[LF] All Aboard? [K 5.4]

edited March 2013 in In-Game
You make your way through the back alleys towards the docks with Hong. She follows two paces behind, her eyes alert for any danger. Her slight frame moves with grace while her eyes search everyone. You can feel the joy in her, vibrating from her chi, a sense of purpose, of being, a lifting of shame, hope for redemption.

It doesn't shake your worry, though, does it? What's happened to your friends? Are they alright? When you went by the restaurant, you saw the Clay Streeters had all left. It's late, they should be back on the sandship. They might be at the main fountain playing in the water, but the cool desert air makes you doubt that.

Then you reach the end of the Oasis and across the sandy desert is the few hundred feet to the docks. There are lights on in the Lucky Dragon. Dash is doing something with the base of the ship, you think he's pulling up the anchor? You see Iwao and Red on the deck, too, moving around, unfurling sails. Are they leaving?
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  • "Stay out of sight for now." I hiss to Hong.

    Then I dart forward, trying to stick to the shadows, checking the deck of the ship every few seconds to make sure no one is looking. Are they going to leave me here? Would Dash do that to me? Is he afraid of me now? Does he think I deserve to be locked away?

    I choke down my anxious thoughts and slip into the shadow of the Lucky Dragon, not far from Dash. I stand there and just watch him for a second. If he turns his back on me, I don't...I don't know if I could take it.

    "Dash?" I finally call to him in a low voice, my stomach in knots.
  • For her red hair and flowing pants, Hong does a pretty good job slipping into the shadows. Well, you could find her, but just barely.

    Then you slink up to Dash. He was busy fiddling with a crazy knot. He's normally good with ropes, but some of the sailor knots still throw him for a loop. You can see the tension in his neck in the firelight and he's obviously upset about something else, this knot is taking the brunt of it.

    You call his name quietly. He flinches for a second, then he turns around quick, his eyes fixing on yours, expression unreadable. He steps forward one two steps and there's a second where it feels like he's charging you.

    Dash throws his arms wide and practically tackles you, sweeping you into a hug. "You're alive. Oh!" You feel his need to kiss you, but in the shadow of the ship, he resists. Is it enough that you know he wants to? He hugs you hard, then finally relents and sets you down.

    He cups you face with his hand for a second, then brushes your hair out of your face and straightens, "We're leaving tonight. Jyuu Shin-Ta and Hornet cooked up a story for the Captain and he bought it. Where's Boot and Mew Mew? They were looking for you."
  • My eyes get hot, and for a second I'm almost afraid I'm going to cry. "I'm ok." I hug him back, just as hard, relief and love washing over me.

    He pulls back and cups my face, and I'm smiling a little shakily, but then I frown. "I haven't seen Boot or Mew Mew." I say a little anxiously. "When did they leave? And what did...what did Jyuu say? He's not telling the Captain the truth?"
  • "No, he's not. After you fought for us back at the fountain, he was pretty receptive to Hornet and me. Well, Hornet was sort of out of it. She's still a little sick, but we convinced him you were just running from a bad past, that this was your new life." He pauses, thoughtful, his hand warm on your shoulder, "He bought it. Went right up to the captain, said cargo was loaded and we could avoid some docking fees if we left tonight. We just need to wait on Boot and Mew..."

    Dash stops talking after he looks up at something behind you. He freezes, then tries to step in front of you, "Kee, she's back!"
  • I grab his arm. "Dash, it's ok!" I say quickly as I turn around, assuming to see Hong.
  • Yes, it's Hong. She steps out of the shadows tentatively, dropping her eyes, hands at her sides. Dash is in front of you by the time you grab his arm, but he tenses and doesn't lash out at Hong when you tell him it is okay. With his back to you, facing Hong he says fiercely, "Kee, how is it okay? She almost killed us."

    Hong drops to her knees and says with urgency, "Key defeated me in single combat and I surrendered to her... Dash. I am her... HIS to command. Key asked me to come aboard as a passenger. To-to help. I swear upon my life I mean you no harm. Key has commanded me to watch over the other passengers. I will not fail... him."

    You can feel the confusion move through Dash and he asks you, eyes still locked on the kneeling Hong, "Is this true? Do you trust... her?"

    Above, you hear others moving on the deck, they must have heard Dash. Iwao calls, "Dash... you alright down there? Did you say Key?"
  • "Yes. I do." I tell Dash firmly. Hong, get up." I add in a whisper. I don't want anyone above to see her kneeling to us.

    I glance up at the deck. "I'm right here!" I call back to Iwao, forcing myself to sound lighthearted. "You dummies trying to leave without me or something?"
  • You glance up at the deck, which looms above where you're standing now. You see firelight illuminating the sails that are now rustling in the wind and Iwao appears at the edge, peering down into the dark. When you look over to Hong, she is standing already and her servant demeanor has fallen away. She is standing straighter, that assured look on her brow that you saw before the fight. Evidently she can change moods pretty well.

    Dash laughs, "I told Key we should leave him behind since he snores!"

    Iwao chuckles and calls down in an exaggerated whisper, "I know Hanae would be broken-hearted." There's a hint of venom in that, you note.

    Within a minute, the gangplank is dropped and all three of you come aboard. Captain Yun, Sheng-Li, Jyuu Shin-Ta, Iwao and Ren are all working on the main deck. Jyuu Shin-Ta's eyes nearly bug out of his head when he sees Hong walking up behind you. He's about to say something.
  • "Captain Yun!" I call out before Jyuu has a chance to say anything. I'm walking directly towards him and Jyuu. "This is Hong. She is wondering if she might be able to buy passage on the Lucky Dragon. She's a friend of my family." I glance at Jyuu as I say that last part, making direct eye contact with him. My pose is casual, confident. I hope he gets the message. Don't say anything. Don't say anything. Don't say anything.
  • Captain Yun blinks a couple times, mouth agape. He seems a little taken with Hong, you think. Jyuu Shin-Ta is alarmed, almost comically so, you've never seen him hold his tongue and it doesn't look like he's going to now, but then Hong slides up behind you and smiles widely, "Please, Captain Yun. I have some koku with me and I can double your rate when we reach our next port of destination. I so would love to enjoy sailing on the Lucky Dragon and to catch up with my long lost friend, Key." Captain Yun swallows once. Jyuu Shin-Ta pauses with his mouth open like the words were caught in his throat. Then Captain Yun looks down at his meaty bronzend hand and Hong's delicate pale skin against it. A nervous smile and then he licks his lips to buy time. Then nothing comes out.

    Finally, Sheng-Li says for him, "We're short on rooms, Hong. You'd have to share a suite with either our female crew or the other passengers. If that's acceptable, welcome aboard. Where's your luggage?"

    Hong continues as if she's addressing Captain Yun when she drops her eyes for a second, then back up to his. Her voice drops a little when she answers simple, "I have nothing more than what I carry on my person." With the thin wrap around her torso and her silky, gauzy pants, that can't be much. At all.

    Sheng-Li begins urging his father to give Hong a tour. Yun is still quiet around Hong, but it gets them moving belowdecks. Dash says, "We should go round up our last two passengers. Key, why don't you stay here and finish up my duties." you can practically hear Dash telling you to stay here, where it is safe. Then he says, "Ren. care to come with me?"
  • I have to fight a scowl. It worries me that Boot and Mew Mew are missing. It worries me that Dash is going out to look for them.

    "Yeah, sure." I get out. I hold Dash's eyes for a second. I am not happy about this arrangement, but Dash has made it almost impossible for me to argue. If I do, it'll look like I'm trying to get out of work. And I guess I should probably talk to Jyuu before he says anything to the Captain. I glance over at him.

    "Jyuu Shin-Ta, can I talk to you?"
  • edited March 2013
    Jyuu Shin-Ta barks at Iwao while Ren and Dash head out, "Iwao, finish up here. No shirking! Once you are done with the rigging, head down and check on Hanae, make sure all the cargo is secured." Iwao ducks his head and gets to work.

    Then Jyuu Shin-Ta takes you by the arm and leads you to the captain's quarters, throwing open the door and hustling you inside. The place is sparsely decorated, feels very manly, but there is a big four poster bed and a giant map of the desert on the wall, a chest secured to the floor and a big wardrobe, plus a few weapons secured to the wall.

    "Alright, Key. The fire bender. Who I lied for. Out with it." Jyuu Shin-Ta says impatiently. He lets go of your arm and stands back, crossing his arms.
  • I cross my arms over my chest and shift a little anxiously. Ok. So Jyuu only knows part of the truth. I think. I mean, he must have heard Hong call me by my name, right? Well, maybe he didn't. It was a little crazy at that point. But now I'm not sure if I should tell him the whole truth or not. If he knows more than he's letting on and he's waiting for me to tell him the whole truth, I could ruin everything by not telling him the whole story. If he really thinks I'm just some boy who happens to be a fire bender, then I might ruin everything by confessing the whole story.

    The silence is stretching on as I nervously debate with myself, but finally I steel myself and look up at him. I think honor is important to Jyuu, and he did lie for me. I guess...I guess I should just tell the truth and deal with the consequences.

    "First of all, I'm sorry. I'm really sorry, Jyuu Shin-Ta." I say meekly. "I'm sorry you had to lie for me. I didn't want that. I didn't want to drag anyone else into my mess." I hesitate, but then I take a breath and start my confession.

    "I'm...well, I'm a girl. My name is Keela Zhu. As you might know I am wanted by both the Earth Kingdom and the Fire Nation. My father is a noble of the Fire Nation, and he sent me to live as a vassal in the Earth Kingdom, but I ran away. I was imprisoned in the Middle Ring Prison in Ba Sing Se, but I broke out. I did not kill anyone, but I did injure some guards." I meet his gaze squarely. "I have done some bad things, but I am not a bad person. I've been trying to protect my friends. I've been trying to help people. I ran away because I want to live my own life. I don't care about how much koku I have, and I don't think I'm better than anyone because of my blood. I can work hard. You've seen me work hard. I just want to be free."

    I swallow. I got a little off topic there, didn't I? "There is a group of benders that are hunting me to bring me back to Ba Sing Se, led by the woman who was in charge of me in prison. Hong was in their group, but she used to be employed by my father. She intended to bring me back to the Fire Nation, but I...I'm not going back there. Not yet. So I fought her, and I won. She accepted her defeat honorably, so I accepted her oath to serve me. I trust her."
  • During your entire speech, Jyuu Shin-Ta glares and scowls. His arms crossed, he is nothing but upset with you, with the situation, with everything. Then you proclaim trust for the water-bender who attacked you and he literally shakes his head, like that is the dumbest thing he's ever heard.

    He finally says evenly, "I lied to my captain. For a damn noble."

    Then, he asks/ barks, "Is that it?"
  • "I'm not a 'damn noble.'" I respond hotly. "I'm a part of your crew! That's why I went with you to help Hornet! That's why I totally blew my cover to save her! Why I risked being dragged back to Ba Sing Se in chains! Because I'm a part of this crew, and that means something to me!" I glare at him. "And yeah, that's pretty much it."

    He doesn't need to know about Ji Fang.
  • He snarls when you bark back, but lets you say your piece. "Pretty much?" He pounces on that, his voice rising a bit, "If I'm going to keep your noble butt on my crew, lie for you to my captain, one of my only friends, then I want all of it. Out. With. It."
  • I glare at him silently. A small part of me knows he's right, but I wish I'd left off that "pretty much" bit.

    "There's a group from the Fire Nation also hunting for me." I finally say stiffly. "They are led by a noble, the Trade Ambassador. His name is Ji Fang. He wants to bring me back to my father, to the Fire Nation. Ji Fang is...I suppose he is my betrothed. But that is just a misunderstanding. I'm not marrying him." I tack on that last part quickly, chin lifting a little defiantly, as though daring him to say otherwise.
  • edited March 2013
    Jyuu Shin-Ta snickers at the word betrothed. For a second, you're not sure it came from him, his face didn't crack a smile. Then he finally says, "You're a runaway princess... bride?" Then he smiles broadly. It's a crooked smile, it doesn't fit on his face at all. But it doesn't look like a mocking smile, he is honestly amused at this.
  • I'm about to snap a denial, to tell him that he's got it all wrong, but then I pause, and then I rather sheepishly close my mouth. I guess...that's kind of exactly what I am. I mean, I'm not a princess, but...well...

    I crack my own rueful half smile. "Yeah...I...I guess so."
  • Jyuu Shin-Ta chuckles once more, then says, "I thought you were a little pretty for a boy." It doesn't sound like a compliment when Jyuu Shin-Ta calls you pretty.

    For a second, he glares at you, but you don't waver. "I hate nobles as a rule." He lets that hang in the air, to see your reaction, then adds, "But you've earned your keep so far, and you did help me with Hornet, which... I appreciate."

    Then he switches to his normal scowl and steps closer to you, looking down, using his physical presence, "I will not put the captain in danger for you. I will not take it easy on you. We both know you can do the work, so you will continue to do the work of a sailor. And NO MORE sneaking around with Dash OR with Hanae. You've got my sand bender all twisted in knots pining for you. I assume she's clueless about. Well, about most of you."

    He huffs a sigh, like he's still working through this in his head and struck a sour spot, "This whole bounty hunter business is bad news, Keela Zhu." He licks his lips once, then says with some finality, a decision made, "I'll keep your lie to the next port. If there's even a whiff of trouble, then I'm looking to replace you and your boyfriend. And dumping off all our passengers, too, which Yun will lose his mind about. So, don't let there BE any trouble. Now do chase after your little boyfriend and bring our passengers back safe. Before I change my mind."
  • I keep my face impassive when he says that he hates nobles. I don't give him the satisfaction of a reaction, even though it's hard.

    I open my mouth to object about sneaking around with Hanae. I have not been sneaking around with Hanae! I talked to her in the kitchen. Once! No sneaking! And I did it to tell her that I had a boy...a girlfriend so she'd leave me alone! And I'm not asking to get out of work! I'm not asking for special treatment!

    But then he goes on and I can tell he's making up his mind about me, so I shut my mouth. I'm relieved when he says he'll keep my secret, but I play it cool. "Thank you." I say politely, if a little stiffly. "I owe you a great debt, Jyuu Shin-Ta."

    Then I hurry out of his room before he does change his mind. No trouble. Ok. I can handle that. Right? I just have to find Boot and Mew Mew...and Dash and Ren. Then we can get out of here.
  • Oh hey, do you try to leave Hong behind?

    First of all, take an XP for key of fraternity, going back into danger to find your friends. It might end up being more if you get into actual danger, not theoretical.

    With one of the seven major fountains now mostly destroyed and a big bending fight having just happened, it is going to be VERY dangerous.

    To sneak into the Oasis, find Mew Mew and Boot and then find Dash and Ren, all without running into trouble of some kind, let's call that a difficulty of four.

    Let me know where you're looking, if you have a general idea of where you start.
  • Well, I kind of forget about Hong for the moment. I'm busy hurrying after Dash. If she sees me and tries to come with, I won't stop her. I might need the backup.

    I'm a Street Kid so I know how to Sneak and Hide like a Thief as I Find the Way.

    Using 4 dice from the pool.

    #DiceRoller( 10d6 )
  • I guess I'll start at the main fountain where Mew Mew and I met Dash and Boot after our girl's day.
  • As quick as you can, you head out for Dash and neglect Hong. But by the time you've made it out of the dock area that sets apart from the oasis, she's caught up to you. She falls in behind you, says nothing, no rebuke, no frustration. You led, she followed. She looks relieved. Wonder what happened with her, Yun and Sheng-Li?

    You come upon Dash and Ren as they were about to leave the main fountain. Dash gives you a nod and a smile. Ren sort of gawks at Hong, but she's oblivious to his attention, focused on the surroundings. She says with a clipped voice, "Suli and the others were here. They are probably at the fire... I know I would be."

    All four of you make your way through the crowds and hear men and women working a bucket brigade to put out the fires that are burning a few huts near the bronze dragon fountain as well as the gamlbing house. It looks pretty bad, lots of smoke. Hong pulls you into a doorway of an abandoned shop right as you see Talon's tattooed head in the crowd. She points to Suli, who is peering through the crowd. Then she points out three other men she claims are with Suli. You recognize one of the young men. Where did you see Shizen last?

    Dash comes up, "Key, Ren and I will find them, you stay here with Hong." Do you trust them to go? Or do you insist on finding them yourself?
  • I'm startled when Hong points out Shizen. Shizen Mei?

    But of course. I remember now. There was that scandal. Shizen, the oldest son of the Mei family, had a terrible gambling habit. He'd fallen in with bad people, and eventually he was arrested for larceny. He probably would have been in the Middle Ring Prison with me, wouldn't he? It was such a shame, people said with false sympathy. He was such a good earth bender. He could have gone far.

    The last time I saw him was at one of the balls I was dragged to. I was sulking in a corner. Coolie was standing silently next to me. Shizen came sauntering over, the group of boys that he'd previously been standing with watching delightedly. The first thing out of his mouth was something mean to Coolie. Coolie just kind of ducked her head down, but I wasn't about to let him get away with that. So I punched him in the nose.

    That was the last ball I was forced to attend.

    I frown at Dash. "Do you have any idea where they are?" I ask, trying not to sound anxious for Ren's sake. I glance out at Suli and Talon again. I know it would be incredibly foolish for me to try to venture out there, but I'm worried. "There's some unpleasant...characters....out there." I say pointedly. I know Dash has seen them, but I'm not sure if he's worried enough for himself. They probably know I'm with Dash. If they recognize him, they might try to take him to get to me.
  • Dash shrugs, "Key, I taught them all they know. Either Mew Mew is looking for spare koku by the gambling hall while Boot is looking out or they're down an alley watching who is coming and going." He smiles reassuringly, "I'll try my whistle, see if I can get them moving this way."

    He gives you a playful punch, more for show in front of Ren, "Big sailor boy, already forgot how Clay Street works." He adds, "Just stay out of sight, they haven't made me or Ren. Right Hong?" Hong nods.

    Then Dash and Ren move into the crowd and you're by Hong, forced to watch. Once they are out of earshot, Hong says while still watching the crowd, "Do you care for him, Mistress Zhu?"
  • I was watching them disappear, trying to relax and mostly failing. I should be out there. I should be the one looking for Boot and Mew Mew.

    When Hong speaks up, I shoot her a look. "I love him." I say defiantly.
  • You catch sight of Ren moving in the crowd. Dash is using him as the bait. It's trick he taught all of you. Ren is easily recognizable to Mew Mew and Boot, but not the enemy. So Dash is moving in the shadows, or maybe the roofs, and Ren is out there plain as day.

    Hong's eyes are still searching, but she slides back into the doorway, her body crowds you into the small hut. Evidently she saw something. Her red hair does tend to stand out, so better cautious than foolish. She says plainly, "What of Ji Fang? He was so incredibly happy to have won your hand."
  • I glare at her, trying to move backwards a little so I have some space. "I don't love Ji Fang!" I say with a little more force than necessary. Don't think about Ji. Don't think about that night. Don't. "And he...I wasn't the one—" I bite my tongue. I've already hurt Rui enough. I'm not going to spill her secret.

    "I'm not marrying Ji Fang." I mutter.
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