Some time later, the security ship was back inside the heart of Ogunquit City. Ogunquit City was a spectacular design of man-made structures in harmony with nature. The land by the sea provided a short, semicircular beach with almost vertical hillsides behind it that rose thousands of feet into a mesa. The buildings and houses were all of a modern-victorian design, with sleek features, yet very artistic values like bay windows, trimming, peaks and spires with eves.
The skyscrapers however, were completely different. Long, rectangular cubes, spread out across the blue air, with all kinds of windows varying in shape and size, all serving a purpose. Some had ornamental tops, or large openings in the sides, with towers, platforms and bridges intersecting. Yet, the most significant feature in this city was the fact that none of these buildings touched the ground.
Hundreds of years ago, technology reached a new apex of building construction. They used an advanced form of magnetism which removed physical harm, and kept man in harmony with nature. Originally, all civilizations had built structures on the ground which tore up the land, but through years of wisdom and devastation, this was ultimately deemed insane. With the help of outstanding research, O-City became and remains the only ‘full-float’ city in the entire solar system.
As the security ship passed through the city, it weaved in and out of impressive, tall buildings. They hung like wind chimes in the sky between the mesa and the ocean, glinting spectacularly. Various personal transports, cargo ships and transport trains wandered in patterns below. And below that, dots of people made their way through sky bridges and parking platforms. All the way at the bottom was the beach. Dark purple and blue water along a thin coastline, lined with earth shaped rock structures. On the coast were various shops and businesses, seaside villas and busy bodies with seagulls riding the air overhead.
Unfortunately, in the ocean across from this beautiful city, was the city prison. A two mile long island fifteen miles off the coast, located just above the water line, with the actual complex underneath the water. Aircraft would land on the thin surface, drop off their cargo, then fly off again. No one would have even noticed the island if not for the massive light poles that jutted out of the waves like spears. A constant reminder of the surrounding law.
As the ship holding Clue and Zoo arrived, it swiftly touched down and doors flew open at the bottom. The two lively bodies came striding down the walkway, unaffected by their current state, still yelling in everyone’s face.
When they approached the main door, they were shoved inside and put up against a white wall. A large, grey machine slid forward from the wall and attempted to read their eyes. It was unsuccessful, and a series of irritated beeps let everyone know.
“Damn you idiots!” One of the guards screamed and shoved Clue against the wall.
He smiled and started throwing himself into the wall again and again, until another guard settled him into place.
The eye reading machine was constantly tested by the Power Chord. Kloven had introduced the idea of tattooing small, but noticeable squares and triangles around and inside their eyes, so that security cameras everywhere would never be able to identify them. It was a simple, brilliant tactic and it made security particularly livid.
Minutes later, they were stripped out of their clothes, forced into new, white jump-uniforms and guided into the common room.
As the door shut behind them, a few other prisoners looked up from a series of long tables and chairs layed out in patterns across the space.
They scanned the room for a moment and identified a few more members of the Chord, scattered throughout the area. They nodded at each other, but remained quietly apart as to not draw attention. When all eyes had rested again, they found a seat at the end of a small narrow table.
“I knew we wouldn’t be alone in here.” Zoo said finishing his gaze around the room.
“How long do you think they’ve been in?” Clue replied.
“Some of them years, I bet.” Zoo thought for a moment. “A few have to be from the bank attack back when Kloven first started this movement.” He looked around again.
“I never did hear another word for them.”
“What’s to hear? Kloven knew what he was doing. Even before he was senator he planned to infiltrate, destroy and rebuild from the inside. The bank job was a perfect way to begin. People knew what they were getting into when the volunteered.”
“Makes you think.” Zoo said softly.
“About everything,” he had a huge grin on his face, “we’re finally a part of this historical work. We are history, right now in this moment! I always wanted to be part of something big like that. Here were are.” They both nodded in agreement. “And, as long as free speech and act are legal, this continues forever!”
“Now things are really starting to take flight for us!” Clue replied happily. “After we pay our tribute, we will be captains ourselves. Leading the front lines with Wassador the vicious!”
“Wassador the dog fish! Bait for the clowns!” Zoo slammed his fists down, making items bounce.
“We will drive even him away.” Clue stood on the bench as people turned to see.
“Black and beautiful as the mouth of the sea!” Zoo yelled. “Our storm shall fell all!” He jumped on the bench with him, it was as if they were on stage.
“Fight the sun itself!”
The prison guards quickly stepped in and wrestled them back into their seats to the sounds of scattered applause. As they began to quiet again, a man pushing a cart of books started to amble through the various tables of white uniforms, passing out a few paperbacks.
One by one the prisoners took them, never asking why or if they could have another. This was the way it was when you live in routine, reading was simply the next activity. Clue and Zoo were handed their books, but they seemed disinterested, as if they had said their piece and now it was time to relax.
A man across from them, who was quietly playing chess by himself, was not as pleased.
A book flew out of the cart handler’s hand and right onto the man’s chess board, knocking over some of the figures. No one except the man playing took notice, even if someone had noticed they wouldn’t have cared. The man’s hand slowly lifted and he slid the book off the board. He placed all his figures back in their places, then fixed his eyes on the game.
Just then, a voice interrupted the new quiet.
“Raymond!” A guard said stepping through the door.
The man’s eyes flicked as they looked up with a piercing stare.
“Raymond! It’s time!” The guard called again.
The man carefully uncrossed his legs and glided onto the floor. Many people in the room turned to look, including Clue and Zoo.
“Is that..? Is that him?” Clue said trying to get a good look.
“Has to be.” Zoo returned keeping his eye on the man.
Suddenly Clue rose to his feet again and threw a fist in the air.
“Revolution!” He yelled.
Zoo laughed as the guards came running in once again to quell the energy.
He didn’t turn. He simply walked straight with a thousand mile stare.
The man was Raymond. Commander of the Solar Warden.
Raymond was fifty-five years old, a father and grandfather. He was tall with a bulky build, dark, peppered wavy hair on his head, and very kind eyes. He had weathered skin that was still smooth and luminous with a short, thick beard, old tattoos on his arms, and an aura of royalty. His authority was his. He was his own man and walked with humble arrogance. Even today, being escorted by guards in a cold prison he was unmovable. He walked, not to face the Gallows, but to some his fate this day was far worse. The Judges.
The Judges were authority figures of the Capitol building; the heart of law in the city. Each council consisted of three older men and their unseen staff, and were specially appointed by the Monto’Ac Royals; the families descended from the gods. Hiding behind their thick curtains and stone walls, the Judges decide verdicts for all officers of the Capitol who oppose the system and wind up where they should not be. Although rarely seen, upon receiving special cases, they would often make personal appearances to judge the accused face to face. Today was a very special case, for a very special man.
Still clad in his white prison jumpsuit, nobel Raymond was escorted into a large, dark room, laced with stone walls and dull blue light. He walked pridefully to the center and stood under a white glow that lingered somewhere overhead. Above and in front of him were three huge, black curtains, draped on the floor but towering into the air beyond the darkness. The already quiet room seemed at once to lay completely still, as if the world had stopped.
Then, the curtains began to rise.
When they lifted, three port hole windows with very decorative trimming could be seen. Behind the windows, were three old, evil faces. They had upper lips like animals maws, wrinkled cheeks and necks, milky white eyes and their faces were centered in strange, ancient looking headdresses.
“Commander Raymond.” One of them began with a withered voice.
“Always a pleasure, masters.” He said after a moment.
“State your rank for the record.”
“At the moment, I am homeless and without rank. A simple prisoner like the rest.” His tone was sarcastic, yet very serious.
“This current attitude will not be tolerated,” another of the Judges spoke, “understand your circumstance or we will alter your path indefinitely.” They spoke as if adding extra syllables.
“My path has already been altered. My path has been forced. That is why I am here. I understand my circumstance- I fear it is you who do not.” He said forcefully.
“You dare speak against god? Against the council?”
“Shall we read you the list of service men put to death by the Capitol for speaking out?”
One of the Judges pulled a long piece of paper from his side. The one Judge who had not yet made a comment began to shift in his seat, like an old owl upon waking.
“Speaking out leads to acting out. We call that rebelling.” The last Judge finally spoke.
“I am no rebel. I only seek to better myself and my fellow men-” he was cut off.
“By using elements of this world deemed to be illegal and harmful.”
“They are elements and compounds that have never been researched. Ancient plants used by the natives of this land to reach the gods!” His voice rose, his body grew stiff and his hands expressed his anger.
“Silence yourself!” A Judge uncoiled his finger to point. “Speak out of place again and we shall keep you in that dog pound for far longer.”
Raymond restrained himself before speaking again.
“I speak freely, with intentions only to give voice to my fellow soldiers.” He returned, more composed.
“You serve proudly.”
“I do not.” Raymond darted back.
The Judges hated this remark.
“We are treated like a security force. A local arms detachment- in fact there is little difference. The Solar Warden was created to guard this planet from outside threats and explore the galaxy. We were the future of this planet.”
This was true. The Solar Warden was established by the Capitol of Eniam itself almost fifty years ago. It’s mission was to protect the system from all outside harm, like pirates, smugglers and hostile military forces. They were also assigned to different factions on outposts throughout the system, exploring new territory even beyond the known solar system.
However, over the past decade, they have been labled an unnecessary distraction by the government. Their funding was soon cut and they reduced them to local security, chasing away violent protesters and rebel movements.
Raymond was their Commander, his younger brother Charles was a Captain.
His anger stemmed from this very notion. He was proud and wanted to see a better future for his planet, for his family. The reason he joined was because he thought it was the right path. But now, it was just endless control and useless missions that spread violence.
“That is enough.” One of the Judges interrupted again.
“I only beg that you would hear my words! Restore our faction and our pride. Do what its right.” Raymond pleaded.
“We do what is right. Always, in the name of the Creators,” another Judge said, “and you are a highly decorated Commander, who follows orders.” He leaned forward, almost pressing the glass with his crooked nose. “If you appear before us again, it will be every day for the rest of you life.”
Raymond lowered his head and thought.
“The blood that runs through my veins is the same as every human in this room.” He looked from person to person with resolve in his eyes. “On this planet, in this system, in this galaxy,” he looked to the Judges, “though I doubt it is as cold as yours.”
With that, he turned in the other direction, and back out of the door.
The curtains fell again, covering the Judge’s horrible faces.
Before Raymond left the building, he swept his foot under the leg of one of the guards standing watch, causing him to fall to one knee and drop his weapon loudly.
Later that day, finally outside again, Raymond was dressed in his usual clothes and was able to take in the air. He wore a dark red sleeveless shirt, black cargo pants, blocky boots and a dark purple sash over one shoulder. Attached to it was a silver lion head crest that shined in the sun, and a few small chains were laced around it. A large bag hung from one arm, bumping against his two, small oval swords now attached to the small of his back.
He was almost feeling home again, taking in the atmosphere of the day.
Everything was cool and bright. Blue sky and choppy, windy ocean waves around him. He breathed in for a minute, gathering himself and then started off down a small walkway leading to the transport ships.
As he approached the landing area, another tall figure waited for him, his body leaning to one side as if bored with the situation. It was his younger brother, Charles.
Charles was a Captain in the Solar Warden and had just achieved this rank a few months ago. At times he could be quite cocky about it. He was thirty-three years old, with tall and dark features like Raymond, but without the beard or bulky build. He was far more slim, but solid as a rock, with a boyish face and striking blue eyes. His attire was similar to Raymond’s, except his shirt was blue and his sash was black. He straightened himself and walked toward his brother, his body swaying as if the bridge was moving.
“Well, wait a minute, who do we have here?” He began, covering his eyes from the sun.
“Is that my brother again walking out of jail? Yes indeed, and that’s me the fool beside him, ever coming to his rescue.” He smiled at Raymond as he finally stopped in front of him.
“You can’t rescue me on the battlefield, so why not rescue me in prison?” He replied with quick wit. Charles laughed.
“I like that.”
“Did everything go alright?” Raymond asked.
“Sure.” He hung his arms on the railing. “Did you know there was no bail this time? It wasn’t available. You’re awful.” Charles looked to him with a smirk.
Raymond struggled out a smile.
“Look at that pathetic smile,” Charles continued, “you must be really upset, I can’t even be sarcastic with you today.” Raymond smiled more to please his sibling. “You know I love you.” He smacked his shoulder.
“No you don’t.” Now it was Raymond being sarcastic.
They walked forward toward the ships.
“Is that what you said to the Judges, too?” Charles followed close behind.
“I never tell you what I say to the Judges.”
“Because I already know, its everything I would say.”
The two brothers made their way up a large ramp with ocean all around, leading to the landing platform. They hopped up to the upper level a boarded a small, fat ship firing its engines.
Within moments, it lifted off and they were in the air crossing the main city. The strange architecture sparkled in the fading sun light. The tall buildings suspended in time, towering over the landscape like notes of music. Patterns spread out over the ocean and towns.
Inside the grey ship, as Charles looked to Raymond, he noticed his face was troubled.
“Everybody knows what you’re doing is right, Ray.” Charles said assuring him.
“I know,” he looked to Charles, “I know they do. But I fear the rest of the world does not. It’s difficult to make everyone understand, most of all the Capitol.” He looked out over the city.
“But as long as we keep protesting silently and letting our voices be heard, that will count for something.” Charles replied.
“It’s never enough.”
“Even one step is enough.” Charles said hopefully. Raymond nodded and looked to him again.
“I’ve taught you well, I rarely admit that.” Raymond stated.
“The spirit comes from you. Not the talent.” Charles winked at his brother.
On one of these massive buildings, at the very top, was the large loft apartment that belonged to Raymond and Charles. Also housed here were Raymond’s daughter, Victorian and her one year old son, Raymond’s grandson, Dove.
They finished their conversation as the ship arrived and hovered outside the triangular entry door. Raymond hopped off, but Charles stayed behind.
“Aren’t you coming?” Said Raymond turning back to see his brother still on the ship.
“Not now,” Charles returned, “going out west again.”
“You spend too much time out there, you need to go back to traditional training.”
“And you need to spend more time out of jail.” He cocked his head as the ship began to leave. “See you soon.”
The ship roared and sped off into the distance. Raymond watched it go, but soon wandered inside.
As he came into the warm home, his daughter Victorian was at the kitchen stove. The room was filled with sweet and sour aromas, herbs and spices from the nearby markets penetrating every wall. She was preparing a small plate when she turned to see her father.
“Father!” She quickly placed her cooking instruments on the counter and trotted over to him. They embraced for a long while, their eyes closing tight. She let go and looked him deep in the eyes, searching for reason.
Victorian was very beautiful. She was only twenty-nine but held the stature of an experienced, wiser woman. Her face was complex, exotic and angelic. Her body was slender and thin, but very fit and tone. She wore bruises and scars from a hard days work, sprinkled on her back and arms. Today, they blended vividly with the sweat gleaming from her olive skin and stained white shirt.
“I didn’t think they would let you out, at least not for months.” She said with concern.
“I was lucky,” he replied softly, “they need me back in my division. Everything is falling apart.” He walked passed her and hung his head, remembering the day.
“Why do they even send you then? Why can’t they just leave you alone?” She protested walking after him. “You’re a Commander- the Commander. It’s madness!”
“Captain, now.” He leaned a hip on the counter.
“They didn’t say anything final, but it wouldn’t surprise me.”
“I just can’t believe this anymore.” She sighed.
“I have this same discussion with them every time I’m there, Vic. Every time.” He looked at her more coldly than she expected. “You cannot speak to men who have no ears. The only thing we can do is live. We will not back down. If this is our fate to provide a better future, then so be it.”
She nodded regretfully.
“Can you do it?” He asked. “Can you do this?” Victorian lengthened her spine proudly.
“I can do it. You know I can.” She walked over and hugged him again.
“You know I believe in you, Father,” she spoke into his chest, “in everything you do.” She pulled away and looked at him. He smiled at her.
“You are a true rebel.” He swelled with paternal pride.
“It’s our family curse.” She smiled and placed her head on his chest again. When they looked at each other, he placed his rough hand under her chin.
“Every time I look into your eyes, I see your Mother.” She smiled brightly. “It’s like she never left us. She’s always here.”
Just then, the sound of a baby crying could be heard from the next room.
They broke their engagement and Victorian strode into the hall, pieces of loose, long hair flowing behind her.
“Where’s Charles?” She asked looking back. Raymond followed.
“I’m sure he’ll be back later. He’s going out west again, you know him. You’re all rebels.” He eased himself through the hallway, his swords still across his back.
“It’s quite obviously in our blood,” she turned to him again, “I just hope it’s not our down fall.” Raymond grew concerned.
“Honestly,” she continued, “it’s not only the Capitol. The entire world is falling apart. I can feel it.” She grabbed herself as though a chill ran through her, then she remembered the baby. Raymond watched her with troubling eyes as she entered the next room.
Across from her was a round crib with a baby boy about a year old, waddling from side to side. He sat up and tried to get a better look at the situation. Victorian picked him up out of his bed as Raymond approached from behind. She rested him on her hip and grasped him tight in her firm arms. Raymond tapped his nose lightly and they smiled at each other.
“Have you settled on a name yet?” He asked her. “You seem to change your mind every week.”
“Not this week.” She gazed at her father, then back to her boy. “Dove.”
“Dove.” Raymond repeated, letting the words roll off his lips. He nodded.
“The peacemaker. It’s fitting, right?” She smiled at the newly named Dove. He met her bright expression with one even more joyful.
“Very meaningful and poetic, as always.” Raymond said half sarcastic. “But very beautiful and strong,” he was more serious, “it’s a good name.” His voice hushed to almost a whisper as he reassured her with a loving grasp of her shoulder.
Just then, Dove reached out and began to touch a sword on Raymond’s back.
They stood there for a long time, pleasantly wallowing in their special moment, letting time pass as it did. Outside, a storm was on coming. The clouds darkened and their puffy faces became more fierce. The rain and wind shifted back and forth, and a thick fog soon rolled in, covering the coast in blue and grey.
Later in the evening, Raymond was up on the roof watching the last of the storm roll out over the bay. The dark clouds hung in the air. Even at night he could see their outlines, the city glow reflecting on their surface. Lightning would strike from time to time, seeming to hit the ocean and bounce back again. Occasionally, a massive Skywhale would appear just beyond the last of the fog, it’s mile long tale slowly drifting above the horizon. It was beautiful light show, but everyone else was asleep so he enjoyed it alone, with a bottle of fine wine he had been saving.
Behind him, someone stepped onto the roof. He turned to see Charles carefully coming toward him, still in the same clothes, but now with new face paint around his eye and on his neck in various patterns.
“There you are,” Raymond said turning back around and grabbing an extra glass. His face was red and his eyes always closed permanently when drinking.
“You thought I had forgotten?” Charles replied coming up beside him.
“I know you didn’t forget,” he said tiredly, “you never forget anything. Its actually quite amazing.” He passed Charles the glass and opened the bottle.
“I find it to be a curse, though.” Charles said.
“I was just taking about curses today!” Raymond declared.
Charles sat beside him, pouring himself a full serving.
“Sometimes,” Charles continued, “I think about embarrassing moments and get anxious all over again.” Raymond laughed, Charles took a drink. “I even remember exactly how many pages that strange, obscure book on monsters was when I was small. Remember that? What was that?” He gestured to Raymond and they both laughed.
“You only remember because you were scared of those monsters!” Raymond assured. “That’s what I think.” They laughed together again.
Charles fell into thought for a moment and placed a hand on his other brother’s shoulder.
“But tonight, I’m here to remember you, brother.” Charles grinned, but with a serious tone.
“Thank you,” Raymond hung his heavy head, then looked to Charles and patted him on the back. “I appreciate it. Vic knows I need my alone time, but I do love your company on nights like this.”
They stared out over the horizon.
“It’s been eleven years now, right?” Charles spoke finally.
“Yes, eleven,” Raymond replied. “I remember her in some way everyday. Something always reminds me.”
“And me.” Charles agreed. Raymond smiled.
Raymond spoke of his long lost wife. On this day, eleven years ago, Raymond’s wife had disappeared. He had married her just after achieving the rank of Captain in the original Solar Warden. But when Raymond had to return to security duty, he began to breakdown mentally. Their relationship unwound and eventually fell apart. Then, one day, she left a note and vanished into the unknown. He had always secretly blamed himself, but constant support from Charles and Victorian had kept him from going over the edge. It had always stayed with him as a source of motivation. It was a resolve that drove him to make the world better; to make it right and true for everyone, by any means.
“She’s not dead, Ray,” Charles continued. Raymond looked to him with a slightly hopeful glance, but decided not to speak.
“She’s out there. Somewhere. I believe that.” He looked out to the ocean.
“You know, to be honest,” Raymond started, “even though tonight is her night, she makes me think of Mother and Father the most.”
“That’s true,” he went deep in thought, “so much wisdom still to teach.”
“And they bestowed most of it to her!” His voice was slurred with a stifled laugh. “You know, I never thought I’d marry her. Never. It wasn’t her, it was the thought of marriage. The union. Binding one’s self to another, it always seemed ridiculous.” He poured more wine into his glass.
“What changed your mind?”
“She did!” He rose to his feet with a stumble and stretched his back. “I may be wise, but love is ever wiser.”
“So you were intoxicated and led astray?” Charles turned to him.
“Indeed, I was. But down the right path, I believe.” Both of them smiled and nodded, thinking of the many reasons that was true. Raymond suddenly sat down again.
“Shouldn’t stand up just yet.” He remarked.
“By the way, do you still have all the old journals and notebooks?” Charles asked.
“Of course,” Raymond replied after a quick sip, “I’m thankful we still have them to learn from.”
“Very true,” Charles nodded in agreement, “but it’s not the same.” He was stern.
“It never will be.”
Charles sifted though those words in his mind. His face changed and he jumped to his feet again.
“Then I shall never be free of the pain.” He stated.
“Charles, I will not go through this with you again,” Raymond faced him.
“You don’t have to,” Charles said quietly as he began to walk away.
“Pain is necessary, but it must leave you some time.” Charles stopped and turned to him.
“Truth. But to be reminded of the death we are surrounded with on a daily basis will not help me grow. It will not rest my mind.”
“So you shy away? Everything helps you grow.” Raymond’s eyes slouched, he raised his wine glass into the air.
“Even the poisonous fluids you drive into yourself?”
“You know that’s not what I mean,” his voice became serious and stopped Charles in his tracks, “as living beings our lives move ever forward. We must redirect even the strongest hatred into the most powerful, bright energy.” Those words resonated with Charles, and for good reason. They were their father’s words.
Charles nodded slowly and thought to himself, he knew his brother was right. He usually was.
“Now come back an finish your damn drink.” Raymond pointed to the empty spot next to him and Charles eventually made his way to his seat again.
They continued their talk looking out over the sparkling horizon. In the distance, the long chime of a fog whistle, like a howl in the night, pierced through the line of land. Then all fell silent with their thoughts.
The next day, the fog whistle was still blowing. The coastline by the city had been engulfed in thick mist once again. In this desolate atmosphere, whistles and horns served as warnings and signals for massive vessels along the shore.
Outside the coast line, the oceans were bustling with huge cargo, fishing and Navy ships. On foggy days, they were all but blind to most everything around them, so a barrage of signals was needed to keep everyone in check.
One of many divisions patrolling the hazy waters were the Fog Patrol. A group of smaller, flat ships that skimmed over the water, warning the larger vessels that they had either come too close to shore, or another dangerous object was in their path.
Inside one of these Fog Patrol boats, was Victorian, who was the Captain of a Lighthouse Ship, or LHS, which were responsible for shining very bright, illuminating lights through the fog to act as moving beacons.
Victorian’s long, black hair flowed in the wind, beads of salt air clinging to it. She stepped back from her steering platform and grabbed a rope tie from her side pouch, pulling her wet hair into a rough bun. As she brushed strands out of her face, sea water jumped over the side of the boat. A few of her crewman came up on deck, letting the waves slash them.
She decreased her speed, came to a stop, then began to look around in all directions.
Around her was nothing but grey clouds. A few distant sounds of horns came floating through the air as her crew continued bickering.
Just then, another ship rolled into her area, coming out of the fog like a ghost.
“Hey, Vic!” A voice yelled from the fog. She smiled and waved them over.
The other ship carefully pulled along side until the two vessels were touching.
The Captain of the other ship helped Vic’s men grab a connecting wire and secured the boats. As he made his way over, Vic could see some barnacles stuck to his old, orange coat, with seaweed and muscles on his boots. Some of these men had been working for decades on the ocean, often without a break, making homes in sea shacks and fueling stations on the coast.
“You keeping dry out here?” The Captain said, walking onto her ship.
“I am as the sea.” She said thoughtfully, which made the Captain laugh.
“Still quoting the old sea songs, eh? Well, that’s how I like it. That’s why I like you!” He hobbled over to her control board at the front of the ship, his scruffy white beard accenting his eccentric, crazy eyes.
“Now, look here,” his big finger smashed down on a weather radar screen, “as I thought! The system isn’t dying out, it’s getting bigger by the hour- by the minute!” His voice screeched. Victorian looked disappointed.
“You came all the way over here to tell me to go home?” She looked at him desperately.
“No, I came all the way over ’cause I need your boat.” He hobbled back to some of his crewmen who were coming onto the boat. “We’re going to take this watch, you take the next one.”
“I can do this, Captain!” She followed him. “You put me in charge of this lane and this ship.”
“Aye, that I did. And with confidence,” he waved his meaty hand at her, “but not during this storm, not today.”
“Are you losing faith in me already?” Her hands were on her hips.
“I never have!” He returned and plunked himself in the Captain’s chair. “But unlike you, I can feel it in my bones,” he breathed in deep, “oh yes, yes. This one is going to be big! One of the biggest storms we’ve seen. I can feel it coming. Like a stampeding thunderstorm.”
“Captain, that’s my specialty.” She smiled at him. He smiled back.
“Heh, one day. One day the sea will call to you too!” His eyes were lively. She quickly walked up to him and placed her hand on his arm.
“Let me help. Just tonight, I’ll be a crew member.” He shook his head. “Captain, you know I need this. I need the help.” She looked almost longingly at him. He returned a knowing stare. He understood.
“I know you do, my girl, I know. That’s why I’m sending you back.”
“I can’t afford not to work.” She pleaded.
“And I can’t afford to lose my ships and my crew!” He looked at her more seriously, lowering his tone. “And...I can’t afford to lose you.” She met his gaze again.
“I have you and my father constantly trying to protect me on a daily basis. Do you know how demeaning that is?” She gripped his arm.
“Call it whatever you want. I call it being wise.”
“You’ll never stop learning from me!”
“I believe that.” She looked away again. He thought for a moment, finding the right words.
“Vic,” he started, “you can’t lose your family.” She shot him an almost shocked expression. “I told you once, I’d never let you make the same mistakes as me. I weren’t just talking about the rules of the sea.”
She accepted his wise stare, finally understanding his thoughts.
He was right. Victorian was a wonderful asset to his team. She had been one of the only women to join the Fog Patrol, not to mention the first ever Captain of an LHS. But with this new level of responsibility came even more danger. Because of their routes, LHS ships often encountered accidents from bigger ships, bad weather, as well as attacks from dangerous ocean creatures. With Victorian being a single mother with very little family, money or support, the Captain knew he had to make some sacrifices to keep his crew secure and sound. This meant taking the reins himself to assure the safety of the future crew. A honorable method to be sure, but one that also meant she might now be missing a day of pay.
Victorian straightened up and pulled her hand back from the Captain’s sleeve.
“Alright men, get to work! Go!” The Captain screeched again as his small crew began to run in circles getting the ship ready for the bad weather. He turned to Victorian once again.
“See you back on shore tonight. Be safe, the storm is practically here already.” He patted her on the arm and spun her around in the direction of the waiting boat.
She grabbed her bags and secured them to her, making her way up the side of one boat and down the other. Every member of her crew stayed behind with the Captain to help for the storm, as was procedure. However, she had no problem piloting a ship herself, even in these conditions.
As she pulled the boat away, she could still hear the mummers of the crewmen behind her as the wind began to blow. But suddenly, as she was gaining greater distance, she heard another noise.
The fog horns blasting from the Captain’s LHS.
At first, she thought nothing of it and continued along. Then, more horns, from other ships. Louder and louder they grew.
Victorian grabbed the control switch, slowed her ship, then waited silently until it came to an easy stop. Her thoughts raced.
This many horns at once was a very rare situation and anytime it happened, it was not good. She straightened her stance, cautiously walking to one side of the ship, trying to see anything she could through the thickness.
A shadow appeared on the horizon of the fog.
It was big; a huge black mass coming straight for them. Surely this must be a ship, out of control, blind to the port for some reason. She knew she had to act fast, as the other ships were much closer and had no way of making it out in time.
She hopped down onto the lower deck and pulled open a small door, spilling several life vests onto the deck. She then charged back up to the bridge, slamming her fist against the controls as the ship sparked back to life.
The ship swung around in the other direction, water flying from all sides, the motor’s strained sounds echoing through the clouds.
She ducked down out of the wind, her fingers flying across an electronic panel. As she worked, a few huge ropes flew out of the back of the ship. As soon as they hit the water, bright lights began blinking and orange buoys deployed. This was standard disaster procedure to let the shore authorities know where a wreck was.
When the ropes had deployed, she gave a quick look to make sure it was okay, then grabbed the radio from her side.
“...This is LHS three! We have an out of control ship in port A-A!” She yelled. “Requesting all units and shore authority, report to port A-” She cut herself off and gasped.
As the massive figure lumbered through the fog and finally revealed itself, she dreadfully realized it was no ship. It was a Skywhale.
Skywhales were common sea creatures, even around cities. As long as there were oceans, Skywhales could be seen slowly drifting over the water, usually above the clouds. Often times they were even mistaken for clouds, as their bodies were over a mile long, with most of it consisting of a gigantic, flat tale which they used to move through the air. They were docile creatures most of the time, spending half their life in the sky, hence the name. However, when a middle aged Skywhale is ready to dive into the ocean until the end of its days, it will choose a spot. Once chosen, nothing will interrupt its path, not even a sea port.
On this day, a Skywhale had chosen to search for a good spot too near the coastline, and the Fog Patrol would pay with their lives.
Victorian watched in horror as the magnificent being burst through the dark clouds, and just as easily, right through her Captain’s boat.
The fog shimmered and mixed with bright explosions, thundering with twisted metal. Dire screams suddenly ended.
Victorian screamed herself in a slight moment of mourning, then immediately composed herself. This was the time to prove strength and act. She gained control of her ship, and raced it toward the wreckage.
The Skywhale veered off to the side, almost instinctively turning away from her and back into the fog. She raced past the swooping tale and circled her boat around any piece debris she could find.
Through the fog, she could only see small fires and large ship parts beginning the sink, but no sounds. There was nothing she could do.
Then, her ears perked up again as the whale began to circle the area.
She could still see it, the tall shadow moving like a fast blur behind the mist. She stopped her ship again. All went silent except for the hum of the motor and the wistful moaning of the whale’s voice.
But it didn’t last. What was almost a peaceful moment soon became the nightmare she had predicted. The explosions and unexpected interruptions had made this creature extremely angry, and now her little boat was in the way.
The head of the giant whale sprang again through the fog, it’s gaping mouth swinging open to reveal gummy strands of baleen and even several sharp teeth.
She jolted her controls, gripping the wheel tight. The ship darted forward like a bolt, dashing away as fast as she could manage.
But it was no use, the whale was too big. It’s tale suddenly appeared in front of her, sweeping across the glossy plane, spraying a huge wave toward her.
She swung the ship right, then hard right, her knuckles white with fear.
The ship jumped out of the water, just barley able to get to the end of the wave. The whale turned it’s body again, it’s head dipping in and out of the waves like a horse charging.
She looked back just in time to see an open mouth crash into the ocean behind her like a meteor impact.
She swung the ship to the left and held on. The waves pushed the boat from behind, spun it, tipped it, and finally allowed her to regain control to speed ahead.
As the whale disappeared into the water, she finally caught a glimpse of the shore. She tapped her radar screen and turned the boat in a safe direction.
“This is LHS three!” She screamed, grabbing her radio again. “I need assistance! I need assistance now! I repeat, port A-A! I’m heading for shore, I am not-”
She cut herself off again and froze in place.
As if it were the end of the world before her, the massive whale breached once more, this time directly behind her. There was no where to run.
The whale had breached so close, it caught a rope dragging from the side of the ship and began to take it up into the sky.
Up and up it went, Victorian’s tiny ship dangling violently.
But she was not dead. She had survived the initial assult and she was kicking.
As the ship was dragged up into the air, breaking the fog bank, she held on for dear life, clinging to whatever she could find. Her grip was strong, her will even stronger.
She regained her composer as well as she could, then pulled herself up onto her windshield, which she could now sit on. But as soon as she secured herself, she noticed the the rope holding the ship was about to break.
Fighting the wind and the harsh movement, she quickly leapt to the other side. Fumbling, grappling, then finally grabbing onto the rope.
As soon as she put her weight onto it, it snapped. She watched as her ship bounced off the whale’s body and into the oblivion of the fog.
Now she realized, this was end.
From here, there was no escape. Memories ran through her mind over and over, as the whale continued it’s launch. She thought of her father, of her children, of her life, even of the beauty of the sky she was now in. Then, as soon as her thoughts faded, the whale changed direction and dove toward the sea again.
Now it was time to prepare herself.
Victorian’s body altered itself with the flow of the whale, like a flag shifting in the breeze, the gravity pulling her feet into the air. She and whale fell together through the sky.
On the shoreline, the other ships racing to help gazed skyward to watch. Men on the boats ran to the side, trying to get a better look at this rare sight, never imaging Victorian was a passenger.
Finally, with a sound that shook the lands, the sky giant crashed into the sea. The wave sprang into the air with a delayed boom that echoed across the miles.
Rescue ships continued to race toward the wreckage, lights blazing in the grey mist guiding their way. The whale had found it’s home forever, taking Victorian into the endless depths.
The sun soon set over the ocean, as clouds danced in a circular pattern, outlining where the whale had entered the ocean. Now a ring of fire as the ships started to circle.