Eyes Without A Faceearliest post first | most recent post first
I have always been a skeleton.
My crew--skeletons. My family on the Planet of the Many-Colored Grass--skeletons.
You look upon me now with horror, but the looks my people and I shared with one another were as full of love and longing and spite and hate as you and your people, with your horrific water-filled cellular padding covering your own beautiful structures beneath.
But, like, you, we were driven towards discovery, towards the unknown.
Agressi sunt mare tenebrarum, quid in eo esset exploraturi.
This is my tale. THE TALE OF THE MARE TENEBRARUM.
"Purge the Murk!"
"Purging the Murk."
"Set Secondary Seal!"
"Setting Secondary Seal."
"Airlock complete, mam."
"Open the gates, Mr. Charmers."
"Aye aye, mam."
The massive, ancient iris valve was rusty, but it hadn't seized up. With a creak and a wheeze, it dilated. To our surprise, nothing came out but a dusty puff of air.
"Leave your diving helmets on, lads. There could still have been compartmentalized leakage."
"Ahem!" said Petty Officer Flouncey.
"I mean, uh... sailors! My apologies Flouncey."
On the inside, The Mare Tenebrarum looked just like it did in the magazines. Great curved staircases and soaring balustrades. We lit it up with the criss-cross of our headlamps. Dry as a bone, apparently. At least here in the grand entry way.
"To the bridge. Mr. Chalmers, take the lead."
We shuffled our lead boots through the decks to the fore of the ship. It was hard to hear much but our own breathing in our helmets, but it was easy to imagine the great low creaks of such a giant empty vessel.
"But where are all the bodies, Captain?" asked Flouncy. "There's no record of survivors, and none of the lifeblimps had been jettisoned."
"Just keep your attention sharp, Petty Officer."
The bridge was as finely wrought and ornate as the rest of the ship we'd seen, all mahogany and brass fittings, fading velvet carpet and massive windows. A grand captain's chair sat on a swivel in the center of the room, turned away. I walked up to the chair and spun it around.
And came face to face with a skeleton.
The captain, apparently, by the uniform.
And slowly, the skeleton captain lifted its head to look me in eye.
As we neared the event horizon of the drain, we beheld a panorama so deplorably desolate no human imagination can conceive. To the right and left, as far as the eye could reach, there lay outstretched, like ramparts of the world, great nebulae of swirling floodspace foam, starfish arms stirring up whirlpools with tidal energies so massive they could take shake a planet off its course. Intermittent detonations of murkspark lit the horrific tableau.
Our protoplasmic host veered off its course to the Heart of the Drain.
"Mr. Charmers, where are we heading?"
"We seem to be surfing the rim of the whirl, mam. It's still off the charts but we appear to be picking up more velocity."
"Still fine, mam. This pressurized floodspace field is keeping us packed tightly."
@Claira's five-legged devil cow was up from its nap.
"Mam, we're coming up on something. Larboard."
Through the purple phosphoresce we could just make out a long, dark shadow.
"We're matching speed and coming along side, mam."
As we neared it, the rudder and stabilizers became clear, and then the smooth lines of a hull. An old ship. Practically ancient, with a distinct silhouette that was unique even at the time of its construction. And one that every Deep Murk sailor knows from the history books.
"The Mare Tenebrarum..." said Ensign Charmers.
The aurorae are always something a Floodspace sailor sees from a distance. Or at least they should be. Those that have gone in close have never come back, on account of the Drain.
We're all caught up in it, all the Island Worlds and Island Suns, slowly, ever so slowly, making our way in a grand slow dance around the Drain. The eggheads say it takes a thousand years to go around it just one time. Plenty of time to enjoy life, create civilizations, go about your business.
And now we're heading right for it, being pulled along inside a massive phosphorescent plankton to our doom.
"Can we breach it, Ensign? Tear a hole through it?"
"We're being held in the center of a large pressurized field of Floodspace, and unable to maneuver. It's like we're stuck in honey, and the weapons can't get through it either."
Junior Navigator @Claira's creature lay curled up in the map box, purring away.
"You're not worried about any of this, are you?"
"What planet did you say you were from again?"
"Will it be nice? Where we're headed?"
The furry little five-legged thing sat up in the map box and stretched.
Then she looked at me with her glowing yellow-green eyes, and nodded once.
The five-legged pigcat crawled up @Claira's arm and perched on her shoulder.
"Mam. External sensors show minimal turbulence. Like we're standing virtually still."
"Then what am I seeing, Mr. Charmers?"
"Through all the purple, you're seeing the movement of distant light sources through the Murk. Moving at high speed."
"How high, ensign?"
"Well... frankly our gauges don't go that high, mam."
The furry black creature on @Claira's shoulder began emitting a low, croaking sound.
"Is it purring, Junior Navigator @Claira?"
@Claira stared at the floor.
"What's our heading, ensign?"
"Dead center, mam. Into the core."
"The Drain, is it?"
"I don't have the answers," @Claira said.
The furry black creature sat in her arms, apparently following our conversation.
"It seems aware of the massive phosphorescent Floodspace plankton that we're inside of."
"weeeeeeeeeek!" The creature nodded its tiny three-horned head.
"It began squeaking just as we encountered the purple protoplasm."
"weeeeeeeeeek!" It looked at us with its glowing yellow eyes and cocked its head.
"It was a stow-away in the haunted dolls you brought on board."
"weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!" It squirmed and latched its five cloven hooves around @Claira's arm.
"Yes, Ensign Charmer?"
"We're beginning to accelerate through the Murk. Looks like the plankton is taking us for a ride, mam."
"Status, Ensign Charmer."
"Reports still coming in, mam. But it looks like hull integrity is nominal. Fins and propellers seem to be intact."
"We've been expelled by the beast. It still shows there, below us, as the horizon in all directions."
"And there's no damage?'
"That thing that Junior Navigator @Claira's creature alerted us to. The... massive phosphorescent plankton? It's encased us. Here, let me open the view ports..."
"It's so... purple."
"And sparkly, mam."
"Get @Claira up here. She's got to take control of her animal. And I want answers!"
"Get that haunted squirrel off the bridge!"
Navigating the plumbless depths of this island-sized behemoth is hard enough without Junior Navigator Claira's little stow-away screeching uncontrollably.
weeeeeeeeeeeek! weeeeeeeeeeek! weeeeeeeeeeek!
"Slowly ahead, Ensign Charmer."
"Aye aye, mam."
"I want us pointed straight out this whale's mouth and ready for full thrusters as soon as we see those pearly whites open up."
"But we can't see a thing, mam."
"I mean on the radar, Ensign!
"Stow that infernal furry banshee immediately!"
"Mam, there's something. Dead ahead."
"There's nothing on the screen."
"The viewport, mam. It's very faint, but if you don't look directly at it..."
weeeeeeeek! weeeeeeeeeek weeeeek weeeeek weeeeeeeeeeeek!
"Silence that varmint! Uh... what am I seeing here, Ensign?"
"It's like phosphorescence, like in the tides on the sea back home. It's kind of, unrolling itself..."
"I see it now, I think. It's like a, a butterfly? Or an amoeba..."
"The teeth mam, they're opening. But the creature's inhaling! The currents! We're being swept up the blowhole!"
The sonar is depicting a curious scene.
We're on our way to this "Aw-stray-lee-uh" to deliver the Haunted Dolls retrieved by Junior Navigator Claira. It's a very strange and faraway land, seldom visited by Deep Murk sailors like us, and the route is taking us through some uncharted regions of Floodspace.
There's so much we still don't know about Floodspace... what it's made of, what causes the waves and currents within it....But we know that Floodspace is wet. We know there are islands of sweet sweet air and dry land encased within it, and we know that the Murk Monsters swim the depths between.
"Those don't look like Murk Monsters to me, number three"
We gather round the green screen to watch the pings.
"It's... an enormous structure... completing filling the scan zone. And what are those triangular formations? So regular... evenly spaced..."
"Mam, they're moving."
"They're closing! It's a trap! THEY'RE JAWS! Full speed ahead ensign!"
"Ahead? But mam, that course will take us..."
"Inside, ensign. It's the only way to avoid being crushed by those giant--"
I would like to formally apologise for my misrepresentation of distances in my previous log entry. My homeland was ruled by a corrupt theocracy in which all measurements of distances were transposed into our system. Old habits are difficult to override, however, I will surely make up for this in future.
I am, however, happy to report a successful retrieval mission. Though the dolls were covered by a thick layer of hydrophobic tar (odd to see around these parts, I know), a little contained green-flame cleared it out in no time. All four dolls luckily seem to date back to the specified timeframe, however one will need to be discarded due to it being mostly deteriorated and inhabited by a small creature I could not identify. I will leave a short description of it below so you may attempt to.
small, black, furry and vaguely bovine. three small horns, two yellow-green eyes that seemed to produce their own light? Five cloven legs and a short tail which is seemingly the only place on the creature other than the eyes and feet not covered in fur.