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Rhyse Falmarin

The Great Ocean Escape

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@Calder Muireadach, @Will Tennesen

After the escape from Ireland.....HERE

 

 

She had managed to keep up with the stranger. Making his ship before too many stirred in the town center. By some miracle the drunk Will managed to follow them as well. And thus she found herself at sea.

 

They were three days out now. Three terrifying days. Will had been her excuse to stay hidden below deck, the man had been sick at first. But truth was Will was sleeping most of the time now so she spent the time curled in a dark corner instead, careful that no one could find her on accident, hiding out and barely having eaten.

 

She didn’t dare go on deck. The simple sway of the ship on rough waters was enough to draw out absolute terror.  This much movement meant that the spray up on deck would be enough to lure her demonic nature out.  

 

They would kill her, toss her overboard, lock her up to be tortured later….. the imagination ran rampant, fueled by the horrors she had been subjected to in Ireland. No matter what Will thought, she didn’t believe the ship was "safe" for her kind despite the fact that several on board seemed to be clearly outworlders.

 

She sat under the metal stairs, arms wrapped over the bare legs, the shorts she had stolen off a clothes line in Ireland tugged down to her knees to keep warm. The oversized shirt was pulled over the same knees to try and cover the shins, hem of the neck gaping dangerously wide as she rested her forehead on the drawn up limbs, strawberry and peach waves covering her shoulders and sides like a blanket. Contacts had been lost in all the commotion leaving crimson orbs staring in the dark at the glass of water sitting beside her. For all the terror the undulations of the foreign ocean waters instilled, they also beckoned at her, taunting her psyche. The water churned in the glass sitting on the floor, spinning first to the left before slowing and then spinning to the right. The simple push against the liquid done without thought as she huddled beneath the stairs waiting for the end of this horrible journey.

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He hated cleaning his boat.  Granted, the ferrying often put people on his ship that were definitely not used to long weeks at sea, but it still was irritating to bring the drunk on board. It added a whole other mix of problems he really didn’t want to deal with.  Things seemed to have quieted for now.

 

They were making great time, the captain sitting in his perch with feet up on the bench next to him, eyes on the endless horizon.  He was leaning in the seat, one elbow on the windowsill, contemplating things that probably didn’t need to be worried about… watching the waters.  It was horrible timing to be making crossings.  Ice flow.  Seas were rough, but not so much so that he needed to slow down.  Course was adjusted slightly, then locked into place, passing it off to his first mate.

 

“Keep this course, keep the watches on the bow...” he said quietly, ducking under the door and trotting down the stairs to go below deck.  Time to check again on his charges.  They’d been awful quiet, and it was getting colder.  Neither of them were particularly well dressed when they’d gotten on the boat.  There were rooms they could stay in.  They were small, but it was better than the cargo hold.

 

Breath was visible a moment before making the turn to go below, his footsteps almost silent despite his size.

 

“Rise and shine,” voice was loud enough to be heard, but not particularly directed at anyone.  “It’s going to keep getting colder for another day or so, there are warmer clothes in the two rooms aft.  Sweaters, coats, scarves, hats… whatever you need.  Food’ll be ready soon in the galley.”

 

He closed the door to the deck and keep on his path down the stairs and straight through another door to disappear toward the galley.

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Swirl was becoming violent. First clockwise…then counter, water sloshing faintly over the side despite the fact that crimson orbs had departed from the glass of water. The push against liquid was innate, despite having spent several years avoiding it.

 

Lashes flicked upward as the ship shifted course and the slap of water against the hull elicited a flinch through her spine. Arms tightened their grip around her knees, more for comfort than any protection against the cold.

 

This was a mistake….so was staying in Ireland….what alternative did that leave?

 

"Rise and shine…"

 

She nearly jumped out of her skin having missed him coming down the stairs over her head. Glass upturned, water flooding outward into the walkway.

 

Sorry….

 

Apology was incredibly timid, barely audible over her breath.

 

"It’s going to keep getting colder for another day or so, there are warmer clothes in the two rooms aft.  Sweaters, coats, scarves, hats… whatever you need.  Food’ll be ready soon in the galley."

 

She had half tripped face first to the floor untangling herself from the shirt she had pulled over her knees.

 

He's sleeping in one of……

 

He was already gone.

 

….them.

 

Quiet word sighed from her lips. She had found one of the rooms and half drug Will into it to sleep off his liquor and then just…. sleep…it seemed. She had checked on him twice to make sure he hadn't died… he hadnt. Sleep seemed to be deep for the man as he cuddled into the small bed. She had not wanted to be presumptuous and take the other room. There were others on the ship and frankly…. sleep was elusive ever since she had been on the run. She couldn’t recall the last time she had slept.

 

A jacket wouldn’t hurt……

 

Lip was chewed as she peeked into the second room, the tight quarters were not so tight for the small frame as she hesitated opening the closet. There was an array of clothing haphazardly hanging in the gap. She wasn’t really cold natured but she was barely dressed in the oversized garments so the navy wool jacket caught her attention. The arms were slid over pale skin only to hang four inches beyond her fingertips. Grumbling under her breath she rolled them up as she stepped back into the hall, the hem nearly brushing the ground.

 

She wasn’t THAT small…. was she?

 

Buttoning the middle button she decided the coat actually belonged to someone extra tall because she was NOT that small.

 

Closing the door quietly again she padded bare feet towards the galley. There had been no talk of payment, at least not yet. Problem was she had nothing to give. She could cook…. that was about all she could offer.

 

Peach and amber waves peeked around the corner into the galley as a faint waft came of something warm. Crimson tried to avoid contact with anything… or rather…. anyone as she sought the source of the scent. Sleep eluded her… but not hunger as the stomach rumbled beneath the oversized navy wool.

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The spilled water was not lost to him, neither was the apology.  It was a boat.  Boats got wet, what he did worry about was the glass itself and whether or not it got cleaned up.  Broken things caused problems, water this close to the upper deck could freeze.

 

Stepping through the doorway, he grabbed a towel and tossed it over his shoulder, returning just in time to watch her roll out of a tangled shirt.

 

"I was referring to you," he said quietly, reaching to pull his ponytail out and pile a topknot on the back of his skull and roll up the sleeves of his blue Henley.  "I know your friend found the rooms, he snores."

 

Kneeling to swipe a towel over the water and pick up the glass, the blue script banding his forearms twinkled with their own light when he touched the water.

 

He didn't seem bothered by it, but the pale gaze glanced at her briefly as she retreated.  There were altered on his boat, he was an Outworlder... so were others of his small crew.  He'd seen odd reactions to each other's abilities before.  There were endless possibilities of what was yanked through the Veil, some oil and water, others like opposite magnet poles.  This one though, brought an odd glance over his shoulder as she retreated to one of the quarters seemingly to put on some damn clothes.

 

Towel was tossed into the sink, glass set in after.

 

One of his crew was finishing something on the stove, filling a tin cup with coffee and heading out to take a break while people came in and out to eat.

 

It was just him when one of his charges peeked in.

 

"I'm Calder."

 

He was stirring something, scooping it into a bowl and adding a spoon to slide onto the small table for her.  There literally had been no time for introductions until now.

 

"Best chili anywhere."

 

He scooped one for himself, taking a spoonful and chewing as he swirled a saucepan, pulling two mugs from the hook.

 

"I picked this up from a trading post in the gulf.  It's a cinnamon hot chocolate."

 

He poured two cups and sat one next to the bowl on the table.  Leaning on the stove, he dug into dinner.

 

"New York isn't Ireland," he said matter-of-factly.  "You hide, people will think you have something TO hide.  Huge magus presence there.  Respected, in positions of power.  You can pass, but not if you hide."

 

He took his bowl and mug, giving her a small nod before turning to leave.

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"I was referring to you.  I know your friend found the rooms, he snores."

 

His return nearly had her jumping out of her very skin. Pallor drained to nearly translucent, blue hued veins playing peek-a-boo on her cheeks as crimson blinked at him… lips murmuring nearly inaudibly…

 

Not really….a friend…

 

Lips pulled through her teeth as she shimmied to the wall on bare tiptoes to be out of his way. She had only met Will the same day she had met this stranger, didn’t really make them friends. Though even drunk he had tried to help her, so not enemies at least either. Eyes caught the "ink" again. It had a light of its own which wasn’t something she had seen on this world, at least not in Ireland. Toes slid along the wall as she crept off to the room… a quiet "sorry" repeated before slipping in to seek something more to wear.

 

Slender fingers fiddled along the sides of the coat, seeking pockets that were a hanging a bit too low on her form as she finally peeked into the mess hall.

 

"I'm Calder."

 

She nearly popped out of her skin again. Damn she needed to settle down! Waves bobbed as she nodded faintly at him, nostrils filling with whatever he was stirring in the bowl. Now closer it was becoming apparent it was chili.

 

Rhyse….

 

Response was soft as the eyes lost interest in him, focusing down instead on his bowl. It smelled like a pretty good chili actually. Definitely more the traditional end of chili which she appreciated. Hers was chocked full of pumpkin which seemed more popular in Ireland.

 

"Best chili anywhere."

 

Brow lifted a bit over the crimson orbs as she slid her lower lips through upper teeth, lowering into the seat and plucking the spoon up to swirl in the bowl.

 

"I picked this up from a trading post in the gulf.  It's a cinnamon hot chocolate."

 

Nostrils flared at the mug, thick lashes half closing as for the first time the lips turned ever so slightly upward enjoying the scent. Murmured words were not really meant for him.

 

…be even better if added some allspice and sweet ancho peppers……

 

The lashes lifted and saw him, almost startled he was there as the tone turned to something almost apologetic, as if she could be mistaken as complaining.

 

… cinnamon is very good too.

 

As if to shut herself up she pushed a large spoonful of chili between her lips and lowered her gaze back to the bowl.

 

"New York isn't Ireland.  You hide, people will think you have something TO hide.  Huge magus presence there.  Respected, in positions of power.  You can pass, but not if you hide."

 

Lashes lifted to him, his words pondered a moment as lips were licked over.

 

Didn’t used to be hiding….

 

Her English had been learned in the welsh continent…. the lilt of Irish tingeing her accent.

 

I um….. wore contacts…. lost those….. but that was it….. I mean…. I had my own shop and people didn’t seem to….….

 

Voice trailed off. It was more than she had spoken in a while and she was suddenly acutely aware of it, lips clamping shut  as she realized he had not really intended to engage in conversation, already turning to leave. To cover up the awkward moment she quickly took another scoop of the chili. It had been a long time since she had been without those damn contacts. The eyes that were so mundanely average on her world, were unheard of and demonic on this one. Truth was it was the first time in ages her eyes didn’t ache and water.

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Not really….a friend…

 

Understandable.  Seemed they might not have even known each other before that night.

 

Rhyse….

 

“Nobody is on your tail here Rhyse,” he responded quietly to the skittish behavior as he finished the food.  He got it, he did.  The first few years on this rock had left him looking over his shoulder and out of sorts.  Aggressive almost, as he figured out who was friend or enemy.  He unfortunately didn’t have anyone to tell him otherwise. “Ain’t no one close enough to catch us, nobody deft enough to find us.  Just you and your not-friend made it on this trip, and my crew are all here to help you.”

 

Voice was soft, but always licked with a personality beneath that was no bullshit and easy to smile.

 

…be even better if added some allspice and sweet ancho peppers……

 

Brow cocked slightly, no idea what the hell she was talking about.  More of the weird things he’d never heard of.  His relationship with food had been a precarious one.  After several virulent experiences with seemingly mundane dishes early in his time on this rock, he’d been extremely careful… developed a bland palate almost. 

 

… cinnamon is very good too.

 

“Abuelita… it’s called I think. Traded for it in the Gulf of Mexico a while back.  No clue what it is, but it tastes good.”

 

Didn’t used to be hiding….  I um….. wore contacts…. lost those….. but that was it….. I mean…. I had my own shop and people didn’t seem to….….

 

“Hiding is hiding,” he stopped and instead turned back into the galley.  It wasn’t condemning her, just being truthful as he leaned on the counter and sipped from his mug a moment, hand was on the edge of the counter next to his hip.  He could feel the waves hit the hull; it was vibrating the entire boat.  Something didn't  feel right.  Eyes narrowed slightly, setting down the mug in the sink and picking up his food and the push to talk that was mounted on the wall near the door.

 

“Talk to me Aki,” he said quietly, taking another spoonful as the black spiral cord bobbed with the sway of the small cargo boat.  He waited another moment, turning off the stove and setting the pot and his bowl into the sink.

 

*npc* We need you up here.

 

“Roger that,” push-to-talk was snapped back on its cradle.  “Sit tight, I’ll be back.”

 

Long legs took the stairs a few at a time, door opened and onto the deck.  Sun was finally peering out; the sea itself was starting to become relatively calm, chilly, but calm in the growing evening.  Tonight would be a saturating dark with no moon.  A change from the roughness of the last few days, but just as necessary to stay on point.  Aki and another were leaning over the port railing.  He knew what it was even before he had to ask.  It had something to do with the patch.

 

*npc* Bilge is running hard.  We’re taking on more water than we should.

 

Maybe not the patch, another hole somewhere? He’d gone over the whole thing.

 

“We’ll dock in St. John’s. Full stop, I’m going in.”

 

He went below deck again, the upper half of his clothes already off as he passed the galley to his quarters. Boots, everything except for his khakis came off, leather harness on his waist, a toolkit clipped to it, knife strapped on his bicep, padding barefoot back out and braiding his hair as he went.  Hiding had never been his thing.

 

“Keep my hot chocolate warm,” he said quietly as he passed the galley and took the stairs again several at a time.  The small cargo ship could be felt slowing, and he wasted no time snapping on his safety line, stepping up onto the railing in one motion and disappearing over the side.

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“Nobody is on your tail here Rhyse,….Ain’t no one close enough to catch us, nobody deft enough to find us.  Just you and your friend made it on this trip, and my crew are all here to help you.”

 

Lower lip was gnawed gently as the unusual eyes were clearly sinking into thoughtful contemplation.

 

The people in her village had once been there to "help" her too. Finding out she was a monster had changed all that. Nostrils drank in the warm scent of the mug, relishing the aroma before noticing his cocked brow at her comment on allspice and anchos. Throat cleared ever so slightly as she drank from the mug to cover up the discomfort.

 

“Hiding is hiding,”

 

Crimson orbs stared into the steaming mug. There was truth in the statement, then again she had been viciously attacked and hunted for more than six months. That was a truth as well.

 

His posture changed and with it she cocked her own head, seeking what had caught his attention. She regretted the search as all too quickly the dangerous flow of water told her it was bleeding into the ship before he even told her to "sit tight". She stood even as he leapt up the stairs, a mist of panic in her dark pupils. They were taking on water. Her secrets would soon no longer be her own.

 

Lips parted as he came down the stairs and passed the galley. They clamped shut, a rose hue climbing up her cheeks as he slid off his shirt vanishing within his cabin.

 

“Keep my hot chocolate warm..”

 

Her tongue didn’t find itself as he passed her by once more, peeking out the door at the bare feet disappearing above. She had gotten a good look at those markings. They were not like the tattoos she had seen in Ireland. Pupils flicked to his mug, keep it warm? She was often mistaken for a fire elemental. It was the heat colored orbs and Irish saturated waves that seemed to make them think so. Truth was she could make it colder…. but not keep it hot. The haunting eyes glanced around the galley, finding a small plate to set over top the mug to hold in the steam before she crept into the narrow hall outside the galley to look up the stairs.

 

She took a hesitant step towards the first stair, but feet froze as the flow of water caught her attention once more. The push against it was powerful and unconscious, reversing the flow into the ship until it was suddenly gurgling outward, contrary to the laws of nature.  She couldn’t let the water in….. she couldn’t let the truth come out.

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His world was cold and vast, drifting a bit away from the boat as the propellers came to a stop and the boat started to move with the sway of the ocean.  Swimming back to his charge, hands first went to the in-water patch he’d delivered less than a week ago.  Fingers wandered over the work.  It was solid.  He hovered a moment, braid tickling across his shoulders as it floated in his own version of weightlessness.

 

It felt like a battery at first, a shiver of water that slithered across his skin.  Taunting, a sensation he hadn’t felt in over a decade.  Except it wasn’t him.  It wasn’t any of his crew.

 

Rush of water was like a jet, eyes narrowing as they followed the bubbles.  It was a sliver, a miniscule gap between plates that would push shut against the waves and gap when there was no pressure… the constant shiver was what was vibrating the hull and caught his attention.  It was emergent enough to not be a concern, but sneaky enough to be have gone undetected and be deadly if they’d not been closer to St. John’s.  He could patch it, but that wasn’t what had caught his attention.

 

Breath could be seen as he broke the surface, lithe muscles pulling him up his safety line and back onto the deck.  Expression was extremely displeased, not that he’d missed the separation in the hull- it would have been a needle in a haystack until out at sea anyway, it was the in-his-face reminder of his shortcomings.  Skin steamed, the sun hitting the cool of the water still over his form.  Squeezing out his braid, he tossed it over his shoulder.

 

“It’s fine,” he said as he unclipped his “leash” and wound it to hang on a cleat.  “More damage from the snag.  Nothing major.  We’ll get to St. John’s and dock for a day. Might have to dry dock it in New York, but it will get us there.”

 

Strides were quick to the tool kit on the deck storage.  Eyes rested darkly on the hatch to below deck as he prepped his kit to go back under.  It was a hot jealousy, a constant reminder he was weak, one he would have to watch until he dropped off this duo.

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Her senses were unconsciously reaching into the alien waters, each surge of water that worked to seep through the small crevice pushed against with more intensity. By the time he climbed on the boat and unharnessed himself, the push held a bit too much strength, the surge of water away from the ship causing it to rock without warning violently to the other side before rolling back into a more sedate position. The movement caused her to snap a hand to the doorframe of the galley, awareness of the unconscious engagement seeping in and instantly the ability was halted.

 

Hu'tegh

 

The language she hadn't let pass her lips in nearly two years blurted out the nasty swear as the nose wrinkled up in disgust at her own lack of control. Bare feet pivoted on her heel and her mug was snatched from the small table to head over and search for water. She didn’t want to be greedy and take another mug of what was clearly an indulgence for the captain that had saved them.

 

Stomach still raw she glanced at the pot of chili and finally decided she would have a bowl. The thick gruel was ladled into her bowl as a string of alien swears continued to mutter under her breath.

 

In trying to avoid the water, she had nearly capsized the damn boat. Her fear was chasing her with a self fulfilling prophecy.  The unladylike grunt escaped her lips as she dropped back into the chair, the oversized coat swallowing her as she leaned over the table to attack the chili, the soft mutter of complaints still whispering under each mouthful.

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Brow flinched slightly in concentration as he continued his search for supplies in his toolkit to return to the water.  He never looked angry, but inside he was seething.  He could ask one of his charges to keep the boat from taking on water until they reached St. John's, but it was an unfair request of someone newly out of danger... and his pride couldn't take it.

 

Gaze turned to rest on the waves a moment, the pull of the vast nearly black water catching his attention.  Expression became blank, then curious as it seemed it'd started speaking to him.   Whispering its native tongue to tickle his ears.... hands pausing their busy flurry as it taunted.

 

Lips parted, it had never said a word to him until now.  Over a decade.  So silent, so foreboding.  Heavy, hateful, aggressive.  To him it was a living thing, but in this world it felt sick, spiteful.

 

Last item was hastily shoved into the kit and he set it down, easily pulling himself onto the railing of the boat to watch the water, keeping his balance with an effortless grace as the vessel undulated.

 

Aki squinted up at him against the wind, pulling the zipper up on his coat.  They all knew the captain was an Outworlder, understood he relished the cold when other's tolerance reached its limits, as evidence by the fact he was barefoot and shirtless in a pair of khakis in near freezing temperatures... but, he was being odd.

 

He could hear Aki begin to speak to him, but the depths were louder, his concentration on the world that was his everything- hoping that for an instant when he opened the hand at his side to the waters it would do what he asked.  Instead, met with a rather fierce rock of the boat and an uncharacteristic loss of balance that sent him straight into the drink with no safety tether.

 

*npc* "Captain overboard!"

 

It took a second for the small crew to register what was happening.  The Captain was always overboard, but he wasn't moving, hitting the water with a painful slap to his back, floating silently in the dark ocean that was threatening to swallow him.

 

The Outworlder could feel the water, but not himself, brain lost in the depths like a dark cloud had descended into his thoughts.  Paralyzing and ovehelming.

 

A fierce sting brought him out of the pit, Aki's near perfect aim landing the lifeline across his chest like a whip.  He jerked almost instantly, the darkness in his head tearing away like something had ripped at his eye sockets.  Fleeing back into the depths, stealing away.  Arm wound the line around his forearm and he bobbed there a moment, making a decision and pulling himself back on the boat.  

 

"If we take on more water, run the pumps, otherwise get us on course for St. John's.  Leave them off."

 

He tossed the line on the deck.

 

*npc*  "Aren't you going to fix the hull?"

 

Aki's surprise was expecting of some kind of explanation.

 

"No, get on it."

 

He secured the kit, squeezed water from his hair and took the towel from Aki, slicking off his limbs.  Feet padded below deck silently as he tossed the towel over his shoulder.  Step into the galley was unexpected, removing his mug from the sink and taking a drink, long look at her in silence before he stole away to change and get back to his chair.

 

"Docking before morning to repair the boat," he said quietly as he left with his mug.

 

He wanted the boat to take on water again... he wanted to provoke the ocean to recognize his presence again.  More than anything.  He wanted to face down that dark monster something had provoked... so he could grab it by the throat and take back his world.

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She was vaguely aware of the cry for overboard but was too wrapped up in her own annoyance to pay it much mind. Chili was attacked with a vigor that her appetite had been missing for some time.  As the heat settled into her gut it began a vehement reminder that she was half starved having been on the run for some time now. Truth was she didn’t remember her last decent meal. Each shoved spoonful was underlain with foreign mutters, swears so vile she would have made sailors blush if any of them could have understood the aggressive language.

 

Eyes flicked up as he entered and headed to the sink but they quickly returned to her bowl and the remaining chili. It barely had time to cool she devoured it so quickly.

 

"Docking before morning to repair the boat,"

 

Crimson orbs flicked back up at him with a decidedly unfeminine grunt of acknowledgement considering her diminutive nature, watching him abandon her to the meal before her once more.

 

He was an odd duck.

 

Bowl was vacated and she found herself filling it a second time. She was not usually a glutton, but her gut was now bottomless, as though it was concerned it might not be filled again. Slowing down she actually enjoyed round two.

 

Bowl was rinsed and put away in the sink before she decided she would finally follow in Will's footsteps and grab some sleep. She slipped back into the small cabin where she had taken the coat from the closet and was about to shut the door when the seam that the captain had ignored gapped further and the seep into the ship became a more threatening rush of water.

 

DOR…

 

The snapped "stop it" was accompanied by a violent rock of the boat onto its side, off-kilter far enough that objects began to drop from their perches before it eased back into an upright position. Scowl was directed low on the wall, where the seam beyond had "challenged" her. Now she dared the water to keep trying to come in, ocean finally obeying and flooding unnaturally out of the hull again.

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Thoughts were a mile away, pausing on the redhead in his galley before he padded back to his own quarters.  It took him a while to get dressed, sitting on the side of his bunk, elbows on his knees and drinking his hot chocolate slowly.  He was angry. Every once in a while the warrior bubbled to the surface, reminding him of his inadequacies and putting him into a broody lull.

 

Eventually he changed back to his regular attire, cargos, loose and worn gray cable knit sweater, scarf and such.  The perfect boat captain.  Galley empty as he passed, the sullen mood continued with his first step up the stairs to the deck.  No sooner had he checked his watch, the clang of it hitting the railing preceded a seethe when his arm slammed against metal.  It was quickly followed by the squeegee sound of his hand grabbing and slipping off the railing before he landed flat on his back at the bottom of the stairs.  Head bounced once off the floor, a shooting array of stars through his vision as he groaned and leaned up, rubbing it.

 

The boat hit something.

 

The boat hit something!

 

He rolled forward and launched up the stairs, met with… nothing.  Small crew was peering over the deck on each side, reporting nothing.  Nothing?  He walked completely around the perimeter.  Nothing.

 

Nothing but new passengers. Second time in as many hours.

 

Trot down the steps held purpose, twice banging on the door with the side of his fist where the more conscious of the two was most likely hiding.

 

"Is that you?  If you're going to sink my boat we need to talk."

 

It wasn't angry, but it wasn't kind either.  Already being irritated didn't help the tone.  Upset his boat was getting tossed like a toy.  Jealous maybe?

 

If there was a rogue something on this ship that couldn’t control jack shit, they were getting off at St. John.  He knew he had a job, but he also wasn’t going to watch his boat get pulled apart in the process. St. John was a helluva lot safer than Ireland at the moment, and he already wanted one off his boat.

 

Might now be two.

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She didn’t hear the plummet of the captain off the stairs. Scowl deeply etched over a brow that suddenly betrayed she wasn’t as much of a child as her features seemed to hint at. The growly language continued to spill from her lips as she "argued" with the ocean that didn’t always seem to understand the alien language.

 

'OH MEV!..... JIHVAD LOB BIQ'A'

 

The dark water was a belligerent child and for all her fear of exposure, she was fed up with its petulant tantrums as again it tried to press into the flawed seam. This world had never taught the raging oceans how to obey.

 

The last year on the run, her fear of being "known" for the demon this world believed her to be, all the hiding. It culminated now in a raging annoyance as she refused to back down from the ocean's fury.

 

The first strike on her door and her hand snatched the handle, the second strike fell further forward than the first as she yanked the door open.

 

"Is that you?  If you're going to sink my boat we need to talk."

 

SUQ MIW

 

 The "get out of my way" was clearly understood in her tone as she pressed past him into the hall. Her irritated steps marched to the stairs, left foot slamming onto the first tread where it all paused, the coat that swallowed her brushing against the step and sticking on its surface. She hadn't gone up since they took to the ocean waters. Scowl looked up the stairs as though she was heading to conquer the roman empire, the expression moved to him.

 

Not sinking….. putting ocean back in place….

 

Unlike her previous dialogue… this tone tainted heavily of an outworlder accent, her home language still growling under her tongue. Chest heaved before her hand clutched the rail and movement finally came to her feet once more.  Petite form marched upward for the first time since she had come onto the boat.

 

Heart was thundering in her chest as she glanced at the small crew that all suddenly looked up as the redhead that hadn't made a peep since they left was suddenly on deck. Swallow was thick as some of the raw confidence waned.  Second swallow finally found her feet moving a bit closer to the rail, still far enough to avoid the spray that misted over the edge as she glared out over the ebony waters.

 

Chid jey ….

 

Voice barely seemed to carry over the winds.

 

CHID JEY!

 

This time the small form let loose a violent strength in her words that still did not seem to shout. Effect was eerie and immediate. The churn of dark waters almost instantly began to calm, flowing along the sides of the ship, letting it slice through them with an ethereal smoothness as no longer the tendrils of water fought to reach into the old seams. Hands that had fisted the moment she had hit the deck finally unclenched though the scowl remained over her brow as she turned, crimson orbs finding the captain's.

 

….was misbehaving….

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Eyes narrowed as she pushed past him and he followed her, hand low on his spine under his sweater to flick the lock clip on the knife there. This was a first; a first for a charge to beat the hell out of his boat and seemingly attempt to do it again, or whatever she was trying to do.  He was trusted by Durion, but even Durion would understand if he had to make a horrific decision for the greater good.  He would not let his vessel and his crew be sunk by anyone he deemed a threat.

 

Hand returned to his side calmly before she glared back at him.

 

Not sinking….. putting ocean back in place….

 

She could move the water.

 

Bated breath made him pause a moment as he watched her disappear onto the deck before taking the stairs two at a time after her in time to see the exchange.

 

Chid jey ….

 

CHID JEY!

 

His world had no words.  It was his will that forced the water to move… absolute control over every molecule, but where was he in the line of generations of water warriors??  Hundreds, if not thousands… had there ever been words?  Was there ever a time when his people had to…

 

….was misbehaving….

 

…train the water.

 

He’d stopped breathing at some point, watching the water do exactly what he’d assumed she’d told it to do.  It was a beautiful thing.  Eyes finally flicked to hers, narrowing in thought.  He’d inherited a world where its greatest weapon was already a trained monster, reins were easy to take.  This world wasn’t his, from what he’d gathered nothing moved water like he did before the Resonance.  It was unruly, and vast.  He had to train the water.  How the hell was he supposed to train the water? 

 

Blue flicked back to the sluicing surface.  There was nothing more he wanted to do than repeat the words she’d said.  Sleeves were pushed up, exposing the seafoam colored script that started on his forearms and twisted upward where it disappeared under the sweater again; it pulsed once as long strides closed the distance to the railing where he leapt up and balanced nimbly even with the slick metal under his boots.  Muscles moved as the ship did, keeping his balance.

 

“Can you understand me…?” he said, the dark vocal chords speaking to it like an equal, extending fingers toward the water.  It was not his equal, it was his servant.  His weapon.  He’d never spoken to the water before, flick outward of fingertips sending a thrum across the surface of the water like a swirl of rain.  Then, nothing.  Brow came down.  It was all he was ever able to do.  Seethed exhale calmed before he jumped down.  “It doesn't work.  It can’t be tamed.  I've tried." 

 

Comment was dark as it was his turn to push past her toward the small cabin directly below the bridge.

 

“There’s more food if you need it, what’s ours is yours,” he finished over his shoulder.  The melancholy that was always there had returned after the brief moment of hope.  Nod to Aki was slight and the man took the bridge, the captain retreating to his own space underneath to lick his wounds.

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Her eyes were locked on his as she watched the shifting flickers behind them with a blink of surprise. He was more than a captain. He had a love…. and hate… for these ocean waters. There was a  tensing in her gut as he hopped up onto the rail, perched on it as she could, ebbing and flowing with the movement of the ship. She had not seen that in other sailors of this world. Blink was potent.

 

He was not of this world. She had noticed the strange tattoos and had guessed as much earlier. But now, seeing the way he could feel the water and its motion. She wondered……….

 

She didn’t breathe as she watched him call to it and it teased a response. Eyes flew open as he jumped down. The ocean was bating him, teasing him. And he was frustrated.

 

“It doesn't work.  It can’t be tamed.  I've tried." 

 

Could it be? Was she not alone? Had another from BaS qIj made this horrible journey?He was moving to pass her, to retreat below. He was frustrated. The water teased and he was frustrated. She ignored the beckoning of food.

 

His hand was snatched as he pushed by, the slip of a girl was far stronger than she seemed as she yanked him around, small hands snatching the front of his shirt to pull him down to her level. Hands pressed to his cheeks as the crimson orbs bore into his gaze, mere inches away, looking for…. something.

 

SoH 'Iv?

 

Her intense gaze tried to peer into his soul. She didn’t see any flicker of recognition.

 

veHHeHDaj DaSov'a'?

 

Pupils flushed and still did not see what they were seeking, drawing a soft sigh from her chest as she released his face once more. He wasn’t of her world. There had been no spark of understanding behind his pained gaze.

 

Scowling she looked up at him, any assumption that this was some mouse was quickly being proven wrong as she was content to go toe-to-toe with anyone. It was the cruelty of bigotry that had sent her into hiding, it was a concept she did not understand and didn’t know how to live in.

 

….you think too much…..

 

The thick accent remained as she turned to the rail. Air disturbed around her, peached waves billowing upward before the word spoke with a strength that didn’t need to shout. The harsh language caused some of the crew to take an unconscious step back. There was no language on earth that came close.

 

HoS lughoStaHvIS…

 

The effect was instant, a columnar vortex erupting on either side of the vessel causing the crew to scramble away from the rails. Several meters across the twin water spouts raced upward some fifty feet, gyrating in unison forcing an even rock to the ship. It was about as big as she could go without being in the water… without becoming the demon.

 

Breath pulled deep into her chest as she let the connection go again, the watery cyclones falling like cascading waterfalls back to the sultry black waters. Coat was yanked up over her features, hiding from the cascade of droplets that came shedding down from the sky. 

 

Crimson orbs peeked out from the navy to ensure the danger was gone before the pea coat was allowed to fall back onto her shoulders. Turning she met his gaze again, the shrug very matter of fact.

 

..this water doesn’t like lots of thinking…..

 

As if that explained everything she slid by him to trot down the stairs once more.

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SoH 'Iv?

 

Eyes narrowed, one hand snatched by the passenger but the other low on his back with a blade already out and inverted against the inside of his wrist.  He somehow knew she’d be strong, the little things always were.  Calm ones, quiet ones; they were always those with the most bite.

 

veHHeHDaj DaSov'a'?

 

The language was lost on him, and when she let go the blade was placed none-the-wiser back into its sheath under his sweater.  She probably would have no idea how close she’d come to becoming a Pez dispenser.  People didn’t touch him.  He didn’t like to be touched if he didn't know someone.  It was the only outward sign he couldn’t control that he wasn’t "normal".  Skin, much cooler than a human and couldn’t be explained away.  To her though, he’d not divulged a thing. For all she knew he was a magus.

 

….you think too much…..

 

That brought an uncharacteristic scowl from his features. Bullshit.

 

HoS lughoStaHvIS…

 

He didn’t watch the water, he watched her.  He’d seen waves, storms, the heave of water off the beach out to sea as he’d pulled a wave in so severe it’d decimated cities.  His fist, his fury.  He used it to conquer the world.  It wasn’t new to him.  What was, was that he wasn’t doing it.  The impotence was wearing him thin.

 

Eyes closed to shield off the waterfall, peering upward through wet lashes, the seethed sigh annoyed as he glowered back at her.

 

..this water doesn’t like lots of thinking…..

 

“This water needs to start doing what it’s told,” the grumble was under his breath.  “Jhuh xeinv ftuh ih’j hej…”

 

His smooth, yet percussive language was cast toward the dark waters with a spite he wasn’t going to explain.

 

“Be dark soon, it’s going to get colder, we’re shifting north slightly. Might want to find some more warm layers if you’re going to be out here.”

 

A calm had come again over his countenance, moving to retreat to the room under the bridge.  He could still see everything the first mate saw from the bridge, its recess underneath just gave him a place to eat on his own, and his personal items were there.  An apartment so to speak, but it wasn't where he slept.  He relished it there when his crew was asleep, only a few tending to the job and an insane silence over the black water except for the hum of the engine.  It was also the home of his toys when he didn’t feel like playing with anyone.  These two were going to annoy him until the end, if not from anything else but pure jealousy.  He wanted more of his hot chocolate too, but in all honesty... he was just too melancholy to deal with anyone at the moment.

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She had such a flash of hope. Even his skin held the cool bite of a water dweller like herself. And yet there was no recognition of her words, of the ocean's nature on this world. Maybe he was more of an elemental of some kind…. or a magus.

 

She was suddenly even lonelier than she had been every day before.

 

He glowered at her. There was a hate there for what she could pull from this world's ocean and now she understood it was because he tried and couldn’t pull the same.

 

He thought too much. Thinking fought against every ebb and flow of the waters here. It had to be pure instinct, without thought, it had to be as natural as breathing.

 

“This water needs to start doing what it’s told,”

 

Ears itched against the language that had some of the same harsh tones as her own but still felt so foreign. He was angry with the water so it spite him. Her own gaze moved from his scowl to the dark waters. It was there, for the very briefest breath of a moment… a longing for the touch of the wild wet thunder. Blue ghosted just under the surface of her neck, veins undulating a moment as her form tingled at the mist that was seeping into her skull from the water avalanche of her own doing. Much more moisture on her skin and………

 

“Be dark soon, it’s going to get colder, we’re shifting north slightly. Might want to find some more warm layers if you’re going to be out here.”

 

Head shook as the collar of the coat was pulled up over her ears, wiping away moisture that trickled at her cheekbone.

 

I don’t get wet……

 

It was barely audible and made absolutely no sense considering what she had just pulled off. It was her turn to scowl. As hands shoved into her pockets the longing gaze stole a fraction of a glance back to the undulating waters before snapping around to head downstairs herself. Staying above deck was asking for a revelation she had not made in nearly five years.

 

She needed a towel… maybe a bed.

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The once upon a time prince was an intuitive one. He had to be, nuances caught in the tone of her words.  Had she expected he’d understand her language? No. She’d hoped he would.  He knew what it felt like. Being an outworlder was disorienting and cruel, but most often lonely. He didn’t know how to fix that, for himself or anyone.  She looked at the water the way he did, but could control it… still shielding herself from it as if it was poison.  He’d never heard of such a thing, eyes narrowing slightly and pausing partially into his descent, watching her wipe more water away.

 

I don’t get wet……

 

The melancholy had pushed aside for a moment, replaced with a cautious curiosity. 

 

“Why?” he asked quietly, hand paused on the overhead before he was going to duck under into his hidey-hole chart room.  It was the eyes that finally made him put all the pieces together. Humanoids on his world didn’t have eyes like that, and this wasn’t his first rodeo with people that had an affinity for water.  There were all kinds, and all shapes, and all types of powers. Terrible and mystical.

 

Brow cocked slightly, “seems like the water controls you, because you think too much.”

 

The statement wasn’t a question, it was a fact delivered with a nonchalance she may not have been used to.  Observation turned back to business.

 

“Got a towel for you, the others below deck aren’t dry yet from cleaning your friend’s last round of festivities.”

 

He descended the few steps after ducking the edge of the bridge, clicking on a radio and turning the volume lower, pulling several towels out from a footlocker in the corner and tossing them on the bench near the stairs if she chose to partake.  He kept a steady supply to wipe the windows when they fogged on the inside during this weather.  Light was clicked on over his workspace, eyes wandering over the chart a moment.  Morning.  They’d be there by morning.  St. John was a safe place, but they hadn’t been there in a while.  Less stops meant a faster run, less gas, less chance to be followed or tracked.  Staying hidden in open ocean was easy.  Hopping ports was predictable.  He wouldn’t have done it unless it was necessary.

 

“St. John, he put his finger on the chart.  “Quiet, sympathetic friends there.”

 

Finger slid back to the coast of Ireland.

 

“Cruise ship sank right here, I buoyed it on my last run.  It shifted during the time I was gone and the buoy moved, tore the hull on the stack. We were anchored for a few days while I fixed it, that’s why we were late.  Docked in St. John instead of open water and I can do it properly.”

 

Hand brushed over New York.

 

“We stop here, this is where I live.  I wait for enough that want to go south and then I make this run,” he traced down to South America.  “A lot stay in New York, they can blend in with the magus.  The more physically unique usually decide to seek refuge with the Fanya Niasa, Durion Caranthir has a particular protective nature.  It’s isolated, and he is able to find ways for them to live comfortably and make a life.”

 

Eyes moved over his blades on the wall behind the small seats and went back to the charts.

 

“I can pass, so I do what I can to get people where they need to go.  I'll get you where you need to go.”

 

The implication was ominous.  He didn't just 'do what he could', he did whatever was necessary, without question- and most of the time it included clearing the way, in a bloody fashion.

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"Why?"

 

It was a loaded question that drove her to cast crimson orbs another time to the briny deep.

 

“....seems like the water controls you, because you think too much.”

 

Not the water…..

 

She easily corrected his matter of fact delivery. The unnerving gaze slid once more to the captain of the vessel. A sharpness to the pupils that still undulated with the connection to the ocean waters.

 

….the people of this world….ten years and they still slaughter what they do not recognize……

 

There was a thick scar on her thigh, a third of one of her oceanid tendrils missing that spoke of this slaughter. In the form the water gave her, the people had nothing but a raging need to rend her limb from limb…… they had nearly succeeded more than once. Eyes slid around the deck to the small crew - wondering which would start the battle cry if the "demon" was suddenly unleashed on their deck.  Collar again was lifted to dry the salty moisture as it taunted her blood, the blue veins just under her skin beginning to peek through the pale skin.

 

“Got a towel for you, the others below deck aren’t dry yet from cleaning your friend’s last round of festivities.”

 

….acquaintance…..

 

It wasn’t the first time the soft correction had been made. She wasn’t sure what to call the man that now seemed content to sleep the entire trip away. Turning away from the crew and open waters, she followed him down the stairs, hitting the bottom in time to take a towel from the bench to wipe over her head and face.

 

“St. John. Quiet, sympathetic friends there. Cruise ship sank right here, I buoyed it on my last run.  It shifted during the time I was gone and the buoy moved, tore the hull on the stack. We were anchored for a few days while I fixed it, that’s why we were late.  Docked in St. John instead of open water and I can do it properly.”

 

Eyes followed his fingers, tracing the coastal lines with the recognition of a sailor, noting bays, peninsulas, places that were likely deep…. likely shallow.  The land said much about the waters that caressed it.

 

 “We stop here, this is where I live.  I wait for enough that want to go south and then I make this run. A lot stay in New York, they can blend in with the magus.  The more physically unique usually decide to seek refuge with the Fanya Niasa, Durion Caranthir has a particular protective nature.  It’s isolated, and he is able to find ways for them to live comfortably and make a life.”

 

Her eyes followed the entire "story". It was an undulating southern route. Pupils lifted to him when his gaze moved to blades on the wall, tracing their markings with a faintly raised brow before returning her attention on him.

 

“I can pass, so I do what I can to get people where they need to go.  I'll get you where you need to go.”

 

She was quiet as she studied his expression. That was the rub of it wasn’t it…. passing.

 

That is all they care about isn't it…..

 

Shoulder leaned against the wall as arms folded over the chest that didn’t bite of cold but instead panged with longing for another place…. a very different place…...

 

It doesn’t matter the horrific power one might wield…. just that they can "pass"…

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Not the water…..

 

Pressed lips didn’t betray the inner seethe.

 

….the people of this world….ten years and they still slaughter what they do not recognize……

 

Jaw set slightly.

 

It nicked a little too close to the bone.  Would he have been as tolerant if others had slid into his world?  No. The answer was immediate.  He would not have.  He would have slaughtered anyone he did not recognize… and this was his hell for it.  The ocean was lost to him. His family, his kingdom.  He was being punished.  And now?  He was ferrying the very same people he would have gutted if they had set foot on his own lands.

 

….acquaintance…..

 

Quiet eyes blinked himself back into the present, watching his own fingers trace across the map as if he was assuring himself this life would make up for the last.  He was being watched. He didn’t like being watched, the loose, still-damp cascade of hair was pulled high on his skull and secured into a topknot with some technic lost on this planet.

 

That is all they care about isn't it…..

 

Blink again at her was slow, his finger tapping once on South America before reaching to adjust the volume on the radio.  It was silent.  Just as it should be.  No chatter. No ships.

 

I don’t care what they care about.

 

It doesn’t matter the horrific power one might wield…. just that they can "pass"…

 

He rolled up one map, sliding it into the shelf under the table as he pulled out another; a much more detailed version of where they were currently traveling.  Nothing was said for a moment, plotting their position quietly.  Again the nip at his throat.  She wasn’t doing it on purpose; there was no way she could have known.

 

It matters.  It matters if it makes money, or secures power.  Ireland wants its little corner of normal and screw everyone else.  New York swallows Outworlders... and altered.  Someone can be L-infected and fight in the middle of a cage in front of thousands of people and be cheered on by the masses.  Or, an unusual magus can be sought for hire as a bodyguard…horrific powers and all.  New York embraces the different if there’s something to be made from it.

 

Voice was quiet, intent on his work but circling back to something she’d said earlier as he checked their course.

 

If the people of this world… are intent on slaughtering you… then you slaughter them back.

 

Eyes flicked up at her a moment, clearly incensed at this world's insistence on playing nice before turning to scan the channels on the radio.  They were all silent.  A few more hours and he would radio in to the port.  If there was chatter he would have to investigate first before coming in.

 

I can pass but I refuse to allow those that can't to be terrorized.  If anyone threatens my passengers they will die… regardless of any horrific powers.  Anyone attacks my passengers and crew, they will die.

 

Matter of fact and without any sign of apprehension, the dark words remained quiet... as easy as breathing.  He reached up and turned off one of the main overhead lights, much less harsh now that he didn’t need it to read the chart. It also helped keep the ship less visible in case of any other travelers.  Rare and unlikely, but flirting with fate never ended well.

 

Not my place to judge, only protect.  That’s what Mr. Caranthir sought me out for.  Sometimes the most passable have the worst secrets.

 

Like himself, he finally divulged.  He drew in a long breath, realizing he’d crossed his arms and was staring aimlessly at the invisible horizon in the direction they were headed.  Picking up a set of glasses, he scanned the horizon.  Coming in always put everyone on high alert.  They were still in no-man’s land.

 

If you’re restless, I could use another set of eyes on the horizon. St. John has been safe in the past, but things change.

 

He nodded toward another set of glasses on the shelf near the door, clicking through the channels again and rapping a pattern on the ceiling to communicate with his first mate up in the captain’s chair. No unnecessary radio this close to land.  Morse code. Another weird little thing he’d learned in this world…

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It matters.  It matters if it makes money, or secures power. 

 

Head shook gently….. she didn’t want either of those things and yet somehow she was dropped in a game where both were needed to survive.

 

Ireland wants its little corner of normal and screw everyone else.  New York swallows Outworlders... and altered.  Someone can be L-infected and fight in the middle of a cage in front of thousands of people and be cheered on by the masses.  Or, an unusual magus can be sought for hire as a bodyguard…horrific powers and all.  New York embraces the different if there’s something to be made from it.

 

She was blinking at him a bit dumbfounded. There was no place like that…… was there? She found it absurd that there could be a part of the world so open to accepting the changed…. the outworlders. The mist of a frown tickled her brow. Even in such a place, she doubted she would be so readily accepted in the demon form that itched just under her skin even now.

 

If the people of this world… are intent on slaughtering you… then you slaughter them back.

 

….that is the problem….

 

The thick accent still husked in her soft tone, eyes distracted on the map he had rolled up.

 

….I can slaughter them back.

 

The quiet statement had an ominous ring as she let it hang out there with nothing more said. The crimson eyes met the flick that came her way with a steady honesty, silence lingering as he moved once more to scan the channels on the radio. The silence let the ocean whisper back at them as it lapped against the outer hull.

 

I can pass but I refuse to allow those that can't to be terrorized.  If anyone threatens my passengers they will die… regardless of any horrific powers.  Anyone attacks my passengers and crew, they will die.

 

Brow quirked at the "white knight" persona that crept into his words. She hadn't really thought he would be. Tilt of her head slid the peach waves along the dark navy.

 

…. I don’t….pass….…… not always…..

 

The tone had a matter of fact cadence, it didn’t have a shame that one might expect. It was just… a fact. As a light extinguished overhead, pupils flushed out wide in the crimson irises, far wider than seemed normal. The violent adjustment to light changes let the water creature adapt quickly to low light, seeing more in the dark than most animals that hunted in the night.

 

Not my place to judge, only protect.  That’s what Mr. Caranthir sought me out for.  Sometimes the most passable have the worst secrets.

 

She watched him pick up the glasses, studying the unsaid more than the said. He was an odd one, that fought so hard to find his harmony with this world's waters, a fight that was likely causing the disharmony.

 

If you’re restless, I could use another set of eyes on the horizon. St. John has been safe in the past, but things change.

 

She watched the caution, the way he resonated communication through the hull of his ship. Sound was the ultimate way to communicate beneath the watery undulations as well. Glasses were picked up and studied, long fingers that preferred baking to slaughter flipped them over several times before peering through them to see what he saw. It was strange, as it focused the view closer it felt like she saw less, the area that could be studied in the window restricted compared to the natural eye, even if it was closer.

 

She watched with him a moment before the silence was barely broken.

 

…. mine didn’t have so much land….

 

The quiet reference clearly indicating her own world.

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….that is the problem….  ….I can slaughter them back.

 

Lower lids tightened slightly, looking like a squint as he studied the chart… the words he was thinking were right on the tip of his tongue.  There was a little self-control for a moment, but as he moved he felt he had to say something.

 

“Problems are subjective... I don't see your issue, as a problem.”

 

It was all he offered.  He truly didn’t see it as a problem.  Defending yourself was never an issue, and his words spoke volumes of it.  He wasn’t a stranger to violence, though being here had reduced it to a considerably rare event.  He looked somewhat warm and fuzzy, but there was a distance that had a lingering feel of arrogance... or lethal brutality.

 

…. I don’t….pass….…… not always…..

 

His own eyes adjusted just as hers did when he turned out the light, a silvery sheen very reminiscent of reflective cat eyes was brief as he glanced at her.

 

“Some more than others seems to be the way of it."

 

Arms crossed as he studied the horizon, still holding on to the binoculars.

 

“It’s not up to us to make others comfortable with what we are.  To lash out at those who are different is to act like a spoiled child that doesn’t want to share their toys.”

 

He realized intimately that he was chiding himself.  Maybe he’d grown up a bit in his ten years away from home.

 

…. mine didn’t have so much land….

 

The glance over to her was a little longer this time.  He’d put that together.  The kind of control she seemed to have over it, there was definitely a water element there.  Outworlder, clearly distressed and introverted, her small comments about her appearance...  he'd connected it all.

 

“Mine was about sixty forty… in favor of water,” he commented, bringing the glasses up to look again.

 

Soft taps erupted quietly from above his head.

 

“Yah… I see it too…” he said absently, tapping in response with the glasses still in place as he stared at the horizon.

 

A light flickered wanly, barely visible even through the glasses.  It was so faint he’d almost missed it.  This far out, it had to be something bright.

 

“I controlled most of it.  Lot of fighting, on land… on water.  A lot of fighting,” he got back on subject.  “There was no difference for me between the two battlefields. Now I have a boat.  Just a boat."

 

There was sarcasm in his last sentence.  Sigh was long.  As long as they were spilling secrets, he wasn’t going to lie and say he was a good person.  He needed to get off it and back to the issue at hand.

 

“Our destination port doesn’t run lights at night.  You have to know what you’re looking for to find it.  That looks like a lighthouse to me…” he turned fluidly, scanning the circumference of glass around him, they lowered and he went for the radio.  Channels were still all dark, eyes narrowed as he checked their position.  He knew he was right, but the light was slightly off course.  Had he made a mistake in his navigation?  They were missing something, but he was going to stay on course.

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“Problems are subjective... I don't see your issue, as a problem.”

 

It was a true statement. One person's violence could be another's peace depending on their frame of reference.  He was watched as the matter of fact confession that she didn’t always pass left her lips. The complete lack of response or surprise spoke a truth about his tolerance of other outworlders.  Perhaps he was what he seemed to be.

 

“It’s not up to us to make others comfortable with what we are.  To lash out at those who are different is to act like a spoiled child that doesn’t want to share their toys.”

 

…yes….. but fear often drives people to act like children.

 

Quiet observation stripped the childlike expression from her features as the brow wrinkled gently. So much land on the horizon. It was bigger than Ireland. That much she could see. Maps of this world had been explored, she understood how much land covered it. But that didn’t make seeing it any less daunting.  So many land dwellers…. and no humanoids beneath this worlds waters. At least, not any before the events that had led to the outworlder strandings.  The soft confession that her world had far less of the earthen surface came unconsciously.

 

“Mine was about sixty forty… in favor of water,”

 

The blink at him was thoughtful. So his world was similar to this one in distribution. Lower lip drug gently under her teeth as she stepped closer to the portal window.

 

More than eighty percent of mine was blanketed in water….. we had only a handful of land dweller tribes.

 

Head titled slightly as she stood beside him, top of her head just barely to his shoulder as she watched the light that flickered, catching the attention both above and of the captain.

 

“I controlled most of it.  Lot of fighting, on land… on water.  A lot of fighting. There was no difference for me between the two battlefields. Now I have a boat.  Just a boat."

 

So angry at his predicament, at the waters that ignored him…. so bitter.  It was a vicious circle. They ignored him because he was angry and bitter that the waters were not his own, this made him more angry and bitter, which strengthened the waters resolve to ignore him.

 

I was a…um….two worlder?....

 

There wasn’t a word in the human language that matched the term in her native tongue. Head shook slightly, betraying the sampled words were not really correct.

 

I passed between water and land…..to keep the peace….

 

It wasn’t a whole truth. The peace was kept because she was ordered to go instill the fear of god in the land dwellers to ensure they kept to their earthen territories and did not venture across the ocean waters.

 

“Our destination port doesn’t run lights at night.  You have to know what you’re looking for to find it.  That looks like a lighthouse to me…”

 

He didn’t like the revelation, that much was clear. There would have been a time that she would have been ordered out into the waters to investigate.  

 

That distance… that bright.....more likely to be some magic?

 

Eyes drifted to the dark waters that undulated under the fissured sky. Times like this they reminded her of Acarian… the Nevus bathing the blue to a deep purple hue. It only happened at night. Silence lingered as she pondered if something should be said. Finally words breathed from her lips, eyes shifting to the side and up to look at his features in the dark, that etch of a scowl was ghosting there.

 

You know….the more you are bitter and angry with these waters…. the more strongly they will ignore your call.

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…yes….. but fear often drives people to act like children.

 

That was a given.  Fear made people act in a lot of ways, and it ultimately bared souls. 

 

“It also tells you everything you need to know about anyone.”

 

It was said particularly to himself.  He didn’t have a read on her.  She was running, she’d huddled in a corner in his ship even after he’d done nothing to warrant that behavior from her.  She hadn’t trusted him.  Even so, it was a boat that offered passage and if you were going to accept the ride, cowering would only lead to being taken advantage of with the wrong person. You fought for yourself.  You showed the world where you stood… he too often forgot that his world didn’t work as his.  Now though she obviously didn’t give two shits putting her hands on someone that obviously was comfortable stabbing people in the face that threatened him. She was hard to read.

 

More than eighty percent of mine was blanketed in water….. we had only a handful of land dweller tribes.

 

Interesting way to put it, eyes casting slightly to the side and down at her as she stood next to him.  Land dweller tribes.  That’s what he would be called he supposed.

 

I was a…um….two worlder?.... I passed between water and land…..to keep the peace….

 

Two worlder?

 

“You’re a shifter,” he said matter-of-factly, scanning the horizon again as he filled in the blanks.  It was simple logic.  There was really nothing about her stature that gave any indication it could pass in water to do what she was implying.  She was avoiding above deck.  Logic.  She was a shifter, unless she was lying.  “Is that what you’re telling me?”

 

The lighthouse was definitely more on his mind, his world had shifters. Not many, but they were there as they were here.  Other worlds had to have the same.  He’d fought with shifters, he’d killed shifters.

 

That distance… that bright.....more likely to be some magic?

 

She brought his thought process back to the present. 

 

You know….the more you are bitter and angry with these waters…. the more strongly they will ignore your call.

 

….and then not.  She was looking at him again, the stoic distance normally calm… starting to hint of grouchy.

 

The soft knocking above his head questioned shifting their heading, brain once again back on their growing predicament.  If the hull wasn’t in the shape it was in, they would have definitely kept going.

 

Sigh was soft, brow furrowing as he pulled out another chart, spreading it out on the table and clicking the light on for a moment.  A thick glass magnifier slid across it slowly, fingertip tapping the map and then checking their position.

 

“The waters here are apparently too weak to do what I tell them,” voice was calm, decided.  The thought had occurred to him often he wasn't strong enough to control it.  It simply couldn't be.  “A lot of things in this world are disappointing.”

 

He “hm’d” to himself as he looked again at the map.  That was genius, and dangerous… it was either a good or bad thing. Usually bad from his experience.

 

“The lighthouse is a Siren. It’s tricking people in that direction that really don’t know the exact location.  Runs straight into shoals.  They’re trying to ground incoming ships.”

 

He knocked on the ceiling for Avi to stay on course.

 

“The ‘lighthouse’ is purposely drawing boats into shoals.  I know our heading is correct.  Question is… are they keeping travelers and themselves safe by only having people that know the exact location safe, vice versa...  may have been taken over and now pulling those that know where it is in to return to Ireland, or worse.”

 

Light clicked off, they were going to run as silent as possible.  Coming in at night was safer because they couldn’t be seen, but it was harder to see what they were running into.  Knock on the ceiling called the entire crew to “quarters”. Guns were coming out, spotters were going on the rails, himself choosing a matching pair of knives from his wall and pulled up his sleeves to strap them to his forearms.  When they got closer he would go investigate if he had to.

 

“We’ll know when we get there.”

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“You’re a shifter. Is that what you’re telling me?”

 

mmm….. sort of?

 

Head tilted looking for a better way to explain. She had come across shifters on this world and that wasn’t exactly what she was. Her "true" form was her demon form. On her world she had been able to sustain long durations out of the water as an ambassador to the land tribes. It was a rare ability among her kind but it had never come with legs. That was something this world had given her.  Maybe now she was a shifter?

 

You know….the more you are bitter and angry with these waters…. the more strongly they will ignore your call.

 

He didn’t like her pressing it. That much was apparent in the grouch lines that darkened the corner of his eyes but for some reason she wanted him to know… to understand. She too had no control at first over these waters, but the period was brief as panic subsided and she stopped trying to force the oceans to listen the way her own had. She had to learn their rhythm and teach them hers.

 

That only came with calm…. not force.

 

 “The waters here are apparently too weak to do what I tell them. A lot of things in this world are disappointing.”

 

Head shook at his calm words as the unsettling eyes remained tilted up at him, quietly studying.

 

You are wrong. These waters are powerful and wild…but coy as well. They have not had those that could call it. Now that they do, they can be stubborn in answering when they don’t like the tone of askance. They don’t understand the way the ours did what it is to be in unison.

 

The Irish lilt delicately cadenced her words, the accent the only way she had learned and therefore knew how to speak the language of this world. He seemed keen to ignore them either way but she persisted.

 

Hand reached out, hovering under his fingers. The globe on her finger churned, the water rapidly spinning without any real thought on her part before she stopped pulling it, letting it fall still to instead listen to him. It was the only remnant of her world she had and it reminded her how easy the waters sought to be one when they were called. It was not his world, but she suspected the waters would recognize another manipulator just the same.

 

“The lighthouse is a Siren. It’s tricking people in that direction that really don’t know the exact location.  Runs straight into shoals.  They’re trying to ground incoming ships.”

 

He kept pressing forward despite her invitation.

 

Siren?...

 

Head tilted as she looked out once more in the direction of the light, frown whispering over the brow. It was a term she had heard in Ireland in reference to… what was it again?...women that tempted.

 

tlhu'moH bIqDep?......a umm….

 

The harsh language had nothing like it on this world so the sound always seemed to cleave through the air. The pucker over the brow ghosting age as she sought the words to match her own language.

 

….. um…. seduction witch…?

 

“The ‘lighthouse’ is purposely drawing boats into shoals.  I know our heading is correct.  Question is… are they keeping travelers and themselves safe by only having people that know the exact location safe, vice versa...  may have been taken over and now pulling those that know where it is in to return to Ireland, or worse.”

 

It was an interesting deduction. Eyes lifted to the roof as the tap brought motion above. Flash of silver snapping her eyes back to him and the blades that lashed to his forearms. He was readying his crew for battle.

 

“We’ll know when we get there.”

 

There was a slow breath in her chest that oozed out different than every breath before. She couldn’t run from a fight here. She couldn’t hide from the hate on restless waters. Out here…. she would have to fight and then all secrets would be lost.

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