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An Unexpected Journey IC


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Location Unknown

Date and time unknown: Saturday March 7, 2020 at approximately 10:04 AM China Standard Time (CST)

 

The rocky, cold terrain of the hillside had become a blur of color around Danica and Heroditus. Then the pair felt a slight jolt and everything returned to normal.

 

Only, they were no longer in the cold foothills of a massive mountain range at the edge of a desert. Instead, the pair found themselves standing in a brightly lit open area, a hot sun bearing down on them, a fact not helped by the heavy humidity that hung in the air. Looking about, Heroditus could see no trace of the portal that had brought them here. Glancing ahead, Danica saw the edge of what appeared to be a very thick jungle that spread out to either side.

 

But as the pair turned around to take in their surroundings they both were slightly taken aback by what lay behind them. The jungle wrapped around the clearing and to steep side of a rocky spire that towered over several hundred feet into the air, with rugged, jungle covered hills behind it. But perhaps even more surprising was the structure built into the base of the rocky spire. Three sloped sides rouse upward dozens of feet to a flat area, wide stone stairs going up the middle of each side. Atop the flat area was a small, columned building that was clearly built into the side of the cliff that appeared to Danica to be of a Greeco/Roman style.

 

But Heroditus realized the structure was of an Atlantean design….

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Artificer

 

Reliable teleportation effects were something Heroditus hoped to crack one day.  Pre-Sinking, Atlanteans had numerous techniques for instantaneously moving not just to any place on Earth, but beyond, to other planets and other dimensions.  As was so often the case, though, many of those devices were lost in the Sinking, as were those who had the knowledge to recreate them.  And the first few centuries after that were devoted to mere survival, and even more things were forgotten.  So for all the weirdness this young member of the Stylianos clan had experienced in his short life, he had never been subjected to a teleportation effect before now.

 

The experience was astounding, made moreso by the alterations to his eyes which allowed him to see magical energies.  That it had become unstable over millennia of neglect also added to the effect, translated in his mind as kaleidoscopic explosions of light.  When it was over -- mere seconds, though it felt like hours -- he had to brace himself from buckling over, placing hands on knees and breathing heavily.

 

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

 

He was able to recompose himself after a few moments, when he began to realize how much warmer and more humid his surroundings were.  He saw the jungle, and Danica, and at last the structure before them, which he just barely recognized.  "That is... that... that is At... Atlantean.  Wh-... how?  Where?"

 

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GM

 

As the two Claremont teens adjusted to their current situation, each began to take in the area around them in rather different ways.

 

Studying the architecture of the structure before them, Danica realized while it did resemble Greco/Roman architecture, it seemed slightly different as well. It also became clear that it was in a state of disrepair, with plants and vines growing over parts and even parts of some of the columns having crumbled down.

 

She then turned her attention to the jungle that lay a short distance away, studying it for a few moments. It was not like any jungle she had seen, except perhaps in movies. There were towering trees with high canopies, with thick undergrowth beneath them. While there appeared to be some open spaces leading into the jungle, none of them appeared to be purposely cleared, so it was questionable how much the pair could rely upon those spaces to get them very far through the thick undergrowth, which meant it could be a difficult trek if they tried to traverse the jungle.

 

The teenager was rather certain she would be able to find food and water for them if they set off. While she believed she could navigate well enough, it was harder to say how long that might be the case once they got into the jungle where it was no longer possible to see distant landmarks or even maintain a good view of the sky.

 

Heroditus looked up at the clearly Atlantean structure as he mind continued to process what he had seen when they had been transported here. While he was certain it was Atlantean, there as little else the teen could tell about it, at least from the outside. It was clearly very old, given its dilapidated state, but just how old was harder to say.

 

The Atlantean teen’s mind then turned to fully analyzing what he had seen of the magic that had transported the pair here. He was very certain they had been transported to the same dimension which their teammates had been, but the chaotic surge that had occurred had certainly deposited he and Danica in a different location in this dimension. Just how far apart the two groups of Claremonters might be was a much harder question to answer.

 

Heroditus had been able to learn that the portal as they had been drawn through it. He was very certain that it had been the result of intentional attempts to create a path from here to Earth and had been done some time ago. But troublingly, he was certain that it had not been done by Atlantean magic, but something more tainted and dark.

 

As Danica continued to take in their surroundings, she was looking back towards the rocky hills behind them and saw what at first appeared to be large birds flying around the high cliffs along those hills. But as the teen studied them a bit longer, she realized they were actually much further away than they had first appeared, meaning they were far larger than she had initially thought. Spotting one that was heading in their direction, Danica could see it appeared to have a long beak and neck, but also quickly realized, it was no bird. It was also about as large as a small airplane, and headed right toward the pair….

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"Dinosaur!" Danica shrieked with excitement, momentarily forgetting all her science words in pure thrilled excitement. "Look, Hero! An alive dinosaur! It's the same kind I saw back at the dig site, I think! Or really similar anyway. God, where did I put my binoculars?" She appeared ready to rummage for her binoculars before realizing that there might actually be some kind of danger here. With a wave of her hand, her shell grew to the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, tipping over with her inside it to sit on its flat side on the ground. From inside, she waved to Herotidus. "It might be good to take cover so it doesn't try to eat us." 

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Artificer

 

Heroditus made a few click-pops noises, "I believe the portal flared out and brought us along with the others," he was shifting his gaze between the structure and Danica, "though it deposited us some distance away from them.  And we are definitely in another dimension, not another location on Earth.  Which is troubling, yes, but even more troubling is that it was not just Atlantean magics I saw in that portal, but-"

 

Danica's words finally made their way through to Heroditus, and he followed her gaze and saw the beast above them.  "Ah.  Uhhhh...," he turned back to the ruins, "we can find shelter in there!"  He moved towards them, looking back to make sure Danica was following.

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Danica gave him a Look as he ran away from the shelter she'd created, but did not move to go after him. "If you think that's a good idea!" she called after him, "I'll catch up! Maybe tomorrow!" She rummaged around in the shadowy part of the shell and found her binoculars, training them on the rapidly approaching dinosaur creature. "I'd say try not to look like food, but if there used to be people here, they probably already know if we're edible!" 

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  • 3 weeks later...

GM

 

Turning back to the ruins, Heroditus started up the nearest partially crumbled stairway to the upper entrance to the Atlantean building. As the teen reached the top and started towards the column lined entrance that led into the towering rock spire in front of them, he spotted what appeared to be carvings on the columns, but with the approaching flying creature he passed them by for the moment and moved into the somewhat sunlit entry way.

 

A damaged wall partially blocked the entrance, but Heroditus was easily able to make his way over some of the rubble and further into the tunnel beyond, which continued into darkness beyond the extent of the limited sunlight able to enter the hall. But as he stood at the edge of the darkness, Heroditus thought he could sense a trace of lingering magic, similar to what he sensed in the portal, but far more recent.

 

Outside, Danica had found her binoculars and was studying the massive flying creature headed in her direction. Now that she had a good look at it, she was pretty sure this was not the same as what had been uncovered back at the archeological dig sponsored by Danger International. It was considerably larger and what she could recall of the bones did not seem in any way similar to the build of this live creature.

 

It was not long before the Claremont student no longer had any need of her binoculars, as the creature continued to draw closer, eventually coming to land on the ground just beside her shell. Tucking its wings in, the creature walked on its two legs and the small hands of its wings, moving closer to the shell. Looking out from her shell, Danica saw the creature towering above her, taller than any giraffe, with a sharp looking beak that was longer than she was tall.

 

The creature let out a loud shriek, then slammed its long beak down on Danica’s shell with tremendous force. Inside the shell, the teenage saw a few cracks appear, as the shell took a bit of damage from the attack….

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Danica was glad to see Heroditus make it to whatever safety the ruins could offer; it let her concentrate on her more immediate problem! "I'm not good to eat!" she called to the dinosaur, who did not seem impressed by that argument. It also had a fairly hard strike with that beak! Scooting to the back of her shell, Danica opened the little door and retreated to the safety of her pocket dimension, letting the shell shrink to the size of a beach ball and the weight of a semi-truck behind her. "Wait until it goes away" definitely appeared to be the safest option. 

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Artificer

 

"Just a little further in," Heroditus called out, "that beast should not be able to foll-"  He'd turned back to make sure Danica had not tripped on some bit of rubble, and realized she had barely moved from her original spot at all!

 

Foolish guppy!, he chided himself, you need to remember all your teammates strengths and weaknesses!  Retrieving various components from his pouches as he dashed back outside, Heroditus quickly assembled a krýo blaster, which could unleash a bolt of freezing energies at a target.  This will likely not be enough to seriously injure the beast, much less kill it, but hopefully it will suffice to- oh!

 

Once outside, and able to see the full size of the beast, and the fury of its attack on Danica, he froze for half a moment.  But duty quickly won out over fear, and he drew a bead on the terror-bird and began firing.  "You will find no easy meals here, you great... winged... thing!  Go hunt elsewhere!"

 

Somehow, he could feel OctoBen facepalm at his attempts at trash talk.

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  • 1 month later...

GM

 

The massive flying creature seemed a bit confused by the sudden reduction in size of Danica's shell, tilting its head a moment to study the now much smaller shell. It seemed as if it might be preparing to strike again when the freezing bolt from Heroditus' Atlantean weapon struck it on the side of its long neck.

 

Recoiling from the freezing attack with a loud screech, the creature did not seem seriously harmed by the attack, turning slightly in the direction the attack had come from while it let out another ear piercing shriek. But it appeared to have little interest in facing more cold attacks or trying to figure out what had happened to it intended prey as it raised its massive wings and began to lift back into the air once more, turning away back towards the towering rock spires in the distance.

 

As the creatures occasional shrikes grew faint in the distance, the area around the ancient Atlanetan ruins became still once more…

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After a few quiet moments, the shell expanded to its original size and Danica popped back into it, carefully checking to make sure the creature was gone before pushing herself back to her feet. "I was sort of hoping for friendly dinosaurs," she admitted with a sigh. "Did you ever see Land of the Lost?" she asked Heroditus. "It was about a family who fell into an alternate world full of dinosaurs. They built an awesome treehouse and made friends with dinosaurs. It was radical." She looked around. "This seems... different. What do you think we should do?" 

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Artificer

 

"<Oh, thank Poseidon that worked!,>" the Atlantean muttered to himself as he dashed to his squadmate's side.  "You were not harmed, were you?," he asked as he looked her over, remembering the basic first aid lessons from both his mother and the Claremont instructors.

 

If she had become injured due to my negligence...

 

"I, ah," he began once he realized she had asked him a question that didn't pertain to an imminent threat, "no, I am unfamiliar with that one.  OctoBen has been introducing me to many Surfacer tee-vee shows and movies, but that is not one of them.  On the other hand," he turned to face the ancient temple again, "my people had extensive experience with dimensional breaches, both natural and artificial.  And many are the tales told to Atlantean children which feature some overly-curious child falling through some tear in space and time."

 

He took a step towards the ruins, then swiveled to look back to Danica.  "There may be some artifact inside that is tied to the portal which our companions stepped through.  My presence," he stuck one thumb under the pouch-lined bandolier across his chest, filled with Atlantean widgets and gewgaws, "may have interfered with it, pulling you and I in.  If we are lucky, we may find something within which can help us track anyone who came through the portal -- and get us all back home."

 

He extended a hand to her, "shall we?"

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Danica sighed a little at the amount of ground they'd have to cover, but took his hand gamely enough to make her way over the uneven terrain. It was slow going, of course, but she didn't actually have any trouble walking or climbing, it just took an extra long time. "We should probably try to remember exactly where we landed," she suggested as they went, "in case we have to leave from the exact same place. It shouldn't be too hard, there's a foot-deep divot in the shape of my shell there now," she added with a chuckle. "But maybe marking our path wouldn't hurt." She pulled a piece of white chalk from her shell and on a convenient rock wrote "Chelone & Artificer 03/07/2020" and then drew an arrow in the direction of the ruins. "They'll come after us if they can, I'm sure." 

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GM

 

The pair of teens made their way up the crumbling stairway to the upper level of the ruins' exterior, this time the trip being a bit slower due to Danica's slower pace. As they reached the column lined entrance to the side of the towering rock spire that rouse above them, Heroditus was this time able to more closely study the columns, seeing that they did indeed have writing carved onto them.

 

The writing was recognizable as Atlantean, but very old. Heroditus has seen similar before, from artifacts that dated back to before the sinking. Between the slight unfamiliarity with the old writing and the damage to portions of it, it was difficult for the Atlantean teen to make out exactly what it said. But he was fairly certain it contained some sort of warning that seemed to reference something placed within the structure built into the rockspire.

 

As Heroditus studied the writing, Danica could see the nearby entrance that led into the dark underground. A damaged wall partially blocked the entrance, but it was not anything the pair could not climb over.

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Artificer

 

Heroditus had tried to stay by Danica's side, as a good squadmate should, but the lure of the mysteries around them pulled him like iron filings to a magnet.  He dashed from column to column, giving them a close visual inspection before reaching out to gently touch the carvings.  He traced a finger along some of the letters, wiping away dust in an attempt to get a better read on the messages, then reached into one of his many beltpouches and brought out a small brush, which let him do a more thorough cleaning.

 

"<Fascinating,>" he muttered, though it was in his native Atlantean, so all Danica heard was a series of clicks.  He turned to her, "definitely Atlantean, from before the Sinking.  I think my people found something in this spire, and built the structure around it, to study and," he nodded towards one set of markings, "if I am interpreting that correctly, to contain it.  Possibly a naturally-occurring dimensional fissure," he placed the brush back into his pocket, "which they tried to harness," then reached into another and brought out what looked like a fingernail-sized pebble, "or maybe just seal off to prevent anyone from stumbling into it.  If there are more carvings inside, shielded from the elements, they may be in better shape, and able to provide more information."  He held the pebble in one hand, between middle finger and thumb, up to his forehead, and concentrated a moment.  The stone began to glow with a soft yellow light, and slowly circle around his head, about two feet from him.

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"Yeah," Danica agreed, "it seems like if there's anything in better shape, it's probably going to be underground. I don't know a whole lot about Atlanteans," she admitted, "but if this were like a Greek or Roman structure, I'd say it was a lot more temple-y than 'none shall pass'-y. If they're containing something, it would have to be down in the earth. The question's gonna be, do we want to poke our noses in? It could be a lot more dangerous than just waiting for a ride home, and there's no guarantee that anything down there might help us." The words were sensible, but the tone of her voice suggested she was mostly offering the cautions for form's sake. 

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Artificer

 

Heroditus scratched his chin as he weighed Danica's words.  So unlike most Surfacers, willing to take her time to observe and think things through.  I wish she did not feel so discomforted by me and other Atlanteans, I feel she could learn much from my people, and us from her.  A small smile started to break across his face, but he quickly caught it and dismissed it with a quick throat-clearing.

 

He looked back to the entrance, then to Danica again.  "True, there is no guarantee of that, but what are our alternatives?  Standing here, waiting to see if our classmates find us?  Trek into the jungle," he gestured towards the wilderness, "in an attempt to find them, and encounter who-knows-what dangers?  I do not believe either of us are ready for those hazards.  But if there are any traps or other Atlantean hazards down there," he nodded towards the yawning darkness of the temple entrance, "well, those are things I have studied, and know how to deal with.  So I feel our chances are better down there."

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  • 2 weeks later...

"The school would probably tell us to wait," Danica admitted, "and I have about a week's worth of food and water and a couple sleeping bags in my shell. But if we did set up camp here, it would be a bad idea to do it without knowing what's going on right under our feet, right?" She rummaged around in her shell again and pulled out a little flashlight with a bright LED beam. It wasn't totally necessary with the light Heroditus was already putting out, but it did make her feel better. "You wanna take point? Just don't go too fast." 

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