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GM

 

Somewhere beyond the second star to the right, heading in the direction of morning

 

The flying pirate ship tossed wildly through the everchanging rainbow lights of the path ahead. It tossed and turned, the pirates screaming and holding on for their dear lives as its bow crashed into the rainbow. The figurehead, a lovely mermaid holding a sword, was torn straight off, as the ship went into another wild spin. A couple of pirates fell screaming into the rainbow void around them, rocked by the hit.

 

On the deck, holding on to the wheel, the Forever Boy was laughing.

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Angelic had come out of hiding when it became clear the pirates weren't about to come into the powder hold after her. She moved slowly along the deck, securing herself by driving the sharp blades at the end of her metallic wings into the wood as she went, step by step. There were no radio signals here or anything else, no connection to the technological civilization that was her home. Only that maddening ticking sound which was trivially easy to connect to the story that had brought it, and Pan, to her native dimension. She stalked up onto the deck and stuck out her hand to grab the wheel, the wood cracking in her steel-hard grip. "Pan!" she shouted. "We have to turn it!" 

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Thunderbird had dragged himself along the deck, using the railings and going post-by-post. He ended up a few feet away from Pan, the screaming winds doing nothing to his wings. In this moment, Micah was profoundly grateful for his goggles. He saw Eira crawl up to them, and (barely) heard her telling Pan they had to "turn" the ship.

 

"Turn it where? Can't we make it stop? Land it?"

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Forever Boy

 

Pan was still laughing loudly as Eira and Micah reached him by the wheel. He sounded like he was having the time of his life.

 

"We are in the middle of a swirling vortex of color, my friends! Where would you like us to go?"

 

He laughed still.

 

"We are traveling at the speed of plot! Faster than the eye can follow!"

Edited by RocketLord
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GM

 

Faster and faster the ship would move, tossing and turning on the turns of the page!

 

The wheel turned easily enough under Eira's grip, but to little effect, the rudder long lost in the sea of tales behind them!

 

Another violent jerk, and the mast, already weakened from Eira's assault, crashed against the weight of a particularly intense tragedy and splintered!

 

A swirling flurry of color and tale and story and adventure and then... bright blue sky!

 

As suddenly as the ship had entered the rainbow vortex, it violently left, as gravity once more took hold. The pirates screamed as the ship fell from the sky, any attempt to right it or even control it failing, the ship failing quickly towards a sandy beach below.

Edited by RocketLord
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Angelic considered quickly then simply leaped off the deck, a magnetic connection to the hard iron of the ship slowing her descent a moment before she hit the sand hard to break a normal girl's leg, rolling in the yellow sparkling particles for a moment and coming up dirty. She seemed to pay no attention to the sights and sounds of the ship crashing to the ground nearby, her head cocked as she listened for sounds now inaudible even to her senses. When the noise of the crash had finished, she turned and walked slowly and carefully to the site. "Is anyone injured?" she called loudly. "Thunderbird? Forever Boy?

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For a moment, Thunderbird considered just letting the ship crash. But they were high up, and he was not sure how well the pirates would survive. He didn't like them, didn't feel a lot of sympathy, but...

 

"Y'all best appreciate this, you bunch of horse thieves."

 

Thunderbird's accent was in full force as he clenched his fists and slowly raised them. As his arms lifted, the wind beneath the ship began to howl. At first, nothing happened. As the sound of the wind went from a whistle, to a wolf's howl, to an ear-splitting roar, directly underneath the ship, finally something happened. The ship began to slow. Right before it would strike the sand, Thunderbird exerted a bit of effort and flew up and away from the ship a bit; his powers stopped him a bit over two hundred feet in the air, enough to be well clear of the ship when it slammed into the ground. 

 

What would have been an impact sufficient to render the ship into kindling, and probably kill everyone in it, instead was only enough to likely crack her keel and send everyone rolling around like it was a moderate car accident. Lots of bruises, maybe some broken bones, but hopefully nothing worse.

 

Thunderbird himself gently floated down to land next to Angelic, at which point he bent down, hands on his knees, and gasped for breath like a man who'd just run an Olympic sprint. 

Edited by KnightDisciple
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GM

 

The ship fell and fell, the pirates yelled and screamed and then... a gust of wind from below, the might of the Thunderbird on full display! 

 

And yet, the mighty vessel cracked as it collided with the beach, several pirates being thrown to the sand that now surrounded the ship.

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Forever Boy

 

Pan flew off the ship before the crash and before Micah's stunt to save it from itself, a trail of glimmer and gold staying close by Eira, until she hit the sand.

 

He was silent, a rare thing as he looked across the landscape around them. The beach, the sea, the sky and everything, it was different, somehow.

 

The Forever Boy did not seem to register Eira's question or Micah's exhaustion. Not quite yet, no. He was smiling. An odd smile, slightly wider than it should be, perhaps.

 

"I am home."

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"This is...an alien world," said Eira, her voice sharp, her metallic hair askew, full of the sand that coated her skin and left side of her body. "There  is a limited electromagnetic spectrum group of emissions on radio frequencies I do not recognize. Beyond that, this is a - a nothing world. It is just trees, and water, and people." She raised bright blue eyes to the pitiless golden star overhead and said sharply, "We will get home.

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Micah finally stood straight after a minute of catching his breath. He looked over at the wrecked ship, and just shrugged.

 

"Did my best."

 

He turned to Pan and Eira, his expression pensive.

 

"Pan. Buddy. Everything okay?"

 

He gave Eira a bit of side-eye about this being a "nothing" world despite people living there. He did, however, direct a question to her. 

 

"If there's almost no electrical stuff, how do you know there's people here?"

Edited by KnightDisciple
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Forever Boy

 

Pan stared, his lips in a smile, then looked up at the star high above.

 

He reached out for Eira and Micah, pulling them both close, an arm around each, Eira by the waist, Micah by the shoulder. His smile grew even wider as he looked up at the star.

 

"Look, the second star to the right! I am home!"

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GM

 

They would not get home.

 

Not just yet, at least.

 

2 weeks later

 

Much had changed in Neverworld since Pan's disappearance almost 3 years earlier. Only, it seemed like much more time had passed. Or maybe not. In some places in the world, it seemed like time had almost stood still. In others, the world had moved on.

 

In the weeks since the Forever Boy, the Thunderbird and Angelic had arrived, Pan had led them on a trek through the world. In the Forever Boy's absence, much had changed.

 

At sea, they had found the rotting remains of Ahab, the Whale Hunter, tied to the mast of a once mighty ship, now run aground on a reef.

 

In Victori, the factories were hard at work, continuously creating soulless, mass produced weapons of war to do battle with the ever expanding empire of the Hooked Man. The people worked tirelesly in the factories, daring nothing else. It was all they could do to survive. All they could do to protect themselves.

 

Now, they had reached Trader's Haven, capital of New Avalon. It had taken some work, but the Forever Boy had found the Great Detectives, that now stood before them in the broken city. 

 

"So, the Forever Boy," Watson stated. "But where have you been?"

 

"It is elementary," Holmes asked, sitting on some rubble. "He ran. The Lost Heroes were lost, and he ran. And now, he returns, with children in tow."

 

Watson was tall, with a moustache, his hair thinning, once black but now turning grey. Holmes slightly shorter, his hair brown. What had once been neat suits with intricate designs had now faded and been ruined. 

 

"I assume you are looking for a way to run yet again?"

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Micah had not exactly had fun during their trip, but his ability to at least ensure the weather wasn't horrific on top of them helped. He'd eyeballed the shipwrecked Ahab, glanced at his friends, then given the Captain's corpse a quick flash of the finger. "Dude was a total jerk to his Native crew in the books, can't imagine it was better here" was his response to their inquiry. He'd been uncomfortable going through the "great" factories, though he'd stayed silent in regards to their necessity. He'd endured rather spartan traveling conditions and made do with what food they could forage or barter for. And all that time, he'd kept his temper, never shown anything more than mild irritation at the worst. 

 

Which was why his face twisting into a near-snarl at the words of the "Great Detectives" might be a shock to Pan and Eira.

 

"Listen here you two-bit whitebread discount Raven-wannabes. Pan's a kid; I don't care if the magic here meant he was a kid longer, he's a kid. You're the-"here he let loose with a half-dozen Cherokee words that Eira would likely raise an eyebrow at after translating"-adults, so why aren't you the ones fighting this war? You're suppose to be super-smart detectives, why don't you detect how to beat Hook instead of sitting back and making a kid do your work? Or is that all you old-time-chaps are good for, making kids work for you?"

Edited by KnightDisciple
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Eira Katastroff looked unwell, her hair flat against her head, her skin an odd shade of alabaster white. There was a very good, very sound reason for this. Her body ran off an internal chemical battery, one that could be supplemented with solar power but that required occasional connections to the products of an industrial society to power her. She had been vocally reluctant to leave the Victori behind, for all that she'd been vocally skeptical of their construction methods, and had brooded silently all the way to their newest destination. 

 

"Pathetic," she pronounced suddenly, her voice a low hiss. "Pathetic reflections of the imagination of a dead Englishman." She shot a blue-eyed glance at Pan at that, briefly, then focused again on the detectives. "And I am no child, fool, but the dead born again in metal flesh!" At these words she dramatically pulled the outer layers of seeming flesh off her left hand, revealing within the metallic digits of a machine. Pointing with her silvery finger, she went on. "If you can only babble such nonsense, we should leave you behind and begin our work." 

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Forever Boy

 

If Pan was bothered by the words of the great detectives, he did not let it show. Eira and Micah knew him better. They could see the brief flinch. 

 

"Thank you, Micah, but that is not quite how things work here. Defeating the Hooked Man is not their story. It is mine." His voice was calm, given the situation and the devastation they had seen. 

 

He gently placed a hand on Eira's shoulder. "We need them, Eira. If anyone know where to find the Wish Isle, it is the great detectives." 

 

Pan raised an eyebrow, and stared at the two men. "Is that not so? I am sure you have found my old home long ago."

 

Of course, Pan had yet to tell either Eira or Micah why they had to find the Wish Isle...

Edited by RocketLord
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GM

 

Holmes glared at Micah. "Pan is the Forever Boy. Without him, the Hooked Man has no opposite number. No one to stop him. That is the detection we need, child." He was obviously not amused by this insolent child making demands of him. 

 

Watson seemed calmer, walking in between Holmes and the children to calm them. "Reflections? What do you mean?" He almost shook as Eira revealed her robotic hand. "You are an automaton," he stated with a flat tone. "But not from Victori, are you? No, you are something else. And you are quite unwell, are you not?" He leaned closer to Eira, producing a monocle and holding it up to his right eye as he studied the hand. "Yes, you are something else entirely, are you not."

 

At this, Holmes seemed to perk up, just a bit, before falling back into the sullen stance he had displayed so far. "Ah. So you wish to find the Wish Isle." He stared at Eira, a hint of disgust in his eyes. "To help your friend, hm? You hope that the Pixies will help you." He laughed, briefly. There was no warmth in the laugh. "It would be almost amusing to see you return, just for that."

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"This is...this is stupid,"  Angelic spat. "I will not be a - puppet of dead men's dreams." Her eye twitching briefly from an internal power surge, Eira extended her degloved hand towards Micah, spreading her palm wide as she shrugged off Pan's arm. "The power node in my hand is designed to absorb direct electrical discharge. Hit me." She turned and looked at Pan, her neck twisting further than a human's could have. "Come with me," she urged him, and Micah too for that matter. "Even without access to the Internet, it will be a simple matter to technologically uplift the Victori civilization. If we cannot build a return device to Earth-Prime we can surely build a beacon for them to find us. They have not forgotten us! We must not forget them!"

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Micah calmed down a bit at Pan's attempts to intervene. Pan and Eira both knew Micah hadn't slept well these last several days; the young man had basically willed himself to sleep lightly enough that his dreams wouldn't call down terrible weather on them. The one good thing from that trial was that his passive control had increased. Just not enough that he trusted himself yet. He sighed and rubbed his face as the arguing continued. Then Eira gave his attempt at calm a one-two punch. He looked at Pan, Watson, and Holmes for a moment.

 

"Everyone stand back. This isn't the most precise thing yet."

 

He looked up to the sky and held one hand straight up, with the other hovering about a foot above Eira's open palm. The clouds gathered and rumbled, and then an emerald-tinged bolt fell from the sky and struck his upraised hand. Micah grimaced, but the bolt weakened between his hands before a tiny shower of miniature bolts fell from his own palm to Eira's. He held this for about 30 seconds before suddenly cutting it off with a gasp. When he did, he shook his left hand, the one that had taken the larger lightning discharge from the cloud. The palm was slightly red, though it faded quickly.

 

"Okay, so now that I've done you that favor, you can listen to me when I say: slow down, Eira. We're visitors here. This is not our home; it's Pan's, and theirs. We have no right to just...'uplift'....these people. If they even want it. Like....I get that you really dig tech and stuff, but...no. We're not here to "civilize the savages". If we do anything here it's to actually help them."

 

He turned to Watson and Holmes. 

 

"We're from a different Earth. Another world. Similar to this one, but not the same. On our world, you two, and Pan, and the dude strapped to his ship back on that beach a week back, and a whole lot more folks, are....well, you're stories we tell. Doesn't mean you aren't real. Just means....well, shoot. Maybe Eira and I are a story someone's telling somewhere. Existence is big. Good Lord has plenty of surprises for us. But part of this is that we're not home. I have family, back on my world. That's....Pan's my friend. I want to help him. But I don't want to stay here. I have folks I need to get to, back there."

 

 

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Forever Boy

 

"Stop." Pan's voice was small, as he looked back at Eira and Micah, and the argument that was starting between them.

 

"I am sorry, Eira, but Micah is right. This is my world. Not yours. Things are different here." He paused briefly, like he was looking for words. "We need the Pixies at the Wish Isle. If there is any way to get back to Earth, then they will know it."

 

Another brief pause, as he looked at Eira and Micah once more. 

 

"I will get you home. I promise." Stopping, he looked at Holmes and Watson. "Tell me how to help my friends. Then I will slay the Hooked Man."

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GM

 

While Watson moved away from the display of lightning and power, Holmes watched 

 

"Child." Holmes stood up, approaching Eira. He stood high above her. "Victori will fall. It is just a matter of time. The summer will come to an end. But by all means, uplift us. Make us better. Call for the help that this world needs."

 

He looked at Micah. "Yes, yes. It is all very interesting. I suppose that some psychic imprint of our greatest stories would reach your world, hmm? Passing on to the right people? The ones that are just innately attuned to our world? I have long theorized that something like that would be likely." He waved Micah off. "It does not matter. But your power does."

 

Watson interrupted. "No more riddles, Holmes. Time is short. The summer is ending." He focused on Eira. "Victori is your best choice. Go the Tham. Find the Mad Doctor. If anyone can help you, he is the one."

 

"As for you," Holmes continued to look at Micah, "the great beasts still live. The Great White Whale has journeyed beyond worlds before. Perhaps you should seek it out?"

 

Watson had turned from Eira, moving some rubble away. "Holmes. They will be here soon."

 

Holmes rolled his eyes with an annoyed groan. "Yes. I know." He looked straight at Pan. "The Hooked Man found a likely ally in the Professor of Crime. You must all leave before he arrives, or your story will end before its time." He focused on Pan's eyes. "Fly to the West. Fly as far as you can, then a bit further. Beyond the land, beyond the sea, into the dreams and wishes of children. There you will find your Wish Isle."

 

He turned, moving towards Watson, who had uncovered a hidden tunnel under the rubble. "Now, begone. Make your own stories, while I attend to mine."

Edited by RocketLord
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Seething, Angelic paced as Holmes and Watson spoke - though she did look notably abashed by Pan's words. When everyone else had finished speaking, she said, "I will not allow this dimension's only technological civilization to fall to barbarism - when it may well mean my own destruction if we linger. I cannot live here forever on Micah's charity! We must build allies, real allies, if we are survive and ever escape this place. It is as simple as that, no?" When she spoke, her wings spread behind her, silvery bright and crackling with electric fire.

 

"I know that I cannot stop you or turn you from what you think are your tasks. So I will say instead to meet me there, in what I will build," she suggested, "when you have finished your quests. We will find our way homes together."

 

And with that, she took off into the sky ahead, crackling lightning behind her as she rocketed back towards their only hope of escape. 

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Micah frowned deeply at Eira's near-rant-like words. Something about what she was saying just did not sit right with him. 

 

"Wait, Eira, are you sure that's a good-"

 

And then she was gone before he could finish. Micah watched her leave, then turned to Pan. 

 

"If you think you're just gonna run off to this Wish Isle without me, you have another thing coming. You're my best friend. I'm with you, Pan. Until the end of the line."

 

Thunderbird clapped the Forever Boy on the shoulder, even as his own wings extended from his back.

 

"Now, it sounds like we need to get to flyin' unless we want to get to fightin'. Let's go."

 

The wind stirred, and Micah rose into the air, though he kept his pace slow until Pan caught up. 

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Forever Boy

 

"EIRA!" Pan took a step towards her, called out and reach towards the sky. He was about to fly. It would be so easy to catch her, but... would it help at all? Not likely. No, her story would not be on the path that Pan had chosen, at least not yet.

 

He did something that Micah had rarely seen. Pan frowned, as he turned to the Great Detectives. "Thank you."

 

Pan slowed at Micah's touch, the frown slowly turning to a grin, as he rose alongside Micah. "Thank you, my friend. To the end of the line, then. And onwards to forever."

 

Then he was off, a trail of gold and glimmer being all the detectives could soon see.

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GM

 

The Great Detectives watched for a moment.

 

The automatic woman headed in one direction, deciding her own path, choosing her own story. One that she pursued with the best intentions. A story that might end happily... or in tragedy. 

 

The Forever Boy and his companion were heading in the other direction. West, towards destiny, towards the fabled Wish Isle. Nothing but a streak of light in the distance by now, they two were together, their journey and story bound, for now, as they sought to make a wish that would perhaps change the face of Neverworld again.

 

Darkness was falling. The light was fading.

 

Whatever paths they choose, their time was limited.

 

The summer was almost at an end, and it was time for the fall.

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