Saturday, September 18, 2010

Let me just say one thing.

If you are using Internet Explorer... Stop using internet explorer. It is unstable, cluttered, and slow. Use Firefox or Chrome. You're welcome.

(inb4 flamewar)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ocean 2

Table of Contents

Part One

Back on the Dovetailer which had since moved 15 miles west, Victoria shouted at the top of her lungs “Land, ho!” as a small peak pierced the horizon. Gail and Jacob looked excitedly to the west over the bow as the peak grew in size. As they came closer it became apparent that this was not an ordinary mountain. There were grey-tan streaks running up the sides of the mountain, which easily surpassed 4 miles in height. It was not a steep mountain, at perhaps 10 miles wide, but it was still a very imposing sight. In the shadow of the mountain, a forest began to rise over the horizon. As they drew closer, Oliver took out his telescope to look at the shore. There, he saw a group of 10 men and 8 women, led by a man holding what appeared to be a telescope, looking back. “Fly the white flag! This is inhabited land and they know we’re coming!”
Hurley raised the white flag, a universal symbol for peace, as they drew closer to the island. Oliver looked through the telescope again. Now there were roughly 30 people on the beach, and 3 of them had telescopes. One of the children waved at them. “I think they’re friendly, we can rest here for a few days and map out the region, and perhaps establish trade routes.”
They were now a half-mile from shore. “Lower the canoes, we’re sending a greeting party to make sure we have permission to land.” Jason and Kato lowered the canoe down the side of the boat, until it reached the water. Bane rolled down a rope ladder after it. “Okay, I want Kato, Hurley, and Victoria on that boat. The rest of us will remain here until you come back with the go-ahead.”
Kato, Hurley, and Victoria climbed into the boat, and Hurley and Kato began to row while Victoria steered the canoe. As they came within a few feet of the shore, two of the native men helped them pull the canoe out of the water. “They seem friendly.” Hurley remarked.
Victoria then spoke. “Hello, we are explorers from Eupyrdiem, and we come in peace, bringing with us foods, knowledge, and culture from our native land. Do we have permission to come ashore?”
One of the men looked at the other and then said “Moa jai nehebati.”
The other one replied “Jai nehebati, maraseh.”
Hurley and Victoria exchanged sheepish grins, as they did not speak the native tongue.
Kato, however, stepped forward. “ Assa! Juha feh wohru. Kemito feh, seila verat, od jika fei fotila.”
The first native replied with a warm smile, “Yae, yae. Juha nura. Mei feh lanera, ‘kolia feh wohru od s’ourama ni fotila.’ ”
Hurley and Victoria were awestruck. “Kato, how do you know their language?”
“They speak the language of my people. I am guessing they are a colony.”
“Oh… So what did you say?”
“I said, ’Hello! We come in peace. We come to explore, trade goods, and share knowledge.’ And then he said, ‘Good, good. You come. We always say, ‘We love peace and the advancement of knowledge.’ ‘ Which is actually the motto of the International Relations bureau of my country, which is how I know they’re Feurun and not Khabae.”
Side note: Feura is much like Japan. Khaba is much like Japan before they modernized. The two countries share a common language, are neighbors, and are close allies, but their opinions towards the rest of the world are different. Feura is peaceful, and dedicated to the advancement of technology, the pursuit of peace, and the discovery of new lands. However, this hunger for expansion and development has left Feura with a small pollution problem and a very high population, and therefore, a need to colonize new lands. Feura is democratic and has a Prime Minister.
Khaba is much more isolated. While they don’t invade neighboring countries like Feura sometimes does, they also do not at all welcome outsiders. Only one country ever tried to invade Khaba, but they failed miserably, as Khaba has an advanced military. They didn’t even need any help from Feura. They have a very refined, culture, distinct even from Feura; and are ruled by an Emperor. Khaba has a medium population density. End side note.
Kato spoke again, “Shieh feh so muhra cressan?”
The native responded. “Ah.”
“Kato, what did you say that time?” Hurley asked.
“I said ‘Do we have permission to land?’ and he said ‘Yeah.’ ”
They got back on the boat, and Hurley and Kato began to paddle. “Ourah!” Kato yelled back to the shore. He then said, “Ourah means thank you. It is a very useful phrase, the Feurun people put much value in the showing of gratitude.”
Reaching the boat, they climbed up the ladder lowered by Bane and Jason.
“Okay, status report.”
“They’re friendly and we have permission to land.” Victoria said promptly, smiling.
“Follow my lead when we interact with them. They are Feurun, like me. We don’t want to offend them. This is the only civilization for hundreds of miles if we’re indeed where I think we are, so their hospitality is of great benefit to us.”
Oliver grew concerned and excited. “If there is no civilization except them here, does that mean we can claim a land perhaps 200 or 300 miles to the south?”
“Yes, as far as I know, and no one really knows much about the land down there. To the best of my knowledge no one at all lives there. If we go, we should take great caution; the land may not sustain us.”
“Understood, Kato. Thank you for your advice. Let’s go meet the locals.

Meanwhile, 200 miles to the north of them, the Jaywing and its crew floated out of an intense storm that had rocked them for 2 days. Its crew were in turmoil not because of the storm itself (they had weathered much worse), but because the storm had knocked their beloved captain into the raging sea 15 hours beforehand.
“I still can’t believe he’s dead…” Tracy looked out at the sea, which was now calm enough to float a paper boat on.
Zachary walked up and stood next to Tracy. “He was a good man… His life set an example we should all strive to follow.”
“There’s no way he died.” Gill said, confidently. “He’s a man of the sea through and through. How could the sea kill a man of the sea?”
“He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.”Murphy said with a sad, thoughtful smile. A few tears ran down his face as he said this. “Those were 8-foot seas. There’s no way anyone would survive being tossed around in there.” All of them were crying, even Grayson.
Zachary blinked and then glared out towards the horizon with a determined stare. “We have to get this shipment to Carial. It’s what we set out to do, and we’re already halfway there. Murphy? Aren’t we halfway there?” (Carial is much like Italy.)
Murphy scribbled a few things down on a piece of paper, looking up twice at the relative positions of the moon and sun, before replying “We’re about five-eighths of the way, actually. We have perhaps two weeks of travel left before we reach our destination.”
“Two weeks… We have to get the shipment there on time; if we don’t have any more delays and the seas stay calm we should make it.”
“We need to elect a new captain.” Victor said. “Two weeks is too long to go without a leader.”
“Okay, I’ll do it.” Zachary said.
“No… I think I should.” Tracy said, speaking with no trace of her earlier grief. “Tyler was training me for this very position when he died. His death must not be in vain.”
“You’ve only been sailing for what, 5 years? Your brother and I sailed for 15 years before you joined us.”
“GUYS! One thing Tyler would NOT want us doing is us fighting. We’re going to elect a leader the good old fashioned way… With a vote. All in favor of Zachary as captain?” Grayson yelled strictly.
Murphy, Zachary, and Grayson raised their hands.
“All in favor of Tracy as captain?” Grayson continued.
Gill, Victor, Francine, and, finally, Tracy raised their hands.
“Okay. That’s settled. The new captain is Tracy; no ifs, ands, or buts about it.” Grayson concluded.
Zachary swallowed audibly before asking, “Orders, captain?”
“… As captain, my first order is that we hold a formal funeral service to honor the memory of Tyler. My second order is for Francine to cook something. We haven’t eaten since the storm hit us.”
Later that night, after they ate and made the preparations (Lit candles, a cross, and a portrait of Tyler Gill had painted months ago. He refused to explain why he had it) the funeral service began.
It was led by Tracy. “All rise for a moment of silence.” The crew stood slowly and uniformly, their heads bowed in respect for their lost captain. “Be seated.” They sat the same way they rose. “We gather tonight in respect and remembrance of our captain, Tyler. He was my brother, and his loss is unimaginable in its magnitude. As Murphy pointed out earlier, his death is fitting in that he died the way he lived. We must do our best to carry on his legacy. Would anyone like to say anything?”
“Oh, me! Me!” Gill waved his hand in the air.
“Yes, Gill, go ahead.”
Gill stepped up excitedly while Tracy sat down. He carried in his hand a bible. “I would like to read a single verse from God’s Word.” He paused for a moment, either waiting for approval or building suspense. It can only be guessed at. “‘He provided a large amount of iron to make nails for the doors of the gateways and for the fittings, and more bronze than could be weighed.’ Chronicles 22:3.”
There was silence for a moment, before Gill concluded. “May he rest in peace. Amen.” He then sat down. The silence thickened before Victor finally spoke. “Sorry to interrupt the silence and all… But… what did that quotation have to do with Tyler? If anything.”
Gill sighed a deep, sorrowful sigh before replying “I knew you wouldn’t understand, Victor. I knew you wouldn’t understand either, Grayson.”
“I didn’t say anything.” Grayson said.
“Now Tyler” Gill continued, “he would have understood.” No one could really put up an argument to this, Tyler acted almost as an interpreter of Gill’s seemingly indecipherable actions.
Finally, Murphy stood. “Tyler was a strong, brave captain. Under him, we fended off three pirate attacks, and weathered countless storms. We made innumerable trade runs across the Hailoin Ocean, and we’ve seen virtually the entire civilized world. His legacy will live on in us. We must not fail him.”
Then a new silence began, this one in awe of Murphy’s sudden ability to completely shelve his persistent sarcasm in order to say something of great respect and truth. Then, Zachary stood.
“There isn’t too much to say that hasn’t been said already, but Tyler was my best friend. Every Wednesday we would get together belowdecks and he’d play the harmonica and I’d play my banjo. It always sounded perfect, like it wouldn’t sound any better if we both got thousands of times better. It was real. We shared so many little jokes, that I’d say it wasn’t funny. But I can’t say that because it was in fact hilarious. Not having you here is going to be really weird. But we have to press on to respect his memory. We have to do right by him. May he rest in peace, Amen.” Zachary sat down, his eyes slowly filling with tears.
Grayson stood. “I have been sailing with Tyler for 7 long years, and damn it, they were the best 7 years of my life.” He sat again.
Francine stood. “Tyler was an amazing man, and no one can replace him. …I loved him.” She sat again with tears flooding down her face. The silence that followed this statement was not one of respect, but one of shock. All on board (especially Tracy) stared at Francine with their mouths agape. “What? Why are you all staring?” Her question was answered by everyone averting their gazes.
Then, Victor stood. “I didn’t know Tyler for too long; a year isn’t long enough to really get to know someone. But what I knew of him, I liked. He was a good captain, and I’m hoping you’ll follow in his footsteps, Tracy. You have my support.”
“Thank you, Victor.” A new silence dawned. The silence began in shocked solemnity, then grew to a silence of mourning, and then changed to a sorrowful silence, punctuated by soft, sad sighs from some of the crew members. Then it grew pleading, with several of the crew members (especially Francine) staring upward hopefully. Then the silence gained heat as people began to look up with a new fire in their eyes at each other. Their collective determination to live up to the example set for them by Tyler grew.
Finally, Tracy stood up with her hands balled tightly into fists. She pointed southwest, over the bow, with a fiery passion. “Full speed ahead! We’re getting this shipment to Carial on time!”
The crew yelled in unison, “Aye aye, Captain!” as the wheel was manned, and the sails were dropped.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ocean 1

Table of Contents


Dramatis Personae:
Crew of S.S. Dovetailer
Oliver- Courageous and stoic Captain of the S.S. Dovetailer.
Gail- The “Feisty” First Mate, childhood friend of Oliver.
Victoria- Chief Navigator, is a musician and also the cartographer (mapmaker).
Hurley- First deckhand, a calm counterpart to Gail, childhood friend of Oliver.
Kato- Second deckhand, mysterious, obscure, yet wise at times
Jason- Third deckhand, skilled yet shy swordsman
Bane- Fourth deckhand, a skilled cook, and the “new guy.”

Crew of Ravensight
Iago- Sharp-witted and financially-oriented Captain of the S.S. Ravensight. Outwardly hostile, but not cruel.
Rodrigo-The first mate: A sharp contrast to Iago. He’s a dull-witted man, but a man of good character.
Jill- Chief navigator, the “normal” girl. She looks normal, acts normal, and is friendly enough.
Larry- First deckhand, a quiet man with a shadowed past. Skilled with bomb-making.
Valerie- Second deckhand, very headstrong and opinionated.
Nylante- Third deckhand and cook, an old man from the bayou who will talk for hours… If you’re smart enough to listen.

Crew of Jaywing
Tyler (presumed dead)- Former captain of S.S. Jaywing, was training her sister in the ways of the sea.
Tracy- Captain of the S.S. Jaywing, became captain after her brother was blown overboard during a storm.
Zachary- First-mate and best friend of Tyler. Is not used to Tracy’s leadership.
Murphy- Chief Navigator, a young man with a dry sense of humor.
Grayson- First deckhand, a large man with an affinity for explosives and firearms.
Victor- Second deckhand, and Victoria’s twin brother, but hasn’t spoken to her in years.
Francine- Third deckhand, a connoisseur of obscure sea dishes, and a decent cook.
Gill- Fourth deckhand, an eccentric guy.


Our story begins under the deck of the S.S. Dovetailer. It is several minutes before lunch, and Bane is cooking for the first time, since Hurley has retired from the position. Of course, the rest of the crew (especially Gail) is getting impatient. He is currently adding spices to the smoked yellowfin. Finishing that, he garnishes it with a lime peel. He first (knowing that the crew mostly eats meat) brings up the finished salmon dish.
“New guy, what took you?” Gail yelled.
“Sorry, the spice rack was a bit cluttered. I was organizing it so it should be faster next time.”
Hurley glanced over. “What are you talking about, kid? I alphabetized them. They should have been organized just fine.”
“It was a mess when I went to cook breakfast. Remember the storm a couple nights ago? I don’t think I used it since then, but when I opened it to look for the salt for the eggs, a bunch of stuff fell out. So I put it back in order. The rolling of the ship probably knocked over the spice rack.”
“Forget about all that. What did you cook?” Oliver asked.
“Um… Smoked yellowfin with some chopped basil and a lime garnish.” Bane said proudly.
“Bane. How long did it take you to cut the peel in one long slice like this?” Victoria asked.
“Maybe ten minutes?”
“Yeah…. That’s ten minutes we could have been eating. Don’t do that next time. Kato, have you seen Jason?”
“He said that he was going to be up in a moment.”
“What’s he doing belowdecks?” Oliver asked with some concern.
“He said he was stacking the cannonballs.”
“Why would he do something silly like that? Someone get him.”
Just then, Jason came up the stairs going below. “Hi guys. The cannonballs are stacked really neat now.”
“Good job.”
“Hey… hey Bane, what’s for lunch?” Jason asked.
“Smoked tuna.”
“Oh, cool! I love tuna.”
They sat down to eat. This was the crew of the S.S. Dovetailer. Normally they were much friendlier, but they were hungry. And a hungry crew is a cranky crew. But as they ate, they grew gradually less and less hostile. By the end, they were downright jovial.
This was an exploration vessel, so all who were aboard had a hearty thirst for the world’s sights and mysteries. They lived for experiences.

About 50 miles northeast of them, lurked the Ravensight. Its crew was in very good spirits, as they had just sacked a smaller trader ship called the Squirreltail. Of course, being generally non-violent pirates who relied mostly on intimidation (they all wore masks while raiding ships) and threats to get what they wanted, they didn’t kill anyone aboard the Squirreltail. The worst thing they did was stab someone in the leg; which, for a pirate, is pretty merciful.
At that moment, they were going through their haul. In with the treasure, Nylante found a rather large dead rat. It looked relatively fresh. “Boys, whaddaya say to a helping of Nylante’s rat casserole? This rat looks like it ain’t even been dead that long; it’d make for some fine eating.”
“Ugh, Ny, seriously? Sorry, but I’m going to have to pass on that. Just looking at that thing is making me sick.” Valerie said with obvious disdain for the rodent.
“I dunno, I’m pretty hungry, and if rat casserole is anything like what Nylante did to that chicken we captured from the S.S. Sandshrew, I’d be willing to try it.” Said Rodrigo with a hungrily vacant stare.
“Yeah, I’ll second what Rod said. I’m up for some rat casserole.” Jill said with a grin.
Iago looked over. “Larry, what’s your vote? I’m actually in favor of Nylante cooking that thing.”
“Yes.” Larry said, and quickly returned to counting the gold coins in the burlap sack he had set down on the deck.
Iago smiled. “So it’s settled, 5 to 1. We’re having rat casserole tonight.” And then, they heard a thump.
“Guys, did you hear that?” Jill asked.
Valerie was already looking over the edge of the boat. “It’s a guy clinging to a plank of wood. He looks tired.”
“Okay, new vote. All in favor of bringing him aboard? I am personally in favor… With all this loot we scored, we can afford another deckhand no problem.”
Everyone, this time including Valerie, raised their hand. Iago opened a small door next to the door to the wheelhouse, and took out a rope ladder. He brought it over to the side of the boat. “Hey, guy! Look up here!”
The man was unresponsive.
“Alright, everyone hold the ladder, I’m bringing him up.” Everyone took hold of the end of the ladder as Iago tossed it over the edge of the boat. He climbed down and grabbed the man by the waist, throwing him over his shoulder. He climbed back up, almost dropping the castaway several times. But eventually he made it back up.
“Okay, we got him. He’s passed out, and he might have some water in his throat, but he’s breathing. Nylante, fetch some of that strong-smelling stuff you use to wake people up.” Iago began thrusting his wrist into his chest under the lung repeatedly, and the man spat out a good amount of seawater.
“I’m on it.” He returned a minute later carrying a corked vial with a red herb in it. He uncorked the vial and waved it under the man’s nose. The man spluttered and coughed immediately, spitting out a bit of seawater in the process.
They all backed away as the man sat up, holding his hand in front of his eyes to block out the bright sun. “Where am I? What are you all doing on my ship?”
Iago laughed a bit. “You’re mistaken, I’m afraid. This is MY ship, the Ravensight. What’s your name?”
The man hesitated for a bit, apparently concentrating intensely. “My name… My name is… Tyler.”
“Tyler. Welcome. We found you adrift, and since you look like a man who knows his way around a boat, we’d like to invite you to join our crew. Your pay would be 5% of whatever we pillage.”
“This is a pirate ship. We take just enough from merchant and trade ships that they can recover to be pillaged again, but enough that we can feed ourselves and live comfortably. It used to be a merchant ship years ago, but I commandeered it after the original captain died, and the people you see here were the crew of that ship at the time. Except Larry, he joined us after double-crossing his own ship to help us. No one can recognize us as the crew of a pirate ship on land as we keep ourselves somewhat well-groomed, and because we take down our black flag and replace it with a Eupyrdian (In the world of Trimera, derived from the Latin for “Three Seas”, Eupyrdiem is the country with the greatest naval strength, comparable to England on earth) one long before any shore towns can see it. So we are free to land at normal ports without suspicion and use the money we take from those ships to buy food and supplies. We also dabble in trade, so some people even know us as traders. This is the way we live. So, I ask again, would you like to join us?”
“I don’t remember much other than my name… Maybe joining you will help me remember who I am. Sure, I’ll take your offer.”
And so the Ravensight gained its fourth deckhand, a mysterious drifter in the most literal sense of the word. Only time would tell if he would remember who he was.

Part Two

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sal Jackson 1-1

Table of Contents


Part 1- Where am I?

I woke up in a strange plastic enclosure. I went to open up the enclosure so I could get out. But I was very startled to find that my fist had shrunk down to about the size of a golf-ball. I was even more startled to find that the rest of me had shrunk accordingly. And finally, I was most of all startled to find that I had very little control over my limbs.
I couldn’t do much but wait for something else to happen, seeing as I wasn’t able to make anything useful happen in my current state. So I did the only thing that I thought would make something happen. I screamed. The sound of my voice, which, unlike the rest of my body, had actually increased in size, (and jumped two or three octaves to boot) startled me so much that I screamed again. I would have screamed a third time, but that would have been redundant (and just plain silly). A woman in white rushed over and picked me up out of the plastic thing. I understood now what you probably had already guessed. For whatever reason, I was a baby again.
Jump ahead a couple days to when my parents picked me up out of the nursery. The sight of them made me cry uncontrollably. (Please try to remember, I went through both of them dying within weeks of each other, and I lived for about 40 more years after that. I never thought I would see them alive again.) Of course, my parents (who were at the time 26 and 28, mom and dad respective) thought that they had done something wrong to make their baby cry. This was very far from the truth. They didn’t do anything but walk in exactly when they did. Seeing her baby crying, my mother picked me up and held me tightly over her shoulder. I continued to cry, of course. All of this was happening so fast and I didn’t know what to think or do.
My father, trying to do his part, started making funny faces at me. I’ll admit it, I laughed a little at that. I had forgotten completely that until the train derailment which took the life of my grandmother, grandfather, and uncle not long after my 2nd birthday, my father had been a cheerful man. But after losing his mother, father, and most devastatingly his twin brother, he became strict, cold. When I turned 3 he left my mother and I to fend for ourselves, and I never saw him again until I was in my thirties. After we met again, and we each realized who the other person was, we talked long into the night, and well into the next morning. I found it difficult to forgive him. After all, he had left us behind for god-knows-what, and I was just a boy after all. But nonetheless he did his best to reacquaint himself with me. After that, we visited each other every week or so, and he was the first besides me or Flora to hold our son, Nathaniel. This continued for about 15 years, when his house burned down with him in it. As I recall, my mother didn’t so much as attend the funeral. She died five weeks later, however, of colon cancer. To be fair, my father didn’t attend my mother’s funeral either. Fair is only fair.
They brought be out to their car, and drove me home. For the next three or four months, much like a prisoner in my own body, not being able to move easily or speak clearly, all I could do was ponder what had happened. After a little while, maybe two weeks in, I realized what this meant for me. I wasn’t going to make the mistake of asking how such a miracle could have happened to me, but I knew that with the knowledge I had now, I would be able to avert all the misfortune that had happened to me throughout my life, as long as I played my cards right.
I had another 89 years ahead of me, but this time I was ready for anything.

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