Tuesday, November 3, 2009

RISING HOPE (6)

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((28 - Corsican Corridor))

April 22nd, 802 AT

It had been a long day, and the two women were exhausted. Kasby had shown Zebra to a forge, and she'd spent the day making new parts for the ship, with Giraffe's help. Mostly she'd been working on the larger pieces--armor plating and hull plates, hammering them into just the right amount of roundness. Spider had dropped by a few times, to make sure they stuck to the plans she and Jaz had drawn up, and was quite pleased.

Giraffe had been enjoying herself as well--she and Zebra made a good team. They put her pyromancy to good work, superheating specific areas of the metal for Zebra to hammer at.

By the end of the day, they were both ready to pass out. They debated going back to the apartments they'd been occupying, on the far side of the Corkscrew, but decided they were just too tired. They headed upstairs from the forge, and sat on the spacious bed to just lie and talk. They talked for a time, mostly about the strange woman named Jaz, who they still barely knew. At some point, Giraffe looked over and saw that Zebra was fast asleep. The other woman smiled, and closed her eyes to sleep.


The corridor felt almost like one from the Corkscrew. Almost.

Wires peered out from the walls, and those strange symbols--what did Kasby call it? writing?--covered everything, scrawled floor to ceiling. Zebra and Giraffe stood in the corridor, still dressed in the light jumpsuits they'd found in a closet on the Corkscrew. Zebra walked slowly down the curving corridor, Giraffe following quietly behind.

It opened out onto a Voidlit balcony, of mixed wood and brass, curling around itself. Across the way, the section of corridor continued, a few dozen feet of Voidspace away. A string dangled down from an overhanging arch, with a coil of metal on the end. Zebra looked down, staring silently out into the fog.

Giraffe looked at the string, following it upwards into the overhang with her eyes. It connected to a system of gears and pulleys, visible behind a grating, which in turn spiralled into complex mechanical devices embedded in the walls and balcony beneath them. "Hmm," Giraffe said, breaking the silence. "Probably not smart to pull the string."

Zebra glanced at Giraffe briefly before going back to staring silently into the Void, lost in thought. Her eyes tracked gently swirling patterns of gray on gray, gentle changes in the fog of the Void.

Giraffe finally found a broken chunk of metal sitting on one side of the balcony, and grinned. She picked it up, careful not to herself, and then threw it at the string. It brushed past the string harmlessly, hit a wall on the far side of the gap, then fell clattering off into the Void. "Damn!"

"You could burn it, you know." Zebra said lazily, then added, "Can you make sure the metal won't fall into the Void?"

"Hmm, true." Giraffe began to ignite her hands, but stopped suddenly. "Huh, look."

On the other side of the Void, Jaz walked out onto the far balcony, and pulled an identical piece of string. The gears above them started whirring, and various branches of metal began to extend from both sides. They swung down, forming a long extended cagelike bridge. The bridge platform was made of mesh, with metal struts--almost like ribs--on both sides, connecting it to the top.

Jaz crossed the bridge almost before it was formed, obviously at ease. She nearly walked past the two of them, then caught Zebra's eye and spun, as if only just noticing them. "What--I--how--" The pilot stared at the two of them, confusion warring with anger warring with something else--fear?--in her eyes. "I... WHAT?"

Zebra looked back at Jaz inquiringly, head tilted and brow furrowed, but said nothing, waiting calmly for an explanation.

Giraffe sat down, confused, staring at Jaz, starting to realize they weren't on the Corkscrew any more. "HOW DID YOU... BUT WE...."

Jaz's hands twitched, reaching for swords that, for once, weren't there. "Damn!" she muttered, and cast a glance back they way she'd come. "How," she said, her voice measured. "Did you get in here?"

Zebra looked confused. "You made a bridge for us."

Jaz shook her head. "No. No no no, before that. This place, this hallway, how did you..." She examined their faces: Giraffe, blinking in confusion, and Zebra, looking back calmly. "No idea?" She let out a long, long sigh. "Well, what's the last thing you remember?"

Giraffe thought for a second. "Sleeping. Well, going to sleep. Why?"

"Oh, you've got to be kidding me." She looked back and forth between the two strange girls. "You're dreamers. You're fucking dreamers, dreaming your way into my head. Well." She crossed her arms. "You can just dream yourselves RIGHT back where you came from and talk to me through the normal paths, if you need to so badly. I already have a room full of nightmares, I don't need two more."

Giraffe stared blankly. "Say what now?"

Zebra looked around, still sitting. "Nightmares? Seems nice enough here"

"Yeah, it is, because I keep it that way. Can't have fears cluttering up the place, appearing in the Surface Thoughts all the time and ruining all the nice romance that's been going on lately."

Zebra was thoroughly lost. Thus, she stood and waited for clarification.

Jaz shook her head. "Now get out. Go back to sleep." She made little shooing motions with her hands. "Go on! I have things to do."

Giraffe stood as well, still confused. "But I don't know how I got here in the first place!"

"Oh." Jaz looked taken aback. "Well, fuck, now what?"

"You don't know how to get out either?" Zebra said in a thoughtful tone.

"Why would I? I never have reason to leave. I can't leave, I'd probably die! And who knows what it'd do to the Captain."

"Oh." Zebra sank into silence, looking pensive.

Giraffe thought for a moment. "Maybe if we think of where we were when we went to sleep, we could get out."

"... you don't remember where you went to sleep?" Jaz raised an eyebrow at both of them.

"No, no, I do, but if we actively thought of where that was, and of our bodies, we could get out of your mind." At Jaz's shrug and nod, Giraffe sat down and closed her eyes, thinking intently. Zebra did the same, though she stayed standing.

After a long moment, the two girls opened their eyes. They were still very much standing on the balcony with Jaz.

Giraffe sighed. "Well, that failed."

Jaz shook her head. "I don't think it's that easy. This... may take a while." She turned back towards the bridge and stepped across it in easy, quick strides, gesturing for them to follow. "Come on, we'll at least find a place to sit."

Zebra followed silently, with Giraffe trailing behind. As they walked through the halls, the two began to notice that while they were, at first glance, somewhat like those of the Corkscrew, they were a lot more jumbled and disorganized. Interesting bits of wire and string hung everywhere, and gears and vines embraced along the edges of the ceilings.

Jaz stopped at a set of sliding doors made of woven copper wire. "One moment, I want to try something. I... wouldn't follow me in here, were I you." It was more than just a suggestion. She slid open the door and slipped off her shoes, padding silently into the room. Through the narrow gap, they could see bits of red and blue and copper, and a general room that looked very different from the rest of Jaz's mind.

Jaz returned after a moment, carrying one of her crystal swords. Her knuckles were white, gripping it, until she stepped from the room and visibly relaxed. "You two... what changed, when you released the demons? What powers did you get?"

"Fire," Giraffe responded quickly. "Well, and heat in general. But fire sounds cooler to say."

Jaz gave Giraffe a long look, then nodded, turning to Zebra.

Zebra was silent, staring right back.

"You don't have one," the pilot said. "Or... you think you don't?"

Zebra nodded slowly, then her eyes widened and she added, beginning to smile, "Thought."

"Right." Jaz's eyes grew shrewd. "But you're thinking what I'm thinking, that this is your power, this dreaming your way into people's heads."

Giraffe frowned. "But then why am I here?"

Zebra turned to look at Giraffe, as if she had forgotten Giraffe was here, thought about it for a moment, and shrugged.

"I don't know," Jaz said. She stopped, then said it again. "I... don't know." She tasted the words. "Odd. I'm supposed to know, supposed to just be able to tell what's going on here, and then fix it if it feels wrong. But you guys don't feel wrong, just... different."

Giraffe rolled her eyes and spoke, voice thick with sarcasm. "Great, we're different."

Zebra looked at her. "I'd rather not be something wrong in her head, personally."

"True, I suppose."

Jaz continued, half to herself. "Yes, you're different, because you're not ME, you're not Captain Jazrill Quinn, you're simple Jaz, you're not even remotely me." She seemed quite amazed by this concept.

Giraffe, meanwhile, had gotten slightly bored. She walked over to the sliding doors, and started to look inside. "So what's in here, anyway?"

Jaz looked at her in surprise, startled out of her thought, and her eyes went wide. "No, Giraffe, don't go--"

But it was too late. The pyromancer took a step into the room, and suddenly both intruders felt an intense rhythmic pounding in their ears, and psychotic emotion, rage pouring into them, overwhelming them--

Zebra and Giraffe woke up, both breathing hard, back on the bed, the feeling fading rapidly.

Zebra blinked. "Oh" she said, wonderingly, smiling. "Oh."

Giraffe sat up, looking around in confusion, before yelling. "WHAT! I don't get it! What... what just happened!?" She asked, more than a little freaked out.

Zebra just smiled, "She explained it, don't you remember?"

"But why was I there, it should have just been you! Right?" She was obviously slightly hyperventilating.

Zebra shrugged, still basking in the knowledge that she too got a power. She obviously didn't care for the details very much.

Giraffe, realizing she wasn't going to get an answer, sighed and got up from the bed. "I think... I'm gonna go sleep in my own bed, if that's alright."

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