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spacegy4

She's back. Back again

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At first Calladium enjoyed the attention they were getting, it felt as if all those people did care about the crew’s wellbeing. But once the wounded were tended it became clear those people were merely curious, not concerned and that made soon drove the girl to despise such attention.

Distressed as she was, she studied her surroundings in search of a way out of the centre of the crowd, and just as she did so she fancied she heard a familiar voice right at her side. Instinctively, she looked that direction and for time since the accident, a smile was drawn upon her lips. “May!”

Chance can certainly be surprising every now and then: that was not the first and hopefully not the last time those two met when they least expected. Though this was surely the time Calladium presented herself at her worst. Her agony was such that she feared she might just burst into tears at her first words. But before she could say anything, a stranger approached claiming to be friends with her old acquaintance and asking about the accident.

The mere mention of the monster sent shivers down her spine. She struggled to look brave while replying to this girl she had just met. Discretely pushed a couple of tears that insisted to gather round her eyes as if she was pushing bad memories away.

“Well, most of us are alright. As for what happened…” She gulped  “I’d rather talk about it some other time”

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Falling in the water couldn't be that bad.  It wasn't quite like the danger of being ejected into the harming cold vacuum of space.  She might not be able to breathe underwater, but at least she wouldn't be boiled alive.  The teenager was briefly trained in swimming, but never relished the opportunity as most of her equipment wouldn't function properly after a bath.

"We're working together so that makes us a team.  I make it my responsibility to ensure everyone on my team returns safely.  So I have a fallback plan just in case turning back doesn't work as expected."  While still capable of operating alone teenager was trained in a group.  It was a welcome feeling to know another was filling a skill in the party.

"If whatever that monster is dares to get close enough and show itself I'll drop it right then and there."  She remarked confidently, and clearly without hesitation to bring violence to the table as her first choice of solutions for procuring the treasure.

The comment about Rai being her friend would simply be let go.  Tagging together for the adventure fit the definition close enough for it not to bother May too much.  After hearing Calladium speak she walked right over and put a hand on her friend's back in hope she'd be comforted.  "You're okay."  She whispered while checking the girl for any easily identifiable injuries.  At this point she couldn't bring herself to hurry off to peril until she knew Calladium would be alright after the incident.

 

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"Oh... that's alright," Rai said in response to Calladium's refusal to speak about the event. "We heard that the monster's guarding some treasure though, and we were just planning to head out there to, you know, do some scouting." She shrugged. "Some people say that there's no monster out there, probably just pirates. Did you really see a monster?" Rai hoped to pry some information out of Calladium. She was the closest lead they had so far! Furthermore, Calladium didn't look that bad to Rai, only shaken, and she thought May's fussing over her was an over reaction.

"Not anything crazy though," she added quickly, in case Calladium objected to it. "We'll bail at the first sign of danger, and even if something happens, I'm sure we will be able to handle it! I'm glad to have May around as a team!" She brought her arm up in a strong man gesture and winked.  While not of bodybuilder size, the other two girls might notice that Rai's body was in pretty good shape. Adventuring in general, hiking and climbing around tended to do that to people.  

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Calladium’s first reaction to May’s reassuring “you’re okay”  was just a muffled “thanks” while her fancy recreated her life from the moment she first set foot on that cursed ship untill now. It was then that, for the first time, her self-pity gave place to a new feeling. She began to realize how lucky she had been despite the accident. Not only because she was alive and without any major injuries, but also, for having found friendly support right now of times.

Had she believed in some god, she might just have thanked him in prayer, but being ignorant of all faiths, she just expressed her gratitude by suddenly embracing her old friend. It is true that half a second later she regretted doing so and quickly let go of May in embarrassment. But at least now her heart was at ease.

And that was excellent, otherwise, upon hearing May’s friend talking about the monster so excitedly and even with a little disbelief would have made her go mad. With this new calm that had just invaded her, Calladium merely looked Rai in the eye saying “Well, good luck then” in her best ironical tone. “Whatever that thing is, it’s dangerous. You’d better be careful”

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The teenager welcomed Rai's faith in their ability to succeed.  May would release Calladium as she opted to abruptly end their embrace.  "Whatever it is I'm sure we'll be able to handle it.  We'll be careful."  She tried to reassure Calladium that they would be safe, but the tone of the good luck statement surprised her.  May's friend would be safe and she was happy to see that status remain.  Her friend was a resource with potential knowledge relating to the monster, but the girl thought it best to not bring up the topic again.  May had no desire to unearth the hardships her friend experienced in an encounter with the monster.

Even with brief observations of Rai from it would appear she was a capable individual.  Apparent athleticism would at minimum benefit, and she likely held other strengths yet to be revealed.  May too held considerable strength and agility.  She was conditioned with a regimen of activity in training, and the brutal requirements of the field drove her to stay in good form.  "Well. I'm ready.  Let's do this thing."

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"Yeah!! I'm ready too!" Rai bounced eagerly on her toes, and waved to Calladium. "It was nice meeting you! We'll get back at that monster for ya!" 

Turning, she headed straight for the boat rental shack. The boats were tied up neatly along the docks, and she went around, looking at them this way and that. "We don't need a large boat since there's only two of us, but we do want to get something sturdy and fast, of course. Just in case we need to make a run for it, right?" She said to May. A man approached the two of them. "Hi, may I help you?" he asked.

"We're looking to rent something for the day. Something fast and reliable. We're marine wildlife enthusiasts, and we're chasing down a creature, to get a glimpse of it!" Technically, it wasn't exactly a lie. But Rai knew the man might not rent it out if he knew they were going after this 'monster', as he could potentially not get his boat back.

The man grinned. "The Auguras, right? Yeah, it's their mating season right now, it's your best chance to see them before they dive deep again for the rest of the year!"

"Exactly!" Rai snapped her fingers, without missing a beat. "I'm so excited to see them in action, I've heard so much about how beautiful they are!" 

"Now, I have just the right boat for you!" He punctuated his sentence with hand gestures for emphasis. "This beauty right here is fast enough to catch up with those Auguras, and quiet enough to not scare them away when you're close. And look - the safety raft is stored here, self-inflatable when you need it, no need to fumble around in the most critical moments!"

"Nice, we'll take it!" The rental costed a fair sum of money, but Rai wasn't one to sweat the small details.  She took it as an investment for more 'long-term' gains. After all, money can be earned, but experiences are priceless! She stepped onto the deck of the boat, waiting for May to join her. "Well, what do you think? Exciting, isn't it!"

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May would stand nearby and watch as Rai gave her explanation to the boat renter.  She was impressed with how easily her partner went with the sea creature idea the boat guy gave.  It puzzled her slightly when the boat person said that the raft would be ready when they needed it.  Her hopes laid with them not needing it, and if a situation arose that would require such a thing that would be where her previous preparation would come into play. 

There it was.  A boat.  "Yeah!  Exciting."  Was all she managed, clearly nervous and anxious as she followed Rai onto the craft.  The teenager was well familiar with various types of vehicles, but a sea faring boat certainly wasn't one of them.  "Here."  May held out a significant sum of money to Rai with hopes to defray the boat cost.  She had been occupied at the time the boat was purchased and wasn't aware of the exact cost.  May wished to aim high to at least cover it at the risk of exceeding it.  "We're in this together so you shouldn't have to pay all that yourself."  It was a considerable amount considering her reduced rate of work in recent time.  She'd wait a moment after they were underway before addressing Rai again.

"I really am excited.  It has been a while since I've gotten this kind of action.  Most of my recent work has been odds and ends.  I'm ready to get my hands dirty."

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The money that May offered to her was a nice gesture and a surprise. "I don't - " Rai started to speak, almost refusing by instinct, but when she thought of the pathetic sum she had left after paying for the boat, she flushed and realized that she actually did need it. "Thank you!" She took the sum, and this time, didn't hesitate in giving May a quick friendly hug. She then returned about half of it back to May. "It didn't cost that much!"  Rai headed to the standing shelter,  took a quick glance at the various meters and knobs, and off they went. She didn't recognize all of the instruments, but she would just figure it out along the way!

After making sure that the boat was heading merrily in the right direction, Rai stepped out of the shelter, where May was. "I really am excited.  It has been a while since I've gotten this kind of action.  Most of my recent work has been odds and ends.  I'm ready to get my hands dirty."

"I haven't found out actually, what kind of work do you usually do, May?" Rai asked, raising her voice above the wind. Her short brown hair whipped about her face, and she laughed. "This is pretty fun! Anyway, the plan is to get ourselves near to the place the people have talked about, then proceed slowly, and look to see if we can find any signs of the creature, or any sort of underwater secret. I have this handy device.."

Rai opened her backpack and started fishing around. Metal objects clinked against each other. She pulled out a strange-looking monocle that was long and protruding, and had various rotating dials built around it.

"This is better than binoculars! It senses the level of magical energies in the area you're looking at, even if it's through water, and it changes colour. Good for what we're doing! It's a little heavy to wear though, so we can take turns looking through it!"

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Despite her usual cheerful talkative nature, this time Calladium remained silent, her lips pursed as she watched the shore disappear before her. No one had forced her to join the other girls for the quest. Nobody had even tried to convince her to do so. However, after seeing what she had seen in that very same sea, she couldn’t help fearing for her friend’s safety and ended up volunteering to join them out of her own free will. Of course that had not been an easy choice.

When they had so easily dismissed her and rented a boat with ease of one buying a cookie, she clasped her hands in despair and called them in a hopeless attempt to make them turn back.

“You won’t make it” She shouted to no avail. “Come back!” They wouldn’t hear her. In a final desperate act, she just let go a whisper “Please…” as she strode forward slowly approaching their boat with hesitation.

She watched them with pity and tried hard to think of a way to stop them. When the engine started and the boat moved its first inch away from the pier, was when an uncertain Calladium hopped on the dock. She came to realize that although she couldn’t stop them or protect them from the monster she could at least offer whatever little help she could give with sailing matters so that some beginner’s mistake didn’t get them sunk before the monster did. She was no experienced marine, but at least she was no longer clueless about it either. Plus, what was there for her to lose anyway? No one would miss her too much.

 

Finally, when all before her was blue and green, she turned back to face her companions, hoping they wouldn’t be too angry at her joining them. They seemed either not to have taken notice of her yet or to be willing ignoring her. She sighed wondering if her choice had not been yet another mistake.

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The quick squeeze left the girl stunned for a moment and she did not return the favor of the motion.

"First I was a soldier... but after finding myself worlds away from superiors with no way home I became a mercenary.  Bodyguard, courier, assassin..."  She breathed a sigh.  The teenager would say the last with confidence as she no longer cared what people knew.  After all she wished to permanently depart a life of being dictated by others.

"My allies appeared to constantly betray me until I couldn't take the life of a mercenary any longer.  I had to see to something different.  I'm not worried much about you turning on me.  I'd like think it won't happen now.  After all we're not competing for the artifact.  You can have it.   I don't need it."

"Hey thanks!" She would accept the device to briefly take a look about the outside of the craft.  The water appeared to be inactive and the magic picked up by the device likely came from the remaining devices in Rai's bag.  May would quickly return the tool to Rai after realizing the two of them were joined by another.  She would stride over to Calladium and placed a hand on her shoulder.  "I'm glad you decided to come along.  Our chances succeeding here are even better now."

Edited by spacegy4

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"Assassin!" Rai raised her eyebrows high up when May mentioned that. She tapped her chin in thought. "You don't seem like one." In her mind, 'assassin' conjured up images of cold, sneaky people in black robes, living a life of shadows. Not a girl who was nice and fiercely loyal to her friends, which was what she had seen of May so far. She concluded that May must have had no choice but to be an assassin.

"So, who were your.. targets?" Rai was super curious about it, but she realised it might be a sensitive question. She added quickly, "You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to!"

"I'm not worried much about you turning on me.  I'd like think it won't happen now.  After all we're not competing for the artifact.  You can have it.   I don't need it."

"Oh, I would never turn on my friends!" Rai declared. "And we should share the find. We could sell it and split the money. After all, you did pay for this boat too!" After a heartbeat, she added, "If it's something cool and I want to keep it, I could offer something else in exchange. Maybe build something for you?"

She turned as May turned, and was taken aback when she saw Calladium.

"Oh! When did you come on board! Did you swim here?!" An obvious 'no', since Calladium's clothes were completely dry. "Anyway, I'm so happy you're joining us!" She offered her hefty monocle to the girl. "Do you want to take a look and see if you can spot anything?"  

Edited by jaistlyn

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May was as reassuring as ever. With a smile Calladium would reply “I hope so” to her friend’s every comment. Soon after there came Rai. Upon seeing her amazement at finding a new member in their crew, all of May’s reassurance melted in the girl’s thoughts giving place to an idea that she was not needed there. “I… I thought you could use some help” she tried to justify her coming in as if that was Rai was demanding. It came as a surprise, when instead of arguing or telling her she should have stayed on dry land, Rai simply welcomed her aboard and offered a peek trough her monocle’s lenses.

It took Calladium a few moments’ hesitation before she finally accepted the instrument. Not that that she did not wat to look use it, she did, a lot, it was just that the thought of looking at the horizon through lenses brought back some recent memories from before the shipwreck.

Jonas was the name of the captain of her previous ship. He was the one who would spend entire afternoons playing around with his precious spyglass, eyeing the horizon even when he knew there was nothing to be seen for days ahead. Rumour had it he got it as a gift from his late father whose life at sea could have been famous if they ever reached the ears of a good novelist. No one was ever allowed to handle the ornamented spyglass, let alone touch it. But as it usually happens when one has something denied, Calladium soon found herself nourishing a wish to watch the horizon through lenses just like the captain did. Seeing now someone offering for her to do it in such a carefree way was almost too good to be true.

“You see even though I was at sea up until some hours ago, I’d never handled anything like it.” She glanced sideways examining all the greatness of the ocean before them. “Wow…”

Edited by INnG

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"I think it was all the better for me that I didn't look the part don't you think?"  May would take the monocle again and scan the nearby horizon.  The dense blue of the water enveloped her view, but nothing else of note seemed to appear.  The teenager momentarily frowned and would pull the tool down from her eye and continued the stare into the water with her naked eye before passing the object back to Rai.  "Maybe I'm not using it correctly.  You should give it another try."

The last question presented still hung in the air.  Like a spooky skeleton that followed her wherever she went.  "Oh the targets... I wasn't too picky, but most of them were less than savory types."  Further details didn't seem necessary.

"I guess we'll know more once we get to it or what guards it.  To be honest I'd be much more comfortable fighting something on land."  The last comment did more to highlight her nervousness at the water that surrounded them, but the teenager was comforted by a backup plan she kept in mind.

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“Well, me too, I mean, it’s not like I can breathe in water or something, though I do wish so!” Rai would accept the device, then hold it up, squinting through it with one eye. It was blue, blue ocean all around, reflecting the azure sky above them, with sea birds flying by, some swooping down near the water. A beautiful day, regardless of what danger they were seeking. Rai walked around the deck with the monocular, looking all around them. At one point she stopped, thinking she saw something. She did, but it was seals warming themselves on rocks. “Oh look at them!” She pointed them out to May and Calladium, “They’re cute!” She went to the wheel and steered the boat towards the rocks so that they could take a closer look. 

As they neared the rocks, some of the seals pushed themselves off and into the waters. A commotion went up, and the seals started barking and scrambling over each other frantically.

“Hey - what’s wrong?” Rai asked in confusion. “Is it me? Are they afraid? Should I back off?” She stopped the boat a distance from them, then slowly reversed. The last of the seals were escaping into the sea, when suddenly, a huge wave swelled and broke on the rocks. She caught the glimpse of some kind of big creature, attacking the seals.

“Ohshitohshitohshit..” Rai yelled as she jammed the pedal as hard as she could, while fighting to keep the boat from rocking out of control.

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