iconAll times are GMT -4. The time now is 03:55 AM. | Welcome to Forum, please register to access all of our features.
Old 11-01-2019, 08:51 PM   #1
Junge
u havin a giggle m8
 
Junge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 2,917
Default Stand Alone

An instinct, deep and inescapable, grabbed her by the throat. Ringo couldn't think. She couldn't move. Frozen, stuck inside the darkness, forever tormented by that howling emptiness which refused to grant her freedom from her prison of isolation-

One of the still sleeping sailors coughed and the young girl's eye cracked open like a mousetrap. Without her pet chickens to wake her up the last week of travel hit her sleep schedule hit her hard. But here! Today! Without assistance (kind of) she managed to get up precisely on time! Precision being a relative word. As she craned her neck around to look around the small, stuffy cabin, not a shred of light could be seen. The various grunts, grumbles, and unmentionable smells still permeated the crew's quarters, so that was good. Nothing soothed the girl's soul like routine.

Right as the ship lurched from an early morning wave she rolled out of her bunk. Both bare feet scarcely made a noise as they touched the somewhat damp wooden floor, and her fellow rookie sailor sleeping beside her didn't stir even a little bit. Practice made perfect! Navigating the dark slowly with her fingertips Ringo found the splintery ladder leading above deck and slipped away like a ghost. Now came the time to enact her master plan.
Junge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-01-2019, 09:01 PM   #2
Junge
u havin a giggle m8
 
Junge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 2,917
Default

Which, of course, was the same plan as every other day. The anchored vessel churned but remained relatively stable, allowing her to lay out all her equipment and do the daily inspection. A good soldier needed to be prepared! After a good polishing of her shield, twirl of her club, and reknotting of her grappling hook, a gray sky was just beginning to replace the blanket of stars above. With the extra light Ringo could move on to phase two without fear.

Face wrinkled in stern concentration she gripped her weapon of choice, which today was a sandal. Her toes gripped the side of the ship as she hoisted her body up to the edge. No white crested waves hurled themselves against the Saint Kagusama today so there wasn't much risk involve when she started walking across the railing like a circus performer. Every few steps she stopped, slid back, and batted away imagined mock enemies with her improvised footwear armament. By the time the red sun finally slid out from beyond the horizon the soldier in training Ringo almost made it entirely around the vessel. Not as good as a few days ago, but with a bit of practice...

“Sailor Kurusu!”

Hearing a familiar voice bark out Ringo instantly snapped to attention. Feet side by side! Left arm straight and placed by the hip! Right arm up and in the firm angled salute of the Village! Head at a rapidly descending angle- oh, no. That one wasn't right. Ringo realized she was falling backwards and let out the tiniest (but still unacceptable) 'gah'. It took some pinwheeling and fancy footwork but the expert sailor Ringo caught herself and hurled the bulk of her tiny body back onto the ship's deck. In the next second she rolled into her knees, planted her forehead on the ground, and prattled out a tearful “Sorry, Captain Hideki!”
Junge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-01-2019, 09:11 PM   #3
Junge
u havin a giggle m8
 
Junge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 2,917
Default

“At ease, at ease, little bird!” The chuckling Hideki waved at the girl and beckoned her to stand, which she never saw because of how thoroughly she prostrated. “Where's Unmei? Still napping?”

“Sailor Unmei is recovering from yesterday!” Ringo reluctantly mumbled.

“Not going to call her a deserter this time, eh?” Hideki stroked his beard then move to the side of the ship where Ringo had been balancing a moment ago. “Glad you took the lesson to heart.” Ringo stayed silent and kept her face buried in the deck's wood. Her burned hard enough with embarrassment she thought she might set the whole ship on fire. “The Commander says we'll make landfall today. That's exciting, isn't it?”

“If you say so, Sir!”

Hideki pursed his lips, but relaxed with a shrug. “Don't let the first mission jitters get to you, cadet.” A distant call of seabirds brought his attention to the sky and pause the thought. “Everything will go smoothly if you loosen up a bit. Leave the Academy training aside and enjoy your work, alright?”

“If you say so,” Ringo grunted into the woodwork, “Sir!”

Down below the first stirrings of life could be heard as the night watch moved below deck. The smell of frying fat wafted up from below decks, signaling that the mess officer was as early of a riser as Ringo. “Last time to fill up on goodies, kiddo!” Hideki stomped his foot and Ringo shot upright again like a stepped on pitchfork. “Get me the usual! And a serving for Unmei, too!”

Hearing the name again made Ringo's eye twitch, but if there was any animosity in her it wasn't showing in the strength of her 'Yessir's. The girl hurried to collect her weaponry then slipped back into her sandals before tumbling back down below deck. Hideki, confident his underling would return successfully, kept watch on the ever brightening horizon.
Junge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-01-2019, 09:24 PM   #4
Junge
u havin a giggle m8
 
Junge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 2,917
Default

No stranger to rowdy, unruly breakfasts, Ringo's childish frame easily wove between the burly and brutish bodies of the Saint Kagusama's crew. This wasn't a warship, despite the fancy colors the Commander wore, and its crew (however muscular and capable) weren't Village trained soldiers like Ringo! Most didn't even take notice of the small, black haired little girl as her hands darted out to snatch out crusts of bread, flasks of tea, and handfuls of turtle sausage. Long ago Ringo shed her inexperience in such matters- that is to say, the first few days of getting bruised by the crew taught her an important lesson of eating on the high seas. First come, first serve.

As she darted away from the slowly growing roar of dining crewmen a familiar obstacle appeared. Light on her feet she may be, Ringo had yet to find a way to avoid this particular crew member. “Ringo!” A golden-locked girl of the same age chirped out and caught Ringo by the arm. “Stealing food again?”

Ringo bared her teeth, but mostly by accident, since there were three knobs of crab gripped between them. “Sailor Unmei,” she tersely sputtered. “Rphtmph your mhhpht.”

“Don't talk with your mouth full.” Ringo's partner snapped back. “You know what our teacher said. I'm going to hold you to it!”

After some maneuvering Ringo shifted enough food away from the speech critical parts of her mouth to finally speak her mind. “Sailor Unmei,” she raised a small, knotted cloth wrapped around various foodstuffs. “This is your portion.”

Unmei snatched the satchel out from Ringo's hands and made an unpleasant face, but said nothing. Ringo stared for a bit with burning eyes, but also said nothing. Finally, after an unbearable eternity of several seconds, the former girl caved. “This doesn't make up for anything.”

“It's not supposed to.” Ringo warily shuffled past the fuming Unmei, trying to make her way back towards the sunlight streaming out from the hatch that lead to above deck. “It was an order.”
Junge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-01-2019, 09:43 PM   #5
Junge
u havin a giggle m8
 
Junge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 2,917
Default

Shouts of excitement rolled back across the ship as the first sight of land pulled into view. Captain Hideki still munched at remnants of breakfast when the news came and got so excited himself he excused himself from the game of poker he was losing. “Cadets!” He leaned out the window of the Commander's quarters and belted out like an agitated toad. “Report!”

In seconds Ringo appeared out on deck, dish washing soap still dripping from her hands as she pulled them into a Village salute. Unmei appeared shortly after from a location and occupation Ringo did not have knowledge of and did not inquire about. Hideki's wizened face poked out from the wooden frame of the window like he was looking at a pair of bickering squirrels. “I said, report!”

“I am-”

“It's-”

Both girls tried speaking simultaneously, Ringo going straight through while Unmei held her mouth open only to let out a long, exasperated breath. As if expecting his Hideki nodded his head. “Sounds good to me. Are we prepared to make landfall?”

“Your luggage is secure, Sir!”

“Everything is sorted out, like every other day, Captain.”

“Well, good!” Hideki laughed and moved out of sight. His muffled voice could still be heard moving through the walls. “Like I always say, it's better to prepare for surprises rather than be surprised by...” He trailed off, and was still lost in the thought when he opened the door to meet his underlings. “Surprised by the prepared? Does that work?”

Ringo responded with a “Yessir!” while Unmei kept her thoughts to herself. Both responses were acceptable. Clasping each girl's shoulder with his broad hands Hideki gave them these reassuring words to chew on. “Excellent. Trust me, grunts. I'll show you how a Village Captain gets things done!”

“Sir!” A sailor popped out of the window and waved a piece of leather around. “You forgot your wallet!”

Hideki closed his eyes and hummed in solemn meditation to himself. “Yes. Yes. Forget all those silly rules and regulations you learned at the Academy. Old Hideki will guide you to the true path of the soldier!”

This true path, it seemed, wasn't as well cleared as planned. As the harbor pulled into view the ship was greeting by the loud boom of a cannon shot, causing everyone on board to flinch. The Commander of the Saint Kagusama and Captain Hideki alone stood on deck while the rest of the crew made themselves busy elsewhere, making sure the ship stopped dead in its tracks. Nobody wanted to provoke a second volley from the island's inhabitants.

“Fiesty folk, eh Commander?” Hideki made a small gesture towards a smaller, rapidly approaching ship. “I'm glad your crew is experienced with Seagullers.”

“We aren't experienced because we want to be.” The Commander, a man of little words and little remaining hairline, spoke his words out well even with his missing teeth. “The Village pays us too well not to make these trips. We aren't sticking around any longer than we have to.”

“Ah, such comradeship.” Captain Hideki crossed his arms as the Seagull vessel drew closer. “It's so good to know our hard diplomacy work is paying off. Cadets!” Hideki clapped his hands. “Get ready to move out!”
Junge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-02-2019, 03:38 PM   #6
Junge
u havin a giggle m8
 
Junge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 2,917
Default

The smaller Seagull vessel stopped just short of where the Saint Kagusama laid anchor and after a tense bit of back and forth between the two commanders, a gangplank was lowered to connect the two. Captain Hideki and his two retainers stood at the ready while the Seagull ambassador disembarked.

“Is it really disembarking if she's going from one ship to another?” Unmei whispered. “Shouldn't there be another word for that?”

“I think it's 'boarding', lass.” Hideki smiled and bowed as the ambassador and her three armed guards clattered onto the deck. “Regent Yulia! You're looking splendid as usual.”

Seeing who the Village contact was the ambassador let out a perceptible but stifled groan. “Damn it all. Why couldn't you have been pirates? At least we can sink pirates.”

While Unmei seemed quite content to gawk with curiosity at the colorful feathers sported by the ambassador and her guards, Ringo stood ramrod straight and kept her eyes locked right on the horizon like a good soldier. One wouldn't want to cause a diplomatic incident by violating one of Seagulls cultural customs! Of course, their most sacred and cherished tradition was their heavy levies incurred on those wishing to pass within its borders, enforceable by cannon fire.

Hideki, after passing along a satchel that bulged with jingling wealth, gave a little sigh of exertion. “Whew. What a great feeling, having that burden off my shoulders.” He grinned at Yulia who didn't reply. She instead opened the bag and began counting what was inside. After a stifling silence with little but the waves to break up the monotony, she reluctantly waved to her guards. “You have ten days. No extensions.” Yulia looked to the Commander, who was doing his best like Ringo to not look anywhere incriminating. “If I see your ship before then the fine is going to be double.”

“Right,” grumbled the Commander.

“Right!” Hideki nodded.

“Right then.” Yulia jerked her head back towards the gangplank. “Get on board then. And you, children.” She snapped her fingers causing both cadets to jolt. “Don't touch anything.”
Junge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-02-2019, 03:55 PM   #7
Junge
u havin a giggle m8
 
Junge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 2,917
Default

As the smaller Seagull vessel departed and headed towards the port Ringo kept a stern face, despite how unpleasant she felt. Even though the small ship was obstinately a diplomatic one, every sailor she walked by possessed a weapon, and the smell of burnt gunpowder still lingered in the air. The three Village soldiers were lead to a small, barren room with naught but a single porthole for light. One of Yulia's guards grunted and gestured into what might have just been a storage closet. “Wait here until we get to port. Don't make too much noise.”

Hideki gave a polite bow and plopped himself right atop of a large wooden crate, while Unmei chose to sit on the floor. Ringo stood completely rigid and remained intently focused, which was the only way she could relax. The door slammed shut behind them and the three found themselves quite alone.

“Not alone,” Hideki pointed towards the door. “Two guards posted outside. The Lord is very particular about that when the Village sends guests.”

Unmei took a break from drawing on the dusty floor to scoff. “Why do we indulge them like this, Sir? Couldn't you easily beat them all up?”

“What, all of Seagull?” Hideki pretended to gasp. “Maybe on a good day. My joints are bit swollen though, it's probably best to play it safe.”

“Unapproved aggression would be a violation of the Ceasefire.” Ringo, never one to question a superior, still felt compelled to belt out a response to her teammates flippant attitude. “By the Broken Ridge Charter of 853, article III, acting military of either party cannot carry out clandestine actions without express approval of the council or-”

Now it was Hideki's turn to scoff and he cut Ringo off with a hand movement, something she'd been taught meant 'shut up'. “Don't start that again. If you start quoting treaties in public Sailor Kurusu, you're going to get a mob after us.”

“Aren't we stronger, though?” Unmei mumbled out as if unsure. “Seagull is just well fortified. They've never beaten the village in a war-”

“Ah-ah-ah,” Hideki clucked and gave the 'shut up' gesture to Unmei as well. “None of that. We're here to catch a bad guy, not to dredge up old history or upset stodgy politicians. Stick to the job they taught you at the Academy!”

Ringo perked up at hearing what sounded like an order, and quickly chimed in. “You told us to forget what we learned at the Academy, Sir!”

Captain Hideki made another hand gesture and the room fell silent. Somehow managing two children was proving more difficult than negotiating with the notoriously stubborn Seagull folks. Such was the burden the Village placed on its soldiers!
Junge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-02-2019, 04:18 PM   #8
Junge
u havin a giggle m8
 
Junge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 2,917
Default

Led by a procession of spear-armed men the three disembarked (in the true sense of the word) at Seagull country's only port. Despite the abundance of coves and bays which adorned the coastline of Seagull the government much preferred to restrict all entrance and exits to a single choke point. “And of course,” Hideki had to speak loud to address his underlings, as the hustle and bustle of the dock threatened to engulf his usual playful tones. “That means every other way of entry into the country is decorated with fortresses and enough artillery to blow a kraken to pieces. Good protection against pirates, too!”

Even though it was early in the morning several crews in the port where engaged in a variety of heavy duty labor. Barked orders flew in every direction, ropes and nets pulled from the blue seawater, several long fishing boats being fastened to the dock's posts...it became apparent why as the small procession drew nearer the shore.

The small voice of Ringo cracked out like broken glass. “That's a yellowscale!” From her tone one would think she was pointing out a murder. The shrill voice drew some attention to the group, who otherwise had been moving unimpeded. Hideki quickly started making the shut up gesture but Ringo's attention was locked on the bloated sea carcass floating nearby. “Those are a protected species, and it's not even hunting season!” Her infuriated gaze shot from face to face, then to the guard standing nearest to them. “Where are there permits? This is a violation of the Conservation of Village Fishery's Act! This is-”

Rather than use the gesture, Hideki simply grabbed the girl by the head and forced her down into a bow, doing the same himself. “Many apologies, gentlemen! This little bilge rat is just so excited to see a yellowscale up close. Big, nasty monsters, aren't they?” When he leaned in close to Ringo his fingers squeezed a bit harder and he spoke in a soft, understanding tone right into her ear. “Say one more word and you'll sleep outside tonight.”

Despite this show of questionable sincerity Ringo screeching seemed to put a halt to the dockworker's labor. Several of the men operating the pulleys to haul the large whale in stopped and the remaining fishermen could be seen whispering to each other. For a place as noisy as the Seagull port the sudden relative quiet felt very unsettling.

“Oy, oy, oy!” The husky tone of a large man roared out from beneath the dock, right under the wooden planks where Ringo stood. “You lazy gits, get a move on before the meat spoils!” In unison the workers shouted back an “Aye aye, sir!” and the day's work resumed as if nothing had transpired. Hideki released his grip on Ringo and stared downwards at the strange voice. “Does Seagull employ mermaids now?”

A rapid splashing was the first response, followed seconds later by a shirtless man leaping out from beneath the dock in a salty splash of water. What on earth had he been doing-”

“Under there, right?” As he hoisted himself onto the dock several of the guards gave him a cheer, and he made sure to clap them on the back with his large soggy hands as he approached. “Fishing, mates! See?” He held up a sling mounted trident, where several colorful fish could be seen impaled and struggling to breathe.

“Lord, even more hunting?” One of the guards laughed. “After taking on that yellowscale this morning? Don't you have an off switch, Adakai?”

Hideki regarded the large but agile man with a wary eye, but understanding the man had saved them from Ringo's embarrassment still permitted himself a small bow. “My gratitude to you, young man! We haven't met before, did you replace-”

“The old man? Naaaaah.” Adakai grunted as he plucked the fish off the end of his weapon and plopped them into a wet cloth sack. “I didn't pick up a fishing pole until a couple months ago. I don't got no rank!” He shoved a thumb into his bare chest and gave his long dreadlocks a quick rustle. “Fisherman Adakai, that's all I am! You, though,” he pointed the spear at Hideki. “You're the Village Captain, ain't ya?”

“Guilty as-”

“How about that!” Adakai let out a riotous guffaw while Ringo stared daggers at him for his repeated interruptions. She really, really, really wanted to lay into him about how rude it was, but she also really, really, really didn't want to sleep outside, so it was a mixed bag of emotions. Thankfully Ringo had the support of her loyal and trustworthy teammates, and Unmei immediately jumped in to protect the honor of their Captain. “We're from the Village too!” Unmei said with a bright smile. “Glad to meet you!”
Junge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-03-2019, 04:57 PM   #9
Junge
u havin a giggle m8
 
Junge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 2,917
Default

“Hey, I got a great idea.” Adakai drew closer to the group and easily moved passed the Seagull guards, who up until that point had been very clear that nobody was to approach them as they moved through the port. “That yellowscale there, whew, what a beast. Gotta be at least a thousand stone heavy, right?” Hideki's posture grew more upright as Adakai approached, but even standing at his full height the Captain was still a head shorter than the whale of a man. It was quite a sight to see the starched blue uniform of the Village next to a shirtless, glistening hunk of muscle like Adakai, and for a moment one could be forgiven for thinking something violent was about to unfold.

Instead Adakai thrust out a waterlogged hand and shot Hideki a wild-eyed grin.

“Something like this has gotta be a piece of cake for a veteran like you, right? How 'bout throwing us islanders a bone and helping out?” Hideiki eyed the hand with suspicion before reaching out to accept it, matching Adakai's huge palm with his own comparatively bony one.

The deliver of his words were anything but friendly, though. “Sure thing, slick. Tell your boys to back off and I'll work some magic.” Ringo opened her mouth to protest but, as per the previous order, she was forbidden from objecting out loud. So instead while her superior walked to the edge of the dock and lowered himself down on one knee she just bit her tongue and gave a death stare at anyone who looked in their general direction.

Unmei, on the other hand, wasn't bound by any official decrees, and Ringo hoped her partner would speak up to protest against what was surely a violation of their contract. “Oh! This is gonna be rad!” Unmei grinned and scooted around their escorts so she could get a better view of the pier. “I've never seen a captain use the Leviathan before!”

Frustration building Ringo couldn't do anything but silently mouth 'because it's against the rules', but it would be a lie to say she wasn't equally as interested. Soldiers of Hideki's caliber were few and far between, and the relative peace of the last decade meant that big showings of force from the Village almost never happened. The yellowscale floating in the bay looked as big as a house and to move it Hideki would need to pull out the big guns; the parlor tricks and smoke and mirrors of the Academy teachers wouldn't do jack here.

Hideki bent down low and swung his long arms down over the side of the pier, his fingertips barely brushing the surface of the water. He raised his wetted fingers up to his face and held them up against the bridge of his nose, as if he were about to sneeze. Ringo noticed her commanding officer's lips moving slightly- probably an incantation? “He really is an old fart, isn't he?” Unmei at some point drew closer to Ringo, and seemed to be trying to goad her into talking. “Nobody does that anymore. It's not even necessary...”

Another stillness took hold of the dock. The workers, now no longer working, seemed to be anxiously waiting for something to happen. Adakai kept his own eyes locked on Hideki whereas most others looked at the corpse of the sea creature bob up and down in the waves. Hideki himself kept his eyes closed, apparently deep in thought. It was like waiting for the fuse of a cannon to burn down. When would the gunpowder ignite?
Junge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-03-2019, 05:10 PM   #10
Junge
u havin a giggle m8
 
Junge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 2,917
Default

A deep, slow gargle rumbled out from beneath the dock. Instinctively everyone's eyes turned towards the sea. Someone starting shouting to arm the cannons before getting hushed up. The bay was too shallow for any sea monsters to reach anyway, so really the ominous sound could only have been one thing.

“The Leviathan, eh?” Adakai scratched his beard stubble in amusement. “Sounds like a big fart bubble to me-”

An enormous geyser of foamy water erupted from beneath the body of the yellowscale, instantly shooting it ten, twenty, thirty meters in the air. Panic hit immediately. Even Hideki opened his eyes and let out an 'oh, shoot' before rapidly shifting his fingers into a few different contorted shapes. Before the large corpse could crash back down several more geysers shot out, each intercepting the body at precise angles to slow its descent. The very last jet smashed into the side of the creature, causing it to roll sideways on its way down. With a tremendous wet crash the heavy body slammed into the reinforced section of the dock where the fisherman traditionally hauled their kills into. Several seconds of tense panic later, a light misty rain began to fall as the geyser's water settled back down towards the sea.

A series of cheers went up all at once, even though someone still seemed really adamant on arming the cannons. Adakai wore an intense expression for a moment before melting down into a grin. “Woo! That saved us a ton of time! Guess those demons you Village soldiers consort with really come in handy sometimes, eh?”

“They aren't demons!” Ringo blurted out, rage barely contained. “The honorable Leviathan is the guardian of the seas and all that dwell within it! Its power is only to be used in the event of direct harm to-”

“-the lives and well-being of the great ocean, blah blah blah.” Hideki waved to a few of the applauding men but his smile faded when he saw the unease with which most of their guard escorts seemed to be having. “Let's get a move on, kids. And you,” He pointed an incriminating finger at Adakai, his face hardening and eyes narrowing. “Owe me a beer.”
Junge is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump