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Epoch

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YH
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Previously in Epoch...

He nearly tripped over her, his dead brother's girlfriend, as he barreled out of his flat; she was waiting on the landing for him, perched on the top step and hugging her knees, her back against the railing post.

"Please, Jarrod, We need to talk!" Nara stood.

"I have to go to--"

"I'm pregnant."

***

Abbi did not know someone could squeal any louder. “Out, out! I’ve had enough of you!” her boss yelled and his face turned red. “And don’t you dare to come back here!”

“I won’t!” she answered as the doors rang and opened before her, leading her outside. “Oh, and just a warning, don’t use the--” Klang! “--coffee machine.” As the dark juice spread across the tiled floor and the curses reached her ears, she put her hands into her pants pockets and smiled, the tiny screw rolling between her fingers.

***

"Just have some coffee and shut up." Durmuk said. "We need to get our ride back today."

"Right." Ventus said, and he downed a cup black. He belched heartily. "So, when do we go?"

"Well, we could leave now." Durmuk suggested.

Ventus considered for a second. "Alright, let's go. We can get something to eat after."

***

Jarrod didn't even notice Elgin standing at the front of the building as he raced past, his engine keening like an echo without a source. He caught the time on an ad-board, though, and knew he was still late. He could swear he heard his boss's red-faced shrieking beginning already as he pulled into the shop. The corner of his mouth kinked upwards at the sight of the young woman, "Hey, Abbi," he said as he dismounted and removed his helm, "You leaving? Aren't you working today?"

"Not anymore," she replied, "I must have said something wrong, he is in a bad mood today. You're late, do you know that? I would not go in just yet, though, someone made a mess and they are still cleaning."

***

In the outside viewer Elgin could see Nara's irritated glare regarding him with murderous intent, "What do you want, El?"

Elgin's face dropped with the realization that it was Nara on the comm in the place of the only person in the world he needed to give a damn about. "Jarrod's drunk and fucked again, is he? Tell the bastard to get his ass off the fold-out, I need to talk to him."

"I'm sorry Elgin, I sometimes forget you have the brain of a retarded troll, Jarrod can't come out to play, sweetie, he's at work. See, he's a grown-up, and he has responsibilities, 'kay?" She made a rude gesture with her first two fingers, and then the viewer went blank as the speaker crackled with a static hiss.

***

Barusi sat, currently in a state of contentment, as his small ship steadily went through the air above the city. It was of a decent size, meant for a larger crew, but could in necessity (as he had found) be run by one person. It was bulbous at the front, but at the back came to an almost pointed tail, part of the exterior Dwemer design, with the exception being the paint--rather than stainless steel or chrome color, it was a true silver color, shining with all the property of the rare metal itself. Perhaps he could find someone today who would be interested in joining in an adventure like he dreamed of.

***

"Wow." Ventus said, looking from outside as the behemoth landed in the garage.

"Makes our old set of grounded wheels feel a bit inadequate, doesn't it?" Durmuk said, also awestruck.

"Sure does." Ventus said.

"As the captain of the ship," Barusi said, glancing over at the two, "I'll say that it is very nice to have such a vessel." He could see just how fascinated the two were with it, and it got him excited as well. "Would you like a short tour?"

***

"You could always ask the owner," Abbi spoke as she walked around the vessel and looked at it, "But then again, he or she might say no and then you have nothing. "And if you really want to..."

Following her inside, at first Jarrod grinned, and then he realized what Abbi had done and his smile slid off his face. "Abbi! You've already gotten fired, you wanna get arrested?" Even as he called to her, he didn't waste the moment to take a long, craning look and drink in as much of the ship as possible. The solid castings and intricate iron work, a stark and wonderful contrast to the sleek exterior; and that smell--a blending of machine and magic, like o-zone and incense, it was impossible to tell where the electronics stopped and the alchemy began, and the lightning of it all ran up his spine and gave him goose-flesh.

***

Knudson came to a stop as he reached the ship, an indignant excitement in his breathing. Voices could be heard from the inside, and so he walked around the ship, looking for the entrance. The door was wide open, and four people were stood inside. Knudson knocked on the door. "H-Hey, hope I'm not interrupting anything. Only, I saw the notice that the owner of this ship was looking for a crew... and, well, I came for the interview...."

"The interview? Of course!" Barusi exclaimed, "In fact, you're all quite capable, and I'd like you all to have an interview to join the crew of this marvelous example of progress!" Perhaps he had a shot at getting a decent crew after all.

"Excuse me," Jarrod said quickly, bowing his head as he ducked past the small group huddled around the vessel, and jogging toward the office. Slowing as he neared the door, trying to think up a good excuse, Jarrod mentally staggered when he saw Elgin having a tantrum.

***

Elgin almost kicked the door in. "I'm looking for Jarrod." his eyes, his voice, were calm and still, though his posture would give one another thought about it.

The coated shop manager was awhile in replying, stumbling out the words. "Jarrod isn't here. Lazy bastard, I should have fired him a week ago."

"Elgin?" Jarrod asked, hanging on the jamb and leaning into the office with a bemused expression, "What are you doing here?"

Elgin's head snapped upwards and locked gaze with Jarrod's eyes, his temperament changed as suddenly. Almost bleak features replaced panic and concern. "What do you mean, asking me that?" He picked up his guitar and cast over his shoulder idly, "Come outside. I need to talk to you." Without another word he was through the steel gates and into the not-so-bright exterior world. "Your brother is like a fucking black hole, man...." He trailed off, shaking his head, and turned his back to Jarrod for a moment while he paced. "The same fuckers want after me. Apparently Damon's life wasn't enough to pay the bill. I have six hundred septims in the Whitestone Provincial Coinlender's. They want six thousand."

Jarrod snorted and sneered at the smoke Elgin was blowing, he took a deep breath, "I don't have that kind of money; Damon's funeral cleaned me out."

"We'll think of something." Elgin relaxed, stopped looking. "We have to. 'Cuz there's no way in hell I pull this off alone. I... I don't fucking know, man. It used to be slick...."

Jarrod's forehead remained furrowed as he watched Elgin, "I won't help you do something illegal, if that's what your plan is; we're not gonna tilt a bank or--" His words caught on those barbs as his eyes went through his brother's friend, staring at the centurion  that was lumbering inexorably toward them. He grabbed Elgin by the shoulder and hauled him back inside the shop. "Come with me and shut the hell up," spoken tersely,"I don't know what's going to happen now, but keep quiet and do as I say when I say it." At the vessel, he stiff-armed his way through the others, offering only a curt excuse to them as he clapped his hand on Barusi's shoulder, speaking again in that voice that was at once calm and serious, "Does this thing have any weapons on it?"

***

Barusi looked over and grinned at Jarrod. "This one is my favorite," There lay a suit of Dwemer armor, similar in appearance to how they had been in antiquity. However, long gone was the appearance of rust and decay and a lost society. Here, this suit bore the full array of the modern Dwemer advances. The entirety of it was a deep blue color, and the armor had a surface that appeared like liquid, as if you could touch the surface of it and your finger would sink inside. "This thing is magic--it is literally a suit made with magical potential and essentially acts as armor and magical conductor."

For a moment Jarrod's face lit up again, like it had during his inspection of the aircraft, he traced the shimmering surface of the cobalt artifact with his fingertips. "This will do fine, thank you." Rising and admiring his new form, he spoke to Barusi in a ghostly voice, "Get the ship airborne, now."

Elgin was too taken by Jarrod's sudden switch that he didn't manage to say anything as he was rushed inside and aboard the massive shining hulk sitting idle in the building. There were others, and his eyes drifted over to the two fine gentlemen holding swords.

He strode over to Ventus and tore the weapon from him. "Give me that, before you fuckin' well kill someone." He shot a glance over at the Orc, and back at the Breton, as if suggesting that he should do the same. "First rule of life - don't do shit you know nothing about. I'll give you some somber advice and tell you to listen to the voice in your head from time to time," A smirk spread like margarine on toast under his hair. "Do you a world of good."

***

Exiting the ship, Jarrod saw that the Centurion was already too close for comfort, and he strode purposefully towards the metal man. A metal fist hammered against a metal chin, although the sound of steel-on-steel brutality was not out of place for the location, and it was not until the first shot rang out that the shop stood still in bemused awe. By then, both Jarrod and the Centurion were deep in battle.

Elgin watched in slatted disbelief as the two metal men made their combat. The orc still held the other gunblade and Elgin took this from him with newfound vigor. He wound the chamberlock, setting the varlor into place and wrapping gingerly his hand across the hilt. Shouts rang like explosions as he strode out from metallic safety and into the gauntlet. His new instruments hung from his side like he were setting up for a show.

A steel bearing began to roll with an irregular mechanical grind towards it's target. Elgin stared at it a few moments, tracking the movement and making sure that it wasn't going to head for him. Slowly he raised both weapons and unlocked the cylinder, a soft hiss as the driving force enters the chamber. If the centurion heard it, it did not care. Two shots, one after another. The weapons rocked violently, chugging back and forth as the piston pressed the air until it pushed back. The stage had been set, and the music of the streets rung out, the familiar drang as the teal-blue crystal blasted out on a streak of red. The two shots curved exactly where he wanted them to go, pattering up the side of the Cenn's face and exploding into a colored mist around it's metalled skull.

Abbi had watched the fight in shock, she was not certain what had happened, but then something exploded and Jarrod landed a distance away in a way that could not be anything else but painful. Throwing a quick glance at the Centurion, she saw it was not moving, and she ran outside. Kneeling down next to Jarrod, she tried to look at his face. "You're not dead, are you?" she asked softly, "I would appreciate it if you said no."

"Get to the ship!" Jarrod gasped as the Centurion began to move, he pushed against her shoulder, urging her on as he climbed laboriously to his feet. "Get them out of here, now!"

She wanted to drag him along, get him to safety, but she knew that her action would have the opposite effect. Therefore she went straight towards the ship, without looking back. She stumbled inside and came to a stop, then looked at the Dunmer captain and breathed, "He said--we need to go."

"Well," Barusi said, "the largest issue is simply engine failure. This is an issue that's plagued the ship several times, you think you can fix it?" Barusi hoped she did.

She picked a screwdriver out of the box and started talking, "That thing there has to be replaced. It is something small and I am not surprised they missed it." Then she jammed the tool into the panel and smiled, "There, that should do it for now. She'll hold."

Then she turned her back to the panel and started walking away, "I'll go close the door!" she called over her shoulder, tucking her hands deep into her pockets. Please kill that thing.

***

The Praetorion scanned her face, committing every line and curve to memory; three clicks later, it knew her name, her birthsign, her hometown, and how much money she spent on that trip to High Rock her parents gave her as a graduation gift. The repeat offender only took one click to recall, then a second click to append this new misdeed to his record.

Now the Praetorion focused on the Blue_1. It only watched and waited, it made no attempt to aid its comrade: probabilities for success in that endeavor had been weighed five clicks ago, the verdict was inevitable. As Blue_1 helped Elgin onto the ship, the Praetorion continued to take inventory. Echo-visual sampling revealed multiple contusions, both cranial and thoracic; concussion and ocular hematoma; greenstick fractures of the third and fourth ribs; a dislocated shoulder; markedly increased tissue regeneration due to unquantifiable thaumaturgic enhancements.

"Head north, past Bruma and into the mountains--eyes west, you'll know it when you see it," Jarrod's voice was a mix of command and concern. "I'll meet you there."

Bruma; north and west; Cloud Ruler. So, he was a Blade. The list narrowed, another click, two new names, and then smartly returning to its conveyance, the Praetorion receded back into the city.

***

Jarrod turned, ready to finish the battle, but when he saw the rotocenturion retreat, he panicked. He sighed a ragged breath, "Oh no...."

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A dull roar came from the ship as the engine started to turn on again, barely drowning out Barusi's energetic yells. Sitting himself properly into the pilot's seat, he glanced along the board, as everything powered up, and, after hoping for a moment everyone was on board, started doing his job.

In particular, a small, rounded stone in an indented surface began to rise into the air above the pedestal, slowly spinning and having several grooves appear upon it. As this happened, yet a second stream of power could be seen flowing through the mechanics of the ship.

The ship very smoothly began rising into the air, seeming to hover for a few seconds in place. Then, the ship shot forward and upwards, quickly sailing above the Imperial City and the multitude of buildings and neighborhoods in it. Barusi set it on a smooth course, before he set it to an autopilot.

After this was done, he grabbed the Mazte sitting underneath a small table near the chair, and took a drink of it. When he felt properly refreshed, Barusi then spoke into the intercom system which linked throughout the rest of the ship: "Well, that was fun. We forget anyone?"

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Abbi leaned against a wall of the ship as she watched the city get smaller. She knew they had to leave him behind, they would not have been able to convince him anyway, but it still was not right.

Turning a final time, she pulled the screw out of the intercom box and let it roll in her hand. Number 34. Or 35? She stared at it a little longer, before tucking it away with the rest.

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Elgin slid his back down the bulkhead and dropped the pistols. His attention turned. Slowly and delicately he began to unzip the black, tight-woven fabric, exposing the headstock, the neck, gradually the snug clothing falling away to reveal the elegant curves on the dark brown wood. They were cast aside, and the glossed angel beneath was allowed to spread its wings. Elgin began to play a song. The wrought halls vibrated along with the strings, sung back, eerie call to the out of place tune. In key and even, harmonious. Just like always. He began to strum harder, the notes taking on a deeper, less welcoming tone. Spearing up out of the chords a shift momentarily to a loveless smile, then back down into the darkness.

He opened his eyes, and stood up, starting again to pack his instrument into hiding. It was too precious to be lost. "Fuck man, not my day." He set the guitar against the wall and paced a bit, hand on his forehead. He swiveled about. "What now?"

YH
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Every bump and crack was amplified a hundred times, the jagged edges gnawing on themselves like the fractured teeth of nightmare-driven slumber. Sweat and blood gummed sticky joints like rancid motor oil, viscous with the lethargy of those bad dreams. It's always the same: no matter how much you push, how fast you urge yourself to move, you're drowning in molten lead. This wasn't a dream, though, this was happening. He rode hard, in agony that told him he was very much awake, and grateful for that pain because it told him at least he was still alive.

The Centurions weren't there, but someone else was. He recognized the death-angel, flying motionless, it's metal heart humming warmly as it perched on the curb outside his digs; he had seen the amber harbinger before, when Damon was still alive, and no doubt her churls awaited him within. The azure mantle was graveyard silent as he ascended his roost. Adrenaline numbed the black, and already the gaps were knitting back together, but not nearly fast enough. Can I handle them, he wondered? Only one way to find out.

"Stick that pig!"

The faceless knight grinned invisibly, joints unstuck now that the haze cleared; he was blue lightning, flashing and loud. Iron knuckles collided with greasy jowls like a rock rippling the surface of a pond, splashing sanguine gouts. The first went down in like a sack of yams, followed soon by the second, who was too fascinated by his brand new elbow to put up much of a fight anymore. The third and fourth tried to get clever and attack at the same time, but their ignorance prevailed when they brought their knives to a cannon fight. They finally smartened up for real at that point, and played foot music down the stairs.

He hunched against a wall, rasping ghost-like. His hand moved and she shrieked at him, "Stay the fuck away from me, you metal son of--"

The spectre's face receded, the smirk made visible.

"--Jarrod?" She was incredulous, the blanket still clutched white-knuckle to her chest.

"Hey, Nara," he spat red and swallowed great gulps of breath, "You really need to get some new friends." She started bawling as she dropped the covers and pressed against him, answering with sobs and nods. "Are you hurt?" The brute squad had outnumbered him, and he had stood his ground without hesitation, but now he felt very uncertain. She shook her head, and so he let the storm blow against him, knowing it would be over soon. He considered having a good cry himself.

She sniffled and looked up at him, muttering an apology as she smeared her tears, "When did you become a tinker's toy?"

He chuckled, lifting his hand to pat her back, then he recoiled at his armored reflection framed by the sill; for a moment, he thought his number had been called, but it was just him. As if in response to his unease, the shell opened and slid free, impacting solidly on the floor.

She chuckled and turned on the dazzle, her lips curling playfully, "That's a useful trick."

He noted she had lost none of her fae glamour, and he suddenly missed the armor.

"Gods, what happened to you?" She was all sweetness then as her fingertips brushed over his eye and he winced, pulling away. That caused another grunt, and he gripped his ribs and fell heavily into a dining chair. "You're a mess!" She fetched some ice, unmindful of the goosebumps the mist raised on her bare legs.
"Been one of those mornings," he groaned.

"Tell me about it."

He looked at the ceiling and wordlessly accepted the compress, replacing her hand with his own. "I got it, thanks."

She sat adjacent him again, and he was filled with déjà vu. His eyes fell to her bare midriff. She leaned forward, hands gripping the seat between her legs, and he god-gazed again.

"So? Going to tell me or not?" She bounced her leg impatiently, eager for the gossip.

"Wha--? Oh," he pushed those other thoughts from his mind and recalled the recent events, then suddenly he remembered why he had come in the first place and sat upright, spilling ice and wincing again. "Get dressed, we have to get out of here."

"More?" She pushed her chin the direction of the door.

"No, someone else."

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Barusi put the Mazte up on the table, and stood up from his seat, heading back towards the center of the ship. Once he got here, he turned into the general living quarters, and found the group of them there. "Hey there, everyone," he said, making his way around the room to a slightly more elevated platform. "As the proper captain of this vessel, I, Barusi Telvanis Banab, welcome you all aboard." He smiled a bit at this point in his speaking. "As members of the crew, of course, I hope you'll pull your own weight around here, in making sure the ship is properly run. In addition, I think it's possible we need some sort of plan, because as it seems, there could be the smallest chance the Dwemer know who we are and want our heads now." He shrugged his shoulders. "Just the slightest chance. Nothing to worry about, really."

"So," he continued, "where to?" Personally, he had no true inclinations of a place to go, but they needed to head somewhere besides the city. And he had to avoid an authoritarian view of himself from the people he now found aboard his ship. Being agreeable when he could, taking charge when necessary. That's the captain's job.

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Abbi sat on a low closet with her legs dangling over the side and leaning backwards. Now that they were all together in one room, she had taken the opportunity to take a closer look at the others. Her thoughts were interupted at the word "crew". He called this a crew? She doubted many knew how to handle the ship and even she was not very good at maintaining a ship that looked both old as new.

Barusi seemed nice, though, very different from her former 'bosses'. Pulling her legs under her, she answered to what had sounded like a question, "Somewhere we are safe, then, I guess, and where we can get supplies, perhaps."

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Elgin wished he had a bit of booze. It certainly couldn't hurt, a few hundred metres in the air and presumably pursued by soul-less legions from a warlock's cast-iron mind. He remembered the times when he was still young, untouched. Even then it wasn't real innocence. The Centurions would roll down his street and he'd watch them in wonderment from the apartment window as they'd stop foot traffic on the paveways below in a manner so orderly and efficient. Eventually he realized it was bullshit. A facade. The only power came on the bright causeways and the Elder Palaces. Everywhere else, in the black, there was no efficiency. No order.

Unfortunately they were out in the open. They were dead, because now the hammer comes down. And it wouldn't take long, either. But there were ways to make it take a little longer.

"So, Jerry's a Blade, I guess?" Elgin rapped his fingers along his left jaw. "Why don't we go to that Blades place?" He had to restrain himself from laughing, because even to him that sounded just plain dumb.

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He'd considered taking the armor, but decided against it: best to remain inconspicuous.

"Where's your cart?"

"The port, at the end of the block." She togged up as she walked towards him, watching him peer through the sliver of egress. He checked back at her, saw her dithering and hugging herself, and knew his mania was beginning to poison her. She smiled nervously at him and ran a hand through her hair. He relaxed himself, then took her by the wrist and led her down to the street.

They became fish in the stream, although swimming was great effort on his part; by the end of the block he was drenched again, his jaw clenched in silent suffering.

"Jarrod, we need to get you to--"

"No!" Sickle-sharp, he bifurcated her words in midair. She stared, somehow maintaining wide-eyed innocence, and he hated that he could no longer hate her. He sheathed his blade, "We don't have time, Nara, we have to get out of town."

"All right," she muttered and nodded, taking his hand and the lead.

***

He fell onto his back with a dire groan, and she bit her lip as she ran her hand over his forehead.

"You're hot," her voice was shadow soft and cool. He chuckled wryly, but said nothing in reply. She closed the hatch, then moved to the pilot seat and guided the small vessel from its dock and into her place in the marching line of silver, brass and green.

"Where are we going?"

"North, Bruma. Stay off the main roads where you can. Let me know before we reach the city," his voice was pale.

"What's in Bruma?" She inquired, but again got no response. The gray became blue, became black, and the eyes of Oblivion were upon them.

 

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"Huh? The guy who I gave that fun little armor set to was a Blade?" Barusi looked surprised for a moment, but that quickly went away. "Explains how he learned to fight, I suppose." He sat quietly for a moment, thinking, and then he looked over at Elgin. "Do you think they'd be willing to help us, seeing as how we kind of know one of them?" He instinctively checked his pockets a moment, making sure he hadn't lost his weapon at some point. Luckily, it was still in place.

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 Ventus and Durmuk just shuddered in a corner. This was all so wildly beyond them. Every strum on the guitar, every clank of the engine keeping them aloft, every footstep made them jump. It was abundantly clear that they would be no more help to anyone, and the glint in Ventus' eye suggested he may well be a threat to himself. 

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"Not like we have any better options short of flying all the way to Akavir." He twiddled his thumb and ran his hands across the metallics of the table. "And the monkeys didn't finish up the job." His thoughts drifted for a few moments, testing out chances, seeing whether Cloud Ruler was indeed the right place to be. He'd heard rumors, about the Blades. If they were true it wouldn't be hard to see why Jarrod had become one. It was like some sort of resistance movement. Or maybe it was a cult. The way they were plastered seemed to change each year, and the Dwemer preferred to ignore their existence. He didn't know who they were or what they did, but he did know they were old. Older than he could possibly read about. If he weren't aware of the books he would have called them legends.

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"Well, guess that settles it. To Cloudruler, and whatever awaits us there!" Barusi grinned, while looking around at the rest of the crew. The grin faded a little at the looks of the group, but didn't go away. "Now, of course, everyone's got to pitch in their own efforts to helping run this ship. Measures in balance, mechanics watched and fixed, stuff like that." He glanced for a split second towards the doorway, then turned back just as quickly. "Also, we have the small problem of Dwarves and their robo-friends, so we might need someone to man what little guns we have in an emergency.

"Beyond that, you guys will basically be able to freely go about the ship, 'cept my own room, of course. That's off-limits, and honestly, what's worth finding among my things anyway?" He chuckled a bit at that, but stopped because he wanted to appear a little serious as captain.

"Any questions, my new crew?"

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Abbi raised her hand slowly. She had made a mental note about Jarrod and Blades, whoever those were, and as it seemed she had found herself a new job, she better made the best of it before it was over again.

"What do you want me to measure or watch and where is my room?"

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Barusi looked around to where Abbi was standing. "Um...well, there's a lot of stuff to be watched and measured and if broken fixed. Creatia levels, for example, or the steam system's pipes. You know, stuff like that. Can't imagine you'd know much about creatia measurements and withdrawals, but I get the feeling that besides that you're a bit of an expert or something along those lines."

He pointed at the roof. "The lighting system, for example, works through a subtle interplay of creatia and steam power, which isn't worth our time to explain. The point is, if we don't take care of the systems through which the steam is run through, suddenly we can't see anything." He paused for a moment, then said, "Well, that, or we're blinded by an unfiltered running through of creatia energy into the room. But I prefer the first.

"No worries, though, the first one is infinitely more likely than the second. It'd require almost deliberate sabotage of the lighting systems to make the second one happen. So, no worries, just be careful when you're working on them." Barusi was quite aware of how useless that explanation was, but he felt he'd got the message across: keep steam working.

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Nodding the entire explanation of the system, Abbi was now standing with her hands folded behind her back. She got what he was saying, even though he talked too much to her liking, and she would make sure the work was done properly. She had no desire to be blind yet. Or ever. Deaf maybe, if she had to, but not blind.

When the man was done talking, the smile returned to her face once again. "I'll take care of the steam," she said, "We'll have all the light we need, I assure you." She then brought one hand before her and continued, "You answered one question," counting on her fingers, "but not the other."

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"Oh, right, rooms." Barusi walked back to the doorway, and pointed down the hallway, where everyone could see them. "In this direction are the crew's quarters. You'll find a few rooms that you can use. They've got beds and all the essentials, but nothing fancy, really." He walked back in, shrugging. "Decide which rooms you fellows want when you get there. It doesn't matter much to me which rooms you choose."

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Abigail nodded, turned and made her way to the rooms, picking one out and walking in. She closed the door quickly behind her, loud enough to be heard through the hallway. There she laid down on the bed, tossed her boots off and crossed her feet, and stared at the ceiling.

This wasn't such a bad place, if there weren't any robots chasing them who probably wanted them dead. Leaving that thought behind, she started going through her mind and replayed what she had seen today, minute by minute, calculating the next step.

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Barusi watched her walk away, obviously surprised she just walked away like that. After staring for a moment, he then turned back around to everyone else.

"Uhh...anything else?" He asked, attempting to be unfazed by her sudden departure from the room.

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"Coffee?" Elgin smiled wide and ran his fingers through his hair.

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"Oh, right. Coffee. Drinks. Food and food-like substances." Barusi moved over to a cabinet, and opened it up, pulling out some cans and such with small labels on them. One rolled out and fell on the floor, though Barusi seemed to pay it little attention. "All right in here," he said, pulling out a can labeled 'COFFEE' and holding it out towards Elgin. "Just don't open the unlabeled one. That's mine."

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Elgin eyed both the coffee can and Barusi suspiciously before slowly taking the canister. "I'll try and refrain from opening Azurah's box." With a little kick he brought himself to his feet and walked over to what he assumed was a coffee maker. He flicked the switch and shoveled in a spoonful of the ground beans to percolate. The water filtered in of it's own accord.

Mere seconds of listening to the engine thrumming started to get on his nerves.  "Anyone know what time it is?" Elgin felt his stomach clenching at his abs, demanding food. He hadn't eaten breakfast this morning. He would've missed Jarrod! But that logic proved useless anyways. Walking all the way to that damn shop apparently works up an appetite.

YH
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He perched on the edge of the marble tabletop, eyes closed, luxuriating in the mixed embrace of bright warmth and caress of whisper cool. It brought him the perfume of sweet greenery, his mind turning petals over as he recalled them: orchid and rhododendron. There was laughter, which brought him back to them. He turned his head, not having heard what was said, but their joyous sounds made him smile.

"Jarrod! Jarrod, make him give it back!"

"Why do you always tattle?"

"Why do you always take my stuff?"

"I didn't take it, I was just looking--"

"Jarrod!"

"Jarrod!"

His smile twisted, and instead of happiness there was agony. He was a giant hammer-smashed thumb.

"You scared the hell out of me!" Shara. No, Nara; her name was Nara.

Thickly, "What's wrong?"

"You stopped breathing, or at least you sounded like it--or didn't sound like it, I guess." She was leaning over the back of the bucket seat, tucking stray locks behind her ear. She looked relieved, but her hand was still trembling.

Sitting upright, he looked about the canopy of glass at the forest that surrounded them. They were out of the city, at least. He took in a deep breath, cool with the armoa of spruce, then gasped when the fire returned and made him wish he could stop breathing. "Where are we?"

"I don't know, I've never been out of the city before. I saw a sign for Chorrol, though, and I asked you for directions, and that was when I noticed you weren't--"

"Chorrol?" Wrong way.

"What's wrong?"

"I told you to go to Bruma," he muttered.

"You said go west of Bruma, so I took the west--"

"Never mind. How close are we to Chorrol?"

"I don't know. You want me to turn around?" She rested her chin on her folded arms, watching him, brows bending into a bow of concern.

He considered it, then shook his head, "No, I don't want to risk them behind us. Next north road you see, take it."

She nodded, turned, and pulled the vehicle back onto the road.

The jagged edges bit and he wished he was asleep again. Bracing himself against the floor and bench, he tried to hold himself above the seat, absorb the shock with his arms and legs, but he couldn't keep that up for long before his limbs were rubber. He tried to distract himself with the scenery outside, and noticed a white arrow in the sky, the shimmering barb of which was arching behind the trees.

It was going down, quickly.

"Oh, Gods."

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Surprisingly enough, the explosion wasn't the loudest thing.

Even after his ears were deafened, the sound of the wind being cut on jagged, deformed pieces of the ship was still capable of violently sticking in his ears and making him afraid. Elgin held on as the ship suddenly became a funhouse, with stairs leading sidewards and hallways with newly warped dimensions altering a state of mind already wraught with panic and distress. He could feel the speed increasing and knew that there was only a slim chance of not dying.

He screamed. It was all you could do.

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As soon as the ship made the swing, Abbi ran at the door of her room. She knew something was wrong, maybe also what exactly, even before the vessel suddenly dropped. She fell back, landing on what used to be a wall, and shielded her head with her arms to protect herself against the objects that followed.

She was too focused on her quick breathing to hear her heart, but knew somewhere deep inside it went too fast. Then came the crash and everything went silent.

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Barusi had been at extremely high levels of rage and frustration as the ship began to go down, screaming at the dashboard as he looked through the panels of equipment to attempt to find the issue. However, as the ship went faster and faster in its descent to the ground, he began to calm down, and after a point, quietly stood up, made his way to his seat and secured himself for the crash landing.

---

He didn't realize until later that he had been knocked unconscious, but he awoke with a sudden cough, looking about at what remained of the pilot's room. The front of the ship, dashboard and all, was now pushed inwards, having barely stopped before him strapped in the chair. He suddenly noticed pinpricks of pain in his left arm; the glass in one of the windows of the ship had shattered, sending shards into his arm along that side. Light shone in from above, as for some reason, the top of this room had come off in the crash.

All things considered, the ship was ruined. "And just after getting a crew? Great luck of mine," he grumbled. He tore off the safeguards of the seat and moved towards the back of the ship. "Everyone still alive?" He called out as he made his way there, wincing slightly at the pain, and moreso at the extensive damage he saw throughout this part of the ship as well. At least the creatia gathering device is intact, he thought to himself.

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 Ventus and Durmuk lay dead. 

A faulty bulkhead had burst inwards on impact. Ventus had been almost beheaded. Durmuk, who had been slightly further from the wall, suffered minor lacerations from that as he was thrown clear and hit the wall head-first. It had been quick. 

Their spirits floated away, seeing the ship get smaller and smaller. For that last second, they clung fiercely to the world, but the pull from beyond was too much, and the last of Nirn they saw was a broken ship holding their broken bodies.

YH
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"Abbi! Elgin! --!" He tried to remember the captain's name, the Dunmer, but it escaped him into the rough shadows as he hobbled toward the wreckage. Nara trailed behind him, reaching after him languidly while the other hand busied itself keeping a scream inside.

In the encroaching evening, the two followed the scar jutting with broken wooden bones to the smoking heart of the injury. But for his cries and the PLINK of cooling metal, the forest was silent. He wandered laboriously around the perimeter, searching for any signs, listening for any sounds. He was as devastated at the wold the once grand craft now laid against, twisted and dead.

Answer me, please!

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"My Nine..." Elgin muttered, rubbing his head which rung with all the tones of his busted guitar. He was on the wall, and his head had smashed the cupboard into a million pieces which lay around him. Barusi's can was by his feet. His shoulders hurt almost equally, muscles practically torn from hanging onto the fixture. Blood ran down his nose, ran down everything. It took him awhile to notice, but yeah, there was a lot. He felt the stuff dripping, oozing out of his cuts, and welling up under his bruises. Slowly creeping over the rest of his flesh.

No doubt about a concussion. Broken bones seemed unlikely. He tried to get up, only to be kept in his lying position with a violent scream. His knee wasn't supposed to look like that. Not quite broken, but definitely not supposed to look like that. It kept hurting even though he hadn't moved since. It was like his body was aware his leg was 180 degrees from where it should be, now, and really wanted him to do something about it. Instead he resigned himself to his seat and tried to muffle his screaming between his lips.

It wasn't quite working.

YH
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Jarrod heard muffled sounds from within, or thought he did; perhaps it was just wishful thinking, but true or not, on hands and knees he crawled up the wrinkled flank of the ship. He found the hole Abbi had made before, and his heart sunk suddenly when he thought of her.

He continued to call their names, screaming now, forcing his dry voice past the knot in his throat.

"Someone, answer me!"

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The silence was suddenly broken when down the open panel Abbi had made could be heard Barusi's voice, saying, "There's a voice I didn't expect to hear again! Get the hell in here, I could use your help!"

Inside, Barusi had been making his rather difficult way through the passages of the ship, and the reason he was now at the open panel that he assumed had come off in the crash, rather than back in the quarters checking on his crew, was the difficulty in his making his way back. His arm had begun to hurt moreso, and he couldn't move anything out of his way properly with the one. Good thing that fellow showed up, after all. Someone had to do the digging through.