*There's a long period of silence, only apparent by the background noise.*
*When Nichol finally speaks, his voice sounds rough - like it's kind of hard for him to speak.*
"...I don't understand it. I've found out a lot about what happened after I did my jump with the bomb. Like the world splitting apart, the barrier... all the refugees, and the food situation..."
"Caram said there's kids around - orphans - that need a place to stay. He's right, of course. We're using my apartment for that, and it's probably going to be that way for a while. But..."
*another long pause*
"...he wants it to be my idea because..." *deep sigh, and a bit of a catch in his throat.* "...because somehow, I'm the best role model. And I'm his role model. That... getting checked in on, that statue at the hospital, getting looked up to... that just can't be right..."
"...that shouldn't be right. Not for someone like me."
"It's happened. The librarian's here, and somehow he managed to shatter the sky in the process. No more prepping, no more waiting. This is our one last shot to protect each other and protect this world. My home. We've all had plans, made plans, had talks, had training, had spars. They all seem kind of small, now that we can see that Library hanging between us, the hallways, and the stars.
"We have the general plan together. Me and a few others will be using the upgraded airship mech to try to slow down the library and cause as much damage as we can. Another group, with Lio among them, is going to try to get a way into that... thing. And one last group, with Midnight among them, is going to try to go in and hopefully wetwork the Librarian to hell and back. We all have a part, and every last member of the crew has their part to do. We'll have to see what's left afterwards."
*A long pause.* "I'm not sure if any of us will make it out of this. If we don't, and the Librarian's listening to this, just imagine me showing you my middle finger as hard as I can. Otherwise... I hope we all make it, but we'll see. That library is bigger than any of us, and this job - keeping Liminal safe - is damn sure bigger than any of us, too. I've said it before, and I stand by it. I work for the Captain... and I work with the crew. I have a job to do, and I have to help them out. No matter what, no matter the cost, you do the damned job. That's how it works. ...right now, that's how it has to work if I want to make sure the Captain... Lio... Caram... Quet... Tsoki..."
"...to make sure any of them can see tomorrow. None of the crew's stories are going to end tomorrow. Not if I can help it, at least."
*a sigh* "Big 'if', I imagine. Good thing nobody listens to these. Can't show your sweat and expect to get anything done."
"Where in the abyss does some of this stuff come from?"
"The crew had a strange job today. Some cleaning slime ended up over Yoke, and we had to make sure it didn't cause havoc for the city below. Apparently the Wanderpus crew's had trouble with that in the past. Seemed like a simple job, but it always seems like a simple job before you start it.
"This time, we got it together in one big bubble. That ended up not going quite as planned, as now the bubble was too heavy for the air and was floating down onto the city. We ended up having to freeze it, then blow it out to sea so it could float there safely. We did it easily enough, and before I realized it Krieg was taking it back to Silver Thimble to use for some money making scheme of his. It got the job done, at least, and kept Yoke safe. Seems like a good result to me, strange as the project was.
"I really, really hate redcaps.
"Pim and Officer B+ were in bad shape, and they needed some emergency healer care. While a small group was helping Nicholas with the treatment, the airship and the sub had to work together to keep them protected from some redcaps who wanted the chance to suck on B+. It started out simple enough, with some bombing runs and gunfire. But they kept coming, and when they did, I made a call out to the Jewels for help by promising them some chance to blow stuff up without cops or consequence. I'm really glad they bit on that, because it gave all of us time to get things under control.
"Least, we thought that until some huge redcap from the abyss came out of a rift and started wrecking things. Things were going really bad, even when this guy with some sort of giant catfish showed up to help. We kept going, though, and after Pim and B+ recovered, they also joined in and finally turned the tide to take that monstrous thing down.
"Really, that's what this comes down to, most of the time. You're not the hero, but at least you can buy time to let someone else be the hero. Sometimes that's all you can do. It ain't about the limelight. If it is for you, there's a job on the stage where there's always good guys, and they always win. Otherwise, you help everyone get the win when they can get them."
*CLICK! Nichol sounds... tired. But in a good way.*
"They did it. I don't know how, but they did it. Royce is back, and far as anyone can tell, he's just fine. I don't know what in the abyss the whole crew is capable of, but after today, I'm glad they're... we're... capable of it."
"Now to get ready to turn that power on the asshole responsible for that whole mess in the first place."
"The jobs don't stop, even if you want them to. I'd like to say it's a nice distraction from... all that other whale crap the Librarian is doing, but it isn't. It just covers it up for a bit.
"Officer Lore got a distress call from a home world she hadn't seen in... I think she said centuries? Didn't realize there were people that lived that long. Then again..." *a pause, and a soft sigh.* "No, getting ahead of myself. this isn't gonna make sense if I go all over the place."
"It was me, Lore, and Melinoe, one of our best medics who took the trip. Lore disguised herself when we got to the world, and then we ran into the damn cops before we even landed. Commander Joust's crew, specifically - the one who tried to arrest us and the Jewels on the way to the otter moon, then got an arm lopped off protecting us from a whitecap. We..." *another pause* "...I came real close to blows with him when we talked about Royce, until it turned out the two of them were friends. Things cooled down a bit from there, so we ended up going together to meet this planet's council.
"Surprise, friggin surprise, it was a trap because the leaders made a deal to bring Lore here and find some legendary artifact as part of a deal with some hunters. Turned out it was those whales who nearly wrecked the airship, and after a little time, they figured out who we were."
*A slight, mirthless chuckle.* "I could have told them it would have ended badly the moment I knew who they made a deal with. During the whole talking here and there, I was able to find the key, and when the whale started swinging and knocked some flamingo into Joust's ship, I was able to launch some freezing fog to grab the key and get us out. It became this whole race against time between us and the whale fleet to find this door and the treasure behind it. We had a couple close calls, and eventually it was Joust and me keeping guard while Lore and Melinoe searched the ruins. The two of us had to face one of those whales, and, well, we kicked their butt." *AHEM* "I mean, we were able to take him down quickly and easily. I launched a bolt at the whale, and it froze and pinned them right to the ground right there. All that was left to do was trade strategy tips with Joust. We may be on the opposite side of the whole law thing, and his ego about how he does 'justice'..." *the air quotes are audible...* "definitely gets in the way of his job. But he's tough, and he's good to have on your side if you can help it.
"We ended up going to one more ruin, and this time we found what we were looking for. The treasure was a huge leviathan, suckered and trapped there with their kids ages ago. That leads me back to the Lore thing I was talking about before. She's... well, a baby leviathan herself. I don't think she knew that, but after that, we were all for setting the leviathan and their kids loose and into another world where they could live. They wrecked the rulers of Lore's world, then we got them to the worpletinger planet the whales colonized to wreak havoc and have the kids hatch and grow up there. We said our byes to Joust and his crew, then got out before anyone could change their minds about arrests.
"I didn't see anyone who looked like me there. Part of me was hoping, but I shouldn't have expected that - Lore would have said something, if nothing else. Maybe I'll find out more about my home in this job. Maybe. Not holding my breath, though, and I'm not gonna leave the captain in the lurch to go searching for my own thing. Can't fixate on some fuzzy distant past and let the present sit and grow seaweed."
A failed counterattack
"...just heard about what happened to Royce a bit ago."
"I'm finding the Jewels. I need to find something big and deadly, and I don't care how many favors I'll need to pull to get it."
*a rather violent CLICK*
*CLICK! Nichol's voice sounds different. Less watery, a little more crisp.*
"Holy crap, I was right! I thought something was different, but-"
*Pause. A few deep breaths. Nichol continues, sounding calmer.*
"Okay, I need to explain this. Or document it. Or both - however Lio does this science stuff. I already talked how I got mauled really bad on the mission to the otter planet. That whole thing left me in the hospital for a while with my injuries. At one point it was kind of touch and go, so I told the docs to try something desperate. I still had that tooth from the Kukla, so I told them to try to use whatever magic juice they could get out of it to help with the whole keeping me upright thing. It worked, yeah, but once I got back out and started back into training, I noticed a few things different. First, I couldn't use my cigarette trick to make fire anymore, no matter how hard I tried. Second, a lot of my normal tricks had more of a chill to them, even when it was just making windstorms and the like. And then when I did a good bit of it, I could see my breath like I was out in the snow, no matter how warm it was.
"So, I tried doing some tests, to see how far I could push that. And... well, I do look and feel a lot cooler."
*A few seconds pass.*
"...right, no pictures to this. Crap. I ended up taking the form I took on the Kukla planet. Different shirt, the dress, everything. I know I sound a little different, and I can tell my ice stuff feels stronger, too. Not sure how much stronger yet. I'll have to test it out later."
"And get some pictures, too. I mean - this is really AWESOME! I love this!" *A beat passes.* "I, uh, I mean, it's usefu - oh, crap, oh crap, I'm embarrassing mys-"
"Sometimes I forget about the part of the job where we get hired for random crap.
"This time, it was a healer named Nicholas, who needed us to look into these huge mushrooms dotting the Pastural region. The things were basically wood at this point, so we had to figure out a lot about those things." An awkward pause. "So of course Officer Stein+ starts talking to them, and I guess they answered? I don't really know how he's able to do anything he does, really - not like I have room to think something's silly."
*cough* "Anyway. Turns out the mushrooms were eating dead world hallway stuff. Some after effects of cutting the otter world loose, I guess? These mushrooms got infested by... spider things, and those of us on the airship had to blow them to the abyss. At that point, since they were cleaning up dead and rotting hallway... stuff... we decided to let them go to finish the job."
"Least if nothing else, we know what to look for if something weird is going on with a hallway. That's probably useful for, uh, knowing when I'd need to book it through a hall real fast, I guess. Besides, it's a job done."
"Okay. I've been putting this off long enough, and now that I can breathe better -" *COUGH* "...mostly better, let's talk about how I got injured.
"The otters needed a small group of people to help them with some sort of project. Well, not exactly help. More clean up. They made a hallway to that moon, or planet, or whatever, the airship crashed onto a while back, and were starting to remake and re-settle the place with some sort of flower. The thing they needed help with was taking care of creatures that showed up to cause some havoc, and then help the otters decide whether they should keep a connection with Liminal or cut it off entirely. It ended up being me, Vatna, Akhana, and Krieg, along with all our apprentices, on the job.
"Right from the start, it ended up a rough operation. To get to the infested zones, we had to get through an area with all kinds of rapid plant growth stopping our path. Vatna flew over, Akhana and Krieg tried jumping around, and I tried cutting through. It worked. *cough* Eventually.
"A little after that, we got to where their planet-changing process hadn't totally taken hold yet. There were some trees, and some roots. Word Tree roots, apparently, based on what what else was there. There were a bunch of these worm things on and around the trees, and we had to fight them off when they tried to overwhelm us. At this point, Vatna was seeing... something else that was going on with them. I'll be honest, I couldn't follow any of it. I was focusing on keeping those things away. Whatever Vatna and the others were talking about, they figured out we needed to go to the old, apparently dead word tree that was on this planet. Thankfully, Ol was getting the hang of navigation in this place and was charting a path.
"That's when things really went south. One of those whitecaps - the thing that took all kinds of firepower from the airship to take down last time - managed to ambush us. I was just barely able to get between it and Ol, and it got me good. It got worse from there, as it kept sucking up blood, injuring us and the apprentices while we tried to take chunks off of it. It managed to get me good a second time, breaking my ribs and leaving me barely able to do much of anything. *COUGH* That's why I still sound like crap now. I've been in the hospital for a week recovering from that fight.
"We only got back when Akhana found a flame scythe, somewhere, and cut the thing in half. I'm not sure why, but something about it makes me feel a little... angry, or uncomfortable, or something. Can't really explain it. Then again, that could have just been the busted ribs and the blood loss talking. I know I probably should have taken the time to try to patch myself up, but the job needed to get done, and from everything I was hearing from the others, we needed to get moving now. Good thing Squishy helped keep me upright the rest of the way.
"When we got to the tree, it was dead, except for this one little bit that was starting to grow again. Apparently, it was totally infested with those worms like the Librarian had, too. The others started talking about needing to cut that growing part off, some sort of infestation that could spread, cutting this world loose... it took me a moment to realize they weren't even thinking about the otters who were still living here, and what they were going to do. I'm starting to wonder if it's always going to be like this. Having this amazing power, shaping worlds at a whim, and then just using it without caring about who gets crushed underneath. I'm just glad the others listened - I was starting to feel angry when I realized about the otters. ...really pissed off, now that I think about it. *cough* I'm gonna have to think about that later.
"Thankfully, we were able to warn the otters about what was going on, so they could get out while we cut the two worlds apart from each other. We were also able to get the word out to the rest of the crew, and Midnight was there - along with Caram, the guy subletting my apartment! I knew he joined the crew, but I didn't think he'd be seeing action so fast. Sure am glad he did though, because he saved all of our butts.
"*COUGH* So, that was about it. We talked with the otters about what happened, tried to smooth things over, and all the others who I went on the mission with, including Ol, forced me to go straight to the hospital. I should be getting back out soon, assuming I can get enough rest between seeing people. ..I'm glad they're showing up, though, and I'm glad the rest of the team forced me to go recover, too."
*a moment of silence.*
"Oh, crap, I said that out loud. How do I delete that par- *COUGH COUGH*
The New Sensation
"I meant to do this a while ago, but..." *COUGH COUGH* "...I'll talk about the delay with the other report. This one is about something fun."
"Apparently, there's a new sport called Web Ball, that came out of nowhere. A few of the crew ended up as one team, taking on a bunch of others. I wasn't sure about it at first, but I had to support Lio, and Seth, and Quet, and... Zacna, I think? I don't think I've worked with him before. They started off against the Warpletingers, and it was a tough battle, but they won. I think. I'm still not really sure how it works.
"The next one was... well, Parliament. My old bosses on the field, doing their standard work with their standard tricks. Still tough as hell to watch them - the people I used to work for, the people who taught me so much, who used to run the whole city - doing that, even making a push that broke Lio's arm? I'm just glad I was still together enough to stop Midnight from rushing the field after a couple of the stabs." *cough*
"I'm just gonna move on. The last one was King Reedi, his wife, and some friends. The crew was getting beaten up, hard, but eventually they figured something out, and made it some sort of a practice match after halftime. It really took off there, as both teams did some really amazing stuff. I was rooting for the crew before, but after that last bit, I could see myself getting into this for real. I'll have to keep an eye out for when some of these other teams play again."
*cough* "Just... just not Parliament, though. No way could I handle that."
Debriefing - the sub job
*the following is one of several handwritten transcripts, found in Parliament City at some point after the assassination of The Roc.*
(T) "Really? This one's getting written down?"
(M) "...yes, Mr. Trafford."
(T) "Okay. Just surprised at the change. I'm sure the bosses got a reason for it. Anyway...
"I was doing what I've been doing for a while, keepin' my eye on whoever's able to sneak around those rift things causing trouble."
(T) "C'mon, Numbers, you know the other eye works too. It's a play on words. Anyway. Some of our people in Port Barter were talking about this new syndicate that was going around, taking things and having some way to deal with the rifts. Lockstitch something, I think. Of course the bosses wanted all of us to keep an eye on them. So when Penny's top long-ear in Port Barter gave me a job, I took it real seriously.
"Turns out, these Lockstitch people made a deal with some Port Barter leaders to deliver supplies all around the world, and that sort of thing could put a real crimp in Parliament's work. As it also turns out, they grabbed the supplies that's supposed to go to The City, including a little surprise that's supposed to go to some trouble maker that's causing issues for the boss. The long-ear got me a little something that would set it off when I got close enough, and told me to do a bit of the normal smash and grab. She also told me to keep a real close eye on this one snake tailed lady, and try to avoid her best I could or it could get real messy.
"Turns out, it's a lot harder to tail someone when they're able to ignore so many rifts. I was waiting for them a little outside Port Barter, but even with that, I only barely caught up with them when they were already finishing the offload at Pastura. At least I was able to get close enough to find out the lady I was warned about wasn't with the rest of the crew.
"I thought it was gonna be a day of catchup until their sub suddenly slowed down on the way to Salt & Sand. No clue why, but it gave me the opening I needed. While they were distracted, I got close to the sub, and I set off the party favor. The rush of water delivered the rest of the goods right to my ship, so me and a couple others grabbed the goods that survived and booked it back to The City."
(M) "And what about the sub itself?"
(T) "Looked like it was taking on water hard when I left. It might've sunk right then and there with everyone on, but... I didn't stay around to check. The waves were getting choppy, and I had to finish the job. Honestly, if that syndicate lost their sub, I'm sure it would really hurt their ability to d- no. Wait. Sorry, not my job, not my position, I know. Anyway, I brought the stuff to The City, and that was that.
"So yeah, I'm sure I got another job waiting for me, so I'd better get to that. Good seeing ya again, Mr. Numbers."
The Bargain, redux
So. How about the consequences of my big mouth coming back to haunt me?
Back in ponyland, I helped a Kukla and assistants escape from the unicorn, and as part of that, I volunteered to help them out with what they needed. They took me up on the offer a lot later than I thought, and I got tasked to get a small team of people to come to their world in secret. I knew pretty much immediately who I wanted on the team. Lio, because that's obvious. Midnight, because he's one heck of a fighter. And Quet, because I'm pretty sure he's the one person I know who has information on strange mystical stuff, and someone I could also trust with things.
We went back to the swamp outside Port Barter, where we had that nice... trip....
*a bit of silence*
Anyway. There was a tree where one of the Kukla's masked assistants brought us to the Kukla's world, and a pyramid of... well... teeth. The Kukla was inside, looking a lot smaller and less powerful than I remembered. Also a lot more of a jerk, too. Apparently they spent a lot of energy taking out redcap armies, and all of their assistants - the masked ones, and the fairies, all booked it when they had the chance. I was starting to understand the feeling after a bit of time. A job's a job though, and I gave my word. They needed the assistants back to try to get more teeth and get power. In order to make sure we could talk to the ones who left without suspicion, we were given a disguise to look like them. In order to protect ourselves, we were given a tooth with some special power that apparently gave us power and kept us from being attacked during the process. I don't get why, but it does actually work that way.
Midnight had the idea to go after the masked ones first, so we made plans to travel there. After we tried and bombed at getting some of their transport to work, we just decided to walk our way there. In hindsight, that was probably the right move, because Midnight found a redcap hatchery on the water on the way there. Somehow, Quet knew something was wrong - probably some mystical stuff I don't get. We managed to get there just in time to see the attack start. When we got there, I... guess Midnight panicked. Seems really weird that the battle hit him like that, but I guess that sort of thing happens sometimes. At least he managed to get the attention of a couple caps away from us.
When they attacked, I used my gift tooth. What happened next... it was really strange, but not in a bad way. It's kind of hard to explain. I threw off my disguise, and next thing I realize, I was wearing a dress made out of ice and water, I have more ice and water powers, and I... I was made of ice, kind of, somehow? I wish someone could have taken a portrait of it, because I'm sure it looked really cool.
*silence. a light coughing sound.*
No. No, I don't regret that. I don't care what you say, random person actually listening to this. It took a little while to get used to my new form, and it showed when I tried to attack the redcaps. We all got knocked around a bit while we transformed and used our new powers, and once Midnight got back with a redcap head, we finally started to turn the tide. Things just seemed to click more, then, and everyone else looked just as good as I did. Maybe Marcus knows how to make some sort of variation of what I wore in that form? I gotta look into that.
Anyway. We took the caps out, along with the eggs, and we went to the masked village. They had their beef with the Kukla, and it was good beef at that. The problem was the beef was going to risk getting them all killed, because redcaps don't care about your morals. They probably think it's something used to season the blood. So yeah, when the volcano near the masked obsidian village started blowing up, I rushed up to make sure the town was safe.
More frigging redcaps, and they were trying to channel the lave into the pyramid. Of course we had to stop it, and when the others got there, I focused everything on focusing or shutting down the lava. I'm really glad the others were there - Lio, Midnight, Quet, they all had my back through the whole thing, and if it wasn't for them, I'd probably be a skeleton buried in slowly cooling lava right now. It took just about all the power I had to eventually stop it - I think by the time it finally stopped, I was basically like B+ but for water.
Oh, right, also the volcano thing happened because of a really big recap causing it. After the lava stopped and the others managed to take out the other redcaps, we all teamed up and combined our powers to make a supercharged lance. It hit home, and it left pretty much nothing of the giant. IT almost left nothing of us, either - all four of us were dead on our feet after. I'm just glad the Kulka and the masked ones were able to work some things out while we were fighting evil. It's not over for them, but at least it's a start.
We got back mostly okay. I still have that tooth in a pocket. It's drained of power, but I feel like I might be able to do something with it. Not sure what, though... I'll have to think about it. Lots of things to think about, how to do things better. But for now, I probably ought to just sleep it off.
A Desperate Defense
Things... almost went really badly for the city today. I was taking a nap when I ended up stuck to my bed. I got out, got stuck to the floor. I was able to get up again, but every step to the airship was a struggle. As it turns out, that weight pulling me down was some sort of energy being thrown out by an attacking fleet.
This fleet was trying to attack the city, and it was being led by one of those whales that nearly wrecked us during the rescue mission. I guess we made more of an impact on those titans than I thought. The robot factory some of the officers were working in had some things ready to go, and they were able to take the fight to the whale while the rest of us tried to keep the fleet from burning down the rest of the city.
We almost didn't make it, and the library didn't make it at all thanks to the whale ship crashing. Even while I'm recording it, it's all hands on deck out there trying to keep what's left from burning down. I think even my subletter is helping out with the process. I - well, I'll be joining the rest of them to help with the recovery soon. I just have to record this first - debriefing, and stuff. This whole thing feels like an escalation. Now, the Captain's operation is important enough to get hunting whales after us. We all lived, but it has me a little worried. I have no clue how these compare to the Librarian. If he's gotten tougher than one of the whales...
*a long silence on the recording*
...I'd rather not think about that. We have to get help, and get stuff, because that's the only shot we have. That's the job. Nothing else to say.
*A harmonic moan over jazz music can be heard in the background.*
So. Hotel was haunted. Some idiot decided to broadcast it live. Now the Belle is haunted by... I think the ghost DJ called them sick beats?
Guess I'm not going to sleep tonight with this noise. Fan frigging tastic.
*MOOOOOA - CLICK*
That was some good fighting. I'm a bit disappointed I couldn't join in with the spars, but I was supposed to rest and recover after that last trip to the pony world. And at least it could give me some more fighting pointers.
In any case, the tournament had a lot of tough fighters, with some of the crew among them. Midnight just made sense, especially when I saw him in action, and pretty much everyone has heard about the stuff Royce gets up to. Corzipa seemed familiar... I've never worked with them, but I could swear I've seen them before. Castor and Pollux I remembered from Parliament City. Good to see they've gotten better at the physical stuff. The thing that really shocked me, though, is seeing Pound involved in the tournament. Back in the day, he never would have gone around into fighting tournaments.
...actually, thinking about it, he might have tried if someone got him pissed off enough, but Penny would have gotten in the middle of everything and stopped him from going that public. Either way, he got knocked out by Royce's apprentice. I'd be lying if I didn't say it shocked me. He was my boss. I was always loyal when he and Penny were in charge, but there was always that feeling of what he'd do if you disappointed him with a job. To be taken out by the intern Royce was training? He has to have gone even further than I thought since he got kicked from his top perch. Nothing else makes sense, honestly.
Anyway, this isn't about me telling stories about the good old days, or some fish crap. This is about the fights. Apparently in another one of Midnight's fights, we cheated. ...somehow. I still don't understand how that worked. Maybe Lio has a better idea. Whatever it was, it was enough to cancel out all of the crew's betting, and soon enough the announcer decided he wanted to kill the whole crew. I went to the Captain pretty much immediately to see if I was going to be needed to try a lightning strike or something on the guy. Thankfully, the rest of the crew managed to take him out, and they finished off the tournament.
Midnight lost to Royce in the finals. Shame, that. He has one heck of a fighting style, and I want to try myself against it later. Maybe see if I can do better against that than I did against Lio, now that I have some better ideas. I'll have to reach out to him later.
"Apparently we managed to clean up enough lingering matters, because the orders came down from on high: we need to start preparing for the Librarian's coming. After our first horrible try, we know we don't have enough right now to take them on. The Captain's tasked us all with looking everywhere we can, on or off this world, for something to help. Ol and her sister were able to find something pretty fast, too. It doesn't seem like it's been that long, but she's already coming out into her own with her planning and searching. It might be more despite my training than because of it, but I feel pretty damn happy either way."
"Anyway. Once she gave me the info, I called a few others I thought could handle the job, and we all made plans to travel to a place where the Librarian came and just as suddenly left without wrecking the place. It's not much, but it at least meant something we could use. We gave a note, we traveled out, and everything seemed fine."
A sound of Nichol taking a drink of something, then continuing. "At least it was fine until we all became horses, or horse-like things, when we got close enough. I say horse-like because Vatna kept his wings, and I ended up with a fish tail instead of hind legs. Magical stuff worked weird there too, and everything was so... colorful. Even my voice sounded funny."
"From the moment we got there, we had to deal with a quest. The local town had almost all of its ponies taken so a dark castle on a mountain, and the one who remained needed help to get them back. Of course we decided to help out, because there was something else strange going on here. We ended up having to fight smoke in a dragon skin, meet an... edgy pony, I guess. Didn't seem that edgy to me, just resourceful and knew what they were doing."
"Anyway. From there, we had to all get into the castle, save the hostages, and take down this black unicorn that was working for, or using, some sort of mystery force. I think Vatna said it was some sort of cut off-shoot of a world, or something? I dunno, it's not my field. Anyway, there ended up being a Kukla and companions there that I agreed to help out. Ol and I were able to get the kukla and a few others out, and they went to help take out the unicorn and save the other prisoners. We took out that unicorn, got rid of that world offshoot, fixed the rift, blew the castle to tiny bits, and went back home. Good mission, good result, all in all."
Another sound of glass clinking. "Well, there was one part I skipped there. The others trotted up the mountain, until they got escorted the rest of the way. With the fish tail and gills, I took the water route to the castle. And... well, body was strange, but still, it was the first time I ever got to swim and actually breathe the water. Ever. My gills never worked back home, but there, in that form, they did. Honestly... it was an amazing feeling. Part of me wonders if either of my dads felt that back at the home world." A deep sigh. "Not like they would have told me if I ever asked. But still, the chance to swim like that with no worries about drowning, it's... kind of hard to explain in words, really. I was thinking a bit after that, too. I'd love to be able to do that whenever back home on Liminal. Not as a pony of course, but as me. I mean... even if it was something where I lost my legs for a tail when I hit the water, would I be willing to take that trade-off to feel that connection to the water again?"
There's no sound on the continuing recording for a while. Just silence, eventually followed by a *CLICK* of the recording ending.
A good day?
*Click!* The audio recording starts.
"I actually had a simple job this time, I guess. Tattoo asked me, Vatna, and Tsoki to help out our image by meeting with this documentarian and look into some issues back in Port Barter. It was really straightforward - we got interviewed, gave him good shots, and went to check out a swamp. When we were there, we checked out this large temple... pyramid thing, got some more shots, and went back. Honestly, the worst issue we had was some turbulence, and even that wasn't a big deal. "
"Well... there is one bigger deal, I think. Some time back, I managed to get a couple powerful magic scrolls, which I kept handy in a sealed container in case of emergency. After the job got done and we started taking the documentarian back, I realized one of the scrolls - one with some really powerful storm energy in it - was missing. The documentarian didn't have it, nobody else on the ship had it, we were never in a hint of trouble. The only thing I can think of is I dropped it somehow, but normally I try to be really careful about keeping something that powerful strapped up safe. It worries me that it could get lost like that."
"The other thing, though..." A period of silence. "Afterwards, something felt different. When I got back to the apartment, I checked out my blue eye, and it seems kind of different, somehow. A little bluer. When I focused on it a bit, I felt something else there, too, something I didn't notice before. And as I tried to figure that out and looked at the eye I normally keep under the patch... for a moment, I started to feel angry. Really angry, like what I felt in that moment during the duel with Lio but giant-sized. It faded, but... I've never felt like that before when looking at my other eye. Can't even start to explain it, and that kind of worries me."
The sound of some rustling. "Maybe I'm still feeling it from that duel, or I just need sleep or something. Nothing I can do about it now." *click*
[Another audio entry.]
"This recording thing could be useful after all. It seems faster. Just have to make sure I'm a little more careful about words, since I can't cross stuff out."
A short break. "Anyway. Not much this time. From what I was told, there was some work on the engine that was having issues, and they had to look for some extra parts. And somehow, Pound was involved, at least until he got put in the hospital by Senior Officer Royce. It's funny, whenever I remember seeing him before he got tossed out of Parliament, he was always this great terror that you always gave respect to if you didn't want to be beaten battered, and tossed in the ocean. To think he got wrecked so easily... did he change, or am I just not remembering things right?"
Awkward silence. "But that's not important anymore, is it? I don't work for them anymore, I work for the Captain. That's why I'm recording this. Someone apparently hated the captain enough to deliver bombs, and it wrecked her apartment. Thankfully, she wasn't harmed personally, but I ended up helping out with the emergency repairs. Someone got the professionals in, and it worked out. It's definitely worrying, but hopefully security will be able to keep an eye on things going forward. This is one more bad sign we don't need."
[This is not a written journal entry, but is an audio recording of Nichol's voice. He sounds like he's in a bit of pain.]
"Before you ask, whoever's looking at these things, I wasn't planning to switch to the audio thing I heard some others are doing with this new tech. I mean, it seems like it could be useful, and all. I just have my writing hand in a big bowl of ice since Lio - no, it should be Officer Levon - took me down in that duel. I knew he had a good punch, but apparently he had a lot more than that in hiding."
The recording picks up a sigh. "And here I thought my normal methods would do the trick. When you're fighting someone good, get them off balance before it starts. I knew I hit something when I did the whole Lord Levon bit at the bar, and when the tail feint got him off balance, I thought I had the thing close to in the bag."
"Of course I just started treating it like an actual honorable duel and crap, instead of a training spar like an actual fight. I tried doing the normal straight-forward thing, and he got me in the ribs. Hard. I was barely able to launch a desert wind at him."
A bit of shifting in his seat, and the clinking of ice moving around, picks up on the recording. "Turns out Officer Levon has a couple buttons you don't wanna push. Next thing I know he was screaming, and he knocked my practice sabre out of my hand and nearly took the hand with it. And the worst part is that would be a loss, but I got sucked into it too and started treating it like an alleyway brawl back at Parliament City. I barely got control back before I stabbed him. And then a couple seconds later *HE* starts apologizing for what he did, after I pulled a couple of my normal tricks and still lost!"
"I mean, he won it fair and square, but next time we need to tighten up the rules. It's real clear I need to work on more than using distractions and emotions against someone I'm fighting. If it's a fight, I need to be ready to do a full-on fight, especially if getting them mad and unfocused just means I have less room to work. And if it's killing someone, don't worry about to duel, just do the deed. ...not that I expect the Captain to put me into wetwork along with sailing. -aw, crap, I shouldn't have said that. How do I delete what I was sayin - SH-"
A bit of clattering, and the recording suddenly cuts off.
Today ended up being a real good lesson in why it's so important to know where the airship is in an emergency. There was something about a small group heading out for a special mission, I think. The next thing I know, there's an emergency situation and we needed to head out to help them immediately. So we got as many people as we could and tried to get a flight plan. Thankfully, El Pea's been giving me some pointers on an emergency breach procedure, because I used that to get to the possible rescue point ASAP.
Turns out it was a good thing we went that way, because we came out in the middle of a battlefield and we ended up a target. We all got to work fast defending ourselves, and we managed to do well even while we pushed the ship to the limits and the engine almost failed. Right on cue, we ended up providing an escape route for Vatna, Lore, and just about all of Ol's adult family while these giants tried to spear the entire ship. It was quick jump to a small island from there, where I learned two things: first, this was a mission to try to protect a bunny village being threatened by those same giants. Second, it was about to become an evacuation mission, because we couldn't win against them. We were just about to start when... well, something happened with Tsoki. His eyes glowed, he looked panicked, and then he used some magical artifact to clown everything - including the stuff that those giants were launching at the village below. I'm not quite sure what happened, but whatever Tsoki did or figured out, it apparently worked because we were able to evacuate the village just in time.
Last I heard, the new people in Liminal were starting to get used to their new surroundings. That's the most you can hope for, really, given the circumstances. It wasn't part of my mission, but it didn't hurt it, either. And I have to admit, it is kind of nice to help someone caught in the crossfire like that.
The job doesn't give lots of control. That's the whole point - I get orders, I do the job, that's it.
Lately, it's starting to feel like even that's not really happening. Ever since that whole thing with that living mega-ship, and the paper soldiers... [section blotted out]
No, never mind. I don't need to focus on that. It doesn't really matter now, anyway.
But since then, the airship keeps getting taken out on joyrides or other jobs, and not even bothering to tell anyone else. I think I heard Raz talking about forged paperwork, too. [blotted section] One of my jobs is to be the pilot. I'm not hard to find, apparently, so someone could just grab me and I can do my job, especially if it's an emergency situation. At least the airship didn't get too damaged in the process. ...and at least one of the other times it got joyridden, the Captain directed stuff. And directed I drink some, too.
After all that, at least things got a bit more normal as I was piloting the ship to help Officer Ceylon with one of her projects. Apparently it went well, although I had to scare off a bunch of moths using Officer Vatna's backup hidden fuel. And Vatna, if you are reading this, I'm still not sorry. I've worked with really illegal stuff, and people who've used really illegal stuff. I don't really care what you have, so long as it's not put someplace where I might end up tossing it out with the trash left from the joyride after people didn't clean up. Again.
I dunno at this point. Maybe the problem is I'm too disconnected from the rest of the crew, and thanks to that, I can't really do my job. I'll have to look into some kind of... team building stuff, I guess? Lio seems good at making those connections, maybe I can ask him after we do that fight I promised him.
I know the crew that borrowed the airship did a good thing. They got all the stuff that was stolen from them by... whichever boss they had before the Captain. They managed to fight some baddies, and they managed to bring back their guest who got really messed up.
But seriously, is it THAT hard to clean up after you're done!? Show some damned professionalism, and some care with what you're working with! I swear, I might have to threaten people with my new blade if it ends up that bad again.
I'm going to need to warn everyone about that. Ugh.
The Questionnaire, Final
(this entry has the occasional claw-stains on it where Nichol was holding the journal.)
Okay. Have my hands cleaned after that accident. Mostly. I need to get this over with now, because with what I just learned, who know if I’ll even have a chance to do this again.
81. How do you deal with stress?
Normally, powering through it and having a drink after. Like I’m planning in the next half hour or so.
82. Are you spontaneous, or do you always need to have a plan?
Plans are important to start, but being spontaneous is how you get to the finish line when things inevitably go to the depths.
83. What are your pet peeves?
Being flippant or uncaring about a job, especially an important one, is the fastest way to tick me off.
Part 7: Self Images And Etc.
84. Describe the routine of a normal day for you. How do you feel when this routine is disrupted?
Get up. Have a decent breakfast. Check the airship and make sure the repairs are going okay, because it always needs repairs. Check if a new job has come in from the Captain or someone else in the organization. If it has, that’s my day. If not… hone my skills, try to get new points of contact in the crew or the city, that sort of thing. Then dinner, check the airship again, and sleep.
85. What is your greatest strength as a person?
My dedication. Easily.
86. What is your greatest weakness?
I have trouble turning off, sometimes. The perils of a former and current life fleeing cops.
87. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Probably the ability to be personable without being weird.
88. Are you generally introverted or extroverted?
Pretty dang introverted.
89. Are you generally organized or messy?
I like to be organized.
90. Name three things you consider yourself to be very good at, and three things you consider yourself to be very bad at.
I’m good at finding stuff, smuggling stuff out, and driving a ship. I’m not so good at diplomatic crap, science, or paperwork.
91. Do you like yourself?
I mean… I’m good at what I do, so…
92. What are your reasons for being an adventurer (or doing the strange and heroic things that RPG characters do)? Are your real reasons for doing this different than the ones you tell people in public? (If so, detail both sets of reasons…)
I do it because it’s my job, I am good at my job, and because I said I would do that.
93. What goal do you most want to accomplish in your lifetime?
To do that one big job, the one that seemed impossible, bit I was able to help get it done with my abilities and my skills.
94. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
If I’m lucky, still here, doing what I’m doing now.
95. If you could choose, how would you want to die?
Peacefully, with my jobs done and nothing needed. I don’t want to leave things unfinished.
96. If you knew you were going to die in 24 hours, name three things you would do in the time you had left.
Alert my boss. Finish my current job. Maybe if I have time, finish things of by going on a trip to the ocean fishing, so when I go, the sea takes me.
97. What is the one thing for which you would most like to be remembered after your death?
Why would I want to be remembered? But if I have to be remembered for something, being a professional.
98. What three words best describe your personality?
Withdrawn, focused, and loyal.
99. What three words would others probably use to describe you?
Professional, unmemorable, quiet.
100. If you could, what advice would you, the player, give to your character? (You might even want to speak as if he or she were sitting right here in front of you, and use proper tone so he or she might heed your advice…)
[Since this is an out of character answer: I’d tell Nichol that he shouldn’t just take orders from his bosses, he should listen to them. The Captain chose him for a reason, and he should respect her judgment instead of second-guessing himself.]
101. Are you from Liminal? If not, where are you from and what makes your world unique?
I was born in Liminal, as best as I can tell. If there’s something about my home world, I never got told about it.
102. What are some places in your world that you have been to? What specifically makes them unique?
I grew up partly in Port Barter, but most of my time was dealing with and around Parliament City. That place is one of those areas that seems dark and moody, no matter how sunny it is out there. That may just be clouded memories though.
103. Is there somewhere specific that you favor in particular? Tell us about it.
I’m really liking the airship I’ve been charged with piloting. I basically consider it my new home away from home at this point.
104. Is there somewhere specific that you hate? Why?
I can’t stand being in the area of Port Barter where I grew up. Not only bad memories, but there’s always the risk of running into old family.
105. How about a place you haven’t been to yet but you have always wanted to visit?
Now that I’m doing rift stuff, and know about rift stuff, maybe an ocean world. I doubt I’d be able to breathe the water there, but maybe I could get lucky?
106. Are you a typical individual for your world? Is there some significant way you consider yourself to differ from your societal norms?
I don’t really know any others of my species right now besides my parents. There may be others from wherever we came from, but I’ve never seen them.
107. What makes you stay with the crew rather than stay in one place? Is there something that would make you leave?
I stay with the crew because the Captain hired me. If the Captain got killed or deposed, and some jerk started running the crew, I’d definitely think long and hard about ghosting this place too. I mean, it wouldn’t be the first time.
108. What do you find interesting or what theories do you have in regards to all the rifts that open in Liminal?
I mean, I barely even get how they work, let alone have theories about them. Ask someone else.
109. Do you believe that closing the rifts is the best long term solution or do you think there are other possibilities to explore?
That’s past my pay grade. I’m not gonna mess with something that I don’t really know how it works.
110. Do you have any particular thoughts about the Redcaps?
Burn them out. What the hells.
111. What is your relationship with your home? Do you want to return? Is there something keeping you from doing so? Or is there a reason you are satisfied to simply stay with the crew?
Depends on what you mean by home. If you mean where I grew up, no, no, and hells no. If you mean the world I came from, I would want to see it once. Maybe even find something about where I came from.
Part 9: Role & Crew Relationships
112. What is your role among the crew and why did you choose this role?
I am a pilot and reacquisition specialist. That means I take people to where they need to go and help people grab stuff.
113. In what ways do you fulfill your role in the crew? Is your role one that might have a lot of downtime? If so, what duties do you perform to fill in that downtime?
I’m always on call to pilot the ship, and it’s been more than one time that I’ve slept around the helm. I can’t think of many other duties for downtime, really. I’d be willing to do them though.
114. On a mission, what is your ideal loadout to bring along? What things would you like to carry with you, even if you might not necessarily currently have access to them? Why these particular items?
I like to have my personal defense – a sword, a gun, my emergency communicator from the casino, that gauntlet that saved my life once already, and anything else that looks important for a mission. I expect to have to go in fighting, so I focus on that.
115. Sometimes the crew can get a bad reputation. How much does this matter to you and why?
It’s not like the last people I worked for had a good reputation. So long as we’re considered able to do some jobs, I don’t really care.
116. Were you a part of the crew before the Admiral was killed? If so, what were your thoughts on finding out the truth about their motives for the crew and did it leave any lasting effect on you?
I wasn’t a part of that whole mess. Sound similar to the mess the Roc left though.
117. A police force organization by the name of Starlight has a particular dislike for the crew and does not seem to like the crew interacting with the rifts. Have you had any interactions with them and what are your thoughts of them so far?
I’ve had an interaction with Joust. He’s a noble cop, but he’s still a cop, with all that implies.
118. Who on the crew have you formed a close relationship with? Tell us about this relationship.
I guess I’m kind of close with Lio? He’s a really good worker, and he knows his stuff. I feel like I can count on him if things get bad.
119. As a player, what is your goal for your character? What would you like to see them pursue or what do you hope to get out of your character?
[Another OOC answer: I want Nichol to actually learn that he has value, he was chosen as an officer as a reason, and he can be an actual leader and be good at that instead of just a thug.]
Part 10: Other
120. Do you have any special traits that might not be apparent just from an initial glance? Is there a particular reason you know of for having these traits?
I’m really good at elemental manipulation, for some reason, despite not being able to breathe water with my useless gills. I don’t really know why, but it’s useful.
Okay. I’m done. Finally. Now to get a gin and think about where my life’s left me, actually having to take care of someone else. Cheers, I guess.
The Questionnaire, Part II/A Reaction
The archivists are apparently getting annoyed. So now that I'm feeling a lot better, back to these questions.
Part 4: Beliefs And Opinions
40. Are you basically optimistic or pessimistic?
I’d say realistic. Most would say that’s pessimistic though.
41. What is your greatest fear?
Being put in a position where I’d have to betray my boss.
42. What are your religious views?
None of the above. I never really saw the point of taking my eyes off of what’s happening in front of me.
43. What are your political views?
People are going to do bad stuff. There needs to be something organizing the bad stuff, at least, to tamp it down and focus it into something better.
44. What are your views on sex?
Don’t hurt people doing it. Otherwise, go wild, I guess.
45. Are you able to kill? Under what circumstances do you find killing to be acceptable or unacceptable?
I am… and I have. My old job, and maybe my current job, aren’t always nice. If there’s no other choice as part of doing my assigned and ordered job, or if they’re some evil bastard that’s making a lot of suffering for a ton of people, someone has to do it. I’d just rather not unless there’s absolutely no other choice.
46. In your opinion, what is the most evil thing any human being could do?
Taking a large organization, and not even trying to use it to keep things orderly and under some control, but letting everything go to the abyss while you suck the community dry to feed your own greed.
47. Do you believe in the existence of soul mates and/or true love?
I mean, I guess anything’s possible.
48. What do you believe makes a successful life?
Doing your job, and doing it well. If you get respect and fame, that’s a nice bonus, but that’s not the point.
49. How honest are you about your thoughts and feelings (i.e. do you hide your true self from others, and in what way)?
I don’t really like giving my true self out to others. My true self is… weird, and I’d never be able to get things done if nobody saw me as an aloof, one word badass.
50. Do you have any biases or prejudices?
I’m really starting to learn to hate redcaps, lately. I think that counts.
51. Is there anything you absolutely refuse to do under any circumstances? Why do you refuse to do it?
I will not betray my boss – not the organization, my boss. I agreed to do a job and do it well, and I gave my word to them. That’s the end of it.
52. Who or what, if anything, would you die for (or otherwise go to extremes for)?
If it’s the only option left, I could see dying for my boss. …or for someone who I’m in charge of and protecting, if someone was out of it enough to actually give me that responsibility.
Part 5: Relationships With Others
53. In general, how do you treat others (politely, rudely, by keeping them at a distance, etc.)? Does your treatment of them change depending on how well you know them, and if so, how?
In general, I keep it professional and I keep it distant. We’re all professionals here. If I know them really well, I might loosen up a bit. I can think of one or two people I might let me guard down around, but I’d still need a drink or blood loss or something.
54. Who is the most important person in your life, and why?
The Captain. She’s my new boss, and the person I’ve offered my services to. That’s how it was with Penny and Pound, and that’s how it is for her.
55. Who is the person you respect the most, and why?
Until the last time I was in the city, I would have said Penny and Pound. They fell on hard times, though, and it seems like it revealed something kind of ugly and desperate in them. I guess it’s the captain now, since she has a real good head on her shoulders, and she’s real good at lightning stuff, too.
56. Who are your friends? Do you have a best friend? Describe these people.
I wouldn’t say I have a best friend. Not yet at least. I guess I could say Lio might be a friend, and I do like working with Vatna when I have the occasional chance to do so. I could see myself hanging out with El Pea, maybe, if the circumstances are right.
57. Do you have a spouse or significant other? If so, describe this person.
Nope. Not really interested in that stuff right now.
58. Have you ever been in love? If so, describe what happened.
…not really, no. Mainly a crush or two, but nothing long term.
59. What do you look for in a potential lover?
Someone who can keep the business and personal separate.
60. How close are you to your family?
Not at all. I haven’t even tried to speak with my dads since I stowed away on that ship a long time ago.
61. Have you started your own family? If so, describe them. If not, do you want to? Why or why not?
No family. Maybe I could start one once I’m getting too old to do my normal job. Without any real family history, though I’m not quite sure how much of a point there’d be though.
62. Who would you turn to if you were in desperate need of help?
the offic my fellow officers, and to the Captain.
63. Do you trust anyone to protect you? Who, and why?
Same people I’d turn to for help. They’re my colleagues, and they’re easily be best contacts in the world. Where else would I go?
64. If you died or went missing, who would miss you?
The Captain, I guess. Maybe. Still don’t really see why she thinks I’m officer material, but if nothing else, she’d need another airship pilot.
65. Who is the person you despise the most, and why?
I probably shouldn’t speak ill of those with a bullet in the brain pan, but the Roc. Screw that dead guy.
66. Do you tend to argue with people, or avoid conflict?
I’m the avoiding conflict type. Fighting doesn’t get the work done.
67. Do you tend to take on leadership roles in social situations?
68. Do you like interacting with large groups of people? Why or why not?
No, I don’t. I’m not much of the social type, and my normal routine doesn’t work well in there.
69. Do you care what others think of you?
Depends what they think about me. If they think I’m a jerk, eh, whatever. If they think I’m incompetent, then we have a big problem.
Part 6: Likes And Dislikes
70. What is/are your favorite hobbies and pastimes?
I do like relaxing on the beach, maybe playing around and practicing with a sword.
71. What is your most treasured possession?
When Lio finishes making it, it’ll probably be that crystalline sword.
72. What is your favorite color?
Purple. Maybe bluish-purple.
73. What is your favorite food?
Sushi and sushi-like stuff.
74. What, if anything, do you like to read?
I can read. Just not much of a reader.
75. What is your idea of good entertainment (consider music, movies, art, etc.)?
A good chance to enjoy a calm ocean. Probably some fishing, maybe some drinks, that sort of thing.
76. Do you smoke, drink, or use drugs? If so, why? Do you want to quit?
Nope. First time I tried smoking, it didn’t go well. I’ve had a wooden cig ever since.
77. How do you spend a typical Saturday night?
Probably sitting back on the airship, or at the bar. I ought to see if I can take a fishing trip sometime.
78. What makes you laugh?
Getting a good sense of relief.
79. What, if anything, shocks or offends you?
People unduly abusing their power for solely selfish ends. There’s a difference between getting your beak wet and just drinking the whole glass dry.
80. What would you do if you had insomnia and had to find something to do to amuse yourself?
Try to go on a ship in a calm lake and fish. Someplace where my insomnia wouldn’t cause issues.
Actually, this is a good time for a break. I got a notice that the Captain wants to see me about something, and I don’t want to keep her waiting.
[The Next entry is immediately after this, on the same page, with an indecipherable scribble for the date.]
An apprentice? ME? And it’s one of those bunny children I’ve heard about from the debriefings? Captains orders, I know. Seriously, I know. But still, WHAT THE FU-
[The remainder of the entry is spoiled by spilled ink.]
The Nameless City
So. Penny and Pound made it out of their deposing alive, after all.
Hate to admit it, but part of me was hoping they didn't. The whole time we were meeting with the Matron, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and for her to ask for a hit job. I'm still not sure if I would have been able to do that if it came to it, and I don't want to think about what it would have meant if I could do that to the
bos - to the old bosses.
The missions itself started simple. Do a favor to get communications in the city and beyond, but even the moment I got in, everything felt weird. It was like seeing the half-eaten body of an old friend. Parts of it were unrecognizable, and the parts I did see were faded, like a shadow of what I remember. Old colleagues that became cops, big time mob bosses reduced to combing the beach directly with disloyal hired help, and a gearhead accountant whose brain gears slipped all over the place. And somehow almost all of then knew me and knew about me. I still don't understand how they know about some random smuggler, but maybe they all got tipped off that an old employee was coming. It wouldn't be the first time that info got out.
And even separate from that, there were these waves of rage coming over everything and everyone. It's more than once that I tried to attack and kill someone out of the blue, and I wasn't the only one, either. As best as the others could tell, it was something to do with that heartbeat rock we found that made the whole city angry. We actually had to fight old Mr. Numbers, Melvin, because he wanted to use it to take on what's left of the city's power brokers. We were able to take him down in enough of a piece to hand them to the cops afterwards, and somehow Officer Ceylon was able to sneak most of the blueprints the bosses wanted away from them. That may be one of the most frightening things I've ever seen, but she managed to pull it off like it was nothing. And it looks like we'll have our in for the towers no matter who wins the new gang war.
At least we all made it out okay-ish. I think I'm gonna go to the diving belle, get a gin and tonic like old times, and try to forget that damn city and its leaders all over again. Maybe this time my history can stay dead and buried.
The questionnaire, Part 1
Well, I'm on city lockdown, so I guess I should finally do that questionnaire for the archive people. If you're reading this, you'd better make sure this doesn't get out.
1. What is your full name? Nicholas Trafford.
2. Where and when were you born? I was born in Port Barter, near the docks, a little under 30 years ago.
3. Who are/were your parents? (Know their names, occupations, personalities, etc.) My bio dad’s Metropha Trafford. He’s some kind of smith, mainly with making stuff heavy and sharp. He was always quiet, like he’s replaying something on loop in the back of his head. My stepdad’s Theo Trafford. He did most of the raising, but beyond that he’s a writer. He did like to talk, and tell scary stories, but the one story he never told was about where they all came from.
4. Do you have any siblings? What are/were they like? Not as far as I know. Maybe there’s a few back at the homeworld, wherever the heck that is.
5. Where do you live now, and with whom? Describe the place and the person/people. Technically, I have an apartment in the Silver Thimble. I’m basically living off the airship for the time being, though, with all the crazy stuff that’s happening and me needing to be ready at a moment’s notice. The apartment itself, I’m leasing out to a low-level guy whose boss ended up at the wrong end of one of those power struggles in Parliament. At least until she can get back on her feet, she needs a safe place to disappear and reestablish herself.
6. What is your occupation? I’m a pilot, a transporter, and at the rate of how things are going with the rest of the cities on Liminal, I’ll probably start being a smuggler again any day now.
7. Write a full physical description of yourself. You might want to consider factors such as: height, weight, race, hair and eye color, style of dress, and any tattoos, scars, or distinguishing marks. I’m 5 foot 7 inches, with deep blue-grey skin (except for my stomach), and an eyepatch to hide my one discolored eye. My race is similar to devil rays that I’ve seen in a couple books, and I guess I could be described as a guy. I wear the pants, gloves, and half-cape with half-shirt of the uniform. I have gills on my sides, but they’ve never worked. I also have a really wide grin and a bunch of sharp teeth.
8. To which social class do you belong? Lower class, and happy with that. My job is being a thug, not a cop or a corporate type.
9. Do you have any allergies, diseases, or other physical weaknesses? I can’t breathe underwater, and I’m not a terribly great swimmer. Best as I can tell for someone of my race, that’s a really big weakness.
10. Are you right- or left-handed? Left hand.
11. What does your voice sound like? Relatively deep, and constantly like I’m talking partially submerged. I can get really clippy when I’m trying to keep control of the situation, so I don’t ramble.
12. What words and/or phrases do you use very frequently? Don’t have one, really. Try not to talk much on the job.
13. What do you have in your pockets? I have a gun, a few shivs, some bribe money, and a wooden cigarette.
14. Do you have any quirks, strange mannerisms, annoying habits, or other defining characteristics? I never, ever smile if I can help it, unless I’m trying to intimidate someone. I fiddle with my wooden cigarette when bored sometimes, too.
15. How would you describe your childhood in general? Frustrating. I grow up in a world with all sorts of different people, I know my family’s from another world, and I can’t be told a single thing about that place, about my history, my roots?
16. What is your earliest memory? Having a fit when I was told I shouldn’t try swimming in the Port Barter docks, and definitely don’t try to breather using my gills in there.
17. How much schooling have you had? A decent bit before I ran off, mostly home schooling on math, reading, practical skills and the like. The rest was street smarts.
18. Did you enjoy school? As much as I could given the tension between me and the parents. It at least gave us something else to do and talk about.
19. Where did you learn most of your skills and other abilities? That was after I left, when I snuck on that ship and took jobs to avoid getting caught. That really taught me how to survive.
20. While growing up, did you have any role models? If so, describe them. No… not really. I didn’t know anyone like me but my parents, and well…
21. While growing up, how did you get along with the other members of your family? Not well. I thought that was obvious already.
22. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to do something with the sea or the ocean. I didn’t know what, but I wanted to do something.
23. As a child, what were your favorite activities? Hanging around the docks, talking to people, listening to them, maybe making things that float.
24. As a child, what kinds of personality traits did you display? I started excited and curious. I got a good bit more withdrawn as I got older, though. No point in asking and all that.
25. As a child, were you popular? Who were your friends, and what were they like? I wasn’t really popular. I knew people, but I didn’t really know them. The parents were always paranoid about something bad happening, or someone bad, and so on.
26. When and with whom was your first kiss? It was a guy after we both barely escaped some cops after taking some goods from the impound yard. We both kind of regretted it after the heat of the moment passed, but we did our best to work together.
27. Are you a virgin? If not, when and with whom did you lose your virginity? I was… well, ‘with someone’ a couple weeks before I found out I was actually working for the Parliament. I went into it with her, no strings attached, one evening only. Lots of stuff was mercenary like that, back before I got into more organized work.
28. If you are a supernatural being (i.e. mage, werewolf, vampire), tell the story of how you became what you are or first learned of your own abilities. If you are just a normal human, describe any influences in your past that led you to do the things you do today. I’ve known I could do weather stuff almost as long as I can remember. Apparently during a tantrum when my paper ship tub sunk, I caused a whirlpool in the tub.
29. What do you consider the most important event of your life so far? It was about a month after the Roc took over. The jobs were getting flashier, more open, and rougher. Not like how Penny and Pound ran things. I could see the writing on the wall, and if I didn’t get out now, things would get worse. So, when my ship was coming back from the run, I made sure I wasn’t on it and swimming elsewhere.
30. Who has had the most influence on you? I’d like to say Penny, but… honestly, probably my parents. It’s not because of what they did. It’s what they didn’t do, and what I tried to do in response. They shaped everything I decided to do after I got away from them.
31. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Getting a second job after ghosting my first job.
32. What is your greatest regret? That I wasn’t able to keep working for my old boss. They didn’t have any power after getting forced out as far as I could tell, so it’s not like it was possible, but I pride myself of doing the job for my boss, and doing it well.
33. What is the most evil thing you have ever done? I abandoned a sinking ship to its fate with people on board, cops, civilians, and all. Not because I had to – they saw me, and I could have saved them if I really wanted to. But it would have meant abandoning the job and letting go of the items that I was smuggling to Port Barter. I had a job to do. Really.
34. Do you have a criminal record of any kind? …seriously? I was a smuggler for organized crime, and you’re asking if I have a criminal record?
35. When was the time you were the most frightened? That first week after abandoning the Parliament. I was sure the next time I turned my back I’d have a dozen knives in it.
36. What is the most embarrassing thing ever to happen to you? Well, once I tried to prove I was tough to a ship crew, so I took a challenge to get on the mast, eat some fish, and stay there for a day. They put something in it, and between that and the chill, I ended up ill and messing up my quarters for a solid week. They didn’t think I was tough after that.
37. If you could change one thing from your past, what would it be, and why? I’d want to know about where I came from. History, good and bad, doesn’t matter. I’d probably still be doing my current stuff, but maybe that whole relationship with my family could still be there now.
38. What is your best memory? Getting told I was the new pilot and helmsman for this airship held by the Lockstitch people. I actually was helping to run a boat. It didn’t even matter than I thought it was just another front for a criminal organization – I mean, that’s just normal.
39. What is your worst memory? The day I realized I was never gonna learn a word about my family’s history or the world where I came from. It really hurts to figure out your parents are going to keep your past from you forever.
Actually, after that, I really need to take a break. You archive people were waiting this long, a little longer won't kill you.
The Perils of Fame
And what, exactly, was that load of whale crap?
I take a crew on a sanctioned mission to search out a beacon of some kind in the rift. Granted, no job ever goes totally smooth, but this? Ending up in a world where the crew were treated like some kind of most-powerful God Council, down to having a holy book diary. A bunch of squirrel types started peppering everyone uniformed with questions, praise, autograph requests. It was horrible. They even tried to touch the steering wheel for my airship while I tried to tell them off!
No, scratch that. Not my airship, the Captain's airship. I'm here to help, not to lead.
Anyway, soon enough someone on the crew managed to start off a massive party. Don't know who, don't care, just avoided the booze because I was on a job. Eventually, we figured out the main crew wasn't talking to us anymore, and a bit after that we found the island they were on just up and vanished. The only thing we had left was to stop the party and take the rest of us back home. When we got there, we found out they managed to get home first, and apparently they managed to cause massive damage to something really important in the process. When I talked to Li-
[the rest of the paragraph has been blotted out with ink.]
Right. Notes on a criminal conspiracy. Never mind, nothing to see here, Captain.
It's definitely not a criminal conspiracy. Or at least, not anymore. Thanks for the info, Lio, but not so much the drinks on an empty stomach.
I've been spending a lot more time than usual on the airship's bridge, ferrying people here and there in an attempt to get any available piece of the sub back in the Captain's hands. The first expedition I helped with got nothing more than bruises and ocean spray. I tried going back on old habits, and tracking down some leads myself, but all I found with my old methods was old memories. I don't know if anybody else had success, either.
I realize it was a big burst, but that sub was massive. I still don't understand how it could be so hard to recover anything from that with so many people looking. I guess I could try again later, rely on some of my other special skills, maybe even check with the Legend again. Anything but just going here and there for others, and doing nothing else.
Honestly, at this point I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to find anything in the seas. Then again, it's not like I can do anything else to help. I'm good at moving people and moving stuff, not all this science and engineering I've been seeing the others do. Might as well stay in my own flight path where I have a shot at doing a good job.
The Moon Job
I know. Never take notes on a criminal conspiracy. But the Captain of this operation keeps telling me it's not a criminal conspiracy. Still think she's blowing some smoke after those Starlight cops showed up, but it gives me an excuse to keep track things in case I end up in another Roc situation and have to ghost these people, too.
I've been put at the helm of their new airship, and my job is to help them get artifacts and magical items... which includes ruin raiding, apparently, instead of just grabbing it from someone. It's strange to grab stuff from people who are too dead to care, at least when the rest of the crew didn't make them too dead to care. Get there, look around, get stuff, go home, and I just keep the airship going fast and riding smoothly.
The trip actually went a little better than expected - we made it most of the way to the moon before another ship busted into our travel lane, followed by a ship full of cops in pursuit calling themselves Starlight something something. The fleeing ship, the Legend, asked for backup, while the cop ship did the normal power trip thing and demanded to commandeer our vessel. I got the airship away from being pincered between Legend and Cop, and I prepared a large windburst to get some distance between the cops and everyone else. It didn't work that way. It might be because
I was nervous with a first jo the Legend busted a hold into our lane in outer space, but the wind went out of control and smashed everyone together before depositing all of us on the moon.
We all got banged up, but the crew was otherwise okay. The Legend and its crew was okay, and the cop kept copping until he realized how outgunned he was after we grabbed his mech. He decided to go with the ruin search party and me, because of course he did, and we found hammer and anvil artifacts. We also found... something else. It made my fins shudder before I saw it, and it's making my fins shudder now just remembering it. For reasons unknown to me, the Cop... Commander... something... volunteered to help us escape. Of course, after something like that, the crew had to wreck the thing chasing him and save the guy. Respect is paid with respect, after all. We brought him back to his ship, we went home, and we gave the artifacts to a group of otter researchers. I think those guys from the Legend will be helpful, too, and I'll need to look into their goods. This seems like a good start. Let's see how it goes.
ADDENDUM TO NOTES: I just finished writing this up, and now I hear the sub is gone after getting snapped in half, and there's a ship of a legendary pirate we just found that we're using now? I think I need to talk to the Captain or the officers again, because I get the distinct feeling of smoke getting blown up my gills.