|Taraz the Wastrel|
Taraz whirls around at the sound of Alessandra's voice. He does not look terribly surprised.
"Ah, so here you are. One of my pets advised me you were hiding, and that Jin was mostly incapacitated. Though for an assassin of his caliber, I am sure that is a gross over statement." Taraz nods to Jin that universal sign of one male acknowledging another's prowess with respect.
"Since I was not yet sure of whether I could trust the young Mimi," Taraz turns uncertainly to the two Cassies and vaguely gestures to both of them, "I covered for you two. Incidentally, Mimi is a replica of Cassie we have encountered who is very much aware of her situation unlike the unfortunate Gigus. She has vital information on this evening's wonderful host." Taraz's eyes say it all.
"Needless to say, I figured I would allow you your space until you were ready to announce yourself. I told the others you had left with Eldon and Andrezi in that emergency Mason submersible that arrived as a result, no doubt, upon request by one of you Masons."
Taraz smiles even as Vorian peers into the depths of opening, the playful sounds of the dragon thundering in the background.
"As to what is happening? We are getting the blazes off of this island. Just as soon as we have determined who the devil is down here. If you or Jin need any assistance, we can have some of your own ships crew help you board The Ament and take control of the medical situation there."
Rashida keeps the icy mask in place as she ascends the ladder to Ament's deck. The men are shocked by these events. They know nothing about your transformation. And if Gahiji left orders? He's gone. They have no reason to suspect anything. They will follow your orders. Remember that you are a Massri and divine. Act like it!
She returns a tiny nod of recognition to the acting captain's salute. "Lord Ritter has need of his men, Captain. The nobles will come with us. We need quarters for five, besides myself. Ensure we are provisioned. Scavenge supplies from the other ships if need be," she orders haughtily, as he would expect.
The man nods. "We saw Lord Gahiji--" he begins.
She cuts him off. "He is found, as you saw, and has taken another vessel home. We will make our own way there once we have aided these people, and indebted them to the Clan. Now finalize preparations and make ready to get underway."
She brushes past as he begins to shout orders, Vorian's men dashing by to slide down the ladder rails and hustle to their lord's side. She looks back across the landing field, to see that only Cassie has followed, leaving oily footprints as she limps doggedly forward. It looks like Cassie... she unfocuses slightly from the world to see the other again, and reads the familiar, unique feel of Cassandra DuSollier's being. Ignoring the swirl of activity, she waits until the other woman struggles up the ladder, not offering to help, then realizes that something is missing.
"Your bag. I brought it, but dropped it while you were fighting. Go.. go down that ladder, just past the bridge. There is a place near engineering and maintenance where they have.. I don't know... solvents? for cleaning up oil." She swallows hard and looks away, across the airfield to the mansion. "I'll go get your bag and fresh clothing. Mine should fit. Start getting clean and I'll stop by with some things for you. I... I'll doubtless be there before you are done." She tries to smile but it looks more like a grimace. "It will be hard for the medic to assess your injuries when he cannot see them. Do you... do you need any assistance?"
Cassie flinches from Rashida's gaze, feeling that she is looking into her soul distastefully. The pain in her side she puts down to the knife wound not the growing unease. "Thank you, I'm sorry."
'She thought of my bag how kind, even when she's annoyed with me... or is it something more?'
The Seeresses' grimace at the thought of helping Cassie makes her just put her head down and shuffle to the engineering area. She finds the solvent bottle easily along with an old washcloth. Carefully she places a towel to completely cover the power supply.
The borrowed sodden dress she throws in the Belfast sink, in all probability it's ruined. 'I'll not despoil her cabins with my foolishness.' Pouring a handful of the acrid liquid over her body, Cassie stifles a scream as the solvent touches the open wounds. Getting the very worst off quickly, Cassie settles into the laborious, agony-laden process of removing it all with the cloth.
Vast weariness washes through Rashida as Cassie limps away. She will never forgive me. She sighs and starts back down the ladder to herd the remaining nobles aboard, watching with wary amusement as the cerulean dragon pulls a gleaming sphere from the guts of the clockwork giant and nuzzles it, crooning softly about shinies. The blazing light of the rising sun is quickly driving away the shadows of the night and the mist clinging in the shredded gardens and the shell-blasted woods. She feels attenuated, body and soul. Ignoring the gnawing fatigue and sense of failure, she strides regally back to the assembled aristocrats, startled to see the flame-haired diva and her tattooed consort chatting with Taraz.
"Lady... Professor Devries! Lord Jin! How unexpectedly good to see you! We thought you had departed," Rashida stutters in confusion. Their clothing, their wounds... yes, they must be genuine. No replica would have had time nor will to duplicate those injuries... would they? And destroyed... the Baron had said the replicas were destroyed. But...
Confusion sweeps away shame and self-consciousness and Rashida finally meets Taraz's eyes, only to see him smiling. He appears to find neither her nor the newcomers monstrous, or he hides it well. His cheerful and casual demeanor is reassuring. I am getting paranoid. One Cassie-bot shows up and I start suspecting everyone. Rashida crouches to pick up Cassie's fallen bag and stroke the Duchess' soft fur. "Duchess, it is good to see you. I'm glad you are well," she smiles, "Cabins are being made ready. Captain Janais can direct you to one when you are ready to board."
Rising, she continues, "There are cabins for all, small but suitable. I suggest we have the crew set a course towards Europe, for now, and get some rest. We can convene tonight, after we've had a chance to eat and sleep, and decide where to go from here. But let us be away from this place. Mimi, there is a spot in Engineering where you can clean off most of that oil and get a shower, once Cassie is done. My clothing will fit you both. I'll have some delivered to your cabin. Anybody who needs a medic can stop by sick bay. It's small, but everyone is ambulatory and can recuperate in their own cabin."
Finally, things seem to be falling into place. The nobles assembling to board the Ament had all proven themselves in one way or another. Gahiji's escape with Vorian's treasure was alarming, but Rashida knew the results would take time to develop, time she might need to persuade these people to aid her. Right now, only one question bothered her, and she could find that answer right now. With a final smile and pet for the Duchess, she rises.
Gently taking Taraz's elbow, she murmurs, "Pardon me, but I need to consult with Lord Rorenson for a moment," and draws him aside if he allows it, smiling slightly as she whispers something.
|Mimi Von Sollier|
She holds her arm gently cradling it. She looks to the others slightly dumb-founded as what to say. Then she hears what the luxuriant helmet-cat says about her family; 'Oh, I fould have made Mittens an orphan! She looks too young to have children.'
Walking over to the Duchess, Mimi crouches down to her eye level; "I am sorry for jumping out of the Ornithopter. My secret... I would offer to stroke you but..." she lifts an oily hand signifying that it would spoil the beautiful fur.
|Taraz the Wastrel|
As Rashida pulls him aside, Taraz says to Vorian, "I believe you should seek medical attention. You look a tad worse for wear, I'm afraid. I am certain Lady Massri will not say no to posting a sentry or two around that hatch while the final preparations for our departure our made. Hopefully the owner of those sounds will emerge before then, so we can be sure we are not abandoning anyone to their fate on this island of death."
Then Taraz listens to Rashida's whisper. A strangely uncharacteristic look of nervousness appears on his features, but is quickly replaced by his usual demeanor as if the first was as ephemeral as a breeze blowing across his face.
"Hello, is anyone down there?"
Peering into the inky blackness underneath the hatch, Vorian leans inward, listening closely for a response. No answer. Frowning, he looks to the side of the entrance, noting ladder rungs running downward. Some kind of maintenance hatch, I'd presume. He then looks to Jeralcya as she toys with the felled colossus, worry creeping onto his face. I do hope she didn't crush anyone...
At Taraz's behest, Vorian stands aside, a grimace on his face. Looking himself over, he notices several burns along his arms and abdomen, places where the mercenaries' plasma fire had grazed him. It occurs to him that he had not even noticed that he had been shot. Even now, the wounds did not pain him. "Hm. It would seem that their aim was not nearly as horrid as I thought. Yes, I believe that would be for the best, Lord Rorenson."
Retrieving his suitcase, he slings his carbine over his shoulder and makes his way onto the Ament. He averts his gaze from Rashida, still unsure of what to make of what she had done. That was the second time in his life he had seen that kind of phenomenon. And yet the differences haunted him more than the similarities. Lost in thought, it is a moment before Vorian recognizes his men standing before him. The last survivors of his crew. The ones he had not left to die.
"I'm deferring you all to Lady Massri's command until further notice," he says, barely able to look at them, "Get back on board, we will be departing momentarily." He then turns away from them, shaking his head.
Burdened by guilt and lost in reminiscence, Vorian wanders about the Ament, looking for the sick bay.
Rashida speaks quietly for a moment with Taraz, gently touching his face before he captures her hand and brings it to her lips. Smiling, she turns away and drifts towards the Ament. Ascending the ladder, she suddenly stops and beckons a nearby Serv-Bot over, whispers at it, and waves it away.
Once on board, she makes her way forward to her quarters in the bow, rummaging through the closet for robes, dresses, shoes, and other necessary garments. She takes clothing to the staterooms set aside for Mimi and Cassie, then carries the robes and towels to engineering. On the way, she passes sick bay and stops when she sees Vorian entering.
"Um, Lord Ritter, I didn't realize you were injured. I fear my best medic is now the third mate, as the surgeon was killed by Von Ryuko's attack. If any of your doctors have survived, please attach them to sick bay. Maybe Lady Devries will be able to help. I am no leech." And I doubt you would welcome my touch. "Your cabin is on the next deck up, starboard side."
She stands awkwardly for a moment, arms full of towels and robes, as if wanting to say more, then stammers, "Sleep well, Lord Ritter."
"Ah, Rashida, I am pleased to see you as well! I am glad that everyone is finally together, and relieved that this night will shortly be over..."
At Mimi's apology, the Duchess seems rather indifferent. "I figured it out. I do not think you meant me to die. However, in the future, please refrain from leaving me at such heights without first being sure I will be able to survive where possible."
The Duchess von Meowselsworth boards the ship, wandering about aimlessly for a short bit once she has boarded, much like a cat ought, sniffing about for any vermin that might have snuck their way on board. She pauses for a few moments near a particular warm section of wall and reviews her first message.
My Dearest Kittington,
I have a moment of clarity in which to write you this message. I am sorry to you and to your friend, this Vorian Ritter, for grabbing this ship. I will crush him to gristle and boil off his flesh should he try to wrest it back from my grip! My lovely little kitten, you must think so poorly of your mother, but know that I love you... When the world is left lifeless, I want you to be there, to stand atop the ruins! It is hard for me in times like these, to know precisely what it is I want.
I have escaped with the lion man who smells of blood and gore, he's made me some promises that I doubt he will keep, but for now, we will dance like lovers atop the corpses of the weak. A thought occurs to me, what were you doing at this party? It seems uncharacteristic of my little Kittington... Prudent with little care for material reward. You would not be the first helmet cat to do something truly insane following your mental inheritance. And now, I shall bid you adieu, as I have the urge to find out how much screaming can be done before the human vocal chords cannot scream anymore! Remember to eat, you look too thin.
With Love, always,
Ailuros von Meowselsworth
"I miss you..." The Duchess's voice speaks softly into the empty hall. The comfort of the warmth and the weariness of the evenings events begin to get to her, her eyes closing as she falls asleep to the sound of her own rumbling purr.
"All of my men have training in first aid, but I'm afraid my medical staff was..." Vorian trails off plaintively, before shaking his head. With the fear of immediate danger gone, the weight of the night's events were finally catching up to him. The empty promise of a cure, the assassination attempts, his murdered men, his stolen ship... and perhaps worst of all, the affirmation that the horror in the tomb was not a mere figment. He was in immortal peril. What Rashida had said the night before was true - it was not mere superstition.
"Good night," he murmurs in reply, thankful that the awkward silence was lifted. He could not help but to feel foolish over the fear he felt; if it were not for her, he would be dead, after all. All I must do is ask, and perhaps she will answer. As Rashida turns to leave, Vorian calls out to her. "Wait, Lady Massri! I..." he pauses a moment, reconsidering his options, and then smiles, "Thank you. For everything."
There will be time for that later, he thinks, once Rashida takes her leave. To delve so far into the past would be far too selfish, even for him, and the rod was not going anywhere. If he was going to ask for answers, it would have to be for questions that addressed immediate concerns. The reason that he was there; what Von Ryuko had promised him. Perhaps he truly did have something in store for me...
Paying no heed to his wounds, Vorian leaves the sick bay. Now where might Madam DuSollier be? he wonders, steely determination on his face. His mind was not playing tricks on him - there were two Cassies. He needed answers. Perhaps then, he could get some sleep. But which one do I ask?
Rashida bows slightly to Vorian when he thanks her, then proceeds on her way, happy about the smile but confused as to what he could possibly be thanking her for. Nevertheless, that awkwardness seemed to be passing. She needed to speak with him, but it could wait.
Now for this awkwardness, she thinks, stopping outside the room where Cassie should be cleaning up. She raises a hesitant hand to knock, then thinks better of it. Surveying the area, she spots a tiny rotating antenna out from behind a corner and a periscope lens peering from behind another. It was amazing. When one looked for them, they really were everywhere.
Crooking a finger at the little periscopebot, she sets it atop a pile of towels and robes just outside the door. "In two minutes, knock and give Lady DuSollier a set of towels, robes, and slippers, then lead her to sick bay. Wait for her there, and lead her to her room. Understand?" The little Serv-Bot bows and plops down on the comfy pile, ticking away the time dutifully and ostentatiously.
Postponing this chat won't make it go away, you know, part of her says. Obviously, but give Cassie time to get healed up, cleaned up, and rested. We all need rest. It has been a long... A huge yawn suddenly breaks her concentration as she enters the bridge and she hastily covers it.
"Captain. When everyone is aboard, cast off and set course for Freiderichshafen, for now. We will have a final destination sometime this evening, once everyone has a chance to rest and meet. The important thing is to put some distance between us and this island. I will be in my cabin. Please don't disturb me unless there is an absolute emergency." Janais bows and salutes, then moves to relay orders to the navigator. Rashida observes for a moment, then backs out and goes below to her cabin, closing its door behind her.
A few minutes pass and she re-emerges, calling softly for Serv-Bots. When several cluster at her feet, she bends down and picks up two. She gives each of them a tiny scroll of creamy paper tied with a ribbon of green silk and gives them different sets of directions, setting them on their little mechanical feet and sending them on their way before dismissing the rest. She retires to her quarters again and closes the door again.
Stinking of the acrid smell of solvents, Cassie finish scrubbing herself. She looks around the room for the first time in hours...she realises this is where people died tonight! Ryuko's shelling had destroyed their lives.
As she ponders; there is a knock at the door. Cassie uses her wash cloth and arm to cover up as it opens and the robes, towels and slippers float in. With a relieved look she slowly walks to the bot, dabbing at her body softly - not wishing the rub the numerous cuts and abrasions upon her body. 'So Rashida, she didn't want to see me...'
The soft cotton robe cinches easily at her waist, the comforting warmth of the material helps to alleviate some of the tension. Slowly she pulls the cloth from atop the power-supply; "Wake-up mon âme. Take us away from here." Then she follows the bot down to the sick bay, her walk slightly wobbling from the concussion.
Once she gets into the sick bay, Cassie looks to the third mate and disrobes showing him the wound where the knife went through her. "It must not have hit anything vital." she says hoarsely as her jaw has swollen and a dark bruise starts to show upon her shoulder. Upon seeing his hesitation she jokes "What do I look silly?"
Then she starts to lead him through the process of fixing the worst of her injures. The abrasions and cuts that tarnish her skin will quickly heal, but some of the other results of the evenings 'dances' may not. After numerous pills and oils she wanders back to her cabin.
Entering she finds a scroll, at first a puzzled look crosses her face then she starts smiling and spinning in happiness. A dizzy twirling dervish she falls upon the bed with a happy smile!
'If I could talk to her now, but she'll be in Taraz's arms' Cassie smiles naughtily.
|Mimi Von Sollier|
Climbing up on deck Mimi looks around; there was a hot-tub on the deck of the airship. And then she sees the Ornithopter, with a little squeak she rushes over to it. Checking out that the beautiful vehicle was still operational - she coo's over the aircraft whilst biting her lip in delight.
Making sure every part of the vehicle is in top condition she barely registers the ship loosen from the moorings.
Despite the Ament being rather small compared to the Virago, it is not long before Vorian finds that he is completely lost. Perhaps I should have just went to my room, he muses to himself, pausing for a moment to consider his bearings, We're all no doubt congregating later anyway. Nonetheless, he persisted in his efforts, nagged by his curiosity. Before long, he emerges on the deck of the ship, met by the familiar sight of the ornithopter Cassie had landed. Sure enough, there she was, looking the vehicle over.
"Madam DuSollier?" he calls out, slowly approaching her and the 'thopter, "I figured you would be asleep by now. I was hoping to ask you a few things..."
|Mimi Von Sollier|
"Call me Mimi, it seems much friendlier that way." she turns around to regard him a hint of suspicion upon her features. 'They may still wish to kill me...I know Taraz & Rashida probably won't.'
Then with careful forethought she goes back to the open engine-hood and bends over the inspect a few things. Carefully she watches the noble in a reflection inside the hood. "Go ahead, shoot."
"Mimi?" Vorian replies, raising a brow. He certainly had not expected Cassie to go by such a name. Unless... ah, of course. "So you're..." He shakes his head, leaning against the wing of the craft. He had not expected to run into the replica first. But perhaps it is better this way.
"Were there others like you?" he asks, unsure of whether he phrased the question properly. He recalled what Von Ryuko's booming voice had said; did it mean what he thought it did? "Or rather... was there one like me?"
As they are shown to their rooms Jin tells Captain Janais with a weary smile, "Thank you, Captain, but the Dame and I will not be needing separate billets..."
There were so many weighty matters to weigh on. Matters of honor, of family, and of vengeance. But now, here, with Alessandra next to him, all he wanted to do was take her in his arms and hold her close. The sight of the livid bruises across her leg and back made his blood boil- but there would be time now to plot revenge against Ryuko later. Now he felt he could sleep for a week and count it amongst the happiest time of his life if only she were next to him.
Alessandra swayed next to him and he instantly set aside his personal maelstrom of thoughts and worries to see to her comfort. Anyone else might have looked ludicrous in that tattered black dress, past the edge of exhaustion, holding a vase that was intended as a weapon until minutes ago... but his lover, she looked <i>magnificent</i>. He gently took the vase from her grasp and set it aside then settled her into bed. As much as this escape would mark a perfect occasion for a celebration of life and joy, neither of them could come close to mustering the effort so the lovers lay entwined on the small bed and slept deeply as the gentle swaying of the airship reassured them they were moving toward something better.
|Mimi Von Sollier|
She keeps her back turned; as Vorian starts to ask her questions he hand goes to the wrench on the engine...just in case. "The Replicant, the robot, the copy?" she says the hatred lost deep down but with a wry deprecation for her origins. "Of course, I am even more identical covered in this!" she signifies the black oil as she tries to change the subject slightly.
Realising that Vorian will take nothing for an excuse and her soft flirting won't divert his attention, she gets up and regards him leaning upon the bonnet. "Yes, there was a replicant for you. I was the first, I saw all the different models be perfected....although your copy had little of the correct AI installed. He was not given your memories. There was no chance for a brain scan...I think." Mimi says trying to recollect the exact nature of the labs despite the occasional powering downs.
"Sorry Taraz said he slagged them all! I was glad to get out" she shivers at the thought.
Not exactly what I had in mind when he mentioned a 'cure'... Vorian contemplates, now running a hand along the edge of the 'thopter's wing. Nonetheless, he finds himself unable to resist entertaining the idea. If what she says is true, then the finished product would have been indistinguishable from me. Not even It would realize that it was a replica. He thinks back to Gigus' demise, finally understanding just what had happened. He certainly hadn't at the time. Hell, if that were the case, I might have just given Von Ryuko my brain...
"...it might have actually worked," he muses aloud without realizing it. Even before he says it, the idea sounds absolutely preposterous. The mental image of having his brain stuffed into a machine draws a chuckle out of him. And yet, the fact that he might have actually gone along with such a plan not long ago bothered him. No, that won’t do at all, Vorian. No more taking the easy way out.
”I had more questions, but… perhaps I should get some rest,” Vorian says with a wry smile, backing away from the ornithopter. ”There is more to discuss with the others. I will see you then, Mimi.” Standing there for a moment longer, he nods before making his way to his cabin, recalling Rashida’s directions. Inside he finds his suitcase, with he acknowledges with knowing gaze. It held everything that he had left. With a groan he moves to his bed, falling onto it face first. Exhaustion taking hold, he is asleep within minutes.
|Mimi Von Sollier|
Mimi watches the noble go with an enigmatic smile on her face, enjoying the fact that she has some slight power. The information that she holds.
Of course she's aware of how fleeting this knowledge can be as she looks to the dawning sky. 'I should go to my cabin.....I have a cabin!' she exults happy with what is a generous offer. The horizon seems so far away; but for the first in a long time Mimi can see it.
Whitey ran up to the door and peered through the small window. His eyes hurt. They still needed time to adjust to the light. Being trapped in the dark for hours had widened his pupils as big as they could get. He paused for a few minutes to let the change take place. Whitey was overcome with relief.
Somehow the lower Aircraft wing had not lost power.
Whitey opened the door and made his way directly to the freight elevator. Once inside he pressed the button to lift him to ground level. When the elevator doors opened Whitey's eyes widened at sight of the airfield. Shock knocked him against the back wall of the elevator. The Airfield had been destroyed by cannon fire. Whitey could clearly see that the power line and backup generator to the R&D lab and been taken out in the blast.
"Well that would explain the lack of power down below!"
He peeked out around the corner of the elevator door.
"Its safe! Go man GO!"
Whitey moved out onto the airstrip, clumsily taking cover where he could amongst the debris.
"I have to find Von Ryuko!"
His eyes suddenly catch a tiny robot at his ankles *looking* up at him. He crouches to get a better look.
"What is this? I never built this?"
And then whitey sees the source of this magnificent creation in the form of a hooded nobleman surrounded by dozens of similar bots.
|Taraz the Wastrel|
Slowly, two digital eyes blink on the LED-like display in the center of the "flower". The Serv-Bot sits up and looks around at the world as if seeing it for the first time. It looks down at its limbs and and little hands in what in a human one would describe child-like wonder. It looks up at Taraz, and then suddenly jumps up and runs to his boot and hugs it. The other Serv-Bots seem to cheer, squeaking and beeping, jumping up and down if they had legs, or twirling on treads or segmented sections, or even loop de looping if the flying variety.
Taraz looks up as a Serv-Bot points out the man staring at him and the Serv-Bots in wonder. The man's surprised look indicated he had never seen a Serv-Bot which in itself was an oddity, as the Baron had always prided himself at the vast number he owned. Analyzing the man's reaction, Taraz wondered for what von Ryuko had kept him.
Taraz calls for some of The Ament's crew. An Egyptian woman and one of armed men from either Eldon's or Vorian's former crews come running up. "Take this man into custody, and get him on board. We need to question him, but we must leave immediately."
With that, Taraz gestures and the small mob of Serv-Bots surrounding him approach and board The Ament. With one last look at the castle, Taraz enters the grand airship his mind filled with the night's adventures, and he pondered what awaited them with the coming of the dawn.
|Mimi Von Sollier|
Mimi watches the man being 'escorted' aboard, her body still glistening with the dark oil. Feeling the ship lift off, the Replicant realises she has to clean up. As she enters her room a smile spreads across her face as she spins upon tip-toes. Whirling and spinning into the austere shower, she marvels at the luxury. The hot water cleansing the pain and shock of the evenings events from her mind.
The guards take the baffled scientist gently but firmly into custody, ignoring all protests and settling him in the modest brig of the Ament. Once all the luggage is loaded, the crew casts off and the golden ship flares brightly as it turns to face the rising sun, ornate, gilded wings and 'oars' pushing the buoyant craft through the air.
As the aristocrats slumber through a well-deserved rest, the cobbed-together ship's crew goes about their duties as ordered, Virago's crew supplementing Ament's.
When the wandering nobles awaken, they find a note slipped under their stateroom door. A light repast is available in the dining room whenever you are awake and hungry. Lady Massri requests that everyone convene there for a planning session at their earliest convenience. If you need anything, simply ring the bell in your chambers and someone will attend you shortly. Welcome aboard. -- Captain Janais, acting captain, The Ament
The Duchess Kittington awakens in the hall, giving a big yawn and an even bigger stretch. "Oh dear, I suppose I must have just... drifted off..." says the feline to herself, trotting back towards her room. She pauses at the entrance, reading the note, "Ah, food... I would love to eat..."
She rubs against the frame of the door and then walks towards the dining room, all the while reviewing the second message in her Meowmail, this one from her daughter, Mittens.
The Phantom rises up into the air, a ghostly sound sighing as it flies once again. Somehow, it is in perfect repair.
Dear Mother, I received the invitation for your funeral, but I am unwilling to accept fate.
White paws press soundlessly against the aged wooden boards that make up the beautifully crafted airship.
And so, I have come not to attend, but to rewrite what has happened.
Wind whips past a feline's stark black fur, ears folded back to keep the sound from becoming too much.
I have done what I can to raise money, perhaps things you would not be proud of, to put together the masterpiece of a true virtuoso.
A pair of goggles protect amber eyes from the elements, strong legs pushing the creature up from the wooden boards to the forepeak.
Everything has happened twice. And because of me, now it happens as it should. Everything is going to be alright. I can fix everything, and history is mine to repair. I took on your memories, and I knew exactly what it was I needed to do...
A lone tuxedo cat, helmet whirring and clicking, sits on the figurehead of the phantom, a little red scarf whipping about in the breeze.
If this works, I will see you soon. If you are reading this, then I've already been successful. Wish me luck.
The Phantom rises above the clouds and the tiny helmetcat looks upon everything, mind alight with the ample possibilities as she pilots the ship with her mind.
A saying comes to mind for times like these... A helmetcat never truly dies.
With love, Mittens von Meowselsworth
“Isn’t it remarkable, Hans?” Vorian said, running his hand along the large, stone portal, “It would seem that the old Baron’s lead was correct. This is it. As for these hieroglyphs…” Raising his cane, he points to the top of the monolith, tapping its tip along the engraved symbols that ran across its surface. “’Those who defile this holy place shall see death, resent life, and become what lies between,’” he translates with a chuckle, “So even the ancients had a flair for the dramatic! Oh, now what is this? ‘Wrath… Anubis… misery…’ etcetera, etcetera, and ah, here it is! ‘Treasures bequeathed by the gods!’” Turning to his assistant, he holds out his hand. “Fetch me the crowbar, Hans!”
The blonde’s gaze wavered as he looked about, before he began to speak in a hushed tone. “Are you sure about this, Vor? We were already warned not to encroach on this land. The men are already restless as is, with everything that’s been happening. And if the League, or even the clan finds out…”
With a sneer, Vorian snatched the crowbar out of his hands, shaking his head. “You too, Hansel?! I never took you to be a superstitious fool like the rest of them! How many ‘cursed’ and ‘guarded’ sanctuaries have we broken into without so much as a scratch on us? Do I look blind to you? Has my flesh boiled? Do I become a mad beast beneath the full moon? It’s all just nonsense that these primitives make up to justify wasting their wealth by cramming it into these godforsaken holes in the ground!” Agitated, he shoves the crowbar into the space between the rough and smooth stone and heaves, using the leverage to break the seal on the door. With some effort, the monolith shifts; immediately a strange sound pours into the room, an odd wail of despair. The men shift uncomfortably, murmurs of dissent quickly coming from among them. “Oh, shut up! This door was sealed for centuries, it was just the trapped gas being released! Now help me finish opening this!” Shaking his head with annoyance, a few of his men reluctantly come forward, offering their assistance as they continued to lever the slab out of the way…
Vorian wakes with a start, finding himself face to face with the astonishingly comfortable mattress he had been provided with. It had been weeks since he had last dreamt of that time; it was hardly a welcome surprise, given the events of the previous night. Lifting himself off the bed, the noble straightens himself out, making his way to the washroom. Splashing some water onto his face, he looks into the mirror, noting that the plasma burns had already healed up rather well. Grinning wryly he steps away, stretching before noticing the note at the foot of the door.
“Just as I suspected…” he murmurs as he reads it over, folding it over and sliding it into his pocket. With everything that they had learned up to that point, it was no surprise that Rashida wanted to have matters discussed. What was their next course of action? Why did Von Ryuko try to kill them? Where was he hiding now? The questions he had wanted to ask Mimi were no doubt the same everyone else had. Perhaps they had the answers that he did not. Looking about the room, Vorian recalls that he had left the rest of his luggage in the mansion, meaning he could not change his clothes.
No matter, he thinks, opening the suitcase at the foot of his bed. Remembering that he had not even bothered to disassemble his gun, he quickly does so, stowing its pieces away in their designated slots. After doing so, he opens another compartment on the case, extracting a small bronze flask from its holdings, much like the one at his belt. Pulling the latter off, he holds the two side by side, assessing the weight of their contents. It will have to do… With a grimace, he removes both of their stoppers, before holding the silver flask’s lip to the bronze one’s. Slowly, he carefully decants the contents of the flask, combining them in the bronze vessel. The luminescent gold fluid hisses as it briefly makes contact with the air, releasing small wisps of steam that curled into the air. Leaving but an ounce in the silver flask, Vorian downs the draught with one gulp before stowing the flask away in the suitcase, placing the full one on his belt. So long as I’m more mindful of my limits, there shouldn’t be a repeat of last night.
Famished, Vorian picks out a cane from his suitcase before locking it, and makes his way out of the room and towards the dining hall. He had had little to eat asides from that strange dish back at the ballroom. As much as he detested Von Ryuko, he could hardly deny that the man had excellent taste in food. Reaching the dining room, he quickly spots Kittington, regarding her with a smile.
“Ah, good afternoon, Duchess. I hope you fare well?”
At hearing Vorian's voice, the Duchess's ears perk up slightly and she stands at attention, "Ah, Lord Ritter, I am doing rather well this morning. Or I suppose afternoon? I have not been one to keep time..." The feline Duchess considers that a moment and says, "Be sure that I will do whatever I can to recover what you've lost because of me... I didn't realize the consequences, and I should have calculated them better."
She looks up apologetically at Vorian, if one can imagine a cat appearing apologetic. "I did not realize how weary I was until I found that heating vent, and I just got so comfortable that I closed my eyes and several hours later, well, I was feeling a bit hungry. Are you feeling a bit peckish yourself?"
Vorian grimaces at the mention of his stolen ship, still troubled by the incident. "I wanted to be angry with you, to be honest," he starts, brushing aside a lock of hair, "But it was be futile. I'm already so angry with myself... and even more so with Von Ryuko. It's like there is nothing left to give. You are an ally; that is all that counts right now." With a genuine smile he takes a whiff of the air, the smell of food distinct and welcome.
"Ah yes, I could use a good meal right about now. I've been curious of the competence of Lady Massri's cooks..."
|Mimi Von Sollier|
Whether she lays in the arms of Morpheus not is a mystery. Mimi's soft form is upon the bed, eyes closed. At some unseen command, she lithely rolls off and her eyes flash open bright and alert. "A beautiful day. Hmmm." she draws a finger across her body. "Yes, a shower is needed."
Within the hour she enters the dining room sweeping in, looking radiant. Auburn locks piled high, with a few tresses curling down her face to artfully frame it. A long dress, quite impractical for sitting and eating, but nicely clinging to her shapely form.
"It's Mimi! Isn't this nice, Lady Massri is so kind." she cannot keep the exuberance out of her voice, obviously she hadn't worn a gown that frequently. She spins around, the dress slightly billowing.
A disturbed night's sleep, Cassie tosses and turns, ignoring the occassional pain in her side. At the back of her mind she knows that there's something wrong....
Just a noise in audible in the back of her mind; or the slight motion of the ship. Initailly in her drugged, sleep-deprived mind she puts it down to the unfamiliar ship. In her dreams she hears a wailing; the feeling of soul crying in pain.
Awaking the sound still echoes in her mind; 'The Engine....there is something wrong with him....'
She rolls from the bed hitting the floor with a crouch that sends a shooting pain from her wounded midriff. Quickly she throws on a black dress and runs her fingers through her hair, then she's off in a sprint to the engine-room.
She finds a couple of Ament's crew hastily powering down one of the drive assemblies for the port 'wings'. It is being powered but not driving and they are ready to open the casing where the linkages reside.
"What is going on?" Cassie rushes into the room, barefooted and feeling the hum of the engine beneath her feet. "Sabotage?! One of the engines has been broken!" she exclaims her voice high pitched in anguish.
They glance at her in surprise and relief. "We lost power to the port drives, ma'am, though there's nothing wrong with the power plant you installed. We need to check the linkages." They proceed to undo the cover bolts. Inside it's a bit of a mess where a tidy coupling should reside. One of the linking arms weas apparently bent and has overstressed, fracturing and allowing the reversing rod to drive ungovernored.
Cassie oversees the operation one arm grasping the other as a chill runs through her. Oddly, there is a piece of paper stuck to the inside of the cover they remove.
The men look at it in confusion. "That wasn't there last time we did maintenance."
"Give us it here." she snaps the cold feeling spreading
If you are reading this, then you left without me. Shame on you. I couldn't let that go unpunished. Beware the next time we meet.
I look forward to it.
"What a mess," one engineer says, "I think we can fix it. We do have spare parts and a machine bench."
"...énorme bâtard sanglante...." she exclaims softly clasping the note to her bosom. "Yes, do it!"
Then she takes a breath; "Thank you, good thinking." she says to him kindly.
One of the men rummages through the parts cabinet and pulls out a case labeled linkages.
It does not rattle.
"This is too light." he says querelously.
"Je vais l'enculer avec une fourchette à poisson." she says loudly and passionately.
He opens it to reveal another note:
Did you think I would forget to remove the spares? They are with me or scattered along the airfield by now. Feel free to pick them up. Oh, dear. You're probably well away, aren't you? How sad.
Cassie mutters under her breath; "He wants to play with a Frenchwoman. I'll show him."
One engineer groans while the other shakes his head. "I cannot believe this happened. Ma'am... I think I can fashion something at the workbench but it may take a while. We can't use weak parts in this linkage."
Turning her sharp gaze to the engineers, her ire dampened by his words. "Good! For now we will have to make do."
The other breaks in, "We may be able to scavenge the vertical lift assembly..." and the other replies, "No no, that would never..." as they descend into an engineer's argument.
Cassie takes a step back and places a hand upon the misty power source, it swirls near her - reassured by her familiar touch. "It's alright." she whispers.
Her hand gently stroking the transparent cylinder, the engine whirs low as the power slows responding to the dancers presence.
"We'll have it fixed within an hour or two, ma'am." "What? It will take a day, at least!" They continue arguing.
Cassie whirls into the Dining area, her face a thunder cloud of rage. Both notes crumpled tightly in her hand, whether in anger or some other emotion.
"We Dead! Dead in the sky that is!" Cassie announces, her eyes dark and her voice filled with passion. "The linkage between the engine and the distributor was sheared and when I get hold of the culprit..." She smiles wicked at her thoughts, before calming down.
Though she was annoyed, the French woman isn't cruel or overly vengeful.
"Good afternoon to you as well, Madam DuSollier," Vorian says as he works his knife on the meal set before him. It was a smoked meat of some sort; hardly luxurious, but anything would have tasted good to him right about then. Popping the morsel into his mouth, he chews on the tender meat, savoring its flavor. After swallowing, he dabs at his mouth with a napkin. "Now what is this about us being dead? Sabotage?"
"Oh, Monsieur Ritter, I do apologise. I didn't mean to be so rude. But he gets me so riled up!" Cassies says looking abashed, whilst her face still looks slightly bashed. There is a swelling to the left side of her face, with a pallette of colours spread across.
She carefully takes a sip from a glass upon the table. "It's not that bad." her voice slowly becoming calmer but there is a hint of fire to it. "The problem will take anywhere from an afternoon to a couple of days to fix, but until then we flounder."
"Von Ryuko will be lost to use and Gigus' spirit will continue to languish!" she says pouting.
"Think nothing of it, I was merely jesting." Vorian sets his silverware down, stopping to seriously consider their situation. For the time being, it did not look like they were going anywhere fast. "Well, we had might as well use this to our advantage. As of now, I do not believe we have any idea where we are even going. All we must do now is wait on the others."
"So, how shall you take advantage?" Cassie replies flirtatiously, quickly recovering her emotions, if not her decorum. With a quick wink to her double, the dancer seeming to be more used to seeing herself around. 'I should try to make up with her, Mimi? Is that her name?'
Putting her legs underneath her, she comfortably takes a seat at the table. Eyes flicking to the beautiful helmet-cat in the corner.
'I have to speak to her what shall I say! I am so embarrassed, I haven't been so embarrassed since the incident with the wobbly pink blancmange at the ambassador of Genoa's Ball.' Cassie looks towards Mimi chewing slightly upon the end of her hair.
"So, about yesterday..... Mimi is it?" Cassie pauses nervously. "I'm sorry. It wasn't you I meant to hurt, I thought you had hurt Rashida and Taraz." she continues softly words laden emotion, regret and sorrow.
Shaking her head slightly; "I wasn't angry at you after that, but I just.... I need.... to protect someone. Sorry." she ends lamely.
"It was a good fight though." she raises her eyebrows cheekily, a sense of pride for her accomplishments in the fight and respect for her opponent.
|Mimi Von Sollier|
Mimi gets up and stalks towards the seated Cassie; who flinches as the replicant raises her hand. Mimi pulls the hair from the corners of Cassies full ruby lips; "Mother told you not to do that, it ruins the ends."
'Poor girl, trying too hard.' She thinks gently; "It's alright." She drags the French ladies head close, into her bosom in a tight and awkward hug. "It'll be alright." she tries to repeat the mantra in a matronly manner, which goes against her youthful appearance.
It was a strange sight, seeing the two Cassies regard each other with such kindness when they had fought each other so fiercely the night before. And yet, Vorian could not help to find the exchange endearing; being the gentleman that he is, his mind does not even fall into the gutter. He simply smiles knowingly as he continues to eat, pretending to pay the two no mind.
"Oh dear, I seem to have drifted off again," says the Duchess, snapping awake and rising up to her feet to hop up on a chair to peer over the table as best she can, head tilted up so her eyes can see. She sniffs at the apparent Cassies in an attempt to figure out which one is which before filing both scents away for future reference. "If someone would be kind enough to pour me some drink..."
"Gladly, Duchess." Rashida saunters in wearing a light linen pantsuit. "Good afternoon... evening? I hope everyone was able to rest some. I see we're still not all here." She moves gracefully to the sideboard where she pours a bowl of cream and fills another with tuna for the Duchess, then prepares a plate of chicken salad croissants, greens, and yoghurt for herself, along with a cup of strong coffee.
"I visited the bridge and the captain briefed me on events of the day. We have a prisoner in the brig, brought aboard just before we cast off. He claims to have worked for Von Ryuko as some sort of scientist. He could be quite a prize. I, for one, have many questions to ask him."
She falls upon the food with gusto and finishes rapidly, then looks longingly at the sideboard. "I'm not sure if I should have more or not. Oh well, it's there. There's always more." She moves to refill her plate.
"I also hear we have mechanical issues. Cassie, is that anything we should be concerned about? Can you help? I saw we have the ornithopter on board. Do we need to try to fly to the nearest port for parts?"
"Of course, we have the question of Von Ryuko - what he's up to and where he's gone. And of Lord Ritter's ship - where it's gone and what may have been aboard. The answer to the second question may determine the first, if my bro-... Gahiji took it. And of the Masons - what were they doing there and what are they up to now? Did I miss anything?"
She sits and digs in again. "I certainly hope this hunger slacks off soon."
Cassie pushes away from Mimi's bosom, with a little shake of her head. "Not so tight." she mumbles extracting herself as the Egyptian woman enters . She looks slightly abashed, "Ah... you're up! Glad to see you."
"A captive, maybe he knows where Gigus' body is!" her enthusiasm is suddenly infectious.
"Can I speak to you about you're brother later?" Cassie says hopefully.
"The Ornithopter! Of course, but it could probably only take 2 of us and the Duchess. How far are we from the nearest island? I think there should be parts there, even if as I have heard the practise voodoo!" Cassie says in a shocked tone!
"Done something to work up an appetite?" Cassie says quietly whilst winking cheekily to Rashida.
"Your brother, you say?" Vorian says aloud, rubbing the stubble on his chin thoughtfully. He had seen the man-lion make his way to the Virago, so it only made sense that he was the one who took it. But at the time, he did not know why. "Yes, that certainly explains a few things... I do believe he'll find exactly what he is looking on board. Most of it, at least. But I don't understand, are both you and your brother not aligned with your clan?"
Are all from her family so strange? he thinks, pressing his fingertips against his temples. Shaking his head, he decides to address the more pressing issue.
"Von Ryuko's island was rather far off from any civilization; I should have been more suspicious when he initially gave me the coordinates. In which case, if there are any other islands around, I doubt that they will be able to provide components. How far are we from the mainland?"
"Closer to the island than to the Continent, unfortunately, Lord Ritter," Rashida frowns, "But... you can confirm that you actually had, er, remains on board the Virago? That would be his primary interest. That creature and I are nominally aligned, but... further discussion should probably be done somewhere more private, Lord Ritter. If he has absconded with ancient remains, it could be very bad news indeed. I speak not for the Massri Clan, but for the world." Rashida pushes her plate away and sits back to sip coffee.
"I am hungry because of the first contact with my goddess, Cassie, and the need to heal the near-fatal injuries that the bot of Gahiji..." her eyes briefly flick to Mimi and away "...inflicted. His insistence on killing me slowly and watching my face as he died was his downfall. That should tell you of my relationship with him. The prospect of imminent death finally persuaded me to stop resisting the goddess' presence and allow her the use of my body. She repaid me with healing, but the energy depletion was severe. She cannot provide energy, only use what is there to do her work. Fortunately, his general idiocy led him to divulge why Lord Ritter's treasures are so important, assuming I would be dead in moments and wishing me to die in utter despair. The bot, though it knew what it was, had Gahiji's full memories. Fortunately for us. And it hated me just as much as he does."
Rashida rises and walks to the bank of windows overlooking the vast ocean. "Cassie, you must give up the idea of finding Gigus' body. What he needs is not that one, but a new one, untainted by Von Ryuko. Maybe that scientist can help construct something suitable. He must be questioned."
She turns to fix Mimi with a stern gaze. "In the meantime, we need answers, Mimi. Why did Von Ryuko attempt all our lives? Where did he go? I... I can tell you all now, he tried to persuade me to work with him at the dance, to aid in your deaths. I declined. But though he offered rewards, he gave me no insight into his motivation. His only commentary was that it was for the good of the Massri Clan that you die. Which, under the circumstances, is good enough reason for me to want you alive." Her voice drops to a low murmur for the last sentence, and she looks to the door nervously to see that nobody is there before she delivers it.
The Duchess's ears perk up at hearing that Rashida was made an offer to help in the slaying of the nobles. "Aha, did he make such an offer to you? I think... that he might have thought I had inherited the skillset of my mother. Which I suppose I did, but it is not a set of skills that I would ever intend to actually use..."
"Have any of you heard of the Cold Star affair? That was my mother, and the consciousness that, quite unfortunately, hopped into Lord Ritter's ship... I think he thought that he particular brand of stealth would have been of use, but... er, to draw the link between myself and my mother, I did not want to mention it then, that could have been suicide..." says the Duchess, considering that. "The difference, I suppose, is not in skills or strength, but states of mind. I am no psychopath. After devouring a Ulrich-Marcia rat, my mother's brain was irradiated, and she seemed to lose any sense of right or wrong. Or really, anything except for cleverness and hate... I am relieved that, at least now, there is no suspicion placed on me by saying so..."
Rashida looks at Meowselsworth in some surprise. "Your mother's consciousness hopped into Virago? How? Why? And did he make you a similar offer, to help the others into the afterlife?" She quirks an eyebrow in question at Vorian and Cassie. "I would not be surprised to find that we had all been made a similar offer. Probably all bogus."
Pouting slightly as Rashida is not pleased with her naughtiness; 'I am sure that we'll have no talks about Taraz's...' However she doesn't quit understand this talk of a Goddess and is intrigued.
"I just wanted to find his remains, Gigus was a sweetie. He deserved better than to be lost. And his body could give us clues to his spirit!" Cassie is slightly incoherent.
Under Rashida's gaze Cassie squirms in her chair; "Gahiji didn't quite make that offer." she looks away blushing slightly. "Oh, you were talking about Von Ryuko....he made no offers to me?" Cassie thinks back to her previous meetings with The Baron and shivers.
"Why? Well, she was trying to seize control of my mind, which she couldn't, as my mental and technological defenses are actually rather decent... but instead of being a whisper in my head, she had a chance to become a killing machine. And so... she hopped," says the Duchess, a shrug in her voice if not on her shoulders. "It's a rather complicated and unusual situation... And yes, Von Ryuko wanted to use my skills, but as I said... I would very nearly consider myself a pacifist..."
|Mimi Von Sollier|