see if you were in the office."
Blackwood: "And you couldn't have picked a better moment, I was just thinking of you."
Icewind: "You can be glad I found you. Your old room in the east wing was empty, and I thought for a moment they'd finally kicked you out. But the receptionist told me you were moved to the basement, next to the boiler room."
Blackwood: "Yeah, they downsized my department. Again. And if it goes on at this rate, I'll be working INSIDE the boiler room soon. Unless they find a broom closet that's even smaller than this one."
Icewind (laughs): "I surely don't envy you. The open sea is MY office, and even that feels too small for me sometimes! What made you fall out of the Dean's favor?"
Blackwood: "Well, research is expensive. But teaching is profitable. So they keep slashing my research budget, and tell me to teach more. Stupid old men, betraying the ideals of their own institute. When I'm lucky I get the odd research assignment from some rich guy in Ironforge who wants to know how the humans made harder steel, or what they used to get rid of fleas. Just enough to justify my existence here, but not exactly stuff for the history books."
Icewind: "So what about that new project then?"
Blackwood: "The only way I'll ever be able to turn my career around for the better, is to deliver some ground breaking science results. Something new. Something brilliant. Something I can put my name on. And to achieve that, I need you. And your ship."
Icewind: "Without you, the Stormbreaker as it is known today wouldn't even exist. And neither would my business. I'm still extremely honored, that you chose me for your experiment. Back then I was just a naïve young guy who got scammed into buying a ship that was too big to sail the river and too slow for trading on the coast. Without you I would have lost everything."
Blackwood: "One of my students, Honeyberry of Hunter's Peak, wanted to write a paper on electric seafaring, but there was no way we would get the funding to build our own boat. The Stormbreaker was a perfect research object, and as a result, you now have an electric drive system that any human would have been proud of, and two micro-reactors that will last you a lifetime. So in every failure lies the seed of success!"
Icewind: "Very true. But I'm still in your debt, so the Stormbreaker is yours when you need it."
Blackwood: "Excellent! Because I plan to journey to a place where none of us have ever been before. Take a look."
sound of a map being unrolled on the table.
Icewind: "Wow. Is that a human map? I've never seen half of those islands before ..."
Blackwood: "The world used to have a different climate back then. The sea level has risen significantly since this map was made so the coastlines aren't accurate, but it's the best we have. Over there up north, where all the red lines cross, that's where I want to go."
Icewind: "What are you hoping to find?"
Blackwood: "Have you ever heard about radio communication?"
Icewind; "Of course! Honeyberry invited me to one of her talks last year! I heard that humans used radios to communicate with ships even when they were already far beyond the horizon ... it's like magic! I wish I had something like that on MY ship!"
Blackwood: "I could totally make that happen."
Icewind: "That would be amazing!"
Blackwood: "The place I want you to take me is no ordinary place though. There's a very strong radio signal being transmitted from there."
Icewind: "A sign of life?"
Blackwood: "It's just a string of numbers that repeat over and over again. But the existence of this signal such a long time after the extinction of humankind means that whatever site it is coming from must be extremely well preserved. Most human settlements have either been completely destroyed by the war, or eroded away by the weather over the course of centuries. But not this one."
Icewind: "I understand. So what exactly is your plan?"
Blackwood: "It'll be pretty simple really. You take us to the shore, right about here. From there, we'll send a small team to pinpoint the exact location and report back their findings."
Icewind: "*laughs* Yes, very easy. If you don't count that the logistics for this trip will be the biggest operation of its kind ever undertaken. Not to mention that just the trip from coast to coast will probably take several weeks. That's a bit more than I can do for you as a favor."
Blackwood: "I know. Which is why I've secured some grant money that will hopefully cover most of the things we have to pay for upfront."
Icewind: "Wait a minute, didn't you just say the institute stopped giving you money?"
Blackwood: "That's why we'll be borrowing someone else's money."
Icewind: "You're going to steal grant money from another project? What if they find out?"
Blackwood: "Ehmehmehm ... I prefer to call it a loan! And when they find out, we'll already be on the other side of the ocean. But when we come back with a ship full of loot, they'll quickly forget about it. We're definitely not be the first ones to ... 'borrow' someone else's grant money."
Icewind: "Loot? I thought you were a scientist, not a grave robber."
Blackwood: "The only difference between a scientist and a grave robber is that the scientist writes down where he found everything before stealing it. And of course we're going to strictly adhere to the scientific standards set by our institute. And I'll make sure your ship will be upgraded with the newest human radio technology in return for your help."
Icewind: "All right. My lips are sealed. And I think we can make that trip happen. I'll have to double my crew size, and make a list of supplies. You'll have to take care of the science crew and it would be really great to have an electrical engineer on board."
Blackwood: "Absolutely. I'll be joining you as the scientific leader of the expedition, and Honeyberry will be our radio and electronics engineer, so we've got that covered."
Icewind: "Are you sure you want to take a blind girl on a trip like this?"
Blackwood: "Don't underestimate her. She uses a soldering iron better than anyone else, and unlike some of my other students, I've yet to see her grab it by the wrong end. I have no idea **how** she does it. But she does it."
Icewind: "Would you mind if I sleep on this for a few nights? I've always dreamt of going on an adventure like this, but at the same time it's quite a daunting challenge."
Blackwood: "Of course."
Icewind: "Then how about we meet again next week?"
Blackwood: "Sounds good."
Icewind: "All right, I'll be on my way then. I still need to get my boots fixed, remember? Oh, and if you see Honeyberry, please let her know I'm looking forward to seeing her again, no pun intended."