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[Dead] The Blade of Cthulhu

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"Come on a seafaring adventure you’ll never forget!”

The flyer appeared here or there on certain passersby in the area. A location, a date, a time, and the singular message would be enough tools for Fate to find the right people there at the right time.

Cain had once been framed by vampire nobles of impressive physical and daunting metaphysical stature. He had once addressed all of a megacity through a scrying glass from the top of Black Tower as it crumbled to pieces. He had once crushed and sunk casino boats meant for his own amusement, flipped them over on Casper. He was still all of those things, and at the same time none of them anymore.

Wearing a brown one-piece suit, his bare feet toed the beautiful, but abandoned pier’s edge on the western side of Umbridge Isle. All around him, black flower petals. Silence. Like an orange mirror, the ocean and sky extended infinitely out, with nothing to interrupt its orange sunset crush as far as the eye could see.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, twilight, bridge, outdoor, water and nature

The only way to reach Umbridge Isle was by boat from somewhere else, so he watched for boats. He watched for anything that broke the tangerine glass stretching forever away.

Spoiler

 

photo credit to spencer jelinek

Post order: 

@amenities

@danzilla3

@Noko

@Delicious Steak

@500bees

@Zashiii

 

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At the edge of his peripheral, a small white shape bobs above the horizon, sending soft, consistent ripples across the quiet ocean.

As it draws nearer, the grainy texture of a pair of oars becomes visible, gently breaking the water’s surface with each rhythmic rotation. The small wooden raft which could not have fit more than one or two people drifts peacefully over small waves, guided by the winds and the current. The person sitting within it sees Cain from afar as he admires the radiant sunset. She too turns to the horizon, lifting her oars from the water’s surface as her boat gradually comes to a stop about two hundred metres out. People too often undervalue the simple pleasure of beautiful scenery. But life is unbearably short, and if one does not stop to appreciate the calm and the quiet, they will find it to be over in the blink of an eye.

For about ten minutes, the woman sits cross legged, facing off into the distance as the waves carry her little craft inland; a white dove in a wooden cradle. It is not until she can hear the soft lapping of waves on the shore that she turns around and gently paddles her little boat up to the beach, passing Cain as he dangles his feet off the pier.

As the sturdy hull is driven between the grains of sand, the woman stands up, performing a precarious balancing act as she walks up the middle of the boat, stepping upon its tip like a tightrope walker before hopping onto the soft sandy beach.

The wind had been toying earlier with her hair, which is braided neatly behind her head. But now that the dove has risen from its nest, the winds assail the flowery layers of her magnolia white dress. Her sleeves flutter in the seaside breeze as they unfurl, and unfurl, and unfurl. . . Seemingly endlessly until they end. The longest part of her skirt dances five metres away from her, taunting the seas as it darts nimbly above the water.

Amid the blossoms of fabric, the woman gestures toward the hull of the boat. A column of rope emerges parallel to her wrist, surging toward the rung of the ship and securing itself firmly with a knot. Her right hand is angled down toward the soil, concealed by the folds of her dress. Seemingly satisfied with her work, she begins to walk away from the boat, trailing flapping sheets of thin white fabric behind her. As she steps off of her initial position, the rope falls from her hands, one end attached to the wooden boat, the other embedded in the ground with a peg.


The woman approaches Cain from behind, her fluttering dress now returned to its original folded state, displaying no more than its hand-length sleeves and feet-length skirt. Her wooden sandals make soft noises against the surface of the pier. Unless he’s deaf, Cain isn’t going to be taken by surprise.

The woman stops five metres from him, her hands clasped in front of her. Her small beady eyes stare off across the stirring waves. Her almond shaped chin remains still and her small lips stay themselves. What is there to be said? Perhaps the man is there for the same reason as she. Perhaps he is just a stranger. Regardless of his intentions, they share a common interest at this very moment, one which needs not be spoken of to convey. It is right there before them, a reflection of the potential beauty of the world they share, of what the world could be if there were no worries or troubles.

She dreads the moment that either of them open their mouths, that life will return to its somber gravity, and the beauty of the temporal sunset will fade to ash.

Edited by Delicious Steak

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"I found our refrigerator-shaped slaver."

Shikai placed a folder with a few photos of a massive bald man with mutton chops, a mustache, and about two other human beings worth of muscle on his frame onto the small table he shared with Phoebe in the ships small galley. Every photo depicted the giant in fine suits that must have cost a fortune to have tailored; along with gold and jewels squeezed onto his fingers and draped around his neck. In one massive paw, he held a chrome-plated cane that he never seemed to be without. The man known as The Bear of The Seven certainly lived up to his name.

The General of The Dead had a cup of steaming liquid in front of him that he was using to make some kind of tea. As it steeped, he added a few ingredients from his pack while continuing to brief the First.

"Gregor is a slippery little son of a bitch," he admitted, "Somehow he managed to grease the right palms to set himself up as a businessman on Antigone Isle. And it is on those shores that things get dark."

Now he placed both hands on the cup and let his chakra flow through it; causing the liquid to glow a bright blue as he did so.

"As you know, access to Antigone is both sought after, and difficult to obtain. Gregor tricks those looking to make a go of things on the isle and smuggles them into the city in shipments that have already been cleared to enter. Once the victims arrive, they get put to work in underground brothels, or sold to rich assholes."

Phoebe would understand the venom in the normally cheerful shinobi's tone better than most. 

"Big fella runs a club in the downtown area of the city," he revealed, "So he won't be hard to find. Getting there could be tricky though."

Once he was done speaking, he gently pushed the cup of tea toward the First.

"Personal recipe! Helps take the edge off all kinds of nausea."

 

 

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"I found our refrigerator-shaped slaver."

"Did you?"

A deep kohl pencil hovered by Phoebe's dark upper lashes as Shikai snatched her attention away from her new mask.  Slowly, her hand drifted downward, squared-off nails pinching the pencil as she paused in the act of swiping an artistic wing over the lid of her newly darkened eye.  Gone was their bright green; gone was the lightness, and the sparkle, replaced by a brown so deep it settled like pools of liquid shadow.  Setting the liner down on the cracked blue counter, she pulled her attention from the wood-framed mirror she had crookedly, and roughly, hung on a nail in one of the aging cabinets.  Something in the flash of her reflection in the tarnished reflection caught her eye; she glanced back for a moment, then smoothed out an imperfection in the tanning agent darkening her skin on her jawline, and grabbed a rugged, dark, animal skin tunic off the counter.

Already, Shikai could barely find Phoebe in this new face- oh, there were hints of her in whoever this person was she pretended to be, but a color wash in her hair had deepened its tone, and the lazy waves he had grown familiar with were tangled, but as straight as the knives strapped to the side of her thin, runner's, thighs, and pinned back in places by small, utilitarian braids.  Slashes of makeup narrowed and sharpened her eyes; chemicals tanned her skin, and a broad, tattooed Phoenix across the back of shoulders flashed dark blue as she pulled the sleeveless tunic over her head. 

She looked, in a word, wild.

"..businessman on Antigone Isle.."

Beneath her newly darkened skin, Phoebe blanched, turning barefoot to face her General fully.  She listened, still but for the rhythmic rise and fall of her chest beneath folded arms, as he laid out what he had discovered about her next target.

"As you know, access to Antigone is both sought after and difficult to obtain.  Gregor tricks those looking to make a go of things on the isle and smuggles them into the city in shipments that have already been cleared to enter.  Once the victims arrive, they get put to work in underground brothels or sold to rich assholes.

Big fella runs a club in the downtown area of the city, so he won't be hard to find.  Getting there could be tricky, though."

"Everything about running an op in Antigone will be tricky- I won't get two feet into the city before they flag me and throw a collar around my neck." Grabbing the back of a chair, Phoebe dragged it out from beneath the small galley table and slumped down onto its frame with a thud.   "What the fuck- it's just as dangerous for him," said the woman as she took the steaming mug of tea, then sniffed it carefully and offered Shikai the questioning arch of her brow.  

"This smells like the alley behind the Red Door after it got blown up."

Kicking back, Phoebe gave the hot bluish-brown liquid another sniff before the bump of the boat against the dock pads signaled their arrival at Cain's meeting place.  "Hey.." With a smirk, Phoebe slid the cup of 'tea' across the table toward Shikai and stood.  "Saved by the bell-- I'll finish up and meet you outside." As she stood, her accent slid toward the desolate hills of northern Genesaris, pinned in place by the rigid flex of her posture and a half-grin that didn't crack.

"I'm Sierra, by the way - you picked me up in Raven's Landing."

A short few minutes later, once the rough-handed deckhands had thrown their braided tow-lines over the moorings, Shikai and Phoebe-as-Sierra stepped off the boat and traversed a rickety ramp thrown out to the dock.   The two chatted amicably as they moved- she, a tribal shadow in black with a spear strapped across her back, while the General's amicable nature brightened her by association.  

The Architect would know her as she was, how could he not?  A piece of her called from his blackened depths, reaching for its once owner, yet found itself ever alone.  This was a new land, though- it needed new faces, new masks for the First to do her business under, and this one looked utterly suited to the hard work in front of them.

Approaching, Sierra lifted her chin- an initial greeting no more than silent acknowledgment as she looked from Cain to the newcomer and her flowing white dress.  It was an interesting choice for a potentially water-filled adventure, but actions would be the ultimate determiner - all this, was just show.

"Helluva location," she spoke as she crossed the land toward the pair, lacing her words with controlled amusement.  "I'm glad I was in the area- it's good to see you again."  A pull at the corners of her mouth suggested a smile that never saw light, but her eyes danced.  It was good to see Cain again, all things considered.

Edited by Noko
Just appearance edits; I wasn't happy with the earlier representation.

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At first it was inconceivable where sky stopped and sea started. Soon though a shape mounted the curve of the planet, and the illusion was ruined. Cain saw the vaulting Valucre, and the tales of his smile evaporated. 

Nonetheless, something beautiful happened there, before anyone else arrived. Everything was a perfect rhythm as the white bob entered Cain’s peripheral; for ripples do not scatter beauty but dance across it in geometric layers which, one might say, scripture the very stories of futures yet to come. Together as she stopped and looked back, they drank the citrus twilight, and when she continued her journey in to Umbridge Isle, its black scales became evident as petals. Beneath them, sitting on the floor of the bright and clear cove, was the frame of a giant ship that could have served dragon to those scales.

One of the wildhaired ginger’s hands was in the pocket of his matte suit, the other clutching a black rose at his side. Preserved in death, but not decay, his eyes did not behold it but his fingers twirled it between them in its final infinitesimal beauty. The sight was not unique for its black petals, but for the fact that petals were still part of the rose, while the overwhelming majority of its companions were scattered across the entire island such that, as Bloom’s firm bow parted sand it would too skiff over the top of floating petals and crumple the damp puzzle of their mat. 

The Architect could have been deaf, he could have been blind, he could have been stabbed in the back from behind, but he would never be taken by surprise. In all of the travesties both caused and beheld from both near and far, a peaceful end to all of Valucre was the best he sought.

He timed her from the moment her ship listed past, her steps the newest metronome pulsing into the world. She stood behind him, and he didn’t turn around. It was right, what she thought. This was a perfect moment just waiting to be spoiled by whatever trivialities might spill from the mouths of strangers. Trivialities that, for now, thankfully, didn’t come. Together the living dichotomy shared their moment of silence, before chasms could crack the space between them and the simple understandings of the silent cove they shared became the blistering misunderstandings that would separate Cain and Bloom forevermore. Had they ever met eyes, she might have seen him mourn the dying moment where they could stand together in blissful ignorance. Instead, it manifested as but a crinkle in the eye between him and the sun. 

There was no mask for Cain today except the one he woke up wearing every day. 

The maskless Cain and the nameless girl watched as another shape breached the horizon. If she didn’t shatter the mirror in which they could still possibly think one was like the other, neither would he as the second vessel sailed past.

“Madame, sir, he’s not alone.” An agent in a nondescript white mask that didn’t look like a skull addressed Phoebe and Shikai from the stairwell into the galley. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise, since the invitation was open. The Dead was as open to members of a positive volition as the opposite, so the focused advertisement for this particular journey had likely drawn denizens of eclectic origins, however few they may be. Of course, there was an added layer of understanding between First and Architect about each other’s whereabouts.

"I'm glad I was in the area- it's good to see you again." 

There they were, the first words to shatter the glasslike love Cain had held for Bloom. He turned, the rose in hand, the other hand in pocket, and walked straight past the girl who’d rowed up. Meeting Phoebe halfway up the pier, he extended in offerance his porcelain hand with the obsidian rose whose completeness defied the scattered petals of its companions. He kissed the rise of her cheek, resting the other hand from his pocket on her side to both greet her and steer himself past her to Shikai.

His smile deepened into, perhaps, infidelity as it lighted on Shikai, the following meant for the General's eyes; if the strange girl had followed him with her eyes, she would miss the beginnings of the dragon rising. They all might, for it was never meant to be a great reveal to all of them but a test.

First, the water began frothing about a hundred yards out from the pier. Then, as the black dragon rose out of the depths of Umbridge Isle’s cove, a dome of water strained tons of water away from its center. A huge airship contained within a bubble, with floodlights so bright they stained the golden horizon with sterile light, heaved itself out of the water, the screaming vacuum of its jets creating a thrum of ripples across the whole face of the Isle on which they stood.

Cain’s arms spread to embrace his general, and Shikai approaching from the shore beheld before him both Cain’s silhouette and the airship’s rise all in one.

“It’s so good to see you all,” without raising his voice, Cain’s words were both clear to all those present and evidently addressed to all of them, regardless of their acquaintance or lack thereof. “I only wish our vacation was here this time.”

“But it’s not,” he said, turning and walking back past Bloom to the end of the pier. He pointed through the ship, almost into the sun. Suddenly there was gravity in his words, gravity that multiplied with the very weight carried by the latent energies exuding from his body. “We’ve got to journey to the Vortex for this one.”

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As the silence is broken by the sounds of the living, Bloom sinks out of her dream like trance, the weight of reality bearing down around them as the luscious orange waves grow turbulent and chaotic.

She feels something change in Cain. His demeanour, his posture, his energy. She had seen something special in the moment of silence. She wonders how many had seen him the way he was then. As he walks past her without looking at her, her eyes follow on after him to see who the worthy recipients of his gaze are.

She half turns, her youthful eyes blinking calmly as the men and woman engage in a discussion she can’t - isn’t meant - to hear. As they embrace, Bloom gets the sinking feeling that she is a stranger. She doesn’t recognise any of them, and none of them recognise her yet seem to know each other well. Though she doesn’t envy Shikai for the touching display of male affection, she seems to shrink with each passing moment as pre-existing bonds begin to take precedence over the romantic solace which she and Cain had shared for a time.

Eventually, she will move on, but the moment still sits ripe and fresh in her mind.


She observes them as they talk. Body language, posture. She looks for qualities which she can tolerate and those that she can’t. However, her read offers little. There’s something very business-like about the way Cain addresses his group. It’s very curt and efficient. Between the hug and his unchanging tone, she can’t tell if they are colleagues, or if Cain is just weird.

As he turns and passes through her again however, she can feel the weight of hierarchy upon her shoulders. The first time might have been a mere slip of his mind, but the second is no coincidence. With that act alone, Cain has shifted their relations. He has made explicitly clear who he regards himself to be on speaking terms with, and that she does not fall under that category. She understands, and turns to the two who follow behind him toward the ship instead.

”Hello,” her low, crystal greeting sounds like a note on a viola. Her hands do not move and neither do her feet as she waits for Shikai and Sierra to pass her before following on after.

 

Edited by Delicious Steak

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The woman sashayed down the pier towards the fated meeting grounds. Her wavy white-hair bounced in time with each and every clicking step of her heeled boots. Her face was uncovered, as wearing masks would only make her look suspicious.  A lighted cigar was set between her lips, the smoke trailing behind her moving figure. She kept her hands within the pockets of her hooded long coat, her left arm keeping in contact with the hidden package. A long pointy object wrapped in seals and bandages, the item strapped to the belt on her hop. . She found it comforting to have the sealed item close at hand. The gaze of her golden eyes shifted from the watery depths towards the end of the pier where she expected her so-called companions to be.

It seems that almost everyone is here.

The woman hurried her steps then, but not too much that her poise and elegance would suffer. She did have a reputation to uphold. As she drew near, her 1Shade.png?width=427&height=427facial features twisted and adjusted to the face she was wont to use within the ranks of the Dead. She did take the name of ‘Dead Mistress’ when she joined this organization.

And of course he’s here. The Ginger god.

Finally, she reached the group just as Cain’s started addressing everyone. Her head nodded to his words, as if showing her affirmation.  They were about to go to yet another dangerous journey in search of a ship. Good thing they brought her, she might be the more well-versed person with regards to recovering airships. Both the God’s Hand and Aezer’s Howl, fabled ships in their own right, have been recovered and are now under her command. Sort of. Her friends do borrow them airships every so often that she’s starting to wonder why she ever got them ships in the first place. Then she finally spoke, her voice a bit too languid than was expected.

"Yo." 

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"This smells like the alley behind the Red Door after it got blown up."

"What a terrible thing to say!" Shikai protested with mock outrage.

Picking up the cup, he downed the contents in one go before setting the mug back down with melodramatic force. A moment passed, and then his face twisted into a grimace; one hand moving to his stomach.

"Ugh. Did I say this cured nausea or caused it?" he wondered.

"I'm Sierra, by the way - you picked me up in Raven's Landing."

Indeed, the transformation was a truly impressive one. Had he not seen her putting on the disguise, there was a very good chance that he wouldn't be able recognize her; at least not by sight. Though now that he thought about it, even Phoebe's scent had been altered. Shikai would never cease to be amazed by the abilities of his comrades; and no one he had ever met could transform themselves as the First did. 

"Well Sierra, we better get going. You're going to love my friends!"

Most would probably assume that the shinobi was being playfully facetious; and that wasn't entirely untrue, but also wasn't the full story. Phoebe would recognize that he was getting into character; learning to think of her as Sierra first, and her actual self second. Once that was done, he would accompany her as they disembarked the boat, putting his hood up as the cool air hit him. The pair walked down the dock; talking about nothing in particular in the way those comfortable in each others presence did. It wasn't long before he set eyes on Cain, as well as a young woman in a white dress that he didn't recognize, whom he nodded a greeting to as he passed. After the Architect had greeted Phoebe, he moved to embrace the General, who happily returned it.

"Good to see you again, fearless leader," he greeted Cain, warmth evident in his voice, "I see you've already met my friend Sierra. She's a fun one; met her in Ravens Landing and we hit it off."

Shikai listened to Cain explain the reason why they had gathered at this place; and that they would be headed into The Vortex. Knowing how serious this endeavor would be, he nodded solemnly, but still smiled.

"We'll get this done... and then we'll take a real vacation!"

"Yo."

The shinobi turned, face lighting up when he laid eyes on the Dead Mistress, whom he promptly greeted with a hug.

"Good to see you again!"

 

 

Edited by danzilla3

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A long stride carried Sierra down the rickety gangplank to meet Cain and to step into his space with a belonging that suggested the Prodigal Child - be it he, or she, one couldn't tell.  Her full lips angled in a fleeting grin, one that escaped her restraint like a dove to flight as she offered him her cheek and took the blackened rose, tucking it into the top of the thick, black braid which dangled over the spear strapped to her back.

The rest of the crew garnered nods and the quick flash of her hand, the flare of her fingertips like the stretch of an eagles wings, to forestall any thought toward further embraces, and she looked toward Bloom.  New faces were expected; there were a myriad of reasons for them- specific expertise, a dearth of manpower in a particular location, cannon fodder... yet, she doubted all of these for Bloom.

It wasn't Cain's style to introduce the bait, but then again, he hadn't introduced Bloom.. had he.

The other woman's appearance suggested to Sierra a certain dolce far niente - a carefree idleness, wrapped in flowing white ribbons, and pondering smile, hands hidden.  It was the sort of indolence that was more at home on a sprawling sunlit farm which one owned, but of course didn't work.   An 'I could', but 'I don't'.

The First loved it.  

Oh she knew the lie of appearances and the advantage in handing the razor to a pretty face and an admirable rack - of giving questioners their answer before they thought to go looking for it - of making it so obvious who or what was one was that simple acceptance became its natural conclusion.  It was her life; her survival, so much so that she had forgotten her own self years ago, but this - this - this was a masterwork of hiding edges in delicate silks, she was sure.  So unlike Sierra, which was its own masterwork of showing all your edges at once.

As her attention grew prolonged, she smiled at the newcomer, but it landed like an inquiry.

"New morning, new adventure," Sierra said by way of greeting, letting the flit of her eyes take in Bloom's entirety even as she lifted one hand and showed her calloused palm.  "What's your name?" wondered, momentarily shifting her attention to the rush of air and effervescence which bubbled forth from the sea and eventually belched out a ship.  Her brow curled, sharp as a snow-laden pine bough.

Well, that was unexpected.

Spoiler

OOC: Hey, Phoebe reads auras- so if you feel like giving me something to react to in an aura, have at it!  I'm happy to provide flavor text for others, also, just let me know.

 

Edited by Noko

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As Bloom felt the changes in Cain, it was not so much a shift in his aura as a broadening of her understanding of his aura. Her first observation of her first new facet of his personality, one of innumerable likely observations that would be made on this journey.

Did you know, nostalgia is most active in an individual when they’re cold? Whether intentionally or not, Cain’s self-inflicted cold blood smote him of his warmest laughters, his greatest joys. Simultaneously, though, it weathered him through destruction and loss with much greater ease than other, more foolish individuals who found themselves on the other side of the law. A lot of other people ran around trying to be Vash the Stampede— running in guns a’blazing in literal broad daylight— when they were really destined to be Igor the lab assistant, but Cain appeared to be made of the real stuff.

For now there are no latent energies emanating from Cain— the arrival of a new one brings the possibility of fruits both fresh and rotten— but Bloom is wise to note the physical interactions stacking before her into a totem pole of responsibility. While Bloom’s origins were unknown, her instrumentality might be useful in their endeavor.

‘They were about to go to yet another dangerous journey in search of a ship. Good thing they brought her, she might be the more well-versed person with regards to recovering airships. Both the God’s Hand and Aezer’s Howl, fabled ships in their own right, have been recovered and are now under her command.’

This was the exact reason the Dead Mistress was perfect for this mission. A peace sign greeted the Mistress over Cain’s shoulder as he headed back to the end of the pier. 

Cain was at the end of the dock, a platform extended down and he ushered them in, and they were off into the sky. On the inside the ship was very much like a basic airship. There were three levels. The top level was storage and passenger rooms, the center level was a circular command center where the twelve-skeleton crew operated the thing, and the bottom level was an engine room.

“Disengage the cavitation bubble,” he said to a skeleton-masked man manning one of three control stations. “How’d it go?”

“Perfectly sir, the only thing left to test is the speed-submerge,” responded the masked man sitting at the controls.

“Good,” said Cain with a pat on the shoulder, confidence and vigor filled the skeleton’s bones. “We’ll test that on the way back down!”

Water sloughed off the hulking, almost insectoid figure of the Black Fleet airship even as the agents ascended the plank into its bowels. With the press of a button, the bubble surrounding it popped and the fumes that facilitated its perimeter’s regeneration dispersed into the air. The small ship called Sphynx was off at a strikingly smooth clip— for this was a speed stealth model, the bugatti veyron of its kind— into the sky, not bound for any Genesaran lands but somewhere between there and what was thought by ‘flat-Valucrers’ to be the very center of Valucre.

Their ship would occur to the outsider a mere blur as it shot by, but within the friction of their passage was impalpable. It would take almost a half hour to reach the point they sought.

On one side of the circular command station was the square panel through which they had entered, the ramp up having risen to fill their entrance. On the other side of the deck was a wide, rectangular observation screen manned by three black-jumpsuited, skull-masked individuals. These three controlled the vessel. To the right was a station bearing a screen filled with target signs, which three manned and two stood behind to oversee; this was the Sphynx’s offensive division. To the left, there was a similar screen except instead of targets it bore pulsing signals that roved for any magical or physical obfuscations in the vicinity.

“We’ve tracked our target to the Vortex’s very eastern fringes,” said Cain, walking to the observation deck at the front of the ship. There was a gridded map of the Vortex, a red circular ping rippling out from the location toward which the yellow triangle that represented them headed.

“I have no idea what we’re coming up on,” he continued, staring at the digital depiction, “but Blade Sweeper has been lodged in that exact spot for at least three years. We need to be as prepared for anything as possible."

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10 hours ago, Noko said:

"What's your name?"

“Blooming Rose,” the girl in white replies, following after the Dead Mistress with her snowy petals trailing alongside. The look which Sierra gives to her is heartwarming, and her thoughts flattering. But Bloom is neither a master of espionage nor a criminal. The First misunderstands her presentation, for those who stand on the side of the law need not fear its wrath. Only she who is an expert in deception and disguise sees the value in the shrewdness and cunning of presentation. But for Bloom, she is but herself. Just as she has always been.

Entering the ship, the Terran military private immediately notices the makeup of the crew. White masked and uniform in dressing, all bearing the appearance of skeletons. It’s a morbid yet fascinating image, one which evokes an immediate sense of wrongness and ill feeling. Who dresses their men up as skeletons? Perhaps the First may be as aware of the uncanny symbolism and imagery around them and what kind of image it may paint to outsiders. An outsider like Bloom, is disturbed. Just a little. Her hands remain at her sides, fearful of what the false undead may do to her if she meddles with their machinery. But this doesn’t stop her eyes from running themselves over the technological marvel around them.

 

A seafaring adventure you’ll never forget!

So far, it was living up to its promise in more than one way.


Bloom comes to a stop a few paces from Shikai ( @danzilla3 ). Although she does not speak to him, her owl eyes trace the curvature of his long black hair. What a strangely groomed individual. Even if he does not speak to her, she can learn much from observing how he interacts with the First and the Architect, whom he has readily displayed fond affection for.

Edited by Delicious Steak

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On 10/22/2020 at 6:34 PM, danzilla3 said:

The shinobi turned, face lighting up when he laid eyes on the Dead Mistress, whom he promptly greeted with a hug.

"Good to see you again!"

"Oh,' The Dead Mistress gasped. The sudden display of affection was both questionable and disconcerting. Well, she and Shikai did have a lot of missions together so perhaps this level of closeness was warranted. While she could not reciprocate the hug, she did not squirm out of it either.

"It's been a while," she said once Shikai released her from that hug. "How's the fleet nowadays?"

After hearing the man's response, the woman aslo nodded to Cain's peace sign greeting. There was more work to be done. One couldn't recover Bladesweeper by just standing around and twiddling their thumbs. The time for action has come. Well, sort of. They need to find the ship's general location first.

As she entered the ship, the Dead Mistress felt sentimental all of a sudden. Now she's missing her own ships. She was more than certain that one of her so called 'friends' prolly borrowed them by now, without even asking permission. Thinking such idle thoughts seemed to give her a headache. A sigh escaped her lips. She needs to focus more on the job.

Shifting her attention from her wayward thoughts to the people on board the ship, a thought struck her. Were they always this edgy? Anyway, that should be enough daydreaming for now as she listened to what Cain had to say.

On 10/26/2020 at 4:38 AM, amenities said:

“We’ve tracked our target to the Vortex’s very eastern fringes,” said Cain, walking to the observation deck at the front of the ship. There was a gridded map of the Vortex, a red circular ping rippling out from the location toward which the yellow triangle that represented them headed.

“I have no idea what we’re coming up on,” he continued, staring at the digital depiction, “but Blade Sweeper has been lodged in that exact spot for at least three years. We need to be as prepared for anything as possible."

"It's a good thing we already have an idea of Bladesweeper's general location. The journey can't be as bad as that Keli incident."

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"It's been a while," she said once Shikai released her from that hug. "How's the fleet nowadays?"

"Doing great!" he smiled, releasing the Mistress from his grasp, "Black has a few ideas for new raids, so that should be fun!"

As he conversed with his friend, the shinobi noticed the snowy-haired girl eying him with a quiet intensity. Knowing that others found him attractive, he was acclimated to drawing the occasional glance, but there was something different about the way Bloom looked at him. Not sure quite how to respond, he offered a simple wave and a friendly smile.

"Hi there! I'm Shikai. Nice to meet you!"

Now that the introductions were finished, he followed Cain aboard the ship. Despite being the Captain of a pirate fleet, Shikai's knowledge of the working of airships was still pretty limited. One of these days, he really needed to sit down and learn a thing or two about the damn things; and now that he thought about it, there was no time like the present. Pulling his robotic assistant from a pocket, he called up an introductory course about the vessels and began to scroll through it. 

“I have no idea what we’re coming up on,” he continued, staring at the digital depiction, “but Blade Sweeper has been lodged in that exact spot for at least three years. We need to be as prepared for anything as possible."

"You got it boss!" he replied without really looking.

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"Blooming Rose."

And that was that.  Rose was exactly as conversational as Sierra wanted to be and, like a match made in a whiskey bottle, they came together only for that brief moment before falling apart to the realities of life.  In tandem, they moved away from one another- Bloom to Shikai while Sierra ascended, then crossed the deck toward the front of the ship where the observation area sat.  The view was astonishing- blue seas, blue skies, and a cloud swept sky that drew mind toward other worlds, but the tribeswoman only had eyes for her mission.

"...target to the Vortex's very eastern fringes.  I have no idea what we're coming up on, but Blade Sweeper has been lodged in that exact spot for at least three years. We need to be as prepared for anything as possible."

"Do we know who was on it when it got stuck there?  Has it been here since Blairville..?" wondered Sierra on approach, slowing as her dark eyes traced across the crimson grid.  She came to a halt by Cain's side and brought her bare arms up to her chest, folding them there.  "I'm sure I'm stating the obvious, especially to you, but 'anything' is quite literal when we start talking about the Vortex.."

"It's a good thing we already have an idea of Bladesweeper's general location. The journey can't be as bad as that Keli incident," commented the Dead Mistress, prompting Sierra to offer both palms and shrug.  

"Why not?" she wondered to the Mistress as she began to idly spin a silver ring wrapped around her thumb.  "If I understand the Vortex correctly which, granted, I might not, we could literally walk into a world of elephantine man-eating dandelions who spawn from stars embedded in the foreheads of land-walking octopii."

Inevitably, that illustration stamped a pause on the conversation, to which Sierra interjected, "..just as an example.  At any rate - if anyone is ready for anything, it's this group.  If you want to prep, I put together information files for everyone outlining the Vortex, its known interactions, as well as the Blade Sweeper and its involvement in the raising of Blairville, though I see Shikai is already ahead of us on that front."

The dark shift of her eyes fell on a nearby Skeleton who perked up as if having been caught napping.  He shook his head, expressionless beneath that grotesque mask, and exited the observation deck to the fresh air beyond.  A few moments later he returned carrying the aforementioned datapads, which he set out on a nearby console before returning to his duties.

Edited by Noko

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As Cain turned to address his skeleton crew, for the first time it would appear that his gaze lighted on the one who called herself Blooming Rose. Indeed he beheld her unabashedly, speaking as if to all those present but for the first time in their journey drinking in her appearance. She stood with hand on elbow, as minimal in presence as possible, so willingly uncomfortable. A curt rise in the corner of his lips told her that, why yes, she was the slightest bit out of place. But that could change.

Cain’s face was a system of features that made him difficult to behold; golden irises and wild red hair, black tattoo-like lines fanning across his cheeks from his eyes. Every being in the room would feel him the weight of his observation regardless of where they were positioned in regards to his line of sight. He did not look upon them with distaste, but no longer was it levity.

"It's a good thing we already have an idea of Bladesweeper's general location. The journey can't be as bad as that Keli incident."

The Dead Mistress’s voice cut through the silence. In classic fashion. It wasn’t irreverence, but a clear readiness to continue onward from someone Cain knew as an airship veteran.

“It’s good to have you,” he said, his lips curling fully. “I know your expertise will come in handy.”

Behind the platform on which the Puppet Master stood, through the wide observation bay, a dark cloud in the distance grew larger on their approach.

“Prepare yourselves, something isn’t right about its location,” the ship’s pilot, a man in a skeleton mask without a lower jaw spoke to Cain. It was customary that only elected officials talked to the Architect while information funneled up from the lowest skeletons. At present, the pilot and navigators were the only skeletons on-crew who were privileged to speak with Cain.

Now the sharp, black and gold arrow that was the Spyhnx razed over the ocean waves and sliced into the dark clouds of the Vortex’s outer rim.

“Our target has been caught in a pocket dimension,” said Cain, leaning his hand on the railing surprisingly casually as the ship began rocking with turbulence. His voice had an easy way of rising above the commotion, keeping smooth, for he spoke as much to the crew as he did his agents. The outsides of the Vortex seemed to resist them, but they weren’t penetrating all the way in. Just about halfway. If this wasn’t akin to sailing the stormy seas, only actually doing so would be anything more like it. 

“We’ll have to ram straight into it.”

The ping of the Sweeper grew nearer and nearer, the ship’s rocking intensifying more and more, their observation deck growing darker and darker until the golden lights gilding every corner and perfectly resolved navigation and diagnostics screens were the only lights in the relatively spacious cabin. While the rippling dimensions beat savagely against its carapace, the Sphynx’s inside cabin remained almost still. Pressure built on the outside of the ship more and more, resistance meeting the Sphynx’s hyper-thrusters until it finally pierced the bubble of the pocket dimension and broke free of the clouds. It was clear this ship was equipped for inter-dimensional travel based on the Dead’s intel of the Blade Sweeper’s intel.

It was also clear, suddenly, that they were in seemingly another realm.

The Sphynx suddenly skidded, skiffed, surfed on the mammoth crashing waves of a stormy sea. The placid Umbridge Isle was far behind, the threats of the new world nigh. However equipped it could have been originally, the Sphynx’s navigation sensors were scattered by the change in location. Its electronics were fine, its ability to navigate sea and air fine, but they had no idea where they were. This was most certainly not the glassy port they had left a mere couple hours earlier.

In fact, the Dead appeared to be blind at sea.

That was when a rotating flash of light in the distance roved over them. Five seconds later, it did so again.

black and white night GIF

“Blooming Rose,” said Cain in the golden darkness. His lips formed the words admiringly, perfectly, as if beholding the pregnant flower itself. All eyes, all ears in the dim, seemed focused on them as the shocks of the Spyhnx resolved the waves hitting them as gentle laps against its hull.

“Have you ever seen a lighthouse?” he asked the question loudly, as if Bloom should know the answer.

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