Description: After barely escaping death at the hands of two mysterious NESTs agents, Gertrude is dragged from the ocean depths by a mysterious savior. But will this act of kindness come freely, or will it have a price attached? What does the future hold? These are all questions to be answered... another time.
WHEN LAST WE SAW OUR HEROINE...
Gertrude, set upon by a pair of NESTs thugs, had finally given in to the temptation to wear her Aunt's amulet. The ensuing release of psychic power was impressive... but not enough to really do more than mildly inconvenience the pair. It'd been flashy, but ultimately futile, and though her memory of that time is largely muddled through the haze of uncertain psychic influences and the severe beating she'd taken, one thing that had DEFINITELY happened, was that she had teleported herself into the ocean.
And before she lapsed into unconsciousness, she had enough time to marvel at just how shockingly cold the ocean in the winter off the coast of Japan really is. Like plunging into ice, the swallowing, dark depths had closed in around her. It'd done absolutely nothing to help her hold on. In fact, quite the opposite. Hideous flannel jacket and all had soaked up the water, dragging her down, down, down towards the ocean floor...
Really, things did not look very good for Gertrude. Is this ... the end?!
It would seem like the end, wouldn't it?
The cold deep is vacuous, endless, frigid. A slow descent there is commensurate to a final passage--as all light fades from the sky and there is nothing but pitch below. It is different than falling from a building; the ocean takes you into her icy embrace, and though there is nothing to stop your descent hundreds of meters into the black and fluid horizon, transition to nothingness is slow; she is gentle in her long suffering of those lost to everything else.
But maybe it isn't meant to be.
Descending past that critical point where the light fades to only the most twilight of distant glows, a subtle warmth suffuses the waters in the deep. It is not true warmth, not really. It is the warmth of the absence of that bone-chilling cold. As the blue light above fades, warm yellow light brings a flush to cold pale skin. You'll find yourself descending through a series of lights, fires burning underwater like candles lit for your passage.
And then, with only the slip of rushing water's sound accompanying the sight, a dark, slim form cuts through the waters from above, diving down quickly underneath the dooming lights to get a hold of her by that heavy jacket, arrest her treacherous fall.
It'd be confusing enough even if her glasses hadn't been heedlessly discarded by her 'better' half during the battle. As it is, Gertrude sees indistinct shapes and forms, the choking embrace of the water filling her lungs whilst the cold and the dark each vie for position as her most immediate concern. The burn in her lungs ought to take precedence over both, but in her half-conscious state, it is all she can do to hang on to the sense she's falling at all.
When a blur of shadowed darkness seizes her, Gertrude's eyes flicker open. Bleary, unfocused. She still bears light burnmarks over much of her exposed skin; the psycho power which had been knitting those wounds for her has retreated, overwhemed, and now she is becoming aware of the extent of her injuries. They may not be life threatening, but the pain of salt water over raw skin gives her something to cling on to.
Her jaw clenches, and the woman tries to move - to make her arms or legs obey her ... but they stubbornly refuse to assist her in her bid for life, weighed down too heavily. There is, at least, determination in her eyes... a sign that she is more than just dead weight, even if not much more right at this moment.
He is the only warm thing in the chill abyss.
From the way he nimbly moves and swims, it is only through mild discretions that he could not easily be mistaken for a great fish of some sort, looking for its next meal. Finding her more or less boneless in the wake of her ordeal, the sounds of the sea churning around his movements intensify. He holds her there, adrift for a moment, as he seeks out his belt.
Lit from odd angles by the peculiar lights surrounding them, some details can be made out of the dark form. Though he was wearing what was likely a hakama at some point, his legs and waist are bound up tightly in some sort of wrapping, and his feet are bare. Otherwise, he is stripped to the waist, revealing dark lines over his skin in arcane patterns. He does wear a white helmet over his head for some reason, and there is an intermittent but clearly audible click coming from the mouthpiece that carries quite a ways into the deep.
That determination in her eyes as she squirms valuelessly against the frigid deep reflects in a coal-black visor, a sublayered hexagonal pattern showing as the visor shines faintly in the light cast from behind her.
A large knife slips from a resting place at his back, a silver fang catching the light just so. He doesn't waste any time, slipping it underneath the awful looking and waterlogged jacket, holding the flat of the curved blade against her skin. Wasting no time in pulling her close, he'll slice it right off, with all the speed and skill of a fisherman cleaning the catch. Anything else that looks too heavy will also be cut loose in those few, chaotic seconds, and discarded to the deep. He's removing the weight from her. It's the only way she'll live.
Slowly, but surely, he will begin swimming upwards, holding her in tow. Away from Hell's hearthlight, and to the pale blue above.
If it wasn't for the prospect of rescue in sight, Gertrude might well have given up. After an instant of thrilling terror when her strange savior draws the blade, though, she feels the weight slipping from her shoulders. Perhaps luckily for her, the t-shirt and jeans she wears beneath aren't particularly heavy, and although the sentimental value of the jacket might never be replaced, well. It WAS quite hideous.
So she hangs on. With grit and determination, the sporting fighter finally understands what it is to fear for your life. She'd never done so before today; aside from a few thrillingly brief instants, that is. This is... prolongued, agonizing. It tests her, strains her, makes her realize just how much she WANTS to live.
And she does want to live. One shaking, trembling hand - no longer weighed down by the jacket - manages to weakly squeeze against her mysterious savior's shoulder, trying to cling on and help in whatever minor way she can. Her life was supposed to be simple; it was supposed to be prize fights, cheerful tournaments and the thrill of competition.
But when faced with the prospect of a watery grave, what life 'should' be has to take a back seat compared to what life has become. The world doesn't care about her plans; that much has been made painfully clear.
Sometimes, that one weak grip, tenuously clinging to life, is all it takes.
The knife slips away, tucked back into wrappings where it came from. Bare skin slick and hard to hold, the nimble, shadowy body slips underneath the sportfighter's mantle, one shoulder underneath hers, and a hand tied up in the belt loops of her jeans. Though the heavy fabric of the jeans hold quite a bit of weight to them, the sturdy fabric also provides a meaningful handhold for a strong grip. She clings to his shoulder, and, locked together, he can set his mind to the swim.
He moves through the water like an eel.
It's worth noting that apparently he is a practiced swimmer--beyond the initial jumble of motion, his movements through the water create very few ripples, and his stroke is near silent as he rises quickly. Looming in the distance, a dark shape can be perceived overhead, blocking out the cool, clear light from the sky above. Slowly, they ascend towards a single line from that entity--a line, twisted about in the floating liquid.
His strokes are long and powerful, showing no signs of fatigue as he moves to the line, only the faintest churn of the ocean visible as he stretches out his free hand towards the cable. His fingertips touch it, just barely at first, and then get a firm grasp, looping it in his hands. As if expectant, his grip holds fast on his charge, even as he secures her own grip on him. Hold on.
And then, in an instant, it's done.
It is as if a great hand came down and yanked the two clear out of the deep, the anonymous young man dragging the drowning fighter from the water with him as he breaks the surface in a white froth. It'll take him only a moment to guide one of her hands over a low sea railing to a bare wood deck floor, and then push her the rest of the way over from the water below, in one long and insistent movement.
Aside from an awareness of the near-supernatural skill of her savior, it is the pain that Gertrude will remember above everything else. The moment her body breached the ocean waves again, and the air impacted her waterlogged frame like a physical blow. She jerks against the wood, coughing, choking and hacking as she expels lungfuls of salt water, and struggles to replace it with air.
Death is no longer haunting her; the pain will do that job.
She's never been so acutely aware of her muscles. Every inch of her, inside and out, struggles with the realization that she needs to function again. It is not a dignified return to reality for the German noblewoman, but it is a return, and for that she is grateful.
Bleary-eyed, she tries to distinguish the patch of darkness (and that white, shiny helmet) which had saved her from the rest of the darkness. "Nngh." She groans, "Who...?"
The sea has a way of taking your name.
The salt and the dark from the brine will choke away everything until there is only the predator and the prey, the watchful and the blind. Dark forms and shapes with no identities, no meanings, only colossal wills gliding through the deep. In that sort of world, there is female and there is male, there is human and inhuman, there is the moving and the motionless. There are no politenesses, no chaste words, no nobility or culture. There is only the drowning and those who have yet to drown; what point would names have?
It is only above the surface of the water that these things have relevance.
The young man--the dark form from the waters--unceremoniously rises from the surface, water streaming off of every leading edge and his helmet as he steps onto the deck, collecting in broad, clear pools at his feet. Before even the time it takes for the salt to fade from the tastebuds, while she still chokes out lungfuls of water, the bare-footed young man strides past her, his feet and his stride walking past the noble's sightline as she reacquiants herself with living.
The voice is distended and mechanical, a faint bubbling heard as a respirator ejects excess water. From what little is human of it, the voice is calm, dark, young. Nothing else can be heard but the flick of latches as the young man consults the aggregated contents of an opened sea chest.
"You're aboard a fishing vessel," he explains to the German, continuing in a simple, unfeeling matter-of-fact way. "The Nekorinmaru."
The length of the fishing vessel--a somewhat advanced large boat with very few crewmen--can be taken in in its totality now. You've currently been deposited onto a lower deck made for diving and fishing, submersible, and only a few feet above the sealine in these calm waters. There is the sense that it was also intended for something else before it was put to the task of fishing.
"And you're alive," the anonymous young man also sees fit to point out.
But he doesn't remove his helmet..
Gertrude's desire for answers will have to wait. 'Not now' are two words which seem very apt. In her current state, she can barely formulate thought, let alone grasp everything that has occurred. Memory is a fleeting thing; when it seems most important, it dives away, swimming deeper from her grasp. It will come back to her, most likely when it is least useful for her to be dwelling upon it, and then she'll recall more than twisted, sadistic faces. Inhuman monsters.
The delight of power she had never tasted before, dancing on her fingertips.
She doesn't try to stand. Instead, she contents herself with sitting - dragging herself away from the side of the boat, to lean back against a sturdy surface. She can't see - she'll need to replace her glasses - but the young man's words sink in slowly. She has no reason to distrust him. He'd just saved her life. It'd be an odd thing, to do that and then lie about something so minor.
Forming those two words takes far too much effort. Other questions dance in her head; why had she been saved? Where are they going? How long was she down there? How did he find her? All compete with that initial question of who he was - and the vague concern, even now, that such a service would demand repayment at some point in the future...
But 'not now' seems like very good advice indeed. Not now, for such questions. Not now, for fears and doubts. Now is the time where she will feel pain, recuperate and recover from her ordeal, and marvel at the simple, joyous fact that she IS alive. That is now.
Everything else, can wait.
Log created on 18:59:22 12/25/2014 by Gertrude, and last modified on 21:55:25 12/25/2014.