“You have your orders Captain Bane. Do not interfere.”
Those were the words that Bane heard, over and over; every time he went to sleep, every time he woke up in the morning. He heard those words when he watched the cargo being loaded, crate after crate marked with the sprawling emblem. He heard those words when the technicians came into the control room, opened up the computers, inserted the new software.
He heard them now, as he watched the crowds queue with excitement, eager to get onto his ship. Men and women and children, all ready for the trip of a lifetime. But Cecilstag had given him so much money...
“You have your orders Captain Bane. Do not interfere.”
Just out of sight of the crowd, West stood in the dark of an alleyway. Worn clothes, messy hair, tired face; he was the absolute contrast to the people queuing for the ship, in their suits and dresses.
“I really don’t understand why they’re all dressed up. Surely they can enjoy the spectacle in their ordinary clothes.”
Oh come on! Look at that thing! The HMS Bahamut is the largest floating vessel ever built! Constructed to the highest standards of luxury; those people must have paid millions to get one of these tickets!
West hated to admit it but he did quite enjoy looking at the vessel. It was a beautiful behemoth, an island of metal gently floating in the dock. He could see the countless hours that had been poured into it; the craftsmanship, and the pride.
“Come on, we’re going to get onboard. This is such a spectacle it feels wrong not to be part of it.” While the voice in his head was swimming in excitement, West himself was slightly worried. Upon entering this world he had felt an unmistakeable feeling. It wasn’t painful like last time, but it was definitely there. Something was happening here.
How exactly are we getting onboard?
“I’m going to lie. Obviously,” replied West, a little irritated. He was walking past the queue now, bustling with energy; these were distractions and he needed to concentrate, get his story ironed out in his head before talking to the rapidly approaching man in uniform.
“Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to go to the back of the queue,” he stated in a strong accent; was it American?
“Sorry for the confusion, I’m part of the crew; I was just wondering where I’m supposed to go. John West, scientific advisor.” The man scanned through is clipboard, flicked over numerous sheets. This wasn’t going to work.
“John West, scientific advisor, Room 257A. There’s one other person already in there. You’ll be sharing.”
“Who am I sharing with?” asked West but the man had already turned to the next woman in the queue.
What just happened? You just made that up, how are you on the list?
“I have no idea,” whispered West as he entered the belly of the beast.
The ship was luxury. It wasn’t luxurious. It was luxury; marble columns, mahogany, teak, crystal statues of muses and animals, fountains and trees. Passengers were already gliding about, the finest suits and extravagant dresses socialising to no end. Staff moved around constantly, with their blue uniforms, gold stitching and badges; even the window cleaner looked exquisite.
Room 257A. Come on, we need to see who we’re staying with.
West nodded, quickly locating a sign and following its lead and entering a long corridor of doors.
“I know it’s lovely, but really, it all looks the same!” he exclaimed loudly, running along the corridor, “it’s almost boring!”
The door had a hand shaped design cut into it, and West instinctively placed is hand on it.
“Nicely integrated biometrics,” West chuckled as the door clicked open. He went into his room, eager to see who he was sharing with...
OoC: I'll be using Marissa. Her profile can be found in my sig.
The girl hummed to herself, the soft tones of her voice echoing around the rich, decorative tiles that coated the bathroom. Her clothes lay in a heap on a nearby bench seat, while she sat in a deep round bath. The tub - more of a well than a tub - was a luxoriously smooth, white enamel bowl, set partially into the floor. It was big and round with plenty of room, and Marissa lay in a mountain of foamy bubbles so thick that it could pass as a cloud in the sky. Her hair was wet, slicked down and over her shoulder, and a small clutch of bubbles sat on the top of her head. Only her head and shoulders were visible in the cloud, and the only water not covered in bubbles was by her neck, where an underwater light could be seen slowly changing colours. Truly, was this the epitome of luxury.
She'd arrived on the ship by means of a gilt-edged invitation; the name written upon it in elegant, spidery font announced that "Grace Holden" would be staying on board for the duration of the journey. Marissa had been oddly surprised, but not disappointed, when the clerk had allowed her to enter the ship without so much as proof of identification, but she hadn't paid much attention. All she cared about was a cruise filled with luxury, state of the art facilities, and whatever else the ship had to offer.
She'd come across a group of men in a hotel a while back, all congratulating and claiming great envy at the expense of a man who looked like the cat that got the cream. She'd happened to overhear that the man had procured a ticket aboard the newly christened HMS Bahamut. She'd heard mention of the Bahamut on the news; brand-new technology, fantastic hospitality, and almost unbelievably luxurious. It was a simple matter of conjuring a replica ticket, flirt a little, and swap that with the real deal while he was distracted, the whole transaction completed within minutes. (Of course, she hadn't stuck around long enough for him to discover the switch.) Then it only remained to call the number on the ticket and arrange a change of details.
Almost as soon as she'd arrived - no baggage, no suitcase, no fuss - she discovered the bathroom with great joy. And now, almost half an hour later, the distinct noise of someone entering the room - her room - reached her ears.
The room was exquisite in its simplicity; the wooden flooring was polished to perfection, the walls were painted in purest white; two armchairs sat in one corner, lackadaisical in their antique majesty.
This is just incredible!
“I hope whoever we’re sharing the bed with feels the same way,” said West bluntly, pointing towards the large king sized four poster bed.
I don’t think I would wake up from that, look how rich the sheets are; it’s divine!
West sniffed and spun around, facing a door at the end of the room. An urge to investigate overwhelmed him; something interesting was in there. He twisted the shining metal of the door handle, the precious metal turning under his hand. He breathed, then pushed.
“Locked! New bathroom doors aren’t ever locked, the customer couldn’t get in, therefore someone must already be inside!” he exclaimed as he took Travesty out of his pocket and pointed it at the door; first came a whir and then the gentle click of the lock being undone; West burst into the room.
He was greeted with the sight of a rather shocked looking woman, reclining in an extravagant bath, her nudity masked by a flotilla of foam and bubbles.
“Oh,” West gasped, suddenly aware of what was in front of him; she was rather attractive. But his eyes were drawn away from her towards the cupboard near the toilet. “Ah, that must be it!” he said, his instincts telling him to look inside. He did so, and found a selection of magazines and newspapers; he took a few and flicked through them; within seconds he was done. Five seconds of thinking, then he spoke again; “No weather, not a single report of weather or anything. That is the interesting thing.” He turned back to the woman, who was still lying there; “My name’s West by the way; we’re sharing a bed together?”
Captain Bane sat in his quarters, eyes shut, daring to try and sleep; he still had an hour or so before departure, he had time for a nap.
A red light flashed on his room’s television screen, a metallic voice telling him that the energy sensor in room 257A had been activated, with readings that were off the charts. Bane examined the information, but it was undeniable; the monster was on his ship.
She watched, speechless but also a tad amused, as the door burst open and a tall man - a little shabby and frayed around the edges, but not bad looking overall - stepped into the bathroom. He looked at her for a moment, apparently as speechless as she was, but soon broke the silence.
Her mouth dropped open. This man had broken into a locked bathroom, where a young naked girl, and an attractive young naked girl at that, bathed - naked! Totally nude! - and the only thing he had to say was 'Oh'?
She watched, still dumbfounded, as he just as suddenly turned towards the small cupboard on the wall. “Ah, that must be it!” He opened it, picked out some magazines, and flipped through them in a matter of moments. Once he was done, he stood with a contemplative look upon his face, and then spoke once more. "No weather, not a single report of weather or anything. That is the interesting thing.”
No mention of nude girls; no mention of breaking into locked bathrooms; only of the weather. Marissa didn't know whether to be angry, shocked, or amazed. But then came the straw that broke the camel's back.
“My name’s West by the way; we’re sharing a bed together?”
At that short but flippant statement, her anger seemed to win the shortlived battle. "Oh?! Oh!? What the hell do you think you're doing in my room, you idiot?! Can't you see I'm a little bit busy here?" She gestured at the bath. However, despite her aggravated words she made no move to get out of the tub; the thick foam was the only thing still shielding her decency.
“Busy? You’re lying in a bath full of water and bubbles; how can you possibly be busy?” asked West, displeased with the attitude presented by the young woman, lounging in the fog of scented bubbles. Brandishing a newspaper rather angrily, continuing his ranting; “and for your information, the man at the dock said I was in this room and that I was sharing, so that’s the way it is!” As his voice got louder, his presence seemed to fill the room, swelling in a thunderous manner, but in an instant he was back to his normal self. “And what isn’t interesting about the weather?” he exclaimed as he left the bathroom and slammed the door.
She wasn’t wearing anything, she was naked and you completely ignored her!
“If you were embarrassed you could have shut your eyes.”
She was right there and you talked about the weather!
“No, she was right there and I talked about the lack of weather. Listen, this planet has over 7 billion humans on it and at some point or another they are going to end up naked!” he shouted, flicking through the paper; it was totally ordinary, but not a single article so much as mentioned the weather and there wasn’t any forecasts in it. “Oh come on what is it, what am I missing? It has to be obvious, it has to be...”
You could always call room service, you know, ask about switching rooms.
Call, call, call, call; West’s eyes scanned the room quickly, but thoroughly, repeating again and again until he was sure of the fact. This room did not have a telephone. Or a television. The height of luxury was lacking two of the most common appliances. Suddenly a male voice boomed over the intercom:
“This is your Captain speaking; we shall be departing in approximately one hour, For Port Charybdis, on the West coast of Europa. We hope you enjoy your time with us.” The moment the voice stopped West opened the bathroom door again; the woman was still in the bath.
“Get ready, I’ve got some investigating to do, and you’re coming with me.”
Bane moved away from the intercom; now that he knew that thing was on his ship he didn’t have the luxury of sleeping. There was work to be done. The monster had found those magazines and newspapers, specially treated at a precise frequency so that he alone would be attracted to them. Time for the next step.
He took a file from his desk, a list of all his science staff with ratings and comments. He looked at the man at the bottom of the list, a lab assistant called Christopher Walker; Walker’s ranking was the worst, but not by much. He once again pressed the intercom button.
“Staff Announcement: Lab Assistant Christopher Walker report to room 725c. Thank you.” Bane then turned to the people around him and shouted, “Someone tell me when the results for room 725c come in please.”
Christopher Walker arrived at room 725c somewhat confused as to why he was there; he placed his hand on the door, and it clicked open. He entered what appeared to be an ordinary commercial room; four-poster bed, beautiful furniture.
The door slammed shut behind him. He tried pulling it but it wouldn’t budge. The rushing sound of gas entered the room form the ceiling; colourless, odourless gas. Christopher Walker collapsed in seconds, dead before he hit the floor. The ceiling then glowed red, and the temperature rose. In no more than two minutes, furniture and flesh had become ash.
"UGH!" She bit back a curse as the man slammed the door shut. "I'M BUSY BECAUSE I'M TAKING A BATH, YOU MORON!!"
But if he'd heard her screaming abuse, he didn't seem to respond. When she heard him talking to someone else in the room - her room, damn it! - , her anger jumped up another notch. And he was still talking about the damned weather! "That is IT!! I am calling someone up here! This is my room, not yours! And I am NOT sharing a bed with you, so forget it pal!"
Before she could get up and out of the bath, the tannoy sounded and a voice squawked out, seeming to come from everywhere at once. "This is your Captain speaking; we shall be departing in approximately one hour for Port Charybdis, on the West coast of Europa. We hope you enjoy your time with us."
And before she could even react to that, the door burst open again and the weather-man walked in again, this time addressing her directly. "Get ready. I've got some investigating to do and you're coming with me."
"What, no interesting magazines to read this time?!" she threw at him sardonically. But he walked out again without replying. "Agh!!" she yelled. "Who the hell do you think you are, you jerk!?" She stood while his back was turned and clicked her fingers. A dressing gown, rich and fluffy, appeared on her lithe form, and she stepped out of the bath. Tightening the cords around her waist, she walked into the main room of the suite.
“Oh you are persistent aren’t you?” replied West, now amused at the woman’s reaction, “and you’ve put some clothes on, well done. Now, time to clear it this up, this is our room with heavy emphasis on the word ‘our’.” He stopped for a second, noticing the dressing gown she was wearing. It looked tremendously comfortable but there was something off about it. He sniffed.
We should just leave, it isn’t worth getting in an argument with her.
“Be quiet!” he shouted at himself, before focussing back on the woman. “Your dressing gown, how did you get it? I didn’t see it in the bathroom, and it doesn’t smell right.”
“What?” snapped the woman.
“You’ve been in that bathroom, with those bubbles, smelling all clean and lovely and scented. If your dressing gown was in there it would have a much stronger smell about it. So how did you get it?” She didn’t say anything. “I’m waiting!” he shouted.
"Well, you can go on waiting, you ass," she replied indignantly. There was something about this guy, something weird. And the way he had clicked on to her dressing gown...
"Listen. This is not your room. This is not our room. I don't know what kind of girls you're used to out there in..." she faltered for a moment, not entirely sure where 'out there' was; she made a mental note to start getting some basic info on the places she dropped into. "...that place," she finished in a rather lame fashion. "But I'm not one of them! So you can damn well revise your thinking on this topic, understand?!"
She stood in the classic 'angry woman' pose - hands on hips, feet planted at shoulder's width, and an expression that suggested any Y chromosome in the area was about to wish that it wasn't. It wa a stance which seemed to work wonders on four out of five men, and she hoped it would do its work now.
“Excellent,” smiled West, “the shouting didn’t put you off.” He turned away, heading towards the door, about to leave the room. The woman stood there, with an expression on her face full of feminine fury.
Are you just going to leave here there? I thought you said you weren’t giving up?
“This isn’t giving up,” spoke West, though whether these words were for the internal voice or for the young woman was unclear. “I know you’ll follow eventually. Maybe five minutes maybe five hours but at some point I think curiosity is going to get the better of you.”
He turned to look at her, with one hand on the door. He stared straight into those furious eyes, an expression of honest calculation on his face. “You managed to conjure a dressing gown out of thin air, there are no weather reports, no telephone, no television, and then you find a strange man insisting that you are sharing a room with him. A strange man who didn't have a ticket but was still on the guest list.”
He opened the door, stepped out and as he shut it simply said: “Doesn’t that make you want to investigate a little bit?”
West leaned against the corridor wall; talk about aggressive. “Don’t worry; I reckon about seven minutes, seven and a half?”
I think you might be underestimating her. I'm going to say seven days.
"Doesn’t that make you want to investigate a little bit?” he said while pulling the door shut.
Marissa stared at the shut door, seething with barely withheld anger. "Ugh!" The man was so damned frustrating! After a moment she turned away. Then she turned back. She realised that he was right...there was no phone in the room, which was odd. She frowned. She made a small gesture and a small white telephone appeared on the small bedside table. She walked to it and picked it up, but winced and slammed the handset back down. Instead of the efficient staff member ready to provide aid she had been expecting, there was only a shrill, screeching mechanical noise which pierced the ears painfully.
She grimaced, the faint echo of the noise still ringing through her skull. She paused to think for a moment; there was no reason the phone shouldn't have worked. There should have been someone to receive her complaint regarding the deranged man standing outside her door. She frowned.
Several minutes later, the door opened. She stepped outside, now fully dressed. Giving the man the briefest, haughty glare, she walked past him. "I'm not agreeing with you! I'm simply going to find the captain to sort this damned affair out." She tossed her hair back in a disdainful manner.
“Oh please,” laughed West, gesturing for her to follow him down the corridor, back towards the atrium, “the chance of you talking to the captain less than an hour before departure is ridiculous; he’ll be up to his eyeballs in routines and procedures.”
As they walked, they passed a maid wearing a traditional conservative French outfit, save for the metallic earpieces with a golden triangle etched into them.
Are they communicators? Just for the staff? I guess that explains why we haven’t heard any staff announcements on the intercom...
“If you really want to sort this out, I suggest that when we get to the atrium, you ask a member of staff a few questions. A steward or something; don’t ask for the captain. If something is going on here, we don’t want to make a scene. Oh, and what’s your name?”
She silently fumed. This creep had the nerve to bust into her room, yell at her and demand things, and then act all nonchalant and cool. Smarmy bastard, she thought to herself. But he was right, as much as she hated to admit it. She didn't really want to call attention to herself when she had a fake ticket.
"You can call me Grace," she muttered through gritted teeth. Better to stick to her alias now than to screw it all up. That bath had been pretty amazing.
"Look. I'm happy to drop the accusations of general perviness on your part as long as you're happy to find another damned room. I didn't pay to share." I didn't pay at all, for that matter. But that was besides the point. "So how 'bout it...West?" She'd fumbled for his name there for a moment. What kind of name is West anyway, she thought sardonically.
He considered the offer for a moment; of course he wanted to remove any notion or rumour that he was some sort of perverted eccentric, but at the same time, he couldn’t help but feel that they had been put together for a reason.
“Deal; we’ll find a steward, ask for a room change, and then we can find out what is going on.”
Wait a second! You actually trust her?
“Not as far as I can throw her,” started West, stopping abruptly when he saw the mix of confusion and shock in Grace’s expression. He said nothing as they turned the corner and re-entered the atrium.
She looked at the fellow hard. Was he just nuts? Or was there something she was missing? It was almost like he was having a separate conversation with someone at random intervals. But before she could ponder the matter further, they turned and walked into the atrium. The vast room oozed wealth and reeked of the untold riches lavished upon it. Marissa knew money. This was beyond money. This was insane.
They walked into the sweeping room, and Marissa noticed for the first time that although the room was bustling with people, it was eerily quiet. Not silent by any means; the click-clack of the footsteps of efficient people wearing practical shoes floated gently through the air; the rustle of paper and the tapping of keyboards from the front desk accompanied by the soft murmur of a concierge. But there was none of the hubbub and excitement she'd expected from a brand new ship that had just set sail for the first time.
She took a few uneasy steps, but looked back to the man, West. He might be weird, he might even be crazy, but somehow he was slightly more reassuring than the room before them.
I don’t think I like the quiet, thought West as they walked across the marble floor of the atrium, treading softly over the detailed mosaic of classical gods. Looking at the people, in their exquisite finery they were all talking to each other, but they were hushed, and their expressions were almost vacant. After seeing the excitement of the people when they were queuing outside, this was most unusual. Even the children were calm and still.
“I don’t think I like the quiet,” he said, shouting quite loudly. Only Grace turned to look at him. Everyone else just continued, paying no attention. No one moved.
“This is your Captain speaking. All passengers are reminded that due to health and safety, the engine rooms are out of bounds. Commercial room 725c is also out of bounds due to essential maintenance.”
The moment the captain had finished, the room was filled with an enormous eruption of noise. People were moving, talking, that blank expression on their face nowhere to be seen.
“Still want to worry about changing rooms? Or shall we go and investigate? Room 725c is meant to be lovely this time of day.”
"What the Hell..." Marissa had flinched slightly as the sudden cacaphony erupted. The people moved and talked like they'd been doing so all along, unaware of any silence. She frowned slightly. "Something is...not right here." She stepped a little closer to West.
Empty, she thought to herself. They'd seemed almost empty. Continuing their outward functions normally, but without the light in their eyes. But the Captain's words had sparked life back into them, and they became the stereotypically frantic crowd that she'd expected to begin with.
"I don't know, West...I'm not sure we should even go near that place." She was beginning to like the boat less and less with each passing moment.
“Oh come on! Not liking it is even more reason to go and investigate!”
You should stop it; if she doesn’t want to come with you, she doesn’t want to come with you. And to be honest I don’t blame her.
“Listen Grace; whatever is happening is not going to go away if you stand there doing nothing, or if you go back and lie in the bath. Now I am going to 725c and I’m going to find out what is going on. If you don’t come with me, leave the ship while you have the chance or keep your head down.”
With that he began to head off towards a new corridor, following the signs and numbers on the walls.
You think she’ll follow?
She considered just teleporting straight out of there, but the guy was right - not that she liked him for it. But it wouldn't be right, or fair, not to all the people she'd seen in the atrium. And after all, she could always get the hell out of dodge later if things got too rough.
"Bah," she muttered. "Wait up, damn you!" She hurried after West, cursing her morality. Her kind never usually had any problems with smiting and blasting mortals, all while laughing at the insignificant creatures. So why did she have to be so different? She cursed again.
"Look. I don't like this. So let's just hurry up and get it over with, alright? I bet there's nothing even in there..." I hope.
The two turned into a corridor, almost identical to the previous one, save for the numbers adorning the doors on either side. West had a slight smile across his face; the way he kept convincing Grace to follow him was almost amusing. A few twists and turns, and they had reached room 725c.
“Shall we?” smiled West placing his hand onto the door pad. When it didn’t open, he got Travesty from his pocket and pressed it against each groove of the pad, a low buzzing coming from his toil. Grace looked unimpressed as no visible progress could be seen, but West could feel the locks gradually slipping away.
The moment West’s hand touched the door a light began flashing on Captain Bane’s monitor. He saw who was trying to enter the room. He turned to one of the scientists busy behind him.
“Room 725c is going to be transmitting some more data to you: Combustion only. I’d like that analyse compiled with the previous instance. And I want it ASAP.” The scientist nodded, relaying the message to his colleagues. Bane then looked at his monitor, and with the press of the button, unlocked Room 725c.”
The door swung open, West almost falling into the room. The two of them entered, and the interior was not what they expected.
“You were right Grace. There is nothing here, nothing but ash.” He hunched down, grabbed a handful of the dust and sifted it though his fingers; something was very wrong. “We should leave.”
At that moment the door swung shut. West dived for it, trying to open it, Travesty whirring away, but it was no use. The door had acquired some sort of dead lock and Travesty did not like it one bit.
The walls began to acquire a red tinge, the temperature began to rise. Instantly West understood how the ash had been formed. He knew that they were trapped. He turned to Grace, with a sincere sadness.
"You're sorry?" Marissa stared at him incredulously. "You're sorry?!"
She looked at the walls as they began to glow with heat. "Alright. Screw this." A thunderous expression crossed her face. She noticed a small black half-sphere in one corner of the wall, made of some shiny polymer or other. She glared at it, snapped her fingers, and the device exploded. It wasn't an impressive explosion by any means, more of a pop or a bang. The shattered pieces dropped to the floor.
She turned back to the door and brushed West aside, a small bead of sweat now trickling down her forehead. "I came here to relax, gods damn you!" Who she was talking to at this point wasn't entirely clear, but she didn't seem to care. She planted her feet and turned her glare upon the door. She lifted her hands dramatically...and clapped them together. For a moment there was nothing but the silence and the rapidly rising heat, and then--
There was another explosion, and the door and walls buckled in. The door wasn't blown entirely out of its frame, but had bent inwards from the top corner until it hung crookedly from one hinge. A warbling alarm sounded, and Marissa pushed West towards the partially open door. The floor beyond was blackened slightly, but had suffered only minor damage.
They stumbled out until they were leaning against the wall of the corridor. Marissa looked at him and shrugged, panting slightly. "Well, I was only supposed to blow the bloody doors off, am I right?"