Template:PostIn CatH Post 61 Clear is guided through the biological ship Kalor Varkesh to the Leisure Suit where High Legatifex Kimleigh is waiting for her. After some questioning Kimleigh begins to confide in Clear as though they've been long-time friends until Sega, Kimleigh's guardian, enters the room and begins to shadow them as they go to the chapel. In the chapel Clear sees a gigantic statue of a god of the High Empire before being given a set of cards that feature Kimeligh and her sisters. Kimleigh suddenly makes a daring escape with Clear to avoid her guardian, Sega, and they sneak off to the quarters allocated to Bug, the bounty hunter. There Kimleigh steals Bug's jetpacks and the two women fly through the ship and go for a jetpack joyride in the Chapel.
Rebels Without a Cause
Kalor Varkesh has innards that are striking - half-metal, half-biological. The corridor she walks down looks like a rib cage, the walls are rounded up to the ceiling and segments of bone march down the passage. The flesh between is red raw and wet. Fortunately it's not goopy, so nothing drips onto Clear's head as she feared it might. The floor, however, is solid and comfortable metal. Clear never thought she'd consider metal comforting but when one feels like one is willingly being swallowed, anything solid, cold and non-biological is extremely comforting.
Crewmembers march about the ship doing whatever it is that they're meant to be doing. Most are soldiers, like those she's being escorted by, wearing their shiny armour. Others looks like technicians as far as Clear can tell, though their robe-like clothes are strange to her. Others appear to be off-duty and wander around in quite an eclectic mix of clothing that Clear is often so distracted by the guards have to nudge her along. There are many different alien species, many of which she's never seen before. There aren't so many as she's seen on Saffron 5, or Mirare, but more than she'd ever seen on one military vessel. This faction was evidently built on something other than race. Even the Rebel Alliance paled in comparison to the unity of this crew.
The antropomorphic fox-man stops suddenly with a hand to his ear, holding the communicator clipped to his large, fluffy ear. He glances at Clear then proclaims an affirmative to whoever is giving him orders.
Soldier: "We're to take you to the High Legatifex' leisure suite. Follow me."
Clear: "You didn't tell me your name, by the way."
Fox Soldier: "No I didn't. You'll not see me again."
And that is the end of that. Clear rolls her eyes. Dullard soldier types. She glances up at the big blue guy. He grins at her. At least one of them is happy to see her.
Clear: "What's your name?"
Jelly Soldier: "So nice of you to ask, alas I am not at liberty to divulge private information with citizens."
Clear reels from the shock of his manner. She'd expected a dumb grunt not an eloquent, formal tone of geniality.
Jelly Solider: "Sorry. I seem to have startled you. My manner does seem to have that effect on people."
He grins his big, dumb grin at her.
Fox Soldier: "Stop talking to her, soldier."
Clear grimaces at the back of the fox soldier's head. Usually she is more than happy to walk in complete silence but after a long stint all alone in the void, she wants nothing more than to feel connected to other people. Even if they're big, blue and gelatinous.
Eventually she's taken through a garden area, which Clear thinks is really strange since the ship is a living thing anyway. She looks at the vegetation with disgust. It actually looks like gigantic fungus, which she thinks could well be living off of the biological essence of Kalor Varkesh itself. She then notices that there's no sign of lighting in the ship. And yet there is light. She wonders if this is similar to the effect that the mysterious girl used on The Hopeless.
An elongated door faces the garden, this one an automatic metal door that slips quietly open as they approach. Inside is a very spacious and long room that is decked out with plush furniture and objects of enjoyment. There are library shelves filled with books. Old books so far as she can tell. Arcade machines with games in them such as "Space Conquerors" and "Planet Fighter II Turbo". Clear recognises arcade machines from Saffron 5 and had always wanted one for The Hopeless. If Clear plays her cards right she might be able to buy one of these beauties from the High Legatifex. There are lots of lounge chairs in the room and yet nobody filling them. She feels this room probably never sees a lot of people, despite being capable of it.
There a big fire place in the room. Though no fire inside it. Instead it appears to be a kind of heater, emanating heat from the long light that glows warm and bright. Warming herself in front of the fire, holding a book in one hand, is Kimleigh. She looks up from the pages of the book and smiles.
Kimleigh: "Come in, Captain Clear!"
Clear glances back at her guards. Then trudge off. The jelly soldier grins at her one last time before he disappears too. She walks into the room and waits to be invited to sit. She doesn't have to wait long and she opts to seat herself in one of the armchairs. She sinks deep into its cushions. Clear is instantly envious and makes a note of purchasing one of these the very next planet she lands on.
It's then that Clear realises that she's taken her salvation for granted from this girl and yet Clear is still, truly, her prisoner.
Kimleigh: "Do you like my room, Captain?"
Clear nods and looks about, taking in more of the sights. Above the heater is a ridiculously long screen and enormous speakers hang on the wall. Clear would have been impressed by the only DVD she owns is The Room[Ext 1] and playing that on a big screen with perfect sound would only increase the torment of watching the movie.
Clear: "I should tell you straight away, High Pontifex--"
Kimleigh giggles sweetly.
Kimleigh: "High Legatifex. A pontifex? That sounds quite grand. But I think Legatifex sounds much better, don't you?"
Clear: "Uh... sure?"
Kimleigh: "I suppose a child that is nonchalant about her own title of captain is hardly going to be impressed by foreign titles in others..."
Clear ignores being called a 'child' again but she agrees with the point. Clear has never seen much use for titles. Even Pully, supersoldier, relaxed and stopped calling Clear 'Sir'. Though that was about the time that they both exited the employ of Warlord Strang.
Clear: "I do prefer to just be called Clear. That name is more important to me than a title. I'm not in any military so being captain is more like... a job."
She remembers when becoming captain of The Hopeful was all important.. However to Clear it wasn't the title that was important, it was the ability to control the ship and have ownership over her home. Being captain meant being attached to The Hopeless. She isn't captain of anything else or anywhere else, only captain of her ship.
Kimeligh slaps her hands together and jumps to Clear. She leans over as though deigning to lower herself to a child's level.
Kimleigh: "Then I shall be just Kimleigh to you, Clear. How's that?"
Clear: "That... sounds great."
She's not sure it really does sound great given the situation but decides it's better to try and get Kimleigh as her friend regardless.
Kimleigh: "When I saw you I was so very impressed, Clear. I can't explain what it is but you have some kind of... aura. Some kind of magnetic draw. I like it. And you are so naïve! It's adorable."
Clear: "I've never considered myself naïve before..."
Kimleigh: "Oh. But many... species of the NeSiverse seem quite... innocent to me. I mean innocent to the magnitude and complexity of the Multiverse and existence itself. I don't mean naïve on a base level. I know you like naughty things. I saw a man in your ship's computer that would jiggle his bits at a pole."
Clear instantly wishes the floor would swallow her up. That stupid A.I. that Wai put into the system all that time ago... she thought Pully had taken it. But then Pully did keep it on her datapad, she must have uploaded it later for personal use. Stupid Pully. Clear had to admit though, she'd have probably used it herself eventually...
Kimleigh: "But the strangest thing... I detected from the ship's A.I. that there was a large crew just before I arrived. Can you explain this, Clear?"
It feels strange to be interrogated so nicely and yet with the looming threat still hidden behind the smile and lilting voice.
Clear: "It was a simulation. It was simulating past crew members from... hundreds of years ago, I guess it was."
Kimleigh blinks in surprise.
Kimleigh: "That sounds... inventive. I didn't detect anyone, save for you three, after I powered up your vessel so I'll take your word for that. And it's such an unusual word I'd be amazed you could come up with such a weird lie so quickly."
Clear feels she must be honest with this young woman.
Clear: "I don't much like being suspected, Kimleigh. I'm not lying to you. I have no reason to lie to you. You came to me. I just need help getting out of the Deep Void so I can live quietly with my ship. I don't do politics."
Kimleigh looks at Clear with her human eyes. The stare is disconcerting to Clear.
Kimleigh: "I'm not used to being spoken to so brusquely."
Clear feels a pang of dread instantly wash over her. She should have kept her blunt stupidity out of this.
Kimleigh: "Lucky for you I kind of admire it. That Bug chap I hired was fairly blunt too. My guardian wanted me to execute him..."
Clear panics more but Kimleigh just shrugged.
Kimleigh: "Luckily I had etiquette training as a girl and I am well aware that other civilisations are less cultured than ours and so we should condescend to accommodate any impropriety they might show. Plus Bug became very conscientious after that. Bowing and scraping for his life..."
Clear now hopes that's Kimleigh's way of saying 'you're off the hook' though she sees Bug the bounty hunter in a very different light right now. She then grins, showing her white teeth. Clear notices that she has quite pronounced incisors that give the girl a sudden mischievious, impish look.
Kimleigh: "And I kind of like it! My guardian is such a bore, you know!?"
She throws herself onto the arm of Clear's chair and actually leans on the salmitton as though they'd been bosom-buddies for years.
Kimleigh: "In fact he'll probably be along here any minute so we should make a run for it."
Clear barely has time to frown before Kimleigh has taken her hand and pulls her to her feet and drags her towards the doors. They slip open to reveal a man standing there, staring at them sternly. He is much taller than either of them and is squarely built. He has a broad nose but small eyes that look like he's constantly squinting at them. His ears are long and thin and droop down his back like a rabbit's might. Save for the ears he looks remarkably like a brown-skinned human to Clear's mind. His hair, though, is an unnatural colour for a human. It's green and cut into thin stripes along his head so that they looked like a series of hedgerows until they extend down the back in long dreadlocks. One of his ears has a big block attached to it and from it extends a red visor that crosses one of his eyes. On his neck is a black grate that Clear thinks looks very uncomfortable.
His body appears to be fixed by some kind of harness that Clear has never seen before. It straps over his shoulders and has two sections above his shoulders that almost look like handles. Under the harness is armour, much in the style of the soldiers she has already seen. The colour of his armour, however, is black and purple. Perhaps to accommodate his harness, he has no cloak but Clear can see two clasps built into the front of the armour where a cape out to fasten.
Kimleigh: "Ah. Sega! I was wondering where you'd gotten to."
Sega: "I'm sure you were..."
His voice didn't come from his mouth, which remained unmoved. It came from the speaker grate on his neck. Clear guesses he must be a kind of robot like Wai was.
Kimleigh: "This is my new friend. Captain Clear. That big ship out there is hers."
Sega glares at Clear with his tiny eyes.
Kimleigh: "I'm just going to show her around the ship. I was thinking of going to the chapel first."
Without waiting for answer Kimleigh tugs Clear's hand and she follows after the girl. She then notes that they're being followed by Sega.
Kimleigh: "Don't mind him. He's like a creepy shadow, I know."
Sega: "It's my job."
Kimleigh: "An unnecessary one."
Sega: "This Clear could be a terrorist, High Legatifex. Ready to sacrifice her own life in an explosion so that she could take yours."
Clear looks back at him with shock.
Kimleigh: "I already interrogated her. Besides. I'm not a weak little puppy, you know? Anyway. Clear. This is the chapel."
She sweeps her arm towards the wide arch that leads into another room. This one is very tall, towering high up. She wonders if the room was chosen for its height or if it was made this way. She imagines people digging into the flesh and organs of the Netherwyrm and has to grip her stomach at the notion. The room is evidently meant for the gigantic statue at the centre. Around the massive statue are small shrines where she sees people, including soldiers, bow and pray in silence to this god. Kimleigh leads her inside and Clear looks up at the towering figure. Clear has to now wonder how they got the thing in here and surmises that it must have been fabricated in the room itself.
The statue is a man that looks to be human. His hair is long and curled and he has a strong nose that speaks volumes of snobbery in Clear's opinion. He has robes on with a thick cloak, the hood of which covers his head, but is pulled back enough to clearly show his face. Around the waist is a sash. Each part of the statue is made from a different and unique material, rather than just stone. Each material has its own colours that Clear guesses must reflect the actual colours of the god. His skin is white marble while his hair is obsidian. His robe is black like his hair but not made of the same material. She isn't sure what the material is but it looks metallic. The sash is the most striking as its made of ruby and is a pure, bright red that glistens.
He is standing tall with his hands on his hips, a wide stance of confidence. He looks down, casting his gaze upon those below. It's almost fatherly yet Clear also feels it's patronising. She follows Kimleigh around the statue. Kimleigh pauses to look at it briefly and mutters something under her breath, eyes closed, and then continues on. She brings Clear around the statue to the rear end of the room where there are alcoves with screens and booths and smaller figurines. Clear thinks this might be a gift shop or a museum dedicated to this god. They enter one of the alcoves where Clear happens to glance at a vending machine and sees a bunch of cards in there. Adevertising the cards are a bunch of moving photographs that repeat a single motion over and over. Clear only notices because one of the women on the machine is most definitely Kimleigh. Clear points at it but before she can even ask, the girl is answering;
Kimleigh: "They made cards of us. The Highemperor's daughters I mean. I'm actually quite flattered by my depiction. And my stats. Apparently I'm an OP card if you use me with the right buff cards. At least that was in the fourth edition game rules. Someone nerfed me in edition five. I sent an angry message and I was more balanced for edition six. Still. If you're going to play, best play by fourth edition rules on my ship. Here."
Kimleigh swipes her hand across a sensor on the machine and a set of cards vends. She picks up the pack and hands it to Clear.
Kimleigh: "Your very first set."
She grins and Clear dubiously takes them. She pockets them without opening it. Kimleigh doesn't seem to mind and pushes further into the alcove. She points to some figurines where Clear sees Kimleigh has, again, been idolised. Her figure stands quite dramatically and Clear notes that she has opposable arms so her pose can be slightly adjusted to suit the collector. The alcove has quite a few customers who are purusing the figurines and Kimleigh drags Clear into the crowd. Suddenly they're rushing and pushing through. They pass under an open arch and into the next alcove. Then again into the next.
Sega: "High Legatifex! Wait! Everyone clear the room! Now!"
There's a whirring sounds from behind her and then a sudden calamity as people go flying in all directions. Shouts, cries and screams and at the centre is Sega. She only catches a glimpse but she sees his harness shaking.
Kimleigh: "Quick, down here!"
They slink into the next alcove, which is quickly becoming unpopulated as people flee the angry guardian. She swipes her hand over a panel on the wall and the wall itself opens up. She drags Clear inside and the wall closes behind them. She reaches up and presses her finger to Clear's lips for silence.
And so Clear finds herself in a cramped little cupboard, in the dark, with a girl who's idolised by full-grown men and women on a ship that looks like a dragon. Clear thinks back to simpler times.
Kimleigh: "He's gone."
Clear: "How do you know?"
The secret door opens and they step out into the alcove again.
Kimleigh: "I chipped him."
Kimleigh: "Months ago. When he was asleep I had him chipped so that I'll always know when he's on his way. Hopefully he thinks we went running out of the chapel. It won't be long before reports of my whereabouts reach him and he comes scurrying back so we should get away from here. This way."
Clear: "Why are you running from your guardian? Isn't he like a bodyguard or something?"
Kimleigh: "He's nothing but a nuisance. Do I look like I need a bodyguard?"
Clear refuses to answer that.
They hurry across the chapel. Some people watch them either grinning knowingly or they shout tokens of luck at the High Legatifex. Apparently her escape attempts are well known by the ship's crew. They enter a booth and slip around to the back Clear discovers that there's a door there and, once through, they're in a storeroom. Metal crates are stacked high though none are open to reveal what's inside. She assumes it's all figurines and cards.
Kimleigh suddenly glances back.
Kimleigh: "He's on his way. Quick quick!"
Clear: "But where are we going!?"
She gives Clear a sly smirk.
Not long after they're snooping around the quarters that have been granted to the bounty hunter, Bug. The room is a standard layout for all the ship's quarters with nothing personalised. Clear might have thought the room unoccupied if it weren't for the equipment laid all over the place. Clear has to admit that while she thought snooping around someone's room is terrible, she kind of likes it. It feels much like salvaging. And especially she loves Bug's gear.
She picks up a rifle and peers down its scope. She inspects the ammo pack and finds it's a good, old-fashioned projectile weapon. Just the way Clear likes them. Loud and ugly. She spots a much larger weapon and checks it out. Splattered on its side in paint reads; "Happy Bug Boomstick". In a way, Clear appreciates that. It seems to be a heavy-duty rail gun. One shot of this and she could probably blow a very big hole in the wall. And the wall after it.
She emerges from the next room, which Clear assumes is the bedroom, dragging to packs. Clear takes one and hoists it up for inspection. It's surprisingly light but she has no idea what it's for. She watches Kimleigh putting hers on.
Clear: "What's this for?"
Kimleigh: "You don't know!? I've wanted one ever since I was a little girl."
Clear holds back comment.
Kimleigh pushes a button on the chest strap. The a faint hum and the girl turns around to show Clear the gentle glow from the two cylinders on her back.
Kimleigh: "It's a jetpack!"
Clear: "And... is it a weapon?"
Kimleigh: "No! Come on, put it on! Let's get rebellious!!"
Clear is fairly entertained that Kimleigh, captain of her own ship, is actually under guardianship to such an extent that she feels the need to rebel. She also seems to think Clear is a rebel without a cause herself and someone she thinks she can get into trouble with. Clear admits she probably is fairly rebellious not only because of her nature and life style but she has gotten into trouble with three major empires back in the Perseus Arm. Even her crew had been a bunch of misfits.
Clear puts on the jetpack.
Kimleigh: "Time for a jetpack joyride!"
In her hands are the controls. She takes off the floor and the rocket pack expels a greater amount of energy and noise. The floor beneat hthe jetpack is instantly charred but Kimleigh doesn't seem to mind the destruction she's caused to her own ship. Clear looks at the control but activates it after a moment of fret. She instantly bolts up and Clear drops the controller. It swings free and hangs at her side. The jetpack automatically adopts a hover mode and she hangs a metre in the air.
Clear: "Wow. That's really responsive."
Kimleigh: "Top of the line! That Bug is a wily fella to be sure."
Kimleigh gently eases her controller and she pirouettes in place. Clear snags her controller again and tries to move it gently. She whips to the right and winds up setting fire to the sofa.
Kimleigh grins manicly.
Kimleigh: "Now that's the spirit! Woo!"
She then flies about the room, setting fire to a few cloth objects and sending the rest of Bug's stuff scattering around the room from the blowback of the pack. She approaches the door and it slides open. Clear manages to align herself with the door and watches Kimleigh easily skirt out of the room with a girlish squeal of glee. Clear hears shouting outside and then Bug runs up to the door. He stares after his stolen jetpack for a moment, not noticing Clear within, until he very slowly turns his head. Clear resolves to just make a run for it. Or fly.
She engages the controls and she, very quickly, hurtles straight at the green-scaled Bug. He yelps and dives out of the way as she screeches by him and cuts the corner tightly. She finds herself speeding down the corridor in the wake of Kimleigh. Clear finds this is the most fun she's had in a very long time.
People before her look like they've just recovered from the assault of the High Legatifex only to be doubly shocked when they find the red-skinned salmitton coming up on them too. They shout, jump or hit the floor as Clear clears through.
She zips around a corner and sees Kimleigh ahead, evidently going slower than Clear is. Either because the girl is waiting for her to catch up, or she more reserved than Clear is with the controls. Clear gains on Kimleigh and, soon, overtakes her.
Clear: "Come on, Kimleigh!!!"
She shouts as she flies by. She assumes it's enough to goad the girl on and Clear leads the charge down the corridors. Then, ahead of her, is Sega. He stands there, stupefied, as he sees Clear cruising through the air. But then he activates his harness. It shakes violently, causing a disturbance of inertia all around him. Clear, having seen the effects of the thing before, jolts herself upwards and pulls her legs up. She almost hugs the ceiling, turning so that her belly faces it, and she manages to avoid the radius of affect of Sega's harness.
She then hears his shout and shut it off. She guesses he didn't want to hurt his charge with the harness - but bringing down Clear would have been fine.
Another stretch of corridor and Clear swoops low and through the open arch and into the chapel. Exactly where she wanted to be. She ascends the tall room and flies in a circle around the statue. She looks down to see Kimleigh also flying up and hears the girl scream with joy. Clear can't help herself. She gives a scream of excitement too.