Friday, 29 November 2013
Project: Leftovers 015
"It has to be around here somewhere." said Idris.
"Why can't we just stop over there." Lane asked. "Those houses growing out of the column would make it possible to reach the Zeppelin from outside."
"Half arsed measure." Idris said. "I know a place that is almost perfect for our need. I've been there before and I know it is around here somewhere. Keep your eyes on the monitors."
"You were the one insisting on not wasting more time that strictly necessary." Lane said.
"I know what I said. This is important, the time we are losing now looking for the place we will make up in an under an hour once we are there." said Idris.
"What are we looking anyway? And don't even think about telling us to wait for it. While these sudden discoveries are all very dramatic it makes it rather hard to help you find it."
"You'll..." Idris started. Lane interrupted her immediately. "I'll know when you tell us."
"It's a dry dock."
"A dry dock? What good does a dry dock do us?" Lane asked.
"First it is not on ground level." Idris said. "I is an extension of these random cities you see here, what more important is that it is a dry dock that is designed for air-ships. It is a bit on the large side but it is functional if primitive and the Unconquered Sun will fit."
Lane was thinking about how to protest in away that would not set Captain Idris of when the ship rounded yet another corner revealing the hanging ship yard of the Temple.
"I," said captain Idris, "told you."
The structure was like everything else built out of bleached out stone. It formed a majestic bridge like structure closing the gap between two pillars. Lane had expected one structure into which they could fly the Unconquered Sun, some wildly out of place structure a dry dock for water ships with an arched roof that could be used to reach the outside of their ship. What she saw instead where tunnels of all sizes going on for nearly a mile. The Unconquered Sun would easily fit into the middle sized docks. What they had reached was a shipyard designed to maintain or maybe even build airships in a great scale. The thing that overwhelmed Lane the most that was that there were docks with enough space to house ships far larger than the already titanic Unconquered Sun.
"What is this place?" Monica said out loud what Lane was thinking. Monica who usually was reserved even in the face of things like a temple the size of a city was gwaping now with her eyes almost as wide as her mouth.
"No one really knows." Idris said. "Hardly anything is known about this cursed place. The Berber people have legends telling that one should never enter this valley. That those who do so do not come out alive. Most of the others that went in there to explore also never returned. It wasn't until the late 20th century that some clever bloke noticed that people only ever vanish during the day. A few years later another egghead discovered old myths and legends about a god or demon that hunted man only during the broad daylight." Idris voice changed swelling with pride that politeness was failing to suppress, "It was me who discovered the air docks over here and the eternal guardians."
"You discovered this place?" Lane said mostly to keep her mind from going completely blank. As their airship was navigating into the docks entering one of the tunnels she had the same feeling that she had when she had reached the temple for the first time. The sense of scale as she got nearer was so beyond anything she had experienced that it was hypnotising. Her brain was so busy rewriting everything it knew about the world trying to keep up with reality that everything else was pushed away.
"Yes. When I was younger and a bit more reckless I loved exploring this place. I had a ship and no fear. That I was surrounded by men who laughed at my ambition to become a courier pilot also helped I guess. I knew that during the night this place was safe. It is the prison of the Hunter in Daylight after all. Because of that I came to discover some neat things. Like for example this here."
"It sounds like this isn't a big hobby of yours any more." Monica said sounding all business again but still having problems hauling her jaw back up.
"I forgot the other hunters." said Idris.
"There are other hunters imprisoned here that come out during the night?" Lane said with a voice that was a bit more shrill than intended.
Idris turned around and smiled. "It's not what you think. See this?" she pointed at her eye-patch. "That happened here." she turned around garbing hold of the wheel again correcting their course slightly. "I started to turn my hobby into a business. There were enough parties interested in doing some research here. My ship was perfect. It acted as a base and point of retreat during the day and could take them almost everywhere in the temple including the underground parts."
"This thing has a basement?" Lane asked.
"And it is large enough that you can fly your ship into it?" said Lane.
"In many parts yes. It is incredibly dangerous though." said Idris. "You lose track of time down there and clocks and watches don't work properly. But that's not the point. Where was I...?"
"The archaeologists." said Monica
"The archaeologists...? I guess you could call them that. Well the first group was a bunch of fucking tomb raiders. They had no manners and were mostly interested in stealing things from here. Luckily there isn't much here really. Almost everything here is just the stone you see and when you break it off it stops glowing in the night. With the second group I was more careful and had them show me their credentials."
"What happened with them?" Monica asked.
"Noting should have happened. They were doing proper work. Taking pictures and rubbing of relieves. That sort of thing."
"But...?" Monica again.
"But it turns out that at least one of them was possessed by a demon who was using the expedition for its own ends."
"Possessed by a demon?" Lane asked more surprised that after all she had seen in the past day or two she was still being quite the septic.
"I know! Right?" said Idris. "Who would thing shit like that actually still happens? What ever the case, I found out when the special forces of the Inquisition appeared demanding that he should come with them in peace so that they could sort things out like civilised people. The demon declined rather forcefully. The following battle turned into utter chaos. Severe other members of the expedition were also possessed and the demon had some weird abilities, the worst being able to jump out of his host who was still primed with commands to keep him going for anther minute or so, while the essence or whatever of the thing could posses statues. That day we were not far from here and the entrance to the docks is completely covered in decorative statues. In the end I was caught in the cross fire and lost my eye."
"Who won?" Lane asked.
"Not me. That's fore sure. a few demons escaped others were taken prisoners and only three of the hosts were killed. So in the end I would say that the Vatican troops were closest to a victory? They only had two heavily injured guys on their side. At least they had the decency tow me to Fez putting me in a Rosicrucian hospital. Which by the way was the beginning of my aversion to passengers. Death and calamity always seems to follow very close behind them and as nice as you are you don't seem to be any exception."
Lane and Monica remained silent for a long while. Captain Idris concentrated on navigating her ship deeper into the ship yard, the golden light from out side washing over her face in waves. Despite what she had said she looked relaxed, almost happy.
"I am sorry." Lane said.
"We." Monica said.
"Yes." Lane said. "We are sorry. All we wanted to do was just get out of Morocco, leave all the horrible things that happened here behind us. We just wanted to go home. I had no idea that I was even carrying that thing. I should have looked better."
"You did not know." said Monica.
"It's OK." said Idris. "I believe you. Had you known that people were coming after you with attack helicopters I guess you would have pointed that out when I shoved you inside a Zeppelin."
"I guess not." Lane said.
"I just wonder why they didn’t come after you earlier." Idris said.
"It will have taken them a while to noticed that we had the thingy in the first place." Lane said. "After that we were already in the lower market. Deep underground surrounded by stone walls. No signal down there."
"Makes sense." said Idris. "Right here we are. This is the point when things get a little tricks. there are some strong wind currents inside the temple, nothing serious usually but I can't leave the helm. Which would be fine if there was a place where I could safely fire the earth anchors into. This dock has mechanisms to latch onto airships, but they were of a different size than the Unconquered Sun as well as not being automatic as far as I can tell. So I need you two to get outside With some ropes and tie up the ship in the tradition way. One of you should go port the other starboard. Take two ropes each tie one fore the other aft. Once you are done with that I can come out and show you how to use the mechanisms that are installed here."
A few minutes later Lane was standing at the starboard exit, the one they had entered the ship through at the beginning of the journey. She was carrying to thick ropes she could hardly move with them slung over her shoulders, she never expected that ropes could be so heavy. At least with two of them she was well balanced. As the door opened the still hot night air streaming into the ship, she knew that her original plan of just walking out of the ship would need a bit of a reworking. The dock wasn't far away a meter at most. But between the ship and the dock was nothing. Well there was the gap and the drop which was an abyss without a bottom. When Lane looked down she just saw the nothingness turn into a golden glow. That the dock was not level with the Unconquered Sun but a bit higher with the ship gently swaying in the night air didn't help either. Not one bit.
"Change of plans." she declared to the void. She let one of the rope bundles slide from her shoulder almost falling over as she was dragged down by the weight of the remaining one. Tottering towards the endless drop gave her a healthy shot of adrenalin which helped her jump back a bit, the weight of the rope be damned, back into the safety of the ship. Her heart still pounding hormone spiked blood through her body so that she could drop kick a bear out of its cave into the after life she took the remaining rope from her shoulder swinging it with force over onto the dock. It landed on the other side with a satisfying 'thump'. She took the other rope in front of her feet, hastily trying to return it to its originally coiled form. Her adrenaline seeing no cave bears to fight or flee from was already retreating, so this time it was harder to throw the rope. With an angry grunt she hurled the rope over. Which almost worked. This one was not as perfect a circle as the other one so a bit that was hanging over listened to the siren call of gravity sliding into the bottomless pit of golden light below.
As Lane saw the rope unspooling into oblivion, her adrenaline instantly returned realizing that losing the rope and angering captain Idris was probably worse than the bear. She took three quick steps jumping over the gap. She had so much fear of falling to death that she jumped over the gap and past the ropes onto the very well polished floor starting to skid almost losing her balance. Lane fought against her forward moment feet sliding over the strange floor. She extended one arm to keep her self from falling using it as a pivot to turn faster. Two thirds of the rope were already gone. She grabbed the free that remained on the platform almost relaxing. She immediately turned around again when she remembered that that fucking rope would still be monstrously heavy no matter how much of it she could see at this moment. She did the first thing that came to her mind, grab tight and run in the other direction. The more of the rope she pulled up the less it would try to drag her down. The plan worked well until she had pulled away all the slack that was still left, the moment it was gone she felt the weight of the rope which pulled at her hard. She felt the kind of surprise some would feel when trying to catch a bag stuffed with 60 pounds of feathers. She leaned against the resistance she felt falling over. She stretched out her hands to cushion her fall. Which meant letting go of the rope. Cursing she scrambled back up ran after the vanishing rope garbed hold of it just waiting for her own inertia and the friction of her shoes on the stone floor to do the rest of the work for her. She then spent some time pulling the rope back up cursing. Not much later she was cursing even more when she tried to somehow tie the rope to the Zeppelin and the dock.