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The Harbor

Started by Catherine, March 20, 2023, 08:00:05 AM

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Catherine

Sometimes, life is like a rowboat slowly filling with water.

That was the thought going through Mallie's head as she clung on the sides of the castle for dear life, the prison guards at the window above her, and a steep drop to where the ocean crashed below her. Okay, maybe this had not been her brightest idea yet, but it sure beat dying for the crime of "piracy". She hadn't even set foot on a boat in her life before this morning to swipe the ring that had landed her in all this hot water. How was she to know it belonged to the Princess, or that the soldier who caught her would want to make an example of her? And yet here she was, the only thing between her and a world of pain her measly grip on a couple of uneven bricks. Escape may not have been her brightest idea, but who on earth decides to build a prison hanging out over the ocean!

Just as Mallie was giving up and debating whether it would be quicker and more comfortable to fall into the ocean or surrender to whatever the prison guards had in store for her, Fate herself intervened - a ship! Heading right underneath her, and if she timed the jump right, she could probably make it on to the mast... maybe? Deciding that this was currently the only course of action that wasn't going to result in a 100% chance of death, Mallie committed to her third less than bright idea of the day, closed her eyes, whispered a quick prayer to Fate under her breath, and leapt.

A few heart-pounding moments suspended in mid-air, and as she began to wonder if she'd missed and was just hurtling towards the ocean, suddenly she smacked her face against the wooden post of the ship's mast, getting tangled in the ropes that held the sails. Perhaps that idea would have been better if she'd kept her eyes open. But, she thought as she tentatively opened her eyes and gently brought a hand to her bleeding cheek, still alive! She slowly shimmied down the mast, keeping an eye out for anyone who might notice her and turn her in to the soldiers again. At least if she got caught, she'd somewhat earned that piracy sentence now, ha. Near the bottom, she suddenly heard a voice, and panicking, wrapped herself up in the furled-up sail.

"This is the Captain of The Harbor speaking. Ready yourselves for transport in 30 seconds, folks! All arms and legs inside the ride!"

"Who on earth names their ship The Harbor?" thought Mallie. "And what a strange announcement to the crew! What on earth could they mean by transport in 30 sec-"

Suddenly, the whole ship began to shudder and tremble violently, and a feeling came over Mallie like her insides had been taken out, braided together and then put back not quite right. Her entire body felt like it was being squashed down by some outside pressure and she gritted her teeth to stop yelling out in pain, when the feeling stopped as quickly and unexpectedly as it had started. Too terrified to even breathe, she grasped the rough material of the sail more tightly, trying not to be sick over herself. It could have been hours or minutes, but eventually her racing heart calmed, and the silent tears streaming down her face stopped, and she finally, finally built up the courage to gently lift her head and peek out at her surroundings.

Mallie couldn't stop the gasp that escaped her. The ship, which had a few minutes ago been on the ocean near the castle, where ships belonged, was now in a sort of... bubble? And beyond the bubble, endless darkness, which would have been a void had it not been for the millions of stars that twinkled in every direction as far as the eye could see, with no sign of land or ocean anywhere.

Sweet Fate, what have I got myself into now?
Good morning friends and foes

Kal

"Why did we come on this ship again?" Cesandro asked his friend standing beside him.
"Because we need to find out where this will take us," Nyloth replied.
"You know I don't like ships, my friend."
"Well I might need backup and you are the only person I trust enough to help me with this"
"Still, I prefer my hooves planted firmly on the ground, thank you very much."

A voice boomed out an announcement. "Well too late now Cesandro, here we go."
Suddenly a queasy feeling came over Cesandro and he blacked out.

When he awoke Nyloth was standing over him looking worried, Cesandro stood up and looked around, "where in the many layers of hell are we?"
Probably playing Minecraft, Reading or doing stuff for whatever DnD campaign

Natalie

#2
It started, as many things do, with a book-

That is, an all expenses paid booking on the immaculate Harbor!

With 34 stories, six masts, and no fewer than 6,000 autonomous propulsion devices,
The Harbor offers an unprecedented fusion of technology and luxury. Featuring amenities including an open air pool park, a ballroom, an onboard game show, and so much more, guests will never be left wanting, and with our PureVision™ Crystallization Field, you'll be able to stargaze in style. Passengers can also expect

The infocard was still broken off there, just as it was the last time she'd looked at it. Ria allowed herself a scowl. Bad enough having to go on one of these things, she'd at least hoped to know what to expect. Gods, what was she even doing here? First the spines, now this- where were they? Daviik had never been the type for this sort of thing, not like these... tourists. She stole a glance across the gate at the passengers, almost all couples and families, and had to shake the longing from her head. Not the time.

A voice reverberated from the wall speaker. No, not a voice. The inflection was off, the cadence uncanny. Synthesized. "Thank you for your patience.  Your vessel of choice,  The Harbor,  is about to begin boarding.  Please proceed to the security line  at your earliest convenience.  Thank you for sailing with  "

The ending never came, so she decided to move on without it. Right. Go time. She started gathering her belongings: first, a backpack, an almost comically undersized green and brown number that slung over one shoulder. "Only the essentials," she told herself during packing, "only for emergencies." It remained uncertain whether this was one. Next was the duffel, this one blue with a yellow stripe and bulging at the seams; it lumbered large on her figure and fought to drag her astray. Then a visor - you never know what the weather might be like out there, someone had told her - a water bottle, an air bottle, and a handbag, which she stuffed her slate into. All things told, she couldn't tell whether she was over or underprepared. She watched a couple struggle to drag a cart full of luggage behind them. Across the platform, an old man with no bags or shoes ambled through the checkpoint.

Security went quickly - either the scan hadn't picked up the spines or they weren't out of the ordinary here - and then it was out the doors and onto the ramp, joining the procession. An usher scanned her ticket code and directed her to the right. It was only after 15 minutes of walking down the exterior corridor that the absurdity hit her. Finding anything on a ship of this size would be nigh on impossible under the best circumstances. Why had they thought she could do this?

The ship was divided into "neighborhoods" with too-cute names - Calico Cove, Bayside Boardwalk, the Harboretum, and so on. Ria's room was in Snapdragon Moor. Small, confined, discomforting. The bed took up an entire wall and, being an interior room, it had a screen with a camera feed in lieu of an actual window. By the time she'd placed all her belongings, half the floor space was gone. Best spend as little time as possible in here.

She tested the keychip, memorized the room number (SM0313), and traced the map to a bar called the Lofty Hideaway. She'd read stories about the jump and wanted a drink in her before it hit. Evidently, she wasn't the only one with the idea. She took one of the few open spaces at the bar and watched through the glass as the port workers made their final preparations. They collapsed the ramp they'd entered upon. Their last terrestrial bond was severed.

They'd been drifting unceremoniously, who knew for how long, when the TVs in the bar faded to an image of a smartly dressed crew member, fresh ascot and trimmed beard and crisp white-and-blue uniform and cap. His jacket hung unbuttoned and a gold ship's wheel pin seemed to barely hang on.

"This is the captain of The Harbor speaking. Ready yourselves for transport in 30 seconds, folks!" He spoke with the chirp of a TV presenter, and smiled the same. "All arms and legs inside the ride!"

The din of the bar softened, patrons anticipating the jump. A few cried out when the shaking started. Ria nursed her drink and focused on the sensation. The very matter in her skin seemed to stretch out, as though she was being pulled away from her own body, and her vision was blurred by the ship's sharp vibration. She bit back a yelp, though she couldn't claim to be in pain.

It ended. If the sudden stillness hadn't given it away, the twinkling black void behind the window would have. The bar began to stir, and Ria tore her attention from the distant stars.

"I suppose," she murmured, "this means it's time to get started."

Catherine

Mallie couldn't stay wrapped in the sail forever. At some point, they were going to find her, and it was going to be obvious that she was not meant to be here. Fishing in her pocket, she found the small deck of cards she carried everywhere with her and shuffled them, reciting her prayers to Fate as she did so. She allowed the repetitive words to clear her mind, the familiar feel of the cards moving through her hands, tea stained and edges softened by years of shuffling, to soothe her panicked thoughts.

She remembered the day she'd found them: she'd been wandering through a second hand shop, searching for a book, when she'd seen the pack of cards and felt drawn to them. She'd picked them up, shuffling them around and admiring the design on the back: navy with tiny silver lines making up an abstract triangular sort of pattern. At last, she'd flipped over the top card revealing some beautiful artwork of a figure rising out from the sea, gripping a globe in one hand and reaching up to pluck a star out of the sky with the other.

Oh, you're a lucky one! he'd said, sounding impressed. That's the blessed Fate herself, that's a good card to have pulled. She shows you when you're moving in the right direction. Over several cups of tea, he had continued on to explain the meanings of the other cards before insisting she take the deck for free, since Fate had chosen her that day, and she had carried them with her ever since.

When she felt calmer, she stopped to flip over the top card, seeing the familiar blue of the Ocean of Chaos with Fate rising and focused on the stars. "Well, I guess that means I'm supposed to be here," Mallie thought to herself. Feeling more secure in her actions after the impulsive chaos of the day so far, she poked her head out from below the stiff tarp material she'd been hiding in, and seeing nobody around, she jumped down. A large sign in bright pastels declared that she was on the "Aurora Waves Viewing Deck" with a little paragraph below informing her that the deck would be closed for jumps - whatever that meant - but that in between staff would be available on the deck to act as tour guides explaining the many wonders of the universe that could be seen while travelling on The Harbor. Feeling more confused after reading the sign than she had before, and slightly dizzy from the realisation that she was in honest-to-Fate outer space, Mallie decided to explore the rest of the ship. Hopefully if this was a passenger ship, given the need for tour guides, she'd be able to blend into the background a little better.

She opened the nearest door and headed down a dark, grand staircase, not entirely knowing what to expect.
Good morning friends and foes

Kal

Surrounding the ship was now a bubble beyond which stars twinkled in every direction. "This is an interesting place to end up," Cesandro noted, "it appears to be someplace unknown to the Rangers"
"Well, I guess we should go and find someone who knows where this place is," Nyloth said as he came out of a sort of reverie that he had sunk into upon seeing the view.
The two headed aft from the bow where they had been standing. They saw someone disappearing through a door. "There!" exclaimed Cesandro, "someone went through that door."
They rushed toward the door and pulled it open.
Probably playing Minecraft, Reading or doing stuff for whatever DnD campaign