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First and Final Voyage (IC)

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16:00, April 15th. Just outside of Freedom City

The waves gently licked against the shore, the cool air finally having reached the comfortably spring climate that many seemed to dread would never come. The smell of sea salt was kicked up into the air, spraying across the boardwalks and coasts, leaving moisture heavy in the air. In the distance, the Darwin sat.

Gaunt, empty faces watched out hopelessly at the folk in the city as the ever-dwindling number of sailors began to give up hope, already faced with starvation in a few days and knowing that whatever had taken their friends might soon take them next. One could almost see the hurt, abandoned look in the eyes even all the way from the docks, where the man called Volodimir set up the ferry.

"Now, we're probably not going to be able to get off once we get on," He said tiredly, his Ukrainian accent thick "so I need to know if you're sure you want to get on that ship. I'll be there with you if you do, but... You can opt at any time before we get on. Once we're on the Darwin, there's no turning back."

Volodimir was a broad, stocky man, roughly easing into his sixties, which steel grey eyes and a thick layer of white stubble on his sea-swept face. However, he himself had a reassuring countenance about him, and he held himself with great pride and confidence, as a man who had faced death many times and survived. He looked back at the heroes, waiting for an answer.

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Cloaked in shadow’s atop a crate Blodeuwedd was crouched, looking to all the world like a gargoyle softly lit by the gentle green glow of her goggles.

She looked at the other heroes trying to work out exactly who they were and what they could do; they all must have their reasons to take on such a dangerous, maybe suicidal, mission. Whilst she had her mission here, and had been playing at being a hero, she had been trained since almost birth to recover dangerous artifacts. And this had all the hallmarks of such an item.

“I’m willing to take the risk. When do we leave?â€

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Wave-Eye had heard of the problem with the Darwin almost the hour it had begun, and had volunteered his aquatic expertise as soon as he knew who he had to offer it to. If asked, he would have had been forced to admit that a part of why he had volunteered was in the hopes that this would be at least slightly recognized, a first step on his path to being able to swear fealty to Siren. He also knew too well what being trapped on the sea was like.

He was seated on the edge of the dock at the moment, staring out at the freighter, when Volodimir had asked his question. Turning his vast black eyes to the old human he wondered if the man had powers like so many of the others in the metropolis he had seen. In answer to whether he was certain he wished to go, he said in a hissing gurgle "I am not afraid of anything in the sea. Let us depart, if you and the rest of us are ready."

This was not true, but he felt quite certain by now, months after his arrival, that he knew of everything that swam and scuttled through the waters around Freedom City.

Adding to his answer he suggested "If you do not have a mission for me on the way, I would like to search under the hull of the ship, perhaps some sea beast has made a dwelling there." he glanced at the others, marveling at the two children(capable and strong though they looked), the well-dressed human with the cane and amazing layers of clothing, and wondered quietly what would happen if the surface race and the Atlanteans someday were on an even keel...

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Toot Toot!!!

Up from the churning waters, a submarine emerged of most unusual design. Copper, brass, and iron, with elegant tubing layered on every side. As it arose, a steam powered horn thundered, announcing its arrival.

Alice was the inscription on the side.

The top of the ship flipped open.

"Ahoy there!" called Lord Steam, clambering out of his vehicle and jumping ashore. "I do believe I heard talk of a maritime mystery" he continued, dusting off his clothes and leaning on his cane.

"And I simply can't resist a mystery!" he concluded, tipping his hat at Blodeuwedd.

"Madam? shall we?" he asked, offering his arm and preparing to board the mysterious vessel.

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And... five minutes before the ferry. Kit looks at herself in the mirror, adjusting her tux, dressed to the nines for... well, mainly for fun. She looks at her slicked-back red hair for the better part of thirty seconds. "Hm... no, that won't do." She runs a hand through her hand, mussing it thoroughly then laying it back down for that fashionably disheveled look that's usually the only thing she can manage anyways, then throws on a hat that wouldn't look out of place on a prohibition-era gangster. Too much black, she thinks, but with less than four minutes left, there's not much for it. And maybe a bit too boyish, too. Ah, well.

She steps outside, onto the Claremont campus, then walks under the shade cast by an awning, where she promptly melts away, resolidifying at the docks in a single step. Her directions are pretty good, so that ferry's either... Not here, she says after another step, then steps again. There it is. She pulls a small box from her coat pocket as she studies the ferry, shaking it to produce a single white stick. A candy cigarette. She chomps down on it and takes another step, opting to be polite for once, reforming on the pier instead of the ferry itself.

"Afternoon," she says cordially. "Hey," she adds with a tip of her hat to her classmate. Not that they'd talked much. Her attention moves on, eyes slipping off the sea monster fairly quickly- she's seen uglier- before locking onto the posh one. Now that is a man who looks like money.

She takes a seat, making herself at home on the ferry and turns back to Mister Monster. "Looking before we leap is good. Certainly can't hurt."

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Blodeuwedd dropped lightly to the dock and walked towards the Ukrainian with all the grace of a hunting cat.

“Actually any extra information you have would be useful Mr Volodimir.â€

She still wasn’t sure about the others, especially the British Fop, but if they were here they were willing to risk their lives for others. And that was enough for her. She crossed her arms and turned to the motley collection of heroes.

“With this Gentleman’s Sub we can all inspect the hull of the ship, unless we want a two pronged attack as it were. I’m Blodeuwedd by the way.â€

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Volodimir looked between them all, and shook his head.

"Checking out the hull of the ship is..." He sighed, and looked between them all. "Alright, I suppose it is worth a shot."

He removed his tweed snapbrim, and ran his fingers through his salt-and-pepper hair, looking out at the boat. "As for what I know... I can't say anything beyond what has been in the news. People can't get off the boat, and it can't move... Worse yet, some of the sailors are disappearing. We don't know why, maybe some of them have gone mad and are doing something to the others, but... I don't know. I really don't."

He straightened his drab brown sweater, and nodded to Lord Steam.

"How many can you fit on that?"

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"This old thing?" replied Lord Steam, tapping it with his cane and giving a rather pleasant metallic resonance.

"She can hold all of us, I'm sure" he said breezily, popping open the hatch for all to descend "maybe not in the most comfortable of comforts, but there is plenty of room for all of us. We might have to squeeze a little for the jacuzzi, of course!"

The submarine was antiquated but expertly designed, and indeed was as splendid inside as well as outside, with soft leather and silk furnishings, and beautiful brass and copper linings and pipes throughout.

The pilot seat had an excellent view of the ocean beneath the waves, and with a few levers pressed, and a few dials dialed, a soft pinging emitted from the ship, giving a sonar readout in front of Lord Steam.

"Come in, come in" he welcomed all aboard as he prepared to set sail, if only briefly.

"Let's see what is underneath our mystery ship! eyes peeled!" he intoned.

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"Looking before we leap is good. Certainly can't hurt."

Wave-Eye smiled as best as a fishman with a mouth full of sharp teeth could "Indeed. In any case, it would be good to know if anything IS under there, sea creatures like it when something blocks the sun near the surface, it grants them an advantage when hunting, after all." he regarded the strange-looking human girl for a few seconds before adding "I am called Wave-Eye, I am glad for your assistance(Though I wonder that children are considered for such tasks he thought to himself) and that is a...unique outfit you have. I have not seen such clothing on anyone here besides you and that one with the copper boat."

He narrowed his massive eyes and edged a little away from the submarine. With a slight growl to his gurgling voice he said while eying the contraption "If it is your will to go down in that, I will trust your judgement, I would rather swim under my own power, as well it will allow me to scout the area without potentially delaying any plans you humans make. I will see you all at the ship." he bowed rather stiffly to Lord Steam and Volodimir, tensed himself, and soared into the water without a ripple, a flash of light and a briefly-glimpsed dragon's tail revealing his transformation as he sped through the murky dockwater to the Darwin.

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"Why thank you," Kit says as Wave-Eye comments on her outfit. "It's-" she's just about to go on about how it's by some French designer whose name she could almost pretend to pronounce right when he actually gets to work, diving into the water. She deflates visibly at the missed opportunity to strut.

So, she gets back to business. "Well, I'm Kit," she says to the rest of the group. "And you must be Lord Steam?" she asks the posh one who hasn't yet introduced himself as she climbs down into the sub then pulls a slip of paper from her coat and offers it to the ritzy gentleman. "Teach' would like you to sign this for me when we solve things here. Just says everything went smoothly." An accurate summation of the form, though there is ample room for commentary.

She turns her attention to her classmate and asks, "You turned yours over yet?" making the (in her mind) small leap that this is a normal thing for junior students getting sent out on assignments, and not just the ex-supervillain discipline problems.

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She recognized Kit from the few time they passed each other in the halls, or took classes together, but they hadn’t said more than two words since she joined the school. Of cause Cerys would have looked guilty and slinked away after being caught, if not breaking, then bending school rules. Ceyrs wasn’t however here at the moment.

Blodeuwedd leaped gracefully onto the boat ahead of the two and took a relaxed, but ready in case of a fight.

“I am not officially sanctioned by the Academy. But either of you are welcome to register a complaint after we solve this mystery.â€

Without waiting for an answer she climbed into the craft.

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Lord Steam pressed his nose against the elegant glass plating of Alice, peering carefully at the underside of the vessel whilst gently piloting the vessel.

"Well, if I didn't know better, I'd say those barnacles are to blame" he concluded.

"And, to be honest, I don't know better. Plenty of impossible things happen in this dimension. So, look at that...the configuration of those mollusc's against the hull...like the arms of Poseidon around our mystery ship..."

"As to what caused it, of course, another matter, another mystery. Hocus-pocus, perhaps. But there it is, a pattern..."

Concluding his circumnavigation of the ship, he brought Alice up to the surface once more, and popped the hatch.

"That concludes that part of the tour!" he said, breezily. "I should imagine the next part is within the vessel itself!"

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The bulky triton swam through the waters under the Darwin with eerie grace, his eyes peeled and his ears pricked for the least sign or sound of trouble. He was increasingly baffled as the minutes passed by, and no sign of danger presented itself, until at last after sifting through a likely patch of sand he gave up his search, and appeared with hissing gurgle next to the Alice. "Nothing" he said shortly, shaking the water out of his hair with a vicious toss of head "I suspect we will have better luck within your vessel. Lead on human, I have little hope I will be a comforting sight to your people aboard there" he said a little gruffly to Lord Steam. He sat down on the hull of the submarine, watching the deck of the ship for signs of the crew, saying flatly to the nearby Bloduwedd "Hail"

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"It is indeed." Volodomir said grimly, as he grabbed a ladder on the side of the ship, and slowly climbed up it.

The sailors were there to greet them, though only with near-empty gazes and hushed words. However, the captain seemed to have enough self-control to come forward and shout at them all.

"Go! Go away! Get away from here! Don't set foot on the boat! It's evil! It'll trap you here!"

The captain tried to shove Volodomir off the boat and into the water some several feet below, struggling with him.

"Go! Go! It's not safe!"

Spittle flung from the man's mouth as he struggled with Volodomir, who managed to push the man off him. The Captain looked at him pleadingly.

"You're dooming yourselves! You can't help us. You're just another victim now."

Volodomir sighed. "We have heroes here. They can help. Just calm down."

The Captain spat, rising to his feet. "Men and women so eager to meet the grave. Fine, stay, but you shan't have any of our resources, scant as they are. You've dug your own grave!" The Captain hobbled off, looking back at the others only for a moment.

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"What's this?" asked Lord Steam, sidling up to the Captain.

"A trap?"


He did not doubt the man's sincerity, but he was alert to the possibility of laxity of sanity. The captain had been cooped up here for...how long? it was anybodies guess. And of course, what he had experienced (which was yet to be determined) could put an even greater strain on the man's psyche.

"Well, I for one am not hungry yet. Had a delightful lobster soup before we came out, splendid it was!" he waxed as he drew a long cigarillo.

"Smoke?" he asked the Captain politely "Plenty to go around. Texan, I believe. And not even from this dimension, rather delightful aroma, don't you think?"

He lit his own tobacco.

"Now then, in your own time, Captain, how's about a little recap on your adventures, hmmm?"

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Blodeuwedd scowled at the tactless fop. Why exactly had they bought the idiot along? But wait maybe his approach did have merit, and maybe she could help.

“I don’t think a cigar is exactly what they need.â€

She had done her homework before they had arrived and knew the issues the crew must be facing. From under her cloak she bought out a backpack filled with as many pack of survival rations as she could afford.

“This should help you some, I afraid it not much but hopeful it will help a little. And Lord Steam has a point, any information about your voyage could help us save everyone here.â€

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I suppose 'hocus pocus' is the technical term, Kit thinks as she files out after her companions. And I'm supposed to learn about investigation from this guy?

She gives her best 'whatever' shake of the head as she hops onto the ship. She walks right past the nearest cluster of sailors, tipping her hat and offering a cheery, "Hiya," as she passes to a bench and takes a seat. She lets Blodeuwedd and The Posh One handle the talking. Instead, she closes her eyes and 'listens' to the ship. Or rather, to the essence of all living creatures on it. A normal ship would probably have a bunch of humans and a few rats or bugs. Anything else, or a complete lack of the former? That's what people in the detective business call a clue.

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Wave-Eye brought up the rear of the party, transforming his tail into a pair of powerful legs as he clambered heavily after Kit. Once on the gently pitching deck he watched silently as the oddly-dressed human spoke to the clearly rattled human who seemed to be in command. He'd seen people as badly afflicted many times before, but rarely had he been this close to them.

And never had it been with even vaguely friendly intent.

So it was with a mingled feeling of guilt and inarticulate dislike that he observed the various reactions to the crew's plight, mentally scolding himself when he saw the dark young woman hand over a pack of good. He could have grabbed several good things for the prisoners to eat, and it had never crossed his mind to do so. With a grating sigh, he focused on the swell of the ocean, on the soft tones and haunting melody that-

NO. NO. NONONONONOOOOO! his slowly closing eyes snapped open, and he looked around frantically, turned to the edge of the deck, placed a foot on the rail, tensed and...relaxed. Turned away from the water and walked with heavy steps up to Lord Steam and Volodimir. "I ask your pardon" he hissed "but you must know, we have been trapped here. Some spell has been cast on us that will not let us leave the ship. I have seen it happen many times" he added, his ruddy skin paling around the scars and piercings "It is horrible. We must try and escape, or else a miserable death awaits us."

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As the entity assaults her mind, Kit goes still. Silent. Not the still of a human at rest, but the still of a pile of stone. To look at her, she becomes utterly uninteresting, as if just a part of the bulkhead until she's completely unnoticeable. An illusion, but a good one. What happens from there is her business, but she's not about to make such a shameless outburst as Mister Monster.

Instead, she hides in her corner, from everyone and everything. There, she waits and watches, like a scared child.

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"Grim words indeed, my amphibious friend" replied Lord Steam, casually resting on his cane.

"nice trick with the legs, by the way. Must come in handy for walking!" he added jovially.

"But as for traps and wot not, I for one have yet to see a trap that cannot be walked out of, with the precise application of wit, will, and, in my case, steam!"

"Firstly, we must reveal the nature of the trap!" he continued "and I am sure our captain has a tale to tell there....!"

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The Captain stops, dead in his tracks. He looks at the food, then the offer of a smoke. He sighed quietly, and accepted, before edging closer to the rest of the group, and slumping against the rails.

"Thank you..." He looked up at all of them solemnly. "This place, this boat... It's cursed. The fish-man is right, there's an enchantment here. It reaches into your mind and blocks out whatever ability you have to leave the ship. It's hard to even think about doing it..."

He looked up, and for a moment, the man he might usually be shone through. A portly man, with white hair and a handlebar moustache, with strong brown eyes and rough hands from many years working the ship, these features obscured by skin greyed by horror and the deep, dark bags under his eyes. He wasn't much younger the Volodomir, in his mid-fifties at least, but if you watched carefully, you could tell this man was normally much stronger willed than he seemed.

"It's... Well, recently, men have disappeared. We haven't seen what's been causing it, but we know they're probably dead since we're finding little traces of them... Teeth, fingernails... Whole scalps. No blood, though. Never any blood. Just seafoam. There's always seafoam when we find what's left of them." He straightened himself. "Thank you for the food... I'm sorry for my outburst. We've all been under strain. Feel free to use our bunks, talk amongst us, and share in the food. I figure generosity needs some reward."

He looked down, drained.

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"Teeth? Fingernails? Seafoam?" answered Lord Steam.

"Now this seems like the kind of thing I could usefully take a look at!" he said, rubbing his hands with glee.

He laid down his small kit bag, and opened it up, revealing a plethora of small, exquisitely made brass and coper instruments and tools, including what looked like a steam powered microscope.

"Investigators tool kit" he explained "never go to a mystery without it!"

He turned to the captain.

"Thank you for your help Captain. If I could now ask you to, respectfully, lead me to the, errr, remains, I'll see if I can shed some light onto their fate"

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"Thank you..." He looked up at all of them solemnly. "This place, this boat... It's cursed. The fish-man is right, there's an enchantment here. It reaches into your mind and blocks out whatever ability you have to leave the ship. It's hard to even think about doing it..."

Wave-Eye silently contemplated this, arrived at the conclusion there wasn't much anything he could do about it, and went to lean against a wall, glancing around now and again to wonder where Kit had gotten to. The information that the crew were under threat of some silent, unstoppable killer wasn't good news either, and he hoped bitterly that he could at least see whatever it was before it attacked him too.

He was baffled by Lord Steam's unflappable levity, considering their terrible situation and how little chance they had of escaping themselves, and mulled over whether it came from an ignorance of what such monsters as this that had entrapped them were like, or if the bizarre human was far more experienced with them than he himself.

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She was trained to be patient and wait the situation warranted it, but there were time when what you needed was action. And everyone here needed something to keep their attention from what was happening.

“Captain could you gather the crew together and get some statements from the crew about any of the strange events that have happened on this ship. Anything people have seen could be vital, written as well I’ve think they’ve all heard enough ghost stories already.â€

She pulled a couple of communication ear Buds from her backpack (she really should return these things soon.â€

“I and Wave-Eye will do a patrol of the ship to see if we can find out what’s going on. Volodimir stay with Lord Steam, if ever of us finds something let the other group know.â€

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After a moment, Kit gets up, still unnoticed. She takes out her handkerchief and straightens herself out before getting out another candy cigarette (her first fell to the ground) and chomping down on it. I've seen worse, she reminds herself. Technically true, though rarely first hand, and never all at once like that.

She massages her neck, trying to calm down before sliding a few fingers along to the brand on her back. Only slightly warm right now, though it could be flaming-hot and she wouldn't notice until it set her clothes on fire. Still, she's probably going to be calling on all her power soon enough. She removes her jacket and drapes it over her arm. The white, long-sleeved shirt beneath is closer to a lolita blouse than a simple dress shirt. A lacy, slightly poofy number with- most importantly- a low back to keep her from burning her clothes.

She walks over to Blodeuwedd and lets her alone notice her. "No need to reply; you're the only one who sees me right now. I got a look at whatever's causing all this. Come on, I think we can track it down. Don't trust the big guy to go unnoticed, and I don't trust Shiny to..." she looks at Lord Steam getting all chummy with the crew, getting all excited over some toenails. "...do anything but host a tea party, really."

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