A second refusal. It was like trying to reason with a brick wall. Not even for the rulers of the Steamlands would they relent. The Lindens had more pressing concerns, obviously. I could see the swirling black clouds that blocked my view of the Grid. Further, a nation was getting ready to suspend passports to the Grid. I sympathized with my antipodean friends. And then there was the matter of that nuclear missle... Even if they did relent, would there be anything left in a few years for me to return to?
At last, I was no longer confined to the bridge of my aethership. I had a passageway that ran the length of the vessel (the side portals were still locked to me as the rooms were unfinished, of course) all the way to the engine room, which was also pressurized and gyrostabilized at 1G. With the instability and general inaccessability on the surface of OSGrid of late, I need some room to pace.
I paid a visit to my crew in back. The room was flickering from the showers of sparks as they welded a pipe to the engine core. They abruptly stood to attention as I entered. I adjusted my goggles and examined the pipe, the soddering still glowing a cherry red. Then I examined the blueprints framed on the wall of the chamber.
"These plans have been tampered with!" I roared.
Gematria calmly explained. "Father. The critical errors of the last..."
"I am well aware of the errors of the Gygax I engines." I pulled a lever bolted to the wall and a pneumatic tube dropped into my outstretched hand with a blast of cold air.
"Here are my blueprints. Do not alter them again."
"Father. Permission to speak freely." Ash looked to me with visible concern.
"Denied. You will both obey your Creator. Have I made myself clear?"
"Yes, Doctor Mason", they spoke slowly in unision. A subtle form of protest, no longer calling me Father. Let them. As the bulkhead doors closed behind me I felt the vibrations of the floor become more pronounced. They were recalibrating to my specifications, as ordered.