The Traveler Chronicles: An Interstellar Adventure

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  1. At first glance...
    There's a little store that sits in the middle of the street with nothing too abnormal in its peculiarities. You walk pass it every afternoon and only do you peer into the distorted and oddly colored front windows today. Through the glass, you take note of the shop's wares and into the shop itself. Sitting there for everyone to see are objects expected to be inside any antiques store: gleaming metal typewriters, old watches that still tick and tell the correct time, clunky telephones with rotary dials, and obscure journals full of scrawling handwriting.

    Removing your face from where it's been plastered to for the last few minutes, you turn to the entrance of the store. The door is what makes the shop peculiar; even then, it's only because it's obviously a marketing gamble to attract attention and interest. The owner must have been trying to appeal to people interested in steampunk because there are intricate gears carved into the metal and a working hatch instead of a doorknob. Grabbing the wheel, you swing it to the right forcefully; so forcefully that the door swings open with a bang, and you find yourself within a small room.

    There are tiny aisles and old antiques just as you expected. Leaning against the counter, fiddling with scraps of metal and a small journal, is the cashier. He's young and moves with ease though there are times where his joints stiffen up mid-motion. When that happens, he swipes at the stiffened area quickly and is back to moving like a well-oiled machine. The sound of you entering has him glancing up at you with a lazy wave only to turn back to the metal and journal. You look around the shop, already forgetting him.

    You rub at your eyes and squint around you. The lighting from the grand chandelier dangling from the ceiling seems golden and puts the room into a sepia perspective, but then it changes to a different sort of gold that's more like glitter and crystal than sepia. Model blimps hang from the ceiling and look like they actually hover around the room, but that doesn't seem like something found in an antiques store. Hanging from suspended pots are plants you've never seen before of the strangest shapes and colors. They grow in indiscernible spots throughout the room and you're sure you just saw some of them move. Dust, probably pollen, hangs around the flowers and shimmers in the golden light.

    There's so much to focus on in the store that you look at the walls instead. On them are faded blueprints, drafts, and hand drawn maps pinned over half of them. The other half is dedicated to portraits, paintings, and photographs. None of them seem to be formal portraits but rather candid shots. When you stare at one the subject looks blurry as if moving inside the frame. The things being photographed are odd too, misshapen forms and bad photos of animals making it seem like they've got wings or extra features. Some of them don't even appear to be real animals, at least none that you've ever seen. Turning your attention to the landscapes and paintings, you realize that they're all fictional because there weren't tiny winged people living in giant trees and, admittedly, adorable androids back a century ago. You concede to the fact that the painters have great talent and imaginations because those animals equipped with mechanical limbs look real.

    The walls are too confusing and so your attention goes to the actual stuff inside the shoppe. On a nearby table sit shined compasses and gyroscopes, old rulers and telescopes, an inaccurate planetarium with too many planets, microscopes, and even dusty tubes. Next to them are failed inventions from the forward thinkers of that time: guns and rays, time tellers with too many hands, gramophones that make weird sounds when you turn them on, there are even straps to a pair of metal wings attached to some harnesses. You blink when you see Nicola Tesla's attempt at a death ray. Striding away from that table, you go to the next one. On it are tons of journals on unbelievable species and experiments. You don't even glance at them after seeing the words "fire, pairs of eyes, and acid."

    Taking it all in, you wonder why it isn't until now that you decided to come in. Everything in there is tastefully and haphazardly placed with artistic abandon. It seems just like what youre looking for even. Actually, you don't know what you're looking for, but you get a feeling in the space behind your heart and at the bottom of your lungs that you'll find it here. Your lips quirk into a smile. You feel like you could spend ages in here and time will pass like it's only been seconds.

    It's such a delightful haven that it feels like you could make it your own personal Wonderland where, instead of falling down a rabbit hole, you got here through a gleaming metal hatch and was met with glitter and gold; you wonder if they've got what you want.

    On second thought...
    You aren't so sure that this is such a normal shop after all. In fact, you're positive that this isn't an antiques shop as it advertises on the sign swinging above the door. There are antiques, oh they certainly are, and they're all very real, but they're not the antiques you had assumed them to be. They're from nowhere you've been of or heard of except in fantastical stories. The store is authentic, most definitely, but the myriad of things in here are from another world. Worlds to be correct.
    #1 anonymph, Feb 17, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 13, 2015
  2. J O U R N A L

    24.3.2018 - 2:14
    24.3.2018 - 2:14 (open)
    I’m Solomon Key~ :D and this is the new journal I’m starting to document this new adventuring team that’s just walked in. The two making up the team have yet to be observed and their information will be entered in as they’re figured out. Here’s to first impressions!

    The “sword” half of the partnership is a girl. Average height, about 5’4” if I had to guess. Most likely of German and/or other northern European descent. College age, first/second year. Red coat; black shirt, pants; brown boots; white gloves. First assumption: loud and narcissistic. Blonde hair tied in a braid; bangs still in her face; hazel eyes; looks smug and haughty. Second assumption: trouble with a superiority complex and nothing to back it up.

    The “shield” half of the partnership is also a girl. Average height, about 5’3” as a guess. Probably Asian descent, most likely southeast Asian country. College age, first/second year. Black vest; cream shirt; cream shorts; black shoes; pink glasses; floppy pink hat. First assumption: meek and skittish. Blonde hair, short, most likely dyed; messy bangs and side bangs; black eyes; looks bored and withdrawn. Also, black nails. Second assumption: doormat trying too hard to be unique and ending up “quirky.”

    Sword (to continue this metaphor, she would be a fencing foil. A saber or epee perhaps).
    Guess: admires male physique?
    Guess: choice of study is machinery.
    Guess: lack of empathy.
    Planetarium of the Lisstway system observed.
    Silver wings of Kritas examined.
    Guess: a subconscious want for the unknown and fantastical.

    Shield (a scutcheon maybe).
    Guess: follower of society’s rules and polite social norms.
    Plants attract attention. Dead leaves observed.
    Guess: a skeptical doormat.
    Sees shield, immediately walks away.
    Guess: antisocial habits.
    Looks at map and journal table. Exasperation or disbelief.
    Goes on to bookshelves and takes out journals. Promptly shuts Iglefog Bgholu, Chit Un just as fast as she takes it out.
    Guess: foreign languages hold no interest to her.
    Opens Tedravuls and Romaras: A Look at Sectaric Culture, Biology, and More. Widened eyes, interest obvious.
    Guess: fan of books, “faux” scientific genre. Goes to Krow with book in hand.

    Epee (sword type decided).
    Handles planetarium cautiously.
    Aware of her oddities.
    Admires face again for longer. Would be awkward if either of them had shame.
    Talks about planetarium for a ridiculous amount of time, adds in terms and observations average person would be unaware of.
    Field of study guess confirmed.
    Catches herself, semi apologizes.
    Guess: brazen personality result of lack of scolding in childhood.
    Guess: opportunistic and self-confident.
    Guess: fast reflexes & observation skills.
    Guess: wary
    Curiosity wins out.

    Scutcheon (shield type affirmed).
    Guess: nosy. Enjoys knowing things not intended for her. Want to be included?
    Guess: hasty. Impatient. Unused to waiting her turn.
    Guess: once wary, always will be. Cautious personality. Past trauma?
    Guess: introspective. Possibly larger ego than first assumed.
    Following of social norms guess confirmed.
    Guess: field of study is English or literature. Obviously. Look at her.
    Guess: self-explanatory. Feels the need to justify actions.
    Guess: indecisive.
    Curiosity wins out.

    Epee and Scutcheon: strangers. Don’t worry, that’ll change ;)

    Guess: wary of unknown. Confirmation unneeded because duh :P
    Guess: has a positive association with lights. Scared of the dark as a child?
    Guess: unused to chaos. Grew up neat and orderly?
    Guess: in denial. Doesn’t believe in her own eyes.
    Guess: empathetic in negative emotions. Hopes others feel same anxiety/awe as herself. Used to exclusion?
    Guess: awkward around others.
    Antisocial habits confirmed.
    Nosy personality confirmed.

    Guess: already has a distaste for living beings.
    Guess: nosy. Will get along with shield just fine in this regard :D
    Guess: loner type. Uncaring of negative connotations.
    Guess: “judges book by cover” negative assumption of Shield.
    Guess: often in positions of leading. Has assumed they will always be her’s because of it.
    Guess: familiar with machinery noises. If it wasn’t obvious by now...
    Guess: might not like living things, but would like to recreate them with technology. Replacement for actual friends?
    Guess: had imaginary friends?
    Guess: childish, immature. Fidgety. Impatient.
    Guess: not a skeptic. Believer in the improbable?
    Guess: babbles to self. Nobody to converse with?
    Guess: controls flow of conversation easily. The instigator of talks with strangers?
    Guess: tactile? Not too many people do handshakes now.

    I’ll continue this after I send them off~ toodles journal! I’ll leave off one last note though.

    Sword and Shield think me strange. Like everyone else. But my hair’s fabber than theirs.

    24.3.2018 - 14:42 (open)
    I just sent those two off and man, are they grouchy? Lol they’re totally gonna be best friends by the end of it ;D haha, I might not be from the future, but history totally loves to repeat itself. But OK, onto those two!

    Sword (type names sounded weird after some thought): Petra.

    Guess: was about to hit self on forehead. Obvious epiphany?
    Guess: seemed not to enjoy my kind attempt at humor and modern slang. Thinks herself to be mature? Xenophobic? Idk w/e :\

    Shield: Sybille.
    Guess: hand tightened around purse. Does not accept Petra’s hand. Weird. Germophobic or something? Doesn’t seem too polite like last time? Maybe doesn’t like Petra/confident people? Jealousy? Girl, she got too many problems.
    Guess: a damsel in distress type? Totally looked relieved when I came in before she had to shake Petra’s hand. I don’t wanna be her hero, guys.
    Guess: totally feels out of place. Doesn’t want to be here? What, does meeting me feel that awks?
    Guess: same reaction as Petra to meeting me. Lame. They’ll get along fine tho
    Guess: woah, totes looks like an old lady with all this sighing and being annoyed at me business of hers. Does not like children?
    Guess: looks like she’s no doormat. Answered my question like that. It was rhetorical, but whatevs
    Guess: all eyes on her and she nearly froze up. Ignored as kid? Not meant to be in spotlight. Would not recommend acting career.
    Guess: eyebrow twitched after talking with me, a tell? Like in poker? A tell of annoyance? Would not recommend playing poker w/ people like me.

    I like annoying these kids.

    Guess: totally mad at being REJECTED by Sybille. Look at that pout haha.
    Thoughts on her shield? R00d.
    Guess: has no empathy. She totally laughed at Sybille when she was talking to me.
    Guess: was not admiring Krow’s male physique. Was admiring how well sculpted his face was. Into robotics?
    Guess: confused over what Krow is. (psst, he’s not a robot). Open book, all emotions on display. Girl, you gonna get your taken advantage of one day.
    Guess: haughty much? Expects to get her way always. Spoiled brats.
    Guess: doesn’t seem put off by my vagueness. Used to it?
    Guess: saw you weirded out by my wink. Is that not a thing anymore?
    Guess: eye rolling. Exasperated? Over what though, hmm.
    Guess: not very observant of her closest surroundings.
    Guess: wide-eyed. Wasn’t expecting that were you? I’m layered like an onion.
    Guess: got that black/brown leather messenger bag. Adventurous type? Heh, don’t shoot the messenger.
    Guess: key turned from template into a metal sculpture. Swirly waves separating and forming bars of a cage and inside’s a black pearl and coin for a handle. Key kept brass metallic sheen. This is symbolism for something isn’t it?
    Guess: she’s an onion too.
    Guess: didn’t need convincing to come along for the ride. Seems to want Sybille to come along? Weird friendships start weirdly.
    Guess: not good with emotions. They’re not gonna be friends quick.

    Guess: need to know she’s not an outlier. Again, way too many probs.
    Guess: giggled at Petra. They haven’t even talked talked yet and they’re already goading each other?
    Guess: also owner of shitty observational skills.
    Guess: easily annoyed. Should not work with children.
    Guess: judging me. Idc
    Guess: got the blue leather backpack. What is up with kids and leather? It’s a cute bag though. Surprisingly childish for her. Hmm.
    Guess: huh, she got the notebook. Not surprised tbh.
    Guess: key turned from template into longer, thinner antique-ish key. Became white, kept shine. Pearl for handle as well. Similar much? Band changed for her into girly gold thing. These girls are not that layered, nvm
    Guess: uncomfortable with how right I am. Don’t worry, most people are. She’s gonna need some more poking before she leaves though.
    Guess: both girls are thoroughly irritated with the other. This is great.
    Guess: don’t want to be traveling together. Guess who’s still traveling together?
    Guess: the polite judgment is strong in her. She’d be great as a court lady.

    Note to self: the way you talk and the way you write is very different.

    Guess: very happy her scheme worked. She finally got Sybille’s name at least.
    Guess: doesn't know how to take a really bad joke. Or maybe she does? Ah, youngsters and their hate.
    Guess: likes the bag at least.
    Guess: likes upfront people. Dislike for Sybille stems from her manners, possibly. Had a betrayal or big lie in past?
    Guess: really good at mocking people. Had many times to do this? For herself or for others though? Maybe avoid acting.
    She just felt up the portal. Tactile individual guess confirmed.
    And she's out.

    Guess: wasn't expecting that was she? hahahaha
    Guess: indecisive much? Also, needing to poke her into adventuring guess confirmed.
    Guess: mentioning Petra does the trick. Competitive doormat.

    I'll write about them in Nyadrin. Then I'll have to refer to my journal on Nyadrin's culture and its inhabitants. Ughhhh, this is so much work to do for no one to ever read it! Whatever, I gotta do this as a... mentor? You know, I never really learned what the correct name for my people is. Weird. But I like the sound of "mentor." Solomon, out~

    24.3.2018 - 14:55 (open)

    I actually had to dig the old Nyadrin journal up and now I have to rewrite this into a new journal? So much work! Alright, now for the info dump reveal of their first planet: Nyadrin!

    The world: Nyadrin (duh :P)
    Before covered in over 95 percent water, now at 97 percent. The reason for the water increase I’ll go into later.
    Its explored regions are at 98 percent going from the surface water down to the bottom of the sea. Warm right around the top, and steadily decreases in temperature. The bottom is only 1000 meters away from the planet's core. At 5000 meters from the bottom, the water slowly gets hotter. The core of a world does that to water.

    The delyns: most advanced race on Nyadrin
    In comparison to Earth? Yeah, these guys are the human equivalent. 40 percent of delyns have tails like "mermaids/men" while the remaining 60 percent have four limbs. The delyns with tails are known as giumdas (gee-um-dah-s); the delyns with legs are known as varcruva (var-crew-va).

    Giumdas delyns:
    Kinda vain, a little bit narcissistic, and a little flaky. They measure their position in society (and their wealth) through the amount of jewels they bedeck themselves in. The more sparkles, the more power. They have this unfortunate predisposition to be called "gium supremacists" what with their exclusion of anyone with four limbs and no tails. They can only live in various cities all along the surface, but the one their King (with a capital K) lives in is called Lucarem. They're not equipped to handle freezing cold waters or extreme water pressure.

    Varcruva delyns:
    Actually pretty OK in comparison. They're all very good at adapting to things and are stealthy as hell. It sounds like they aren't when I say they all really like neon lights and flashy things (god, they're like magpies) but they're pretty good at sneaking around. Let's just say that they're the opposite of the giums. Less is more for them; clothes? No one cares. Wealth? Sure, parade it around, but everyone's gonna take it from you for funsies. They're major city is known as Aritum and is just as adaptable as its population. They also have this problem of not taking things lying down. The cruva rebels are like those stories with Robin Hood and tights? They do that sort of thing.

    The situation:
    Tensions between giums and cruvas at an all time high. The world's going through some problems where the temperature differences aren't as extreme and giums and delyns are finally mingling. When I write "mingle," I mean "fight." It's not pretty. That whole problem with murder and all. Some decrees are going through, the kings refuse to talk to each other. (cruva have a system like that one country-England! Except he's got a bit more power, but there's still a parliament. Not the case with giums.)
    #2 anonymph, Feb 17, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 21, 2015
  3. The door was what struck her interest in the store initially. Petra, in the years she traveled between campus and the dormitories, had never so much as glanced at the store until that moment even though she walked the street daily. It was only when the side with the cafés and bookstores as well as cute family restaurants she tended to walk along decided to repave their sidewalk that she wound up on the other side with the stores and boutiques.

    Sitting humbly between a nail salon and a bakery, there was the antique shop. It wasn't the objects in the window display that struck her attention as she made her way back to her dorm. The typewriters and the time pieces were things of complexly crafted beauty made by deft hands for sure, but it was the door that convinced her to enter. She was intrigued by the protruding entrance, much like something she'd see on submarines or as openings on ship hulls.

    It gleamed in the sunlight, all buffed bronze metal and carefully crafted accents. She ran her hand over both the minute carvings and the visible ones with her fingertips. Whoever had carved the door made a masterpiece. There was no doorknob to ruin the aesthetic either; there was a hatch set in the middle instead. Grasping the wheel like she would with a car, she swung it swiftly to the left. The door swung open on silent hinges toward her and no tiny bell rang above her like she expected.

    Petra stepped inside, gazing in interest. Behind her, the door swung shut with a dull thud. It must have been weighted and the doorway must have been lined to make such a smooth entrance. If she had to admit it, she'd say she was in awe because of that door. It lingered as a thought in the back of her mind even as she took in the shoppe. On the left side of the room was the cashier, a guy older than her she'd never seen around town, behind a polished wood counter. He looked up at her with a quirk of the lips and a quick wave before he turned back to something she couldn't see. His facial structure was something she wouldn't have forgotten in its uniqueness.

    Immediately, she zoned in on a table on the other side of the room laid out with intricately made metal objects. On the wall it was set against, there was a portrait (more like a candid photo) of a group of men and women laughing in similar clothing. Looking down at what she was wearing, the clothes were actually a lot like hers too. They all wore the same red coat ending at their ankles except her's didn't have coat tails. But who cared about a boring portrait?

    The incorrect planetarium was far more interesting. Petra eyed the gold planets in their place and the contraption as a whole. Maybe it worked, maybe it didn't, but she didn't want to touch the delicate instrument. Not that she didn't want to. The gears were so tiny and they looked that they could click into place and move. Damn, if only she lived when all of these things were made.

    The chandelier she noticed before but paid no attention to darkened from the clear light it gave out before to a more sepia light like old photo or yellow car headlights. With the change of lighting, a nearby pair of metal wings gleamed. The feathers were actually silver and attached together with something she didn't care about, but they were the exact sort of wings she pictured when she read Icarus. Cautiously, she cradled a few in her hand. Every single sliver had lines on them like genuine bird feathers.

    As excited as Petra was becoming over everything inside the shoppe, she grew curious to where they came from. Most antiques stores, not that she'd been inside many, had old books and cheap desks; this one had inventions and scientific equipment she hadn't even known the 1800s was capable of. The blimps hovering around the ceiling and moving, spindly plants were also some things to consider. Maybe she'd ask the owner.
    #3 anonymph, Feb 21, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2015
  4. More than a little annoyed, Sybille strode along the sidewalk opposite of where she wished to be. With no classes today and the café she wanted to visit blocked by the sidewalk renovation, she had nothing to do and nowhere to study. Her dorm was hardly appropriate, with her annoying roommate telling her to “get outside” every five minutes.

    A golden gleam caught her attention and she slowed to peruse the peculiar store window. It was an antique shop, full of shining knickknacks and collectables. Gold and silver glinted in the sunlight, as if enchanting her into entering. Moving to the door, she found it to be similar to that of a naval vessel, with a hatch instead of a doorknob. It added to the charming strangeness of the shop, and she entered the shop with an improved mood.

    The place was cramped, to say the least. Particles, presumably dust, floated in the sepia-tinted light. It was as if Sybille had entered her grandmother’s attic, except all the clutter was spread out and for sale instead of packed away in boxes and under sheets. The cashier at the counter, a slightly older man, gave her a smile and wave. She returned the gestures politely before turning her attention upwards. Plants in weird colors and shapes spread across the ceiling and hung across the walls. A few dead leaves were scattered around, and when she picked one up it appeared to reflect the light. It must have been sprayed with something to give off such a glow.

    Setting the leaf back down, Sybille began to leisurely examine the store. Another person, presumably a girl with a long blonde braid, stood looking over a table full of intricate metal pieces. Not wanting to interact with anyone at the moment, she turned to the opposite side of the store, away from the other girl. Maps and journals were spread out on tables against the wall. The maps appeared to be of fantasy worlds and countries, while the journals were full of scrawling words and strange symbols. Some were older, others had torn page, and a few seemed to be on the verge of falling apart. One was open to page of sketches, humanoids with six arms and four eyes climbing in different positions. Who would even sell these things, much less buy them.

    Continuing on, she found shelves full of books stacked to the ceiling, everything from thick tomes to thin little booklets. Pulling one delicately from its place, she opened to the first page, and was greeted with a cloud of dust. “Iglefolg Bgholu, Chit Un” the title read. Promptly shutting it, she set it back into its place and moved to the next one. This one was thankfully written in English, instead of Icelandic or whatever other language it was. “Tedravuls and Romaras: A Look at Sectaric Culture, Biology, and More.” Below were pictures of, in a word, aliens, with long tentacle-like tendrils coming out of their head and slit pupils. The book seemed to be a fake biology book on an alien race. It was incredibly well-written. Flipping through more pages, she found detailed pictures and descriptions of the alien species.

    Sybille wanted it. Looking back to the shelf, she found more books of roughly the same color and size, and examination found them to all be of different alien races. Someone must have had a lot of time on their hands to write all these books on fictional races. Examination turned up no price on the book. Sybille knit her eyebrows and turned the book over many more times, then look over the shelf to see if the price was listed there. It was not. She would have to ask the cashier.

    Navigating through the thin aisles, she found the cashier already chatting with the other customer. Not wanting to disturb them, but wanting to make her presence known so she could check out and get back home to read, she hovered around the desk. The conversation was intriguing and she found herself eavesdropping.
  5. After carefully grabbing the base of the planetarium, Petra watched her step as she made her way toward the front desk. Setting it down with a light thud, she got the attention of the cashier. He looked up from jotting something down in a small, leather notebook to raise his eyebrow at her in wry amusement. It must have been the way she carried the instrument with the delicacy as if it was a dying animal or crumbling piece of artwork. It really wasn't that bad; she'd seen an art major end up never touching anything without conservation gloves after he nearly dropped some precious canvas or other. If she wasn't in public, she would have rolled her eyes at the memory.

    She admired the cashier's face. Honestly though, she'd never seen him before. The town may have been large, but not big enough to not know most of the people there. She had never once saw- the name tag pinned to the front of his shirt said “Krow Reag” - Krow around any part of town before.

    Realizing she had been staring at him for longer than what most would deem polite, her eyes looked away and back to the reason she was there in the first place. Out of the corner of her eye, a flash of pink wandered around the shoppe. Huh, it seemed like this store got more business than she would have thought.

    Clearing her throat, Petra asked, "So I saw this beautiful and terribly off planetarium over there." She waved her hand behind her, in the general direction of the table she came from. "I've looked at a lot of metal sculptures before, but I've never seen something like this." She rambled on about the "precision," "artistry," "complexity," and how "unfortunate the planetarium had too many planets." Catching the blank look in Krow's eyes, she backtracked and stopped herself from saying anything more.

    "Er, sorry about that." She offered him a semi-sincere apologetic shrug. "I don't think I have the space for this in my dorm right now, but I'd like to put this on hold until I know I can buy it."

    "Alright," he agreed with casual acceptance. Another interesting thing about Krow, his voice rasped and echoed even though the room wasn't the type to do that. Very weird. He grasped the planetarium on the sides of its wooden base and ducked beneath the counter. Popping back up, he asked, "Do you need anything else?"

    Nothing too urgent, but since he asked... "Where did everything in this place come from? I've never even seen pictures of these inventions or heard about all these plants before." For a blink of an eye, she thought she saw him still. A potted plant next to the cash register, what looked like a venus fly trap with vines, moved.

    She might not have been a botanist or bio major, but plants didn't move like that. They were slow and only focused on tiny things. This venus flytrap shot out a tiny vine toward Krow's wrist and wrapped around it in a second. It opened its mouth (opening?) and there were thorns acting as teeth and an actual throat. Flinching away with a small gasp, she watched as Krow deftly plucked the vine off of his wrist and pat the plant into submission.

    That was definitely not normal. He stared at her lazily. "We find our wares from many locations. Would you like to see the owner?" Petra nodded at him and stepped aside. With a grim face, she leaned against the counter as she waited for him to finish dealing with the girl in pink she saw from earlier.
    #5 anonymph, Feb 28, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 10, 2015
  6. Tapping a finger against the cover of the book, Sybille pretended to examine the shop around her as she waited in the two person line. Although she generally stayed out of people’s business, she found herself subtly eavesdropping on the two conversing in front of her. The woman in front of her was rambling on about the “precision”, “artistry”, and “complexity” of the metal object she was holding. It appeared to be a planetarium, but it had too many planets and was wholly inaccurate. Sybille retreated back into her own thoughts, her impatience beginning to wear on her nerves.

    A motion caught her attention, and she startled as the plant by the cashier, previously still, shot out one of its vines and wrapped around his wrist. That was certainly abnormal. It opened its large mouth, displaying rows of teeth-like thorns. Goosebumps crept up her neck and arms, and she quickly scanned the area around her to make sure no plants were moving towards her. She inched away from under the plant suspended above her head.

    Realizing that the store had gone quiet, Sybille’s attention re-focused on the two in front of her. The cashier was giving at her an expectant look, and she realized it was her turn. She walked up to the counter and set the book down. The other girl seemed to be waiting for something, leaning against the counter.

    Sybille addressed the cashier with a polite smile.“I would like to know how much this book costs, please.” A glance at his name tag revealed his name to be Krow Reag. He picked up the book and began to type languidly on the register, which was also metallic. Sybille was sensing a theme with this store.

    “I’m also interested in who the author is. There’s no name listed, but there’s many like them on the shelf and they’re very well-written. I was wondering if it was the work of some science fiction author, especially someone popular like Douglas Adams, or Ray Bradbury, although Bradbury never went too far into the biology of his races, so maybe it was somebody else...“ She realized she was rambling, her excitement over literature getting the best of her. Taking a deep breath, she schooled her expression back into a polite smile. “I was just curious.”

    Krow seemed unaffected by her little monologue. “I do not know. Perhaps you would like to meet with the owner.” His gaze flickered over to the other girl for a moment. “We were just about to head down there.”

    Sybille set her mouth into a thin line, turning the idea in her head. On one hand, she wanted to get out of this shop (her allergies were beginning to act up, despite her medication) and maybe grab a cup of coffee. On the other hand… She really wanted to know about this book…. and the other books. All the other books.

    “Okay.” She said. “Let’s go.”

    Krow nodded before disappearing under the desk, presumably to place the book somewhere for safe keeping. He popped up again a moment later and motioned for the two girls to follow him. Sybille, in turn, motioned for the other girl to go ahead of her. She couldn’t remember seeing the blonde in any of her classes, but she looked like she was in her early twenties. Unsurprising, as this was a college town.

    The cashier led them to a door with a hatch, which lead into a back room filled with boxes and more antiques. In the back of this room was another door, and Krow spun the wheel with ease, revealing a tunnel with stairs that was dimly lit with orbs that floated close to the ceiling. He led the way down the tunnel, and Sybille nearly ran into the other girl while attempting to look at the lights. They seemed to just... float. She couldn’t see any sort of string or even bulbs. Like dozens of tiny, dim, golden suns hovering about. Maybe the shop had these for sale.

    The descent was fairly straight, with a few twist and turns. As they traveled, Sybille could hear the noise level increase. There was a steady amount of whirring, creaking, and clicking coming from wherever they were headed to. Soon enough, she could see an archway ahead, and the smell of oil and old books greeted them as they stepped into the massive space. From where she stood at the top of the stairs that led to the ground floor, it was like a whole other shop below the one she was just in. There were books in shelves far above her head, different machines turning and letting off steam, and tons of painting along the walls and hanging about. There were stairs leading to different levels and areas.

    Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs, Sybille had the urge to start touching stuff, like a kid in a toy store. A skeletal golden bird alighted on top of a globe next to her and let out a small song from its metallic beak. Orbs of light floated about, illuminating the room much like they did in the tunnel. She looked about in wonderment. Some of the paintings were almost too real, like pictures instead of brushstrokes. They even seemed to move, but of course that was just the lighting of the room. Pictures didn’t move.

    In fact, this entire place seemed off. Not in a bad way, it was just too surreal. Sybille chewed her lip, a nervous habit that she couldn’t rid herself of no matter how hard she tried. It felt as if she stepped straight into one of her fantasy books. Plants that moved like animals, books on alien species, and incorrect planetariums sounded like a Star Trek special, not some antique shop. Not to mention this massive underground… whatever it was. Storage space? Or maybe the owner lived here?

    Krow had made his way to a secondary level of the shop and disappeared behind some shelves, presumably to get the owner. The other girl she had traveled down here with was looking around, probably as awestruck as Sybille was. Even if was highly unlikely, she might know something about this place.

    Sybille approached her slowly, not completely sure how to greet the blond. She was used to her friends introducing her to other people.

    “Uh, hello.” She began. So much for a confident start. “Have you been here before? It’s kind of a strange place. I was just wondering if you knew anything about it?”
    #6 Naberius, Mar 6, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 9, 2015
  7. Idly tapping the underside of the counter, Petra waited for Krow to finish up and bring her to the owner. Her gaze roamed the shop again, this time weary rather than intrigued. She was particularly suspicious of all the plants hanging around. Her focus was mostly on the conservation between him and the other girl though. Eavesdropping was only bad when done for malicious purposes after all. It wasn't as if it was something secretive; all of it was just books, books, authors, and genres. She sounded like her roommate except, judging from the way she carefully held the book in her hands, she was hardly as haphazard with those things. Petra didn't care much for books, they were good for propping stuff up though.

    Wait, what was that she heard? Her head snapped to Krow, braid barely whacking against her cheek. Another person was coming with them? It seemed that she wouldn't be going alone then. Petra eyed her, a pink, quiet, and both a literal and physical bookish type of person. She wouldn't be someone with much "rumor-worthy" stories Petra tended to hear from her friends around campus. Unfortunately, if she did, Petra would have at least have been able to put a name to her face. Krow popped up from where he went under the desk and gestured for the two of them to follow. Petra would have taken the lead even if the other girl hadn't motioned for her to do so.

    Leading them to a door in the back of the store, she noted the boxes and other wares not put out on display. Some not for sale, and some too weird even in the midst of everything else. The strange, gleaming sculpture hidden under a transparent cloth was particularly interesting. Krow swung the hatch easily, revealing a dimly-lit, staircase heading down more steeply than she would have guessed. As they descended the stairs, Petra glanced curiously at the lightsource. They were odd things, orbs suspended near the ceiling without any hint of wires to hold them. She didn't particularly care for the bulbs, her ears too busy straining to decipher the steadily increasing noise level.

    A lot of the whirring, clicking, and creaking sounds she heard were familiar to her, of machines working together in a synchronous flow. It was the smell of oil and metal and she smiled at the familiarity of it all. The three of them passed under an archway to enter a room so large it was practically an entire building. Books lined the shelves against the walls as steam gathered at the top of the ceiling released from various machines placed in precarious spaces. They went down a few more steps to the ground of the floor, and she fully took in the enormity of the room. Everything towered above her and the space was filled.

    A golden bird perched upon a nearby globe, it's body gleaming in the minimal amount of light. The sound that came from it was melodious and Petra wanted to gather it in her arms and take it all apart to study everything from its engine (if it even had one) to how it could move so easily. The steam emitted from the other machines smelled like dewdrops on grass in the morning, not that that made any sense. A very interesting place indeed...

    Rocking on her heels, she watched as Krow disappeared behind a shelf and admired the rest of the space. The pictures mimicked the ones upstairs, blurry and rather difficult to focus on as if they were moving. From everything she was witnessing, it wouldn't shock her if it was true.

    Out of the corner of her eye, Petra could see the other girl stare adoringly around her as she had done. Neither of them had heard about this place then, people would have swarmed and spread rumors around if something became common knowledge. Movement, pink and not bronze and steel, made Petra turn her attention to the other girl. She plodded along through the conversation she had instigated.

    Petra shook her head. "Sorry, it's my first time here too." She gave a nonchalant shrug at that even though her fingers fidgeted with her gloves, itching to dismantle everything around her. "I haven't heard anything about this place, I've never seen Krow around before, and I've never even noticed this store before today..." she trailed off, talking more to herself. Shaking her head, she introduced herself, "I'm Petra, I go to the college here. You?" She held her hand out for her to shake.

    It was then that Krow came back with a strangely dressed man. Petra would admit it, she did stare at his hair, but then her attention was drawn more toward Krow's new appearance. Shining metal colored to look out of this world. Oh wait, he probably was unlike anything of this world, wasn't he? Slowly, things began clicking in her head. Fantastic inventions from times she knew for a fact were incapable of creating them, portraits of people in fashions that were never in style, pictures so blurry and hard to stare at for long that they seemed to move within the frame, a metal man with painted skin she had never seen before who was years ahead of Earth's AI field advances, a store never noticed by anyone... It'd make anyone suspicious and Petra had never been the type to read too many fictional novels before. The quite possible reality was dizzying.

    The man with gloves made for welding and clothes for something like a soirée with goggles and hair like she'd never seen before except in vague descriptions in those fantasy books, gave the two of them a lazy salute. Head cocked to the side and gloves being slowly removed, he seemed... out of place to her. She made to hit her hand against her forehead, but stopped before she could make herself look like an idiot.

    "Yo," he drawled. Wow, that was the lamest greeting she'd heard. "So I see you've met Krow. He's one of my best, if I do say so myself. He knows exactly when the right people are coming in and when to bring them down here. So," he rubbed at his hands, "any questions before I send you two off?"
    #7 anonymph, Mar 12, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2015
  8. Sybille listened to the other girl, who seemed relaxed even though her hands twitched at her sides. She didn’t know if the blonde was anxious or curious, but Sybille understood the want to touch everything. Another metallic bird flew above them, letting out a note of its song.

    “I’m Petra, I go to college here. You?” The other girl – Petra – offered Sybille her hand. It was a casual gesture, and Sybille was used to people wanting to shake her hand, but she still tightened her hand around her purse. She’s always been weird about her personal space, and so preferred to not touch others if she could help it. Thankfully, she was saved by the arrival of Krow and another man. Her attention repeatedly switched from the other man, whose clothes were full of dust and metal scraps, and Krow, who now sported a shiny metallic skin. Krow seemed almost… robotic. But that was silly – he held a conversation, had a personality, and moved fluidly, for the most part. And no one is this day and age would design a full-functioning humanoid AI and keep it locked away in some antique shop.

    Realizing she was gawking, Sybille promptly locked her jaw and decided to stare somewhere behind the new man’s head. As much as she didn’t want to admit it, she was beginning to feel like she had stepped right into a fiction novel. Flying metal birds, alien biology books, and planetariums of strange solar systems... Why was she even here? There had to be some reason Krow had brought her and Petra down here, and why this new guy, who was presumably the owner, had allowed it. It had to be something beyond a few questions about a book and a planetarium; looking at all this stuff, Krow should have been able to easily answer those questions.

    She was pulled out of her thoughts by a salute from the dusty man. “Yo.” He said, and Sybille felt a bit of her anxiety become replaced with disbelief. Yo? What was he, a fourteen year old? The breath she had been holding escaped her through a deep sigh, and she had to stop herself from rubbing her temple. This boring day had quickly become very complicated.

    "So I see you've met Krow. He's one of my best, if I do say so myself.” ‘One of’ meant that there was more like him. Just how many robot humans did one need, Sybille wondered. “He knows exactly when the right people are coming in and when to bring them down here. So, any questions before I send you two off?"

    “Yes.” Sybille said immediately, trying not to act uncomfortable under everyone’s gaze. She abhorred being the center of attention. “Who are you?”

    “Ah, yes, I should probably introduce myself. I am Solomon Key.” He gave a slight bow, and Sybille was starting to see a pattern of eccentricity in this man’s actions.

    “Where are we?”


    “Why are we here?”

    “You’ll see shortly.”

    Sybille’s eyebrow twitched in annoyance. She couldn’t tell if Solomon was being purposefully unhelpful, or if it was just his personality, but it was seriously pissing her off. “Is Krow a robot?”

    He patted Krow’s shoulder, who seem unperturbed by the question. “Kind of.”

    It was a fight with herself to keep an exasperated sigh in. The line of questioning was clearly going nowhere, so it was probably best for her to let Petra ask her questions. “That’s all I have.”

    “Ok.” Solomon turned his attention to Petra. “Any questions from you?”
  9. Petra watched the man, introduced as Solomon Key, and the girl converse. Her head swung back and forth between the two even though she found herself slightly peeved that the girl still hadn't given her name yet. She could handle the rejection of her handshake. Fine, whatever, not everyone was as physical as her and she was probably one of those girls who shied away from unnecessary physical contact or something. But not giving a name and introducing herself was rude when Petra had given her own. Pfft, she guessed being polite was overrated. She was still a bit put out by that though.

    God, this guy was weird. She could tell from the way he talked (though the fact that he apparently had created Krow and she found him in a secret basement of a shop was telling as well). Every single time the girl asked something, he'd answer back with vague one-word answers. With every response, Petra could see her getting more and more frustrated by the man. She ducked her head down and stifled her snickering when she saw the girl's eyebrow twitch. Honestly, it was hilarious to watch.

    But, oh! The question about Krow being a robot, she wanted to know about that. The "kind of" was unhelpful, but telling. Not really a robot then, but close enough to it. She racked her brain for everything she'd heard about things similar to robots. He'd have to have some form of AI to him, but maybe it was sentient? With the way things looked like they were, Krow could have been a metal golem or even a cyborg. Ugh, it really wasn't that helpful in the long run, was it? In the end, it only had her head spinning with things she'd only seen in movies and heard about in passing.

    The other girl (Petra was still pissed with her about staying nameless) gave up with an undignified sort of surrender. Solomon turned his attention to her instead, asking for questions. She guessed it was her turn to get unhelpful help from.

    "Of course I've got questions." She gave a derisive snort at that. "I'll get the easily answered ones out of the way first," she said, already excited. "Since Krow's a robot but only 'kind of,'" she used air-quotes, "are you saying he's something more?"

    Solomon exaggerated the shrug of his shoulders, she could tell. "Yeah, I'd say he's more."

    "When you said we were the right people to have Krow let down here earlier, what did you mean?" she asked. Hopefully she'd get something a bit more concrete from him this time.

    He gave her and the other girl a smirk and wink. Eugh, she blanched, it was like he was trying to use twelve year old boy flirting tactics. "Sometimes I get people coming in here whom don't know what they want and I'm the one who knows what they need. So I give it to them," he said as his smirk turned lop-sided and more boyish than roguish. Petra rolled her eyes. Every damn time, it was always "what you need, not what you want" with these story types.

    But wait... "Give what to us?"

    "Ah hah!" He straightened up and pointed at nowhere in particular like he suddenly had an epiphany. "That's what I mentioned earlier that I said I was going to answer. Why you're here and what I'm giving you." He did a swift heel turn, turning with a flourish of his coat tails to face a portrait standing to the side of them. Petra hadn't noticed it earlier, hidden in between the shelves and darkened from the shadows. That was swiftly remedied when Solomon clucked his tongue at Krow and the "kind of" robot clapped his hands. It was like lights, camera, action, what happened next.

    There were lights, the picture illuminated by things she couldn't see. The camera and action came in the form of the moving picture. Water swished around in the painting, a murky color of the depths of the ocean. Things in the background floated through, most like deep sea animals. Occasionally though, a swift something would swim past the window of the frame. There was a surprising amount of light for the bottom of the ocean, but then again it wouldn't have been much of a picture (even a Harry Potter-like picture) if it wasn't brightened enough to see well.

    "Ta-da!" Solomon presented, turning to face the two of them. "This is why you're here. Wait, no. Krow." His creation grabbed two messenger-sized bags from somewhere and gave them to Solomon. In turn, the bags were shoved into Petra's and the girl's arms. "These are for you! Everything you'll need, that's what I'm giving you. They're in there, don't worry." Krow then handed keys attached to bands long enough to be worn as necklaces. "Oh yeah! You'll also be needing these. Super important, you won't be able to go anywhere without these." He shoved those into their hands as well. "They're attuned to you and the portal specifically, so no sharing, kiddos."

    Petra stared at the man, wide-eyed at all the new information given. Not that any of it explained anything. The messenger bag didn't have anything in it (yet), but she supposed it would be helpful. Not too bad looking either considering the black leather and all. It was different than what the other girl got anyway. She shrugged it over her shoulder and held onto the key. In her hand, it had changed from the clunky and brass look she glimpsed earlier in Solomon's hand. It kept its metallic sheen, but some rinky-dink sculpture became a part of the handle like water and swirling bars of a cage. Well, it made sense since it was attuned to her. She wondered what the girl's key looked like.

    Solomon cleared his throat, getting their attention back. "So, this is why you're here. You're getting what you need. You two didn't know what you wanted and this is what you need because the two of you are tired of mundane and of routine. Your hearts yearn for adventure even if you didn't know it before." He leaned in conspiratorially as if divulging a secret. "Just think about it."

    And Petra did. It wasn't too hard to figure out he was right. Adventure and fun things had been on her mind probably longer than the other girl had thought about it. The shy types never thought much about exploring until it hit them in the face after all. Solomon turned his head toward her, eyes twinkling like he was Dumbledore and she was Harry freaking Potter. Goddamnit, she needed to stop the references. She gave a lazy smile towards him, shrugging her shoulders in agreement.

    She sidled up to the portrait. In the side of the frame was a keyhole. As she got ready to put the key in it, Solomon had turned his head to the other girl (goddamn her for not saying her name), and did the same as he had done to her just moments ago.

    Petra looked at her behind Solomon's back. She gave her a goading smirk with a raised eyebrow just for the whole feeling of being on the receiving end of the "holier than thou" attitude she was known for. "You should come with, girl." She sneered when she said girl. "Who knows when you'll get a chance like this again, right?"

    How else could Petra get her name? This way was much less awkward and much more fun.
    #9 anonymph, Apr 3, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 5, 2015
  10. Irritated at Solomon’s stubborn vagueness, Sybille fumed in silence as Petra asked her questions. While her questions were longer than Sybille’s, she received the same simple answers. It made Sybille feel better, though she was still bitter about the exchange. She wanted to know things, not be kept in the dark. Solomon gave Petra a smirk and a wink, and Sybille bit back a giggle as the other girl blanched and rolled her eyes at his response.

    “Ah hah!” He exclaimed at one of Petra’s questions. "That's what I mentioned earlier that I said I was going to answer. Why you're here and what I'm giving you.” He turned with a flourish towards a painting that had sat unnoticed beside them. Sybille took a slight step towards it to see it better before Krow clapped his hands and the picture illuminated from some source of light. It appeared to be the bottom of a large body of water, presumably the ocean. Although somewhat darker than the room they were standing in, it was brighter than she would expect from the ocean floor. Still, it was an entrancing sight, and it seemed almost peaceful. Strange creatures floated through the water as well as schools of fish, their scales glittering. Off in the distance and around the edges unidentifiable things flickered in and out of sight.

    Sybille was startled out her mesmerized state as Solomon shoved a bag into her arms. He had a cheeky smile, obviously finding it funny to surprise her. Although not one for swearing, a few perfectly accurate insults came to Sybille’s mind. "These are for you! Everything you'll need, that's what I'm giving you. They're in there, don't worry.” Looking over, Sybille could see that Petra had also received a bag. Krow then handed two keys to Solomon, both attached to bands. "Oh yeah! You'll also be needing these. Super important, you won't be able to go anywhere without these.” The keys were also unceremoniously into their hands. This man had far too much energy for his age. Sybille wondered if he got out of his dusty underground room a lot. Probably not. "They're attuned to you and the portal specifically, so no sharing, kiddos."

    Kiddos felt like a rather patronizing word, but she let it slide, too wrapped up in trying to figure out what was in her hands. The bag was a simple light blue leather backpack, and she had to admit that is was kind of cute. Why a man like Solomon had this, she didn’t know, but she entertained the image of him wearing it. It was unzipped, and she peered into it. There was a small book inside, and she pulled it out to look at it. It was simple, brown leather with a few ornate designs carved into the cover. It looked vaguely familiar, but where she knew it from eluded her. Opening it, she found the pages to be blank, although there was a pen in a slot in the front cover. She put it back into the bag and zipped it up for good measure. Everything they needed was a blank journal, apparently. After shouldering the bag, Sybille brought the key closer for examination. It was a long, thin, and styled like an antique, although it had a shiny white gold color. The handle was an oval shaped pearl surrounded by a simple swirling design. The band was now a thin gold chain that caught the light softly. It looked like something her mom would buy her for her birthday.

    Somebody cleared their throat, and Sybille turned her attention to Solomon, who was looking at them expectantly. "So, this is why you're here. You're getting what you need. You two didn't know what you wanted and this is what you need because the two of you are tired of mundane and of routine. Your hearts yearn for adventure even if you didn't know it before." He leaned in a bit, lowering voice as if there weren’t only four of them present. "Just think about it."

    Sybille looked back down at the key in her hand. He was right, so right that it made her a little uncomfortable. Her life was dull and monotonous, and she had found herself daydreaming more and more as the days past. They were escapist fantasies, such as leaving all her stuff behind and backpacking through Europe, or taking a trip to Brazil and spending her days along the beach and exploring the cities there. She wanted something else, something new; something different from what she had done her whole life.

    Looking up, she met Solomon’s gaze. He was smiling like he knew the answer, and at this rate, he probably did. Before she could reply, however, Petra spoke from behind Solomon. "You should come with, girl. Who knows when you'll get a chance like this again, right?" She had one of the most irritating smirks Sybille had ever seen plastered on her face.

    “It’s Sybille, not girl.” She said, giving the other girl a withering look. Her patience was being worn thin, and the stuffy air wasn’t helping either.

    “Hey now.” Solomon interrupted. “You two should learn to play nice. It’ll make travelling together a lot easier.”

    Of course they were travelling together. A part of her had already known that, but she was still disappointed by the answer. “Right.” She muttered, fixing her glasses in an attempt to regain her composure. “So, Solomon, how does travelling work?”

    His bright attitude returned in full force. “Please, call me Key, or Sol, whichever works. Now, if you’ll both follow me.” He sidled over to the side of the portrait, and Sybille followed, making sure to keep a comfortable distance away from Petra. The way she had sneered had hit all of Sybille’s nerves. Solomon pointed at a small keyhole in the frame of the portrait. “Simply use your key here, and voila! A whole new world awaits. And remember,” He held a finger up as if to highlight his point “No sharing. Your key is for you and you only.”

    Sybille brought the key back up, examining it again. Previously, she might have been skeptical, but considering everything that happened today, she was willing to trust a man she had met less than an hour ago when he said to unlock a picture frame to go on an adventure that she didn’t just want, but needed. If it didn’t work out, then maybe she could still keep the bag. It was pretty cute, after all.

    She turned to Petra, addressing the other girl, “Would you like to go first?” Sybille knew she probably would have anyway, but it was best to be polite. Or at least, attempt to be polite. Who knew how long it would last.
    #10 Naberius, Apr 10, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2015
  11. Ah hah! Finally, a name to put to the face, Petra cheered. Internally of course, she would look so ridiculous if she broke into a face-splitting grin and mimicked a cheerleader right then. Sybille, Sybille... hmmm, Petra tested the name whilst staring at said girl. It fit her to be completely honest. An antique name for an antique—er, hipster. Maybe a hipster? She never really knew with those types.

    She ignored the scowl sent at her from Sybille, keeping the cheeky smirk on her face. But the “learn how to play nice” bit from Sol had to have been a shitty attempt at a joke. The two of them would have been at each others’ throats if only they were the type to shoot first, ask later. That way, they could sweep all their problems with each other out of the way right from the start and establish the fact that their hate was entirely mutual. God, these uptight lit nerds always got on her nerves. And now Petra even had to travel with this girl? What a way to ruin an adventure.

    Sybille was even so kind as to ask her if she wanted to go first! Petra rolled her eyes. She could stop having a go at being polite and benign. They obviously wouldn’t get along if she kept at it like that. Shouldering her bag (a simple, black leather messenger bag she’d ordinarily use for both her classwork and personal projects in a different situation. There were so many flaps and pockets on it, it was perfect), she shot an exasperated look Sybille’s way.

    “Why, thank you,” Petra said in a faux-simpering voice, batting her eyes coyly. “I would absolutely love to go first.” A moment later and she went back to her natural dulcet tones, something an octave lower and far more drawling and sarcastic. The coquettish look was gone as well.

    Key in hand, she gazed at the actual painting(? Door? Gate?) one last time. As a parting thought, she caressed the picture; it caused ripples to appear, but it was just as solid as any normal painting. Just another thing to ponder she supposed. Inserting the key into the keyhole, the clacking of the metal pieces sliding into place was familiar in the new setting and calmed her nerves. With a smooth turn of her wrist, the strangest feeling overcame her.

    No door opened with the unlocking of the picture, crossing out the theory of it being a gate. Instead, she... tingled was the best word to describe it. The hairs on her skin stood on end like the goosebumps she’d get if she were cold without the shivers. The only way her mind could wrap around what was happening to her was being vaporized, of being slowly taken apart in the most physical sense. Her mind was still with her, thankfully.

    One moment, she tingled with her senses failing and the next moment, Petra disappeared in a whirl of what looked like particles from the reflection she glimpsed in the portrait. The fact that she had no body ( not really anyway) didn’t dawn on her until she... “whooshed.” It felt like whooshing straight into the portrait even though it was just solid in her hand a minute ago. She passed by a blindingly white plain for a split second, the grin of a woman and her waving hand all she could take note of before slamming into water.

    Petra gasped, breath taken away. Her arms flailed, trying to propel her forward but the pressure on her body stopped that attempt quickly. One last glance upwards (of never ending black, that picture lied) and she gulped in salty seawater. I’m going to die, was her last thought water filled up her lungs and drowned her.

    Nothing happened. Petra waited for her life to flash before her eyes, but instead of that she got the feeling of finally being able to breathe. Blinking her eyes open, she whirled around to find out what was happening. The sight of blue-gray limbs gave her the answer.

    Holy shit. Waving her hands in front of her face, she could clearly see they were webbed with tiny white wing things at the wrist and, woah, even red ones at her elbows, and holy shit, was she naked? A look downwards proved her wrong. Not naked, but a fish with legs. And her clothes turned into fish decorations, maybe? Except there were clearly flowing “clothes” wrapping around her limbs the same colors as her black pants, red coat, and black shirt. Honestly, this new look reminded her of a picture she stumbled upon once except she had actual fingers and legs instead of a tail or floppy limbs. A closer look proved she was as glowy as she guessed.

    Also, were those freckles? There were so many questions and nothing to answer them. Red freckles (the color of her coat, hmm) covered her arms and sides. A surprise addition to her sides were chest gills. Jesus Christ, chest gills? Petra could feel the intake of water into them when the slits opened. A guess had her feeling up the side of her neck and confirmed the fact that there were indeed gills on her neck as well. For fun, she poked one of the chest slits with her pointier nails.

    Bad idea. Incredibly bad idea. Bad, bad, bad. Leaning against a nearby rock face, she came to this realization doubled over in pain. Another epiphany, the weight of her braid was gone. Instead, something like a weightless crown of spikey fish things came out of her skull (from what could feel) replaced her hair. A pull on her neck alerted her to another body adaptation. Rods that usually came up out of a fish’s head with the light at the end to lure in its prey extended from the nape of her neck. A palm sized ball of light bounced at Petra’s forehead, dim.

    Okay, so she was a deep sea angler fish person. Fine. Wait, did she still have the key!? She whirled around in the water (faster than she would normally) only to see the key dangling on her wrist. She let out a sigh of relief and put the strap around her neck instead, key safely hidden underneath a black wrap of... cloth. Everything was so different now as a fish. Alien? Fish alien.

    The rock face she “teleported” next bore a carving with a disturbingly similar outline of the portrait frame in Sol’s underground shop. Unsurprisingly, no keyhole. Petra took in a mental inventory of what she still had on her. Key? Thank god, yeah. Bag? Still slung over her shoulder surprisingly. Mind? Felt the same. What to do now though? Waiting for Sybille seemed like a good idea for the only reason that Sol said they had to travel together. If she was lucky, maybe she could accidentally lose her along the way. But for now... she would wait.

    God, it was bright for the ocean floor. Must have been the alien fish eyes.
    #11 anonymph, Apr 28, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 29, 2015
  12. Sybille gasped, her hands flying to cover her mouth as Petra all but dissolved in front of her eyes, a whirl of particles disappearing into the painting. It settled after a moment, leaving behind only silence. She stared, and then stared some more at the empty space Petra had been only seconds ago.

    “Your turn!” Sol said, smile as bright as ever.

    “I-I don’t…” Sybille trailed off. She really didn’t know what to do; what if it hurt? What if something got lost along the way? Anxiety seized her, her stomach turning in knots and her palms sweating as she took a small step back. She couldn’t do this, she realized. There were too many unknowns, too many things that could go wrong.

    A light touch brought her out of the dark swirl of thoughts she was spiraling into, and she found Sol giving her a smaller, much more genuine smile. “It’s okay to be afraid. Besides, are you going to let Petra have all the fun?”

    She scrunched up her nose at the thought of the blonde coming back, telling tales of great adventure and fantastic places in her snide, bragging manner. If Petra could do it, then she could too. Sybille squared her shoulders and walked up to the keyhole in the frame, pulling her necklace off as she did so. The key slotted into the mechanism easily, and she twisted it in one fluid motion.

    Goosebumps ran up her body, and she closed her eyes as tight as she could. It felt like a shock was going through her body, as if she had touched metal after collecting static. Her body was being broken into smaller and smaller pieces, and finally she felt the bits spin and hurdle into the portrait. Which was, well, weird at best, uncomfortable at worst. A flash of white broke through her eyelids, but she kept her eyes resolutely shut until she crashed into something, and she began sinking through water. Opening her eyes wide, she found herself in murky darkness. Ocean, her mind supplied, and she took a breath of water in before the word truly processed. Panicking, she expected the sensation of drowning, of her eyes tearing up and her lungs burning as salt water rushed in.

    It didn’t happen. Sybille took another experimental inhale. The skin on the side of her neck and chest shifted as she did so, and she looked down to find slits – gills – opening in time with her inhales. Her body was a pale pink, almost translucent, with a spattering of darker pink freckles. A skirt, for lack of a better name, circled her hips to create a sort of umbrella. Attached to the underside of it were long darker pink ruffles and longer, thin tentacle-like appendages. She kicked out her legs and found them to be clawed with cream-colored webbing between the toes. Upon examination, her hands had endured the same treatment. The golden chain of the key – her key – was now wrapped around her wrist, the key itself floating softly in the water. Ruffles floated around her head, and she touched where her hat used to be to find a soft, smooth covering over her head. She found that the ruffles around her head were a replacement for her hair, although slicker and not in strands.

    Of course she was a jellyfish. Fate was a cruel mistress.

    Allowing herself a moment to take it all in, she did a few spins in the water, watching the tentacles and ruffles sweep around. Everything was translucent, the murkiness visible through her appendages. A feeling of joy bubbled up in her chest, as she always loved the feeling of being near-weightless under the water. And now she was a fish.

    After her fill of being careless, she stopped herself and finally noticed that Petra was, in fact, there with her. Sybille immediately clamped down on her expression, slipping back into a more neutral demeanor. The other girl had also undergone a transformation, although she had taken on a different appearance; an orb of light dangled in front of her head, spines stuck out of her back, and her skin was a blue-grey. Sybille herself wouldn’t have guessed an angler fish, but damn if Petra didn’t look kinda cool. Not that she needed to know that, nor would Sybille ever tell her.

    Petra was positioned beside the nearby rock, a picture frame reminiscent of the one they had both just came through. However, it had no picture in it, and a feeling of foreboding passed over Sybille. If there was no picture, then who was to know where they may return to? She pushed the thought quickly out of her mind and returned her gaze to Petra.

    “So…” Sybille said. Her voice was somewhat higher and… thinner. But she could hear it, which meant that the sound waves were travelling through the water. That was definitely interesting. “What do we do now?”

    The ocean floor had gotten brighter since her arrival, and she looked off into the distance behind Petra. It seemed… too still here. They couldn’t be the only ones down here, after all.
  13. Waiting next to the portrait gave Petra the perfect view of how Sybille "teleported" into the new world, and in that case, how she had teleported into the world too. From what she could make of it, it was itty flying particles coming straight out of the portrait. Then they slammed back together creating the person again, except clearly with new features because she's pretty damn sure she didn't have an angler fish's light coming from where her braid did.

    No idea how that whole business worked though. She was a person who made pretty things, not some theory scientist person who philosophized on how interdimensional travel worked.

    It was hilarious to watch oh so high and mighty Sybille panic and flail around in the water. The wide eyed dawning realization was a good look on her too. The jellyfish transformation was both surprising and not at the same time.

    Those things were pretty as hell (which she'll begrudgingly admit Sybille kinda was, but only at the moment) and mostly made of nothing but those things stung and poisoned things like a bitch when someone touched them. The first part made sense, the second... seemed out of character. Whatever, she could make fun of her later.

    When Sybille spoke up, the voice change was weird to listen to. Petra's was probably the same if she had to guess. Didn't sound travel better in water though? Wasn't that what freshman science class said. Whatever, new universe, new rules.

    "I wouldn't know, now would I?" she drawled. Noting that, yes, her voice was higher and developed a new watery quality (all those years of English class and all she could come up with was "watery," what would her teachers say?), she flipped her hair. Except she couldn't because she had no hair and all that happened was her lure bobbing up and down in front of her face. There went that effect of pure derision.

    She leveled a look of exasperation at Sybille. "I've only been here for the few minutes since I stepped through that portrait, it's not like I'd have concocted a plan already, Jellylegs." Jeezus, it wasn't like she was Batman. Petra gave her a badly stifled smirk when she said Jellylegs. It wasn't even that funny, but there were so many jelly related puns she could make now.

    Thinking back on it, she did have some idea at what they might have to do though. Sybille obviously recognized her deductive skills when she saw her. "But if I had to take a guess... I think we have to go on some sort of quest because I don't think we can go back yet. I mean look," she gestured at the engraving on the rock face, "there's no actual portrait for us. It's just the frame." Petra nodded more for her sake than for Sybille's to make sure she was right before going on.

    "Sol said early on about things like want versus need and he's giving us what we need or whatever because we don't really know what we want. So what do you, or I, or the both of us need? Attitude adjustments probably. Personality changes, especially for you," she joked, not really meaning it. Well, she sort of did. "But he said something about adventure, didn't he?" she trailed off, thinking.

    A while of that and a melody cut through the relative silence of the ocean floor. Furrowing her brow, Petra looked around for the source of it. Instead of stopping, it continued on and gradually grew in volume. Quickly, it was becoming obvious what the music was. A Taylor Swift song if she had to guess; that one song about love being a game and making bad guys good for a weekend. Flames and pain and Starbuck's lovers? Blank Space! That was it. Further inspection (which meant her kicking her legs and swimming around) led Petra to invade Sybille's personal space in an attempt to pinpoint where it came from. It was coming from her bag.

    Glancing up in disbelief, she asked, "Taylor Swift? Seriously? Of all the recent pop songs, you choose Blank Space?" Her respect for Sybille was decreasing by the second. "Think you could turn off your phone or whatever's making that noise yet?"
    #13 anonymph, May 17, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2015
  14. A tick was quickly forming in Sybille's eyebrow. Jellylegs? That was what Petra had come up with? But she had to admit that Petra had a point with the frame and the supposed "adventures" they were supposed to be having. The problem was that they were here, with new physiology and everything, yet they had no direction and no way to get back home. Hard to play Monopoly with no dice.

    A song cut through Sybille's thoughts. The tune was vaguely recognizable and she looked around hastily to find the source. The dark water around them was still empty and murky, and the seaweed flowed gently as if in a breeze. The song was coming... from her bag?

    Petra abruptly invaded her space and it took a great deal of restraint to neither back away nor push the other girl back. She levelled Petra with her own look of disbelief. "My phone? Seriously? We're underwater on a different planet, Petra." A couple "bright idea" puns came to mind, but she buried them for now. Sybille backed away and shouldered her bag off before digging into it. After a moment, she pulled out the journal from before. It was glowing faintly and was indeed playing Blank Space by Taylor Swift at an annoyingly loud. Which was different, to say the least. As if anything about this day was normal.

    She spared a glance at Petra before opening it to the first page. Where it had previously been blank (suddenly Blank Space made a little bit of sense), there was now blocky writing in all capital letters. It appeared to be in ink, but it didn't smudge or bleed in the water. In fact, the pages were stiff, as if unaffected by the water at all.


    Sybille read over the short passage a couple of times. Right, interdimensional journaling was now a thing. It was amazing how Solomon managed to transfer his personality straight through his writing.

    She flipped the journal and held it out for Petra to read. "I think it'd be a good idea to do what he says and go exploring 'upstream'." She made quotes with her one free hand. It was weird doing it in water instead of air. "It's not like there's much else to do..." Looking up to the surface, Sybille realized she couldn't tell what time it was. Had the trip taken any time at all? More importantly, how long would they be here? She had classes tomorrow.

    Part of her itched to go on and explore, but she waited to see what Petra thought.
  15. Sarcastically, Petra mocked Sybille’s words back at her. She scrunched her face and stared at the jellyfish through judgmentally squinted eyes. Just because it was a different planet didn’t necessarily mean phones were incapable of working! Okay, the fact that they were deep underwater was a very large point in that argument. On that note though, where did their things go? She was pretty sure she hadn’t thought of putting her things into the new bag because, last she checked, her phone was still in the pockets of her pants. The pants that no longer existed. A quick check of the contents in the bag proved her things didn’t magically appear in there.

    She’d ask later.

    Petra watched as Sybille pulled out the journal from before out of her (admittedly, adorable) bag. The glow was unsurprising in all honesty. They shared a look and, she didn’t know, maybe they shared a moment? A moment gotten from confusion and exasperation probably since neither of them knew what the hell they were doing.

    Sybille showed the first page to her, and she read it quickly. Snorting derisively, she disregarded the... Personality in the words.

    Looking up, she nodded in agreement. “Sol might be kind of an idiot, but he does seem to know more than we do so, I guess it’d be a good idea to listen to him.”

    Kicking upwards, Petra swam “upstream,” making sure to keep the rock the portrait was engraved on by her side so she wouldn’t get lost. From her guess, it’d take a while to even breach the surface. Angler fish and jellyfish were deep sea animals, they could be in this planet’s equivalent of Mariana’s Trench for all she knew. Silently she floated alongside Sybille until the (mildly) comfortable silence annoyed her.

    “Now that I think about it, where are our things?” she mused. “I don’t know about you, but I didn’t actually think to put my stuff into this bag. My phone’s worth six hundred dollars and are in my pants that don’t exist anymore.” Petra essentially opened the “floodgates,” so to speak in that she spoke her thoughts aloud without a filter.

    “Also, how are we going to communicate with the natives since we’re speaking in English?” She paused. “Unless we’re not speaking in English right now? Or maybe we have like the ‘All-speak’ so we can understand and be understood by everyone? That’d be so cool.”

    The rock she swam next to gradually jutted out for, if she had to guess, a few hundred meters until she passed a ledge and it flattened out into a cliff. Glancing over to Sybille, Petra said, “I guess now that we’re aquatic fish people we can swim super fast? Because we just went from the bottom of the ocean to a few meters below the surface in fifteen minutes.”

    And it really was only a few meters before they broke the surface. The wall of rock had become a cliff and that cliff became a valley. Not too far off, she could clearly see towers of sandstone like materials going up to the surface. At the base of those towers was a city. Something she would expect out of The Little Mermaid or Atlantis. The city was like an underwater equivalent to New York or Miami, it was that bustling. People like them swam to and fro. All of them, unlike her and Sybille, had tails instead of legs like theirs.

    Kicking her feet, she ventured towards the city only to stop in front of a little rock den where a... Mermaid sat. Petra mulled over using the word mermaid because she had a tail but not really any other sort of mermaid qualities. For one, it wasn’t even a fish tail. The eels she was playing around with alerted her to what sort of tail she had though. But like, the eel tail had these flimsy little wings like the ones on her own arms. She honestly looked more like a plant than an eel.

    “Sybille, what the frack kind of eel is she?” she hissed to her companion. “Actually, no. What the ever loving fuck is she?!” This time Petra was referring to the creepy ass fish snake slithering their way. She was a cross between the nice picture Petra had of mermaids what with the jewels and pearls and flowing hair, but then she had this pearly orb in her hand zapping things with electricity (they were submerged in water and this chick had a ball of electricity?! It was a wonder they weren’t fried yet) and there was this whole antler looking crown on her head that looked like it was a part of her hair and, oh jeeze, she’d rather deal with creepy eel lady.

    She said as much to Sybille.

    “And how exactly did you two crawl out of your little hole?” The deer fish sneered at them. Holy shit, were they in a high school sitcom? Petra didn’t think such stereotypical bullying methods existed in the real world, much less other worlds.

    Creepy eel lady’s pet eels approached her and Sybille, coming in closely and encircling them. “I feel like Ariel in that one scene with Ursula and I feel just as safe as she did then.” Oh shit, did Petra say that out loud? The purple eel bumped into her shoulder and shocked her. The green one did the same with Sybille, but Petra didn’t know how effective that would be since Sybille was an “electric type” too.

    “I'm surprised a siphonerata as disgusting as you could flounce your way up here so easily. I've met better and even then the only thing they were good for was eating. It seems like I, as an anguildii, will take the fall and afford you the grace your mangy ancestors couldn't even afford," the eel lady said this to Sybille with a toothy smirk in a husky voice. Inference time! Anguildiis are eels and siphoneratas are jellyfish because eel lady probably thought that was super intimidating, and it only would’ve worked if they had any clue what it meant. The point of it was still clear though, and that point was dipped in racism.

    “She wants to eat you, is what I’m getting,” Petra said with a “what can you do” nonchalance to Sybille. “I learned about marine animals from Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid but I don’t think those two were scientifically correct though so I could be wrong.”

    “Eleka,” eel lady said to her much weirder looking friend, “you're only good for dealing with bratty light fixtures anyway, so you might as well do what you were born to. I, and my sweeties, will deal with its friend.” Wow, this was all way more racist than what she expected but what did she know? She wasn’t this world’s native.

    Eleka (Petra assumed that was her name) shot a disgusted look toward the eels and their owner. “Plandice,” she drawled in a voice more suited to a Southern Belle, “after all you've done to me, don’t assume you can tell me what to do. Remember that I was the one who found the way to get these four-limbed freaks out of our space, that I was the one who toppled you from your throne and I revealed your depravity.”

    Out of the two, Petra was pretty happy she got the one who didn’t sound like she wanted to do sexual things with her. But she was sympathetic that Sybille was the one who had to and gave her a light (for her anyway) bro punch in the shoulder. The eels continued to swim threateningly around them as their two... Enemies? Bullies? Nuisances? argued.

    Quietly enough that the other two wouldn’t hear, she asked, “Do you think you can handle the sexual cannibal-wait, she’s Hannibal-one on one or should we make a plan to run away?”
    #15 anonymph, Jun 13, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2015
  16. Sybille followed Petra upwards, getting used the way her hand-fin-things cut through the water much smoother than her more human hands would have. She had never thought of jellyfish as very hydrodynamic, but then again she wasn’t really a jellyfish, more of a cross breed. It was peaceful here, under the water, quiet and calm – a reason Sybille had enjoyed swimming when she was younger.

    Until, of course, Petra started rambling on beside her. She talked about her phone, which Sybille didn’t really care about, and eventually got onto the subject of how they were going to speak to other alien fish people, which Sybille cared significantly more about. Some sort of All-speech was actually a very sound theory, or some kind of universal translator, although she had no idea how it would work or where they would even have one.
    Petra led the way, and they eventually broke the surface to discover that they had been teleported to the just outside an underwater metropolis. And inside that metropolis was at least a few thousand, if not more, aquatic people like them… except with tails. Actual real life tails. “Mermaids.” Sybille whispered in disbelief, more to herself than anything else.

    Sybille followed Petra as they made their way towards the city, and was so lost in thought over the fact that mermaids existed that she very nearly ran into Petra when she stopped in front of her. She pulled up short just in time to avoid hitting her, and was about to ask her why they were stopping – come on Petra, mermaids – until she noticed the rocky den close by with a mermaid perched within it. She reminded Sybille of a mix between Cruella de Vil and Ursula, a regal experience mixed with eels and a cruel old soul. She knew she shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but something about the mer made Sybille uncomfortable.

    Petra hissed at her, “Sybille, what the frack kind of eel is she?” Seriously, frack? Was Petra twelve or nineteen? Plus, how was Sybille supposed to know what kind of eel she was, she didn’t study marine biology. “Actually, no. What the ever loving fuck is she?!” Sybille followed Petra’s gaze and immediately held the same sentiment. A mermaid slithered, for a lack of a better word, in the water towards them, a crown of antlers on her head and jewels sparkling all over her body. Sybille looked between her and the eel mermaid quickly, a feeling of dread twisting her gut. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    “I’d rather deal with the creepy eel lady.” Petra said, and Sybille gave her a nod of agreement, although she would rather deal with neither of them and get the hell out of here.

    “And how exactly did you two crawl out of your little hole?” The crowned mer said, and Sybille nearly snorted underwater. The line was lame at best, but it didn’t do much to detract from the intimidating atmosphere she held with her flashy jewels and ball of electricity. Meanwhile, the other mer and her pet eels had begun to swim around them. Petra made a comparison between them and Ariel in Ursula’s den before the eels gave them both separate shocks. Sybille cringed before leveling the eel with a cool glare, although it didn’t seem to do much. She wondered if she had venom like jellyfish did. Maybe she could sting her way out of this shit show.

    The eel lady spoke to Sybille then. “I'm surprised a siphonerata as disgusting as you could flounce your way up here so easily. I've met better, and even then the only thing they were good for was eating. It seems like I, as an anguildii, will take the fall and afford you the grace your mangy ancestors couldn't even afford."

    Sybille didn’t know whether to be offended, scared, or perplexed, so she settled for a mix of all three. She was pretty certain the eel witch was trying to be belittling to her with her smug tone of voice and that she had mentioned eating her. Wasn’t that cannibalism? Also, if she was disgusting and “mangy”, why did the lady want to eat her?
    “She wants to eat you, is what I’m getting,” Petra said. Sybille afforded her an unimpressed look. “I learned about marine animals from Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid but I don’t think those two were scientifically correct though so I could be wrong.”

    Sybille was going to die, and it was going to be with someone who was basing their knowledge off cartoons. To be fair, she didn’t know much more than Petra, having read a whole three marine biology books in fifth grade when she had believed she would grow up to become a marine biologist. But still.

    Eel lady spoke again, this time addressing the other tailed mermaid. “Eleka, you're only good for dealing with bratty light fixtures anyway, so you might as well do what you were born to. I, and my sweeties, will deal with its friend.” She called her eels her sweeties. Also, that was surprisingly rude and hostile. They had appeared to be comrades at first with this whole bad cop, worse cop thing, but now… Maybe they weren’t so much a villain duo as Sybille originally believed.

    The crowned mermaid, Eleka, gave the eel mermaid a look that reminded Sybille of the face people make when they smell something foul. Clearly the two were not on good terms. “Plandice, after all you've done to me, don’t assume you can tell me what to do. Remember that I was the one who found the way to get these four-limbed freaks out of our space, that I was the one who toppled you from your throne, and I revealed your depravity.” Snobby and knew how to utilize a large vocabulary. Sybille was vaguely impressed.

    Petra gave her a light punch on her arm, thankfully the one the eel hadn’t zapped. Sybille shot her a confused glance, but Petra’s brain did things differently from her’s and was clearly going through a different thought process than she was. Quietly, Petra asked “Do you think you can handle the sexual cannibal – wait, she’s Hannibal – one on one or should we make a plan to run away?”

    Sybille considered this for a moment, looking between Eleka, Plandice, and the circling eels. “There’s no real way we could out swim them. I mean, their tails give them better hydrodynamacy, plus these eels have got us a little bit caged in…” She stared right into one of the eel’s creepy foggy eyes as it circled in front of them. God those things were ugly. “So it seems our only real option is to fight them.” Except for the small problem of them being squishy fish people against two mermaids, one of whom has pet eels and the other an orb that fires lightning in the middle of the goddamn ocean.

    Meanwhile, the two tailed mermaids were continuing on with their pissing match. “Eleka,” Plandice began, her voice dripping with malice, “Just because you believe you are some sort of important figure doesn’t mean you actually are. You would be nothing if it weren’t for me, and the only reason I haven’t killed you yet is because I’d much rather watch you rot away in these backwaters when they come to relieve me of this duty but leave you and your three legs here to deal with pathetic two legs like this.” She stabbed a pointed claw in Sybille and Petra’s general direction as her and Eleka moved closer to each other, their metaphorical hackles risen. The eels swimming around them seemed to be caught between guarding them and protecting their mistress, attempting to keep close to the two girls yet swimming closer to Plandice with each circle. It seemed that the two were getting caught up in their own personal dispute.

    “Petra,” Sybille said quietly, keeping her focus on the two tailed mers “if they start fighting, we should probably get out of here as quickly as possible.”

    Eleka drew herself full height, or length, whatever mermaids were measured in, the orb in her hand sparking but not striking. “Mother dearest, let’s not forget who was the one who made it possible to eradicate the four limbed creatures from our city, something you could not do in all your many, many years of existence.” She sneered, “Your jealousy is nauseating.”

    Plandice looked furious. “Jealous?! Of you?! You are nothing but a filthy blooded three leg attempting to scrounge her into the King’s lap with fancy tools and a flimsy spine!” The eels responded to her anger quickly, darting close in preparation for a fight.

    It was now or never. Sybille shot a glance at Petra, communicating that now was the time to haul ass. Without further ado, Sybille spun around and began swimming as fast as she could towards the cliff’s edge. Truth be told, she had no idea where she was going or any other plan beside swimming away as fast as possible. She heard the two arguing mers shout behind them, but she decided that now was not the best time to care.

    Upon arriving at the cliff’s edge, her chest heaving from exertion it was not used to, Sybille realized the only way to go was either up or down. Chancing a glance back, her stomach dropped to her feet as Plandice was very rapidly gaining on them, her eels fast on their trail. Making a split second decision, Sybille kicked her way down along the cliff’s edge.

    A blur shot out of the cliff right in front of her, but before she had time to even scream, a finned hand had wrapped around her arm and pulled her into a small, dark crevice in the cliff face. She struggled for a moment before the grip tightened and somebody hissed “Shut up!”

    Sybille stilled, her eyes adjusting rapidly to the change in lighting. A fish person, for lack of a better name, with bright red hairfins and equally red fins on her arms and legs was gripping Sybille's arm, while another much darker fish had grabbed Petra by both arms. It was silent for a few beats before they both simultaneously let go of the two girl’s arms. Apparently the coast was clear.

    “Just what the hell do you think you’re doing?” The red haired one hissed, “Do you have a death wish, swimming so close to the City outskirts like that?”
  17. She tried mouthing a mocking “Hydrodynamacy” back at Sybille, but that didn’t end up working out. It came out more like this, “Hydrodynamicty - fuck, that’s not right. Hydrodynamity - that’s not - dammit.” Petra gave up with a long-suffering groan. She ended up just mouthing something she could actually say. “Hydrodynamic my fish ass.”

    Not that Sybille noticed, thank god. She’d make fun of her in that stupid way using facial expressions and no words, and ugh, there would just be so much judgment. Petra perked up at the sound of a fight though. Not really, she wasn’t actually that much of a fighter. Sure, punching people who got too annoying was a thing she did, but an actual fight? Petra took boxing classes and that one taekwondo class, but an actual fight sounded a bit too bloody and painful for her, thank you very much.

    Anyway fighting against two mermaids seemed a bit far fetched for the two of them. Sybille didn’t even look like she could punch someone without hurting herself in the process. That and the fact that one mermaid had eel lackeys and one had a lightning orb just didn’t sit well with Petra. Well, that doesn’t sound like a good idea at all.

    While she’d been in the middle of an anxious train of thought and very much wishing she’d written a will when she had the chance to, Eleka and Plandice continued doing that weird teenage girl fight thing Petra thought she left behind in high school.

    Pathetic? Who was pathetic here? Um, most definitely not Petra, creepy eel lady. Turning her head to Sybille, she nodded at the suggestion. Running away seemed like a perfectly reasonable plan in Petra’s eyes. Yet again though, she was drawn back to the cat fight. Oh god, Plandice was Eleka’s mom? How did mermaids with tails even have sex? Wait, never mind, she didn’t want to think about that. The thought of sentient fish sex resulting in a large pregnant Plandice was nauseating. Damn though, this was turning into a real soap opera. Petra gladly turned her thoughts to mulling over the fact that this mermaid society still had a king which could either mean this was a real monarchy or the royal family were just figureheads like England.

    She had a strong feeling it was the former and not the latter.

    The eels shot back to their boss(?) and away from her and Sybille. Petra shot one quick glance to Sybille and they swam the hell out of there and back to the cliff they from. Eyes darting around (and very much not snickering at Sybille, she’d save that for later), Petra’s heart raced when she spotted Plandice swimming after them. Back down was a decidedly better option and she could see Sybille right beside her.

    Petra nearly screeched when someone grabbed her. She tried whirling around to punch them in their kidney. It was nearly and tried because that same person (dark skin, yellow fins, no feeling of static or electricity) used their one arm to trap Petra’s struggling arms and their other arm to cover her mouth. They swam into a shadowed fissure. Before she could attempt an escape, somebody hissed, “Shut up!” Well it wasn’t her kidnapper, so it must have been Sybille’s. It was always nice to have some semblance of familiarity in heart thumping situations like the one she was currently in, so she calmed down without too much of a fuss. The person holding her eased off and decided to grip her arms instead. Better these guys than electrocution, Petra thought cheerfully.

    Two merpeople with legs like her and Sybille were their tentative saviors. Tentative because she still wasn’t entirely sure they were on their side yet. Sybille’s merperson (she’d have to come up with a better name soon, this was getting ridiculous) was far paler and redder than Petra’s merperson who was gray and yellow. Funny how Sybille’s merperson’s coloring complemented Sybille and Petra’s merperson’s coloring also complemented hers. Both of them looked similar enough in their fins and shape. Thankfully they also had legs.

    Petra got the gist that in her and Sybille’s cases, people with legs were mostly nice and people with tails were mostly mean. They weren’t tentative strangers then. Both of their fellow leggy people (names weren’t her forte, OK?) simultaneously let them go. Plandice and her eels must have been gone then.

    Then red fins hissed, “Just what the hell do you think you’re doing? Do you have a death wish, swimming so close to the city outskirts like that?” Really, there was too much hissing in the conversation already.

    It didn’t look like Sybille was up to being their spokesperson so Petra took up the job of being proactive and a polite human being capable of communicating with strangers. She shot her a look of not-fond-at-all exasperation before answering. Did she seem like she was good at polite conversation? This was a terrible idea. Fuck it, better forgiveness than permission after all.

    “Well, I was doing some sight seeing and soul searching,” Petra retorted. “My fishy intestines told me civilization was a good place for both.” Yep, her filter was non-existent and she was going to end up with a hand in said fishy intestines for her motor mouth.

    Both red fins and yellow fins stared at her, unimpressed with her attempt to break the ice. She gave up on relieving the tension in the air-water and answered their questions as best she could.

    “OK, OK.” Petra held her hands in mock surrender. “There was no soul searching or sightseeing. Honestly, we weren’t thinking anything at all. Well, I was thinking about All-Speech and my pants, but that probably wasn’t the answer you were looking for. I don’t think you guys know what pants are, do you?”

    Their baffled head shakes answered that. Petra gestured at Red Fins shorts and Yellow Fins elbowed him out of the way in alarm. OK then.

    She rambled on, “Well pants are like your booty shorts, Red Fins. Except they actually cover the rest of my legs and not just the no-no square bits.” Petra stopped, flustered, and tried to say what she meant to say. “I did not say no-no square. In fact, I didn’t say anything about squares at all. I’m more of a circle kind of girl or triangles. Wait, I didn’t mean for that to sound like I’m making an innuendo at girl bits. There aren’t any bits at all being talked about here. I’m going to stop talking actually.”

    Yellow Fins gradually relaxed as Petra trailed off into awkward laughter. It was nice to see her failures at talking to strangers meant they wouldn’t kill her the first chance they got. Red Fins continued looking confused, pulling at his shorts.

    “Palzeo,” Red Fins spoke up.

    “What?” she asked. It was kind of a rude “what.”

    “Palzeo is my name,” he repeated. He put a hand on Yellow Fin’s shoulder. “And this is Rois.”

    Introductions! Oh great, not this again. At least Petra actually got their names in a natural way, Sybille.

    “Oh, I’m Petra,” she said. Mimicking Palzeo, she put her hand on Sybille’s shoulder as well. “This jellyf-” the memory of Plandice calling jellyfish that other name popped up and Petra amended her words, “this siphonerata is Sybille.”

    “Good,” Rois said without much ado. “Now don’t you two know how dumb what you just did was? Swimming so close to the city is tantamount to suicide and you two just wandered right over there.”

    “Right!” Palzeo took control of the conversation again. “What’s the point of suffering through being electrocuted twice just to catch a glimpse of the city?” He added as an afterthought, “It’s not even that awe-worthy of a city.”

    “Electrocuted?” Petra repeated in alarm. “We didn’t get electrocuted.”

    Palzeo and Rois shared a surprised look. Well, Palzeo had a surprised look; Rois had one eyebrow raised. She could see them doing that thing where really close people did eye-communication and using tiny facial cues to say stuff. Obviously, she had no clue what they were saying to each other, but there was definitely some excitement from Palzeo and wariness coming from Rois. After a final huff from Rois and an incredibly suspicious glint in Palzeo's eyes, they turned back to her and Sybille.

    "So." Palzeo clapped his hands in a decidedly final-like action. "You two really need to be checked out in case of injuries and the best medics are ours."

    Petra held up a hand to object when Rois cut her off, "I know you don't seem to be injured, but those fishtailed bastards prefer slow-acting poisons and other subterfuge. And don't tell me you didn't have any contact because we got here quick enough to see you guys fenced in the middle of Plandick's only friends and we don't have enough info to know what they're capable of yet."

    Petra put her hand down after blinking at the new info. Also, poison? Possibly being poisoned didn't sound like something she wanted to suffer through. She shot Sybille a wide-eyed look, trying to do the eye-communication, and did some mouth quirking and a little shrug to convey a "what can you do" sort of message to her. They weren't really that close, so she ended up turning away before Sybille could give Petra a proper non-verbal response back.

    "I think," Petra deliberated, "that being checked for poison and being prevented from a slow, probably agonizing, death sounds great. I hear that way to go is overrated anyway. I'd take bang over whimper any day."

    Palzeo nodded with a mocking(?) fist on his chin, solemn. "It does sound great and you'll be able to check out our humble little cave," he smirked at something that could have been an inside joke, "too which is two stones, one seahorse."

    Rois nudged him with her foot. "Careful, your dork is showing."

    Knocked slightly off-kilter, he scrambled back into a pose. He seemed to fumble a bit before settling on crossing his arms and leaning against the crevice wall. Rois ignored all this and turned to Sybille. "It would be great to show you both back to safety."

    Oh great, Petra nearly rolled her eyes. It was like there were two of them now. Two Sybilles (which was unfortunate) and two of her (which was just what the world needed). Sure, Rois could probably bite her throat out but both her and Sybille had that "beware the quiet types" vibe going for them. Palzeo was like the male, booty shorts wearing, fish version of her with way worse one-liners (thankyouverymuch) and no rambling problem.

    She'd take booty shorts over jellyfish anyday.
  18. Now in a tentatively safer place, Sybille relaxed a little, but she couldn’t shake the anxiety that settled in her stomach. She glanced out into the open ocean, the blue becoming murkier in the distance. It was so quiet under the ocean, without the buzz of cars and the chirping of birds she was used to hearing from her dorm room.

    Petra was busy making herself seem like a rambling weirdo to the two merfish that had graciously saved their lives. At this point, Sybille wasn’t even surprised. Petra talked like if she stopped, her heart would also stop. Although, they needed to have a discussion about what can and cannot be said on alien planets. For example, no-no square bits. That was definitely on the list of “things to not say, even on Earth”. Now that Sybille considered it, she realized that she and Petra did actually have to discuss how much they could actually share with their webbed-toed counterparts. Telling the two – Rois and Palzeo – that they were actually from another planet (solar system, galaxy, universe, whatever) was likely the quickest way to get locked up in an underwater institution. They already thought they were crazy for trying to approach the city; there was no need to add to the list.

    The hand on her shoulder startled her, but she kept still upon realizing it was just Petra returning introductions. She kept a bit more attuned to the conversation after that and ignored Petra when she shot Sybille a look. Now was not the time for messages to get lost in translation between their different body languages.

    Rois then spoke to her rather directly, “It would be great to show you both to safety.”

    Sybille decided that she very much liked Rois, with her simple, to-the-point way of speaking. With a nod, she said “Lead the way.”

    Palzeo and Rois had another moment of meaningful nonverbal communication before Rois motioned for the two of them to follow her and Palzeo. They swam out of the fissure, heading down into the darker depths. Rois swam steadily forward, but Sybille noticed her glancing around. As they traveled farther down, she seemed to relax a bit more.

    Just as the silence was beginning to unnerve Sybille, Palzeo clapped his hands together. “Home sweet home!”

    Sybille squinted into the distance, noting the spots and lines of vibrant color. As they continued to approach, the outlines of buildings began to show. The city was… huge. Everything was shiny metal and neon lights, like an underwater version of Las Vegas.


    “We live over there.” Palzeo explained, or at least attempted to with his finger sticking out to the right.
    Sybille was curious as to why they weren’t heading that way then, if that’s where they lived, until Rois shot an arm out to stop her from going forward. She could almost hear Petra opening her mouth to ask a question, but Rois beat her to the punch. “There’s a small current here. People who don’t live here don’t know about it.” She gave them both a pointed look “Be ready, and once we’re in, stay close.”

    Sybille vaguely remembered a current being present in Nemo. It was like an oceanic highway, minus the cars. As they moved forward, the water around them began to move ever so slightly, tugging them a little to the right. Rois made a diving motion and was suddenly being pulled away from them at a rapid rate. Palzeo was right behind her, with Petra going after him, and Sybille wasn’t left with much of a choice but to follow them. As she dove into the brunt of the current, she wondered if this was what being in a wind tunnel was like. She flailed a bit before righting herself, letting the current take her where she had to go while she clutched the straps of her backpack. The ocean sped away around her, a blur of color. The noise in her ears was just like driving on the highway with the windows down.

    In what seemed like a short amount of time for the distance they traveled, she was being tugged out by a familiar red-finned hand. They were now on the outskirts of the city with buildings below them.

    “How are you feeling?” Palzeo asked, although he didn’t wait for a response before continuing. “Makes some queasy, so they don’t take it, but it takes way longer to swim all the way here from” he waved his hand around, “everywhere else.”

    With that, he swam the few feet to where Petra and Rois were waiting. Sybille hadn’t thought she was that far behind, but then again she wasn’t the best at the whole time relative to speed thing. Or any form of science, for that matter.

    They continued on through the buildings, now with a decisive direction. There were neon lights everywhere, and Sybille found herself staring as a sign. It was written in odd, curling symbols that she didn’t recognize, yet she knew it was a type of corner store. Turning down another street, if that’s what the slim expanses between the buildings could be called, she was transfixed by more curling symbols. She had never seen the script or language before, and yet she understood it perfectly. Her stomach grumbled as she read the sign for a Grocery Store, and realized it had been some time since she had eaten breakfast. Sybille had had breakfast in her dorm, with the windows open to let the breeze in. It felt like years ago now as she followed Rois and Palzeo through the twisting expanse of streets, Petra trailing along beside her in all her angler glory.

    A part of her wondered if she might ever see home again. Traveling was a lot less fun with homicidal mermaids lurking somewhere above them.
  19. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming ran through Petra's head as she followed Palzeo and Rois into that Finding Nemo super highway replica. It was the only interesting part of their journey to yet another underwater city. Sure, she could have mentioned how her questions were answered before she could open her mouth (dammit, Rois), but her pride didn't need another dent, now did it?

    Then Palzeo mentioned getting queasy and everything went downhill from there. Kidding, kidding. It's not like she gets motion sickness or nauseous on roller coaster rides or something. Alright, she did, but it was the good type of nausea. The one in that moment where the pit of your stomach is where your throat is and you can't feel the seat you're sitting on because there is no seat under you since you decided to go on one of those zero gravity roller coaster rides and you don't know if you want to laugh or scream so you do both. Petra may have some experience in that feeling, but it's not like she's telling anyone. She just hoped she wouldn't have to take that route too much.

    Sybille trailed behind them as per usual because she needed to get her head out of the clouds and keep up with the rest of them. Wait, clouds wouldn't be the right term in a mermaid society. Oysters? Ugh, adapting to underwater terminology would be a bitch to deal with. This whole situation was why Petra knew she'd never be a good spy.

    On the topic of not being a good spy, clearly the impulse bubbling up inside of her to do something stupid (like scream "ADVENTURE!" or "THIS IS A BANK ROBBERY!" and charge into a building) would have to be ignored if she wanted to disguise herself as one of the locals. Considering how the place looked like Vegas mixed with science fiction and more than a little fantasy with a dose of huge metropolis, she might not even get any weird stares from anyone. Big cities were used to weirdos after all. Not that Petra was a weirdo in any sense of the word other than the fact she was technically an alien in everyone else's perspective sans Sybille.

    Trailing alongside Palzeo, she took in what amounted to a normal city. The part they were in didn't seem too different from any normal Earth town other than the obvious language difference. It was all just corner stores and markets with no cars in the streets because that'd be a stupid invention when everyone can swim faster than a car. And to think, back when Petra first saw the picture back at the store (it felt like ages since then; had so little time passed?), her first assumption would be something like a big medieval hamlet sort of place.

    They went through the winding streets, the path to their unknown destination full of twists and turns Petra could easily get lost in. Rois swam point and stopped abruptly in front of a set of doors. She bumped into Palzeo and nearly sent the both of them tumbling down if Rois hadn't settled Palzeo and thereby stopping her from landing in a heap on the ground.

    The building they stopped in front of wasn't something to be in awe at. Something she'd noticed earlier in the architecture: the buildings all had this wavy, almost alive, look to them in their curved, cylindrical shapes. This one was the same way, but it (and the surrounding buildings too) looked older than the ones they passed by at first. It wasn't a dilapidated box crumbling down over their heads at least, but it didn't have the same sci-fi feeling.

    Rois glanced around, doing something like a security or perimeter check, before entering. Petra got a wary (not bad, not yet) feeling. Most people didn't need to make sure their surroundings were safe or, and she did a quick once over as well, to make sure no one else was looking their way. Most usually didn't need a bodyguard either, because now that she thought about it, Rois covered Palzeo's back the whole trip, hadn't she? Petra went in anyway. No one said she wasn't curious, and the whole situation from being saved to now just kept getting curiouser by the moment.

    Palzeo and Rois didn't stop in the front room other than to wave to the man fiddling around with something behind a long counter. Judging from the looks of things, it was a lobby meaning they were in an apartment building(?) maybe. A shitty apartment if the lack of an elevator or its underwater equivalent was anything to go by. There weren't any stairs either. Rois went over to one of four indents (more like inverse pillars) and swam up, disappearing with Palzeo right behind her.

    So those were the equivalents of stairs. Well, duh, swimmers didn't need stairs, just space. Petra followed them up in the three-person sized tube, assuming Sybille would be right behind her as well. She couldn't see Rois, but she did see Palzeo go up to the top before swimming into a hallway. Coming up behind them, she realized the room they were in was something supposed to be like a studio apartment if the weird wall placement meant anything. Looking closely, she was pretty sure they just knocked the walls down and just shoved things around to clear up space.

    But holy hell, the stuff inside? Everything was basically crazy weird alien shit except that shit would be some Katniss Everdeen we're-the-leaders-of-a-rebellion kind of shit and what the fuck. Petra wanted to share an alarmed look of "ABORT MISSION! ABORT MISSION! GET YOUR ASS OUT OF HERE!" with Sybille but Palzeo spoke up from where he was leaning against a table full of maps and little pins like an actual war table. Goddammit, he better have some answers because she actually liked that bastard.

    “So,” he said. “I for one am still confused as to
    why you two decided to head up Lucarem in the first place! It's suicidal if you two can remember what just happened!" Rois, who'd been flitting around the windows, did this judgmental-looking raise of her eyebrow when she looked at them. Ugh, silent communication.

    She said, "Or maybe you two had a reason? None of us have ever been able to make it as far as you in the decades since they've installed them but then you two," Rois leveled a suspicious glare at them, "swam right past the security without so much as a pause or a spark."

    Petra shrugged and shot a wide-eyed, frantic glance at Sybille. Rois and Palzeo took this as a sign that meant they either knew something or were a bunch of lucky idiots. She's not sure which, but she's leaning toward a little bit of both. Palzeo swam closer to them and Rois must've put shades over the windows or something because it was dark and creepy. Leaning in conspiratorially, he said, "I'd like to think Rois and I are infamous around Aritum, but seeing as you two must be those sheltered types to not've recognized us by now... We're part of the Vetalis League. The younger members were saying something about being literal social justice warriors? But informally, we're the League and on the news we're called the rebels."

    What. She wanted to say something, but Palzeo continued on. "Rois is my right hand. I'm the leader." Of course he was. She couldn't even be surprised anymore. "We normally let the recruiters do this bit, but circumstances makes this unprecedented." What. "So, how about it? Help us out, stop the prejudice and oppression, and all you'll do is head into Aritum as scouts for us and report back."

    Palzeo backed off and he and Rois went around whispering to each other, leaving Petra and Sybille to figure this whole debacle out. Really, being asked to be one of Robin Hood's band of merry men wasn't on her bucket list. Palzeo kept shooting them glances, but Rois just rolled her eyes and got back to... leading a rebellion.

    "I'm just gonna say," Petra said, "that this isn't the right way to go about asking people to be a part of your freedom fighter gang!" Turning to Sybille she muttered, "OK, but seriously, what do we do?"

    [insert dialogue here because this should have been up way earlier but beggers can't be choosers even though I totally chose to procrastinate but hey I'll put this in later sorry nab]

    [insert other shit that's undecided yet BECAUSE I NEED TO SEND YOU THE DIALOGUE BITS SORRY NAB]
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