Straight On Until Morning


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Scene Title Straight On Until Morning
Synopsis A flotilla of ships leave the 'Pelago in search of other shores, on a journey to connect now-disparate parts of the world back together again.
Date June - July 2020

"A year ago, I left the Archipelago of Manhattan on a voyage to the Commonwealth; it's only recently that I've found my way back to the Pelago. The Pelago I see now, though, is a changed place."

The Stormfront, known by the scientific community before it collapsed as Hurricane Alpha, is believed today to have spiraled as out of control as it did— become as large as it has— owing to a failed attempt by an atmokinetic to dissipate it. It is a storm as strong as it is persistent, at intervals cycling off other hurricanes and hurling them at the coasts of Europe and Africa.

"The Pelago I left always felt to me like a place focused on survival above all else; I won't say that there was no planning for tomorrow, but everywhere I went, it felt like there was an unspoken sentiment that tomorrow was not a thing we were guaranteed. Like all of us were living on the edge, holding on by our fingernails; as though, for all of our struggles, all of us were painfully aware that there was no guarantee that we would make it through the night."

It's skirting this dangerous horizon that the flotilla of expeditioners from the Archipelago of Manhattan proceed, heading north for only a short way before curving wide to the east to such an extent they're nearly heading south again. Even then, they run closer to its edges than most would dare, all at the heeding of a third ship that guides their way. One that, as it sails forward, pushes the edges of the Stormfront back to a distance… and guides the ships propelled only by their unfurled sails forward on favorable winds.

"The Pelago I've returned to, though, is different."

Though the storm looms ever nearby; dark, churning. Waiting, with what a superstitious person might cite as something seeming like hunger to consume the clear skies beyond it endlessly. One day passes like this. Then another.

"I was struck by it as soon as I returned — there's a sense of bustle and life about this place, very different from when I left, a sense that the long night has finally passed… and now, now, as the sky starts to brighten in the east, the people of the Pelago are finally starting to realize that yes, tomorrow will come."

On the third day entirely at sea, the only visible feature on the horizon being the hints of black clouds high above a mist that has settled over the waves, the ship guiding the way begins to flash a red light in warning to the craft following. The winds begin to pick up, buffeting the craft more east than north, even though they've curved around the width of the Stormfront at this point.

"That the worst of the storm is past, and that now there is hope for the future."

This was as far as their weather-controlling guide would be able to take them. The collective crew of the expedition spread across the Second Star and Featherweight settle in grimly as they pass the craft, lifting hands in salutes of thanks and calling across to the two on the boat that's turning now back for the Pelago. Soon, it's just them in the mist and the whipping winds that grow more fierce.

"That's what I've come before you to talk about. That tomorrow. That future."

The gusts grow to a tempest quickly without their guide to help guide the air around them, brutish cold piercing the warm summer airs they'd been travelling so far. The call is made to draw sails in. They continue now using the precious gas for their craft to ensure they aren't lost in perpetuity in the storm. They need it in order to continue forward through waves that grow in unrest.

"It is my intention to undertake a voyage soon, to journey to the Isles of Japan. We know this journey is possible; my best friend and crewmate, Asi, undertook that voyage in reverse to arrive here. I am here before you now to ask for your help in preparing for this voyage… and, in turn, to speak about the opportunity this presents for the Pelago."

It wasn't supposed to be this rough, but it quickly becomes apparent they must be caught in a squall spun off the top of the Stormfront. If they called it a squall, maybe that's all it would be and remain. If they called it a hurricane, that only invited the severity to worsen. Right? That's at least what Asi keeps insisting.

"The aid I ask of you is simple, and, I hope, not excessive. Firstly, I ask for your recognition, and your blessing, in attempting to make contact. Secondly, I ask for supplies to make the journey — gasoline, citrus, fresh water, primarily — as well as whatever trade goods or gifts you are willing to part with to facilitate negotiations."

At one point during the dark night of the storm, the heaving decks have to be braved after Else Kjelstrom decides to slip out of doors to stand ever so close to the boat's ledges and turn her blinded eyes up to the sky. She sings to the sea, and no one knows why, but she's able to be coaxed back inside.

"Lastly, I would ask for repairs and retuning for my ship; she's seaworthy, but it is a very long way to Japan, and Queen Lowe's expertise could go a long way to improving our odds."

For better or worse, the storms part several more long hours after that— leaving a patch of clear blue and pink sky open between two curling walls of darkness, one heaving itself east while the other churns stationary to the southwest. The ships are free to sail down the surreal corridor in the skies, the seas calming to an eerie stillness after the chaos they'd just endured for over a day.

"In return, I'm offering copies of any maps and navigational data I acquire, as well as a full account of my voyage — invaluable knowledge for any others who would seek to follow the trail I'm blazing."

This was only the beginning, though. Heading north again, they now needed to sail through the through Maritimer country and head for the Northwestern Passages— a strait impractical if not impassable before the world flooded but now served as an alternative to southern route either around the tip of South America or through one of the three known passages cutting through flooded territory in Central America. They had come this way in the hopes of running into as few people as possible before arriving at their destination. Even for the Stormfront, still this way was deemed safer the Southern course.

"The real opportunity, here, though, is the opportunity to establish friendly relations, and maybe even trade, with a potential ally. Now, I know — trading over such a distance isn't terribly practical at the moment. But it wasn't always so… and it won't always be, either."

But that tough call is only able to be made— able to be seen as anything reasonable— in the summer months when the air was cool but not frigid, when the water was chilling cold but not entirely of ice.

"The Sentinel has been dealt a blow that it won't recover from; the night has passed, and the sun will be rising soon."

As coats are drawn and worn on decks as they sail further away from the warmth, a quiet lasts for the next few days; a tension that comes from being in lands beyond their own, beyond their knowing, and with the anxiety that perhaps another storm may come yet to rock them again. Several small settlements are passed, and they continue on past these without stopping, eyeing the windmills erected on rocky shores with idle interest, taking notes for home.

"This is an opportunity to start building for the future in earnest — our future, and the future of those who follow after us."

It's a shout from Destiny that breaks the stillness as they near the most northern point of their journey. An elated call of "Oh my gosh, look!" along with a pointed hand toward the sky guide them all toward what they're meant to note.

The ethereal undulations of soft color not seen by any of them since the strange phenomena in 2018: the Northern Lights.

Northwestern Passages

Somewhere in Nunavut, Canada

June 29, 2020

It's a good omen, perhaps, to have caught sight of the sky shifting color in one of the few darkened hours there are to be found the farther they travel north. Asi stands on the deck of the Second Star beside a wiry man she'd first made this trip with, her hands shoved into the pockets of her Carhartt while they look up at the night sky together. It's a strange moment for them both to be back here again, and it brings up memories of why they'd made the trip to New York in the first place.

It's the man at her side that breaks off first, placing a hand on her shoulder before he heads off for the back of the craft. He needs to find a better place to manage his memories— to busy himself and at least make his ruminations productive.

It leaves Asi standing at the prow alone for now, eyes tracing the faint colors against the black while lost in thought.

There is, for Silas Mackenzie, something almost surreal about all of this. About the voyage he's on — begun so soon after his last had ended, taking him again into uncharted territory far from home. About being a captain, with a crew and a vessel of his own. Certainly about the weather — bracketed by storms on either side, but sailing through fair seas.

But surreal or not, this is real; this is where his choices have taken him, and what a place it is. He stands on deck, a battered bronze spyglass in one hand as he heads towards the prow of the ship… only to be drawn short by Destiny's cry. He frowns, looking over to her, then up.

Silas stares for a moment, watching the eerie curtains of green rippling across the sky… and gives a faint chuckle. He remembers that eerie spiral aurora, back in 2018. Remembers, too, the more recent occasion on which he'd seen that spiral in the sky…

But this particular version of the aurora borealis is… not that. No impossible spiral of colors, just gentle undulations of greens and blues across that ribbon of clear sky. Silas grins. "Beautiful!" he calls back to Destiny, flashing a thumbs up. He nods to Asi's fellow traveler as he passes, then starts to head towards the prow.

The return-sound of footsteps brings Asi's attention back to the present, eyes still on the sky even if her head turns in Silas' direction. "We saw these, too, on the way out the first time," she greets him quietly, her voice quiet rather than a disaffected deadpan. It's like these waters deserve a kind of reverence in this moment. "It was earlier than this, colder than this. We walked around deck wearing blankets constantly— none of us were built for the weather this far north."

"But we were convinced there was a future for us in New York the way there wasn't in Japan anymore," she murmurs, lifting a hand to cord tied around her neck. The key to Silas' old apartment is there, along with the taped-down sticker Jonathan had given her the day she swam to sink the Sentinel submarine. A second object of slightly larger shape lies under the first, a more old-fashioned key with an unusual bit at its end. It's the bow of that one she rubs with her thumb thoughtfully.

She takes in a breath sharp enough to draw her back from the edge of reverie and looks down to note the skinny, white-coated boat cat insisted upon them for this trip. Eve's handiwork, such things normally were, but the cat was a gift from Gillian this time. It twines its way round their legs, an indifferent mrow uttered for the sights above. "Anyway," Asi provides more levelly, a brightness in it she doesn't feel. "How are you holding up? Got your sea legs again?"

"Heh. As well as I ever had them," he grins to Asi; meanwhile, one hand rummages for a bit in a coat pocket; there are some papery sounds, then his hand emerges holding a well-dried bit of… something, holding it low enough for their feline guest to see. Some might call this cat-bribery, but Silas prefers to think of it as keeping his crew happy; cats tend to be far less tolerant of those who invoke their displeasure, after all, and Silas would rather not get up one morning to find his hat or shoes have been 'enriched', as has happened to those who incurred the displeasure of the many cats aboard the Forthright on occasion.

His gaze remains on Asi for a moment. He wonders, idly, what the story is behind the newest key she wears is, but he doesn't ask. If she wants to tell him, she will, and if she doesn't, she won't; he knows the story of one of those charms, at least, and it's enough to make him smile whenever he thinks about it.

So his gaze slips off, to the calm sea ahead and to the ribbons of light weaving through the heavens above. "You laid a cornerstone for that future, there, for a lotta people; who knows? Maybe we'll lay a second one there, when we've gone so far west that we've found the East again. And from there, maybe a whole foundation, huh?" he asks quietly, looking back to Asi.

Asi watches the exchange with the cat out of the corner of her eye with a straight face, any interest in it kept close to her chest. She rarely gives away what she's thinking in her expression, but…

That last comment of his, that elicits a snort of derision entirely in contrast with the surprise in her expression. "I swear, Snickers," she sighs. "Sometimes you dredge up optimism out of the most unexpected of places."

Her weight shifts from one leg to the other, her hands leaving her pockets so she can cross them and her arms over her chest instead. The thought of her doing anything of that scale is unfathomable for her. "I still don't… know." The admission is clipped. Surely there's an end to that sentence.

It almost seems like she'll leave it just at that before she looks down at the cat which has no qualms about dropping down to the ground and snacking on the proffered treat right on the spot. Surely it could find a better perch to hide and devour from, but it's grown to trust the man feeding it. It even trusts her, possibly, too. She sighs down at it before admitting with another clip of uncertainty, "All this. The distance we're going is far— so far I'm not even sure what we're doing is tenable. You know?"

She lifts her head up to look to the dancing hints of light in the sky again. "I hope we find some of the answers you're looking for out there. But beyond that…"

Asi smiles even though she doesn't feel it. "If we manage to do any more than that, I'll take it for the miracle that it is." She tries, at least for his sake, to have a shred of the optimism he does here.

"It's a trip," Silas agrees. "Longest journey I've ever tried to make. Longest journey maybe anyone's tried in a long time. But it's hard not to feel optimistic, with skies like this," he says, grinning. "Especially after what we came through." Which is true, to an extent, but far from the entire truth.

"And besides. You made it one way; that's proof it can be done," he says more seriously. "We've done all we can to stack the odds in our favor."

He falls silent after that for a moment, leaning against the railing at the front and peering into the distance ahead; it's a little while before he speaks again. "You know. You've talked about Japan, now and again," he muses idly, which is true; usually when she'd been in her cups when she'd talked about it, but it's true. "I'm kinda looking forward to seeing it."

Provided we make it, he thinks, but he doesn't let himself dwell on that possibility; if they don't make it, then it'll be despite careful preparation and the best efforts of his crew. "I thought about going while I was away, but…" There's a pause there. "It probably wouldn't have been a good idea."

The note they've done all they can to stock things in their favor is met with a tone of agreement from Asi. Should they manage to avoid marauders— and they went this way in hope of that— the only issues they should run into are those created by nature. But still, she clicks her tongue off her cheek. "We need to find somewhere to replenish our water before we head across the desert. If we can avoid the Russians, let's." She certainly doesn't speak their language.

That's a valuable skill they're lacking this go.

When Silas speaks up again after his lull, it pulls her back from the thoughts of finding something to do to get rid of her energy before bunking in for the night. She turns back his way to listen, her expression a careful quiet. The sail overhead ripples in a shift in the breeze.

"End of the world, and Silas Mackenzie wants to go sightseeing," she teases him without teeth. The bant's been said before, back when he first proposed doing this. Asi shakes her head to herself and steps up to the railing, leans against it shoulder to shoulder with Silas. "Why not?" she wonders quietly. "Did they not have working airplanes there?"

Asi's suggestion about avoiding the Russians is met with a grunt of agreement; he sure doesn't speak Russian. He doesn't speak Japanese, either, but at least there are a couple of people around who might be able to help him work on that particular shortcoming.

Asi's teasing merits a snicker and an affectionate grin, though her question sees a more thoughtful look return to his face.

"Oh, they had airplanes. It's just…" he hesitates a moment, considering the reasons. "Japan there wasn't particularly friendly to the Evolved, from what I heard. I dug into it on the Googles; apparently, a certain Magnes Varlane had some kind of flying brawl that ended up putting a crater into the middle of Shibuya. There was video footage. It was… messy. Ugly," Silas grimaces, shaking his head. "No fatalities, but it was a spectacle."

But that's not the only reason. "And… in my particular case, they probably would've stopped me on sight," he admits.

Asi narrows her eyes. "まったく," she growls under her breath. "I see he started small, with countries, then moved on to being responsible for tragedies in other realities aside from his own." A hard sigh expels away further derision, eyes narrowed on the water.

Besides, there's something else to distract her, even if belatedly.

There comes a sound from her like choking on air before a strangle of a laugh follows. "The Googles?" Asi turns back to Silas at her side with a lopsided grin of her own, amused beyond reason with that. "What, did they call that different there, too? Is this like the strange movie castings you were going on about?"

She lets out another chuckle because she can't help herself, grin becoming more full-bodied. "The Googles…" she mutters mirthfully.

Silas snorts. "Yeah, the Googles," he grins right back. "And nah. That one's just me," he admits. "I was never exactly cutting edge when it came to the internet and networking; I was more the bootleg cable type."

That one had made someone else laugh too, hadn't it? Asi — the one in that other, non-Flooded world. He chuckles again, now a little more wistfully.

"They had crazy phones there. Yamagato had just put out a phone with a folding screen; they called it the Awasu. Too fancy for me, but there was another company that put out one of those old-style folding brick phones. Thing was tough enough to stop a bullet."

When Silas admits to his misnomering, Asi's smile twists into something wry and she elbows him loosely in his arm before shaking her head. Of course it was a Silas-ism.

"I'll have you know, I'm a big fan of the bootleg cable type of hacking," she tells him sympathetically. "Things were simpler in the nineties." Thinking on it, she wrinkles her nose. "In a way, you know, I guess I'm glad I never did get the chance to be classed out by technology. Never was caught at what I was doing before the world flooded. Never met a system that was too much for me."

"We were headed in that direction for sure," Asi murmurs, voice dropping degrees to the point she's almost mumbling. It's strange to talk about the times before all this. "Encryptions… got more sophisticated. New languages to learn."

There's a flicker of something not quite melancholy, but certainly in the neighborhood of it as the aurora and the current topic both wedge into the cracks of her stoic being.

"I know we should save the booze for trading, but maybe we can crack open just one bottle," she says suddenly. "To celebrate how far we've come, and the good omen overhead." Asi lifts her eyes to the sky indicatively, to the wilting greens and pinks dancing in the indigo. "You can tell me more stories, and I'll tell you how you'd tell it in Japanese. Fair?"

Silas grins at her elbow, and grins still more at her offer. "Well, that sounds like an offer I can hardly refuse. And I think we can part with a bottle." She's right that they need to conserve their stock of alcohol for trading, but…

Make hay while the sun shines; we need to enjoy moments like these while you can. There'll be hard times enough ahead, he thinks.

"I'll grab the bottle," he says, grinning.

Goodnews Island

July 9, 2020

Before the Flood had come, one of the residents in this small town of barely 200 had had a dream that a fierce tsunami would wash the city off the map. With information to the exact day, they passionately plead with city leadership to take heed and prepare in advance for the coming waters by bringing supplies hundreds of feet away from sea level.

Her name was Agrifina Imgalrea, and though she died when the Sentinel struck and killed the Specials of the town, she was and is remembered— revered. Without her, they wouldn't have survived. In a world where so much was lost, Aunt Agrifina's heeded warning saw that at least some Yup'ik culture survived.

The sailors here, for some reason, have never run out of gas. It's a secret the Islanders will never give up to outsiders— the whos and hows of their continued bounty— but traders don't need to know how the miracle takes place in order to bring goods from the South or from overseas to trade with the salmon fishers for that which they don't already have.

Against odds, there are more people living here now than there were before the Flood. So much of Alaska's Western coast was devastated by the rising waters, and any who survived that had been able to make it this way found the "good news" the former town of Goodnews Bay had been incorporated under. Leaving the land they'd known all their lives even for more temperate climates had been something many hadn't wanted to face, and thus the settlement on the mountain-come-hills grew.

High walls separate the protected interior settlement on the land from the parts of it outsiders are permitted on and latecomers to the island live on. But there's safe, solid ground for the crew of the Second Star and Featherweight to enjoy before their long journey across a desert made of sea.

It hasn't been so long since Silas Mackenzie has stood on dry land… but it's been a long time indeed since he's stood on dry land in this world.

So here they are on the aptly named Goodnews Island for resupply and a spot of shore leave. After all, the crews have come a long way to stand here, and the voyage ahead will be longer still; if ever there was a time for a bit of shore leave, this is it. And if ever there was a place for shore leave, this is also it, Silas thinks to himself.

There's some truth to that; this place feels fundamentally different from the Pelago, from the sound of the dockside chatter down to the feeling of the air; it's fascinating, in a way. I wonder if this is what the merchant captains of old felt, sailing into a new port for the first time. Or the explorers of old, mapping the seas and islands…

Silas catches himself and shakes his head, grinning faintly. Whatever those old salts might've thought or felt, right now he has got work to do; a spot of trading, a bit of tourism, and maybe a drink or two.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there's Asi. Her look is so poker as to be negative rather than neutral, considering all they see with an eye that keeps it all at arm's length. Even in another peaceful settlement, her guard is as drawn as ever. At best, this place has what they need. At worst, it seeks to lure them into a false sense of security only to rob them blind.

It wasn't like the world exactly had reliable travel guides to consult these days.

She slants a look sideways toward Silas like she can read his mind through his good cheer. It was up to them to be the travel guide-writers in this new age, wasn't it?

Asi sighs. Her ears prick with the occasional non-English term as they walk through the market— largely consisting of fish, clothing, fishing gear, salvage, and more fish— and brings her eyes to seek out the sounds even if her head doesn't end up turning fully. It's curious to her.

"Hopefully Else is still there to be found at the end of the night," she observes idly. The blind seer had a will of her own and used it wantonly regardless of the peculiarity to it. "I'm not sure what they'll do with us if we come back home and she's missing from our crew."

"Else's got a knack for being where she needs to be, when she needs to be there. And if she's not… might be that we need to wait a bit before we set out," Silas answers, without turning his eyes away from the marketplace; his voice is cheerful, but there's something about his tone that suggests he's serious. "She did fish me out of the sea when I first got back; said she wrote a song about a man falling out of the sky." He leaves out the part about said man being naked.

Silas chuckles to himself, glancing over to Asi. "If she happened to write a song about us spending a day or two in port, well, we don't have to worry as much about timetable now that we're out of the Passage. Besides, gives me time to brush up a bit more on my language skills," he says, more soberly. "I've… got a ways to go on that."

The comment manages to bring a ghost of a smile to Asi's face, at least. "なるほどね," she agrees in a deadpan tease. Her mouth presses into a line to avoid any further of a smile or a laugh at his expense. "You're trying, though. Practicing. We'll have you there in no time."

Slipping her hands into the pockets of the light coat she wears, she grows thoughtful. "You know," she muses quietly. "Just as long as she doesn't get herself into any trouble." Her experiences with seers were somewhat few. Eve was the bulk of her exposure, and as go-with-the-flow as Asi's reactions were around her, it didn't mean she found the older woman any less perplexing.

To her, Else was even more an enigma than that. After years of living in Mad Eve's periphery, she knew more of her at least.

"Gas we should probably trade for last…" Asi adds in a quieter voice after that, seeming contented by that decision. They had a designated end event to this stop, then. She looks ahead, and then back to Silas. "Where to first—" she starts, then appends lightly, "Captain?"

Silas glances over to her at that. Captain. The word has a certain weight to it… but he's getting used to it. One corner of his mouth turns up in a hint of a smile, but not much more than that; there's still the subject of Else to be addressed, after all. "Hopefully she'll stay out of trouble," he agrees, but he doesn't sound like he'd be willing to bet very much on that; despite sailing with her on the Starling for months, Else is something of an enigma to him too, in some respects.

But there is, after all, precious little he can do about that; right now, he's got a shopping itinerary to put together. "Fresh water first, then medicine — vitamins and citrus for sure. We're doing well as far as food — Jenny's been a big help there — so we probably won't need to shop too heavily on that. After that… gas. Keep your eyes open, though. If you see anything you think might go well as far as trading in Japan, let me know." He pauses. "I'd kinda like to see what kind of knives they've got here, personally. A good knife is always good to have."

Getting a rise out of Silas over the appellation of his new title is enough for Asi to let her fretting drop. She lets out a hum when he mentions citrus— while they were traveling in the summer, this far north, that's a resource that rings scarce to her.

Knives, though. Everybody's got knives.

"Well, let's see what we can do, shall we?"

That night, their feet still on the seeming miracle of solid land, Asi sits beside a glowing campfire, admiring the glint coming off of the rounded blade of the knife Silas found while bartering. It reminds her of a pizza-cutter in miniature, with a handle in the shape of a toggle coming up from its center rather than having a grip on either side of the roughly six-inch span of metal.

"It's unique," she says of its quality before turning it over in her hand, passing it back to him by its handle while minding the sharpened edges of it. It was meant for cutting through fat, blubber— capable of handling the meat and peripherals of seals or larger while still working just fine against smaller fish. She sits on the ground beside her own win of the day— a plush pelt belonging to some dead arctic feline that had frequented too close to the settlement before being sniped down. It sits upon a stack of other similar furs which promise warmth in colder weather.

The theory is they'll trade well once they get to Japan, the same way certain items they'd brought from New York had here. For example: the seeds of the lemons and tangerines they'd saved over their trip this far.

That had been an excellent save, keeping those safe. It had been easier to trade for sources of Vitamin C when they had something to help replenish what they were exchanging. They had been given a concoction of something made of kale leaf and thyme; walked away with the promise of a mix of hardy kumquat and persimmon should they return tomorrow. Even with the world from before fallen, some of its lessons truly haven't. Staving off malnutrition at sea for their sailors and the sailors who come to them was something thoughtfully approached by the people who live here.

In the distance, other fires burn. Music sounds. Some kind of cultural event was taking place tonight right in the open; celebration of return from some hunt, though Asi hadn't pried to find out exactly what had been felled. Around the largest of the bonfires, several people dance using mostly their arms in the movements.

She glances up to them, then back to Silas. The sky is only just now darkening despite the hour of night it nears. It's almost midnight.

"It'll be great if we get as good a reception once we make our first stop in Japan," Asi surmises quietly. They were allowed to stay a few days owing to the trade they brought with them, even if acceptance of their presence didn't exactly translate to welcoming it, necessarily. She tents her knees, links her hands between them loosely, and settles her forearms upon them lightly. "The last time we were there … we had to assume the worst of most anyone who approached the Gardens. Trade hubs like this…"

Hospitable, if lukewarm ones… few and far between, it'd seem.

The Gardens. Silas doesn't speak right away, instead studying his reflection in the blade of his shiny new knife. Aces has spoken of the Gardens, now and again, but it's usually obliquely and when she's in her cups; he's gleaned enough about them, over time, to know that it's a piece of her past she guards closely. It's rare for her to speak of them so openly… but then, she's physically closer to her past now than she's been in some years, isn't she?

"Probably smart, honestly; things got wild for awhile. Over here, at least," Silas says quietly, his gaze shifting towards the fire as he tucks his new knife away and settles down beside her. "Hopefully things have settled down by now." Otherwise we might have a rough landing.

He remains silent for a bit, eyes shifting to watch the festivities; it's a comfortable silence, though. "What do you think it'll be like now?"

One wouldn't know how infrequently Asi tries to bring to mind the land and life she left behind for how she approaches the topic now. "It was rough there, too. The…" She clears her throat, looking into the fire. "The Sentinel gave no quarter in their trip across the country. The Botanic Gardens… there wasn't but a few people there, initially, so the focus when they moved from Kyoto to Osaka and Kobe… went elsewhere."

She takes in a sharp breath, tearing her eyes away from the fire.

"With any hope, it's grown. Maybe things are better even than they were before. It… at best, it looks somewhat like here. A food haven." She looks uncertain before admitting, "But I don't know. I know that's something that's been weighing on Kiseki— what home looks like going back to it. What if pirates came? What if the Sentinel returned there, how they did to Manhattan?"

Confronting these thoughts is something they have to do, seeing as they'll be face to face with the reality pondered by them soon. "Not sure what we can do but… hope for the best and plan for the worst," Asi remarks. It's the closest to optimism she'll make it on the subject.

"It never quite looks the same," Silas chuckles quietly, eyes looking somewhere beyond the fire. "Home."

He lets himself indulge in reminiscence for a moment — maybe two — but that's all. "Hope for the best, plan for the worst," he agrees, giving Asi a bright grin… then his expression becomes more serious. "Pirates are one thing; I'm pretty sure we can get the drop on pirates, provided they're not of the shoot first and ask questions never persuasion. You, me, and Jenny are all pretty deft hands in a fight, and Else ought to be able to give us a heads up if there's gonna be a fight." Silas falls silent for a moment.

"The Sentinel's another can of worms entirely. Or… a bigger one, at least," he allows, his face hard. "If they're still squirming around over there…" he shakes his head. "We'll have to see the lay of the land over there before we can figure out what to do about them," Silas says, his voice dropping a bit as he studies the blade of his knife. The what ain't exactly a question, is it? Just the how, he thinks to himself. He exhales, then looks back over to Asi. "We'll have to bring the rest of our little expedition in on this, too. Strategizing and all."

Abruptly, Silas snorts. "God. Me, strategizing," he says, shaking his head and giving Asi a good-natured grin. "What a world, huh?" he snickers.

This is a much more pleasant thought to focus on indeed, and Asi shifts to it unquestioningly. "You, strategizing," she agrees with a teasing tone in her mirth. She plops the top of her stack of furs on the ground behind her before lying back on it, looking up at the stars. She could lose herself in them, if she let herself.

"At least there's a you around to do it," she sighs as she studies the positioning of them. They were differently viewed, this far north. It takes her a moment to right herself by them, to find the stars which look so different at home but provide her comfort all the same when she spots them on the horizon.

"We should talk through boarding party plans with everyone before we set out, Asi agrees. "That way you and I won't be as out of sync as that time we were jumped by hicks on our boat trip." She can chuckle about it now, but she remembers how tense it was at the time, juggling just how they were going to escape. Fearing something she'd do would get Silas killed, if she made too much noise. "They need to learn to trust your ability as strongly as I know to."

“I trust it.” Destiny’s voice heralds her arrival before her shadow dances in the light of the fire, but she isn’t trying to be dark or mysterious. She’s just a little shy, unsure when to jump in. If she’s allowed to jump in.

She takes a breath and offers a smile. “I may have bartered the last of my chess set away today, board and all, but… I can still help with strategy. If you want.” Des pauses her approach once she’s a better conversational distance, better seen in the light. Something weighs just as heavy on her heart as it does on theirs. Possibly the same thing, just in a different hue. Possibly something else entirely. Her head tilts to one side, arms wrapped around herself and hugging a thick and worn book to her chest as she waits for invitation or dismissal.

Silas grins back at Aces' mirth, though his grin takes on a more gentle character as he watches her study the stars… though Destiny's arrival spares him the need to make a reply.

"Absolutely," Silas says jovially, his gaze moving over to Des. "Have a seat around the fire," he says, gesturing to the other side of the fire. "If we're going to strategize, the more the merrier." He glances over to Aces, an eyebrow slightly raised — a silent invitation for her thoughts.

She's always been slow to take to others, but Asi does turn her head slightly to hear Destiny's approach, to glance at her as she admits she bartered away the last of something important to her. She looks back up to the stars rather than question it, keeping her appreciation for the young woman's sacrifice to herself.

One can just hope that what she received in return was worth it.

"We have a number of abilities at our disposal to help forewarn us, but should we be set upon, we'll need to keep ourselves as small and sparse as possible. Jenny stands the best chance of making it back to their craft to sabotage them, or cause a distraction, with how she can just melt into the water… Kiseki on our craft has two strengthened shields of metal he's reinforced which can stand up to gunfire. They're on either end of the boat for emergency purposes, but…"

Now Asi rolls her head to look at Destiny. "Maybe one should go over to yours," she acknowledges thoughtfully. Then her chin lifts slightly, indicatively in the blonde's direction. "And you?" the woman lying on the ground wonders. "Do you have a trick to contribute?"

Wordlessly, Des nods her head and shuffles over to take her seat. This is just them, and she’s a little less concerned about playing the role of stalwart leader. A voice in her mind that sounds like hers, but with all the enthusiasm for life choked out of it, warns her that people will remember vulnerability. It should only be used as an asset, and it will not serve her here. In response, the young ship captain sits up straighter, setting her book aside.

Asi’s question is met with honesty, but no shame stems from that. “I don’t know. Maybe. I think I can do…” Des narrows her eyes, her nose wriggling — not entirely unlike Samantha Stevens, when television was still something people could watch and enjoy. Whatever magic she hoped would happen, however, seems only to accumulate in a small sneeze that sounds like it could have come from a cartoon mouse, speaking of TV.

Destiny disappears from sight.

Another sneeze comes from just beyond Silas’ left shoulder, before the sound of something hitting the ground. A groan follows and Destiny lifts her head, then starts to peel her body up from the cold ground. “I haven’t got the hang of it yet. But if Odessa could do it, then I should be able to do it too. It’s a work in progress.” Dusting herself off, she makes her way back to the spot where she was originally sitting so she can settle down again. “I can still do it my way, but that only buys me time.” Frowning, Des admits, “I wouldn’t rely on it.”

"Jenny is a good friend and a very bad enemy," Silas offers on the subject of the crew's water mimic. "She can definitely do infiltration and sabotage, if it's required."

Destiny's comment is met with a raised eyebrow, and then… she's behind him.

Silas leans back, tilting his head back to look at Destiny on the ground. "Well. You've got time to practice, at least; just keep at it. You practice that, and I'll keep working on my Japanese." He grins at that, though only for a moment. "Though… maybe we'd better stick to English for this conversation," he says, grimacing sheepishly.

"Anyway. We've got time. Rome wasn't built in a day," he says, sitting up and rotating himself a bit so he can regard Des and Aces at the same time. "What else have we got? We've got the flamethrower on Second Star, but that gets expensive."

Destiny's nose-wrinkled focus to activate her ability is met with polite, if distant interest from Asi. She doesn't blink when the young woman sneezes and vanishes, but she starts up onto her elbows when she reappears, wondering at it. She doesn't understand exactly what it is, but buying time makes enough sense on its own.

With a small, thoughtful frown, she admits, "My use would come mostly in a fight. My ability doesn't mean much these days. I can serve as a radar for high-tech materials, but…" She lolls her head to the side in a physical analogue to biting her tongue before laying back again. "Not much of that to be found."

"Then there's Snickers' trick," Asi segues easily. "Lot more likely to be useful to us." Her head turns to afford him a small smile before looking back up at the stars again. Her voice has softened to not carry as far given their topic of conversation. "I've got the gun I picked up before we left. Thirty two rounds."

Speaking of valuable things traded, the weight of the bulletcount falls heavily from her lips. But… it was worth it.

"すぐ寝る時間だ," Asi opines absently to the stars.

There’s a small smile for Silas when he mentions that they should both keep practicing, and stick to English. Des’ shoulders hunch inward with a silent laugh. “I can do that, just for you,” she promises with a playful edge. “We can practice more on the way. I’d make flashcards, but I left most of my paper with Iris.” That is a choice she doesn’t regret in the least.

The talk of other people’s tricks has her lifting her brows. She knows what Silas is capable of, but Asi… “That’s a lot of bullets,” Destiny murmurs with a sort of appreciation, a reverence for what had to be traded away to secure this precious resource. If Asi can handle herself with a gun, that is a useful skill.

Then to the notion of sleep, Des frowns thoughtfully, responding in kind. “うんん.”

Silas's eyebrows rise a bit when Asi talks of her ammo count — he's impressed. He nods agreement with Des's assessment; he wonders, briefly, what she had to give up to get that. He can speculate — pearls, he's pretty sure, would be valuable indeed — but he won't ask. She'll tell him if she wants him to know.

He'll just have to do his best to make sure that whatever trade she made is worth it.

"はい, おやすみ," Silas agrees, grinning… though his grin fades to a more somber look as his eyes slip past the fire, into the dark beyond. "I'll turn in myself, soon enough… but I think I'll sit up for a bit longer. Just a bit."

Asi lets out a grumble of acknowledgement as she rocks herself back up into a proper sit. She fits her hands around the stack of skins she had been using as a pillow and hoists them up as she comes to her feet. "Don't stay up too long," she offers her bit of advice, and then glances up one last time to the glow of the stars above.

"After we pick up what's still owed to us tomorrow, I'll inquire about gas."

And then all that would be left would be to say goodbye to the continent some of the travelers had only ever known, in pursuit of shores others had thought they would never again see.

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