1964-11-21 - What The Water Gave Me
Summary: Scarlett hunts pirates and obtains a quest prize.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
rogue kai 


It's an uncharted ship that passes within sight. Whoever it is, they shouldn't be here. It's a freighter that's seen better days, but it's still seaworthy. Maybe it's on the up and up, but with no markings? Nothing to identify it? Probably not. So far, it isn't responding like it knows it has been seen. It's headed due east toward Asia, or maybe sone southerly USSR port.

Little known to the greater world, Scarlett prefers to dance on the waves and practice her more challenging meditative techniques where the world tries to distract her. Not quite so terrible as sitting lotus in the middle of Rockefeller Square's skating rink, but a headland buffeted by wind that ripples the hissing grass or throws waves against the stony cliff will do. The elements cannot truly hurt her to any given degree, though they snag her windblown red braids and test her focus. That would be the entire point, when walking through a crowded railway station puts everyone but her at risk. She's seated only in a sense of her legs being folded, though her weight rests squarely on her palms as she holds a more difficult yoga pose.

Nothing to see out there but a rickety boat of no particular provenance, nameless thing adrift on the sea. Same could be said for many, including her. Her gaze flickers over it, curiosity mingled with the restlessness that shouldn't come from meditating. For it, it does. At least today.

Scarlett may well be spotted, or it's pure coincidence that the ship turns its course to approach. A rickety boat of no particular providence might contain more goods to steal, or someone to hold hostage. The boat is a chugger, but the currents are in its favor, giving it some speed, and its highly maneuverable for its make, no doubt augmented by its crew. Whatever they suspect they'll find, it's probably not a redhead doing yoga, but they'll find out fast. Soon, they're almost upon her.

What risk they present remains something unknown. Scarlett doesn't inherently read the situation as poor, though she has the presence of mind to take into account her position: high on a cliff, surrounded by flattened sea grasses tough enough to endure, but hardly a meadow a tiger prowls through. Slipping back onto her knees, she dusts off her legs and reaches for her coat behind her, something easily tossed on over her thin cotton Henley shirt. Not as though she rigged up a sniper rifle or anything absurd, but her choices have always been based on mobility than other factors. The ragged edges and tumbling boulders offer something of a barrier, but she mindfully takes to a path that's a little more defended by the thin pines.

|ROLL| Rogue +rolls 1d3 for: 3

The ship draws up parallel to the shore, perhaps a friendly port for the smugglers, or perhaps they travel under false pretense. Perhaps just passing through. They suspect nothing of being observed from the high cliff. Just another ship among many, notable only in its lack of markings. The attempt to make it nondescript is what has made something seem off about it. It's too anonymous. Most ships at least claim to be from somewhere.

It's a risk they take approaching the left bank of the Red Sea, where the forking divergence around the Sinai Peninsula eventually leads one to the remnants of Pharaoh's kingdom or into the lands of those pesky Canaanites and their Hebrew-speaking friends. The Saudis are a far stone's throw, their holy cities shrouded in rock pan and dust, dirt and boulder. What ports do these men call home, what dusty isles forgotten by Romans, Ottomans, British, conquering powers all, are theirs? Scarlett stares into that blue, blue sea as fine as the eyes that haunt her waking dreams. She might sacrifice the headland for lower reaches, where the surf foams and stirs in treacherous riptides. Her gaze flows towards the waterline, the hulk painted in its drab hues. "You're right," she murmurs under her breath to whom, exactly? The pantheon of voices supplies many candidates. "It would be easier with a scope. I don't have one, though." What she does have is the right to skinny dip, if fully clothed by western standards; not Egyptian! The girl slips against the driftwood wreckage and hops over, her feet wet by the foaming sea. She takes another step, walking on water, and then skims off in a directly perpendicular route. For her to sneak up on the stern, she'll have to be nearly scudding over the waves and possibly under them, though flight works underwater, too, in her case. Nothing like springing up out of the deep, but really, she'd rather not be too wet. So sneak she shall by flowing ever so carefully.

There are rusted iron rungs bolted into the ship, handy for climbing. Up on deck, there are voices in apparent argument. The words are English, but the Sudanese accents so thick it's difficult to make them out. The gist of the disagreement seems to be which gulf to take, Suez or Aqaba. Suez is the obvious choice, according to one of the men, but the argument for Aqaba is to just unload the contraband, get the money, and get out. To hell with their contact. Quick cash now, better cash later. Suez argues that anyone sold to in Aqaba won't know the value of what they have. Only the buyer.

She'll be the one to slip behind them, rush her way slowly rather than in impulsive haste. Once in reach, Scarlett seizes the rungs and clings to the side while propellers churn and the engine carries her along. Stealth isn't easy as a redhead, though not impossible. Her head tips back to hear what they would say to this English rusalka, drowning deep creature with a serene smile. Smuggling doesn't entirely take her by surprise, and mentally she counts off the different voices as ideas of whom might be there. A boat as a drug den isn't exactly new, nor surprising. When the waves might cover her, and the deck rolls, she cautiously peeks up to the deck, determining whether they're clustered together or armed with guns, buns, or worse. Aqaba. Suez. Alternately there might be a door to spy going deeper in. Foolish, really; she knows this, smiling at the dark turn of her thoughts. But possibly worthwhile. You should know better.

But when is the opportunity going to come again to do something like this? There are at least three voices, two arguing for Suez, one adamant soul debating for Aqaba. Surely a ship this size has more crew than three, but that's the number on the deck. The others are presumably doing their jobs. Still, an operation like this, there's probably not all that much more than these three. The larger the crew, the smaller the cut, and the more opportunity for betrayal. No, it would make sense that this ship were grossly understaffed.

Finally one of them says curtly, "I am the captain, and I say Suez. If you don't like it, you can swim to Aqaba." There is a grumble of grudging assent. Then the captain says, "Go check on the cargo. And you, tell the others we're going through Suez." Which presumably leaves him alone.

The cargo. Others. That gives Scarlett time, hurried, to decide on the cargo bay. She trusts her own ability to maneuver in close quarters if she must, reliant on those cursed talents belabouring any battle and tilting entirely in her favour. Her brilliant eyes flicker as she slinks, using the wall for coverage, barely in contact with the deck as she seeks that door. Door, hatch, whatever lets her through.

If she can't get down there without being spotted, well, there's something to be said for flattening herself up top until the Sudanese man passes.

Flattening up top is required, alas, because on the way to the cargo bay, one must pass through the cramped space that serves as a galley, and it's a fortunate thing there's only one man in there, and he's only passing through. The place is dimly lit, which makes up for the low ceilings. The redhead gets by unspotted. It's a close shave, though. One dangling braid is all it would've taken to give up the game.

Beyond the galley is the cargo bay. No one is tending it at the time; all hands are needed on deck to make the ship look populated and perhaps legitimate as they head up the Gulf of Suez.

There are crates. Lots of crates. And boxes. Drugs are a given. Opium, cannabis. Deeper in, there are weapons, and beneath the weapons, ingots of something silvery with a gold sheen.

Scarlett has little concern about flattening herself to the ceiling and forsaking breathing. Splay out, present the thinnest profile possible: all in a day's work as far as she goes. Her back arches slightly as her feet push against the corners, though in truth floating perfectly horizontal is much easier than it should be. She waits until the man's long passed to pull in a breath and creeps her way along. The slap of water, the diesel smell of the engine, fade into the background, a melody as old as any seafarer's shanty. Discovery awaits.

The crates would be something assessed in order, marks of provenance or ownership sought with an eye more calculating than she possibly understands. Under shattered memories, the death spiral of identity, old muscles stretch to recognize the likes of what she sees. Quick dismissal of drugs, onwards then to the weapons. Kalashnikovs, knives, weird metallic objects imprinted with space alien script perhaps? Gloves help with that disturbance being muffled. Her sorting is fast, quiet, suppressed by chronic looks back to the cargo entrance. The reefs aren't terribly far off.

Wheels turn, but she ducks down and waits for a piston to rumble or a particularly noisy sound to punch her fist through the side of a crate into the metal-bearing crate. Let's see what that is, deeper in. Handful out. Hmm.

There is the grinding of the ship as old metal creaks when course is shifted yet again, little increments here and there to keep the boat on the right path. It makes a good cover; chances are good the noise is deafening throughout the hold, wherever others might be. Patience pays off.

There isn't a lot of the metal to be found. Hardly enough to call a shipment, and a tiny one at that. The ingot is light, much lighter than steel. One might think the thing were hollow, but no, it's solid. The metal seems to hum when it's turned this way and that. It seems to defy physics.

|ROLL| Rogue +rolls 1d20 for: 8

Patience helps, of course. Though the same token requires her to strain the harder for a footfall, a groan, something completely out of sorts of the usual routine. Scarlett's razor-sharp intuition she abides sometimes without questioning, though she also stares at the metal in question. Silver bars, titanium bars, that she might understand. Ammunition naturally needs to be transported. Gold bars? This is nothing like the pillaging of the Afars territorial treasury, as much as the curious little ingot remains a mystery. Defying physics goes well enough for her. She tucks that into her hooded coat, the internal pockets fine for such things. She has learned the value of snaps!

That pushes luck. So must she inch along, and decide whether folly is worth pursuing. The corner of her mouth lifts slightly, and she slides towards the exit the other crew member took out of the hold. Always cautious, listening.

|ROLL| Kai +rolls 1d20 for: 14

Metal groans again as the ship tilts to the other side, recovering from its course change. It provides cover to move. Footsteps scurry up above, though. The crew is up and about. It's an easy enough job to cover the punched out crate, at least. Once Scarlett manages to get out of the hold, a casual glance won't reveal anything amiss.

It's possible. That's the important thing. To skirt around the crew, to get off the ship without getting caught. It's just so touch and go, though. So many close calls. The crew is distracted with its task, and they're spread out. There is that in her favor.

It's a straight shot over the deck to the rungs, where Scarlett will be out in the open, visible. It's another shorter leap with more cover to just pitch herself over the side. Choices, choices.

So many close calls. So many choices.

And is it quite a sin to assure the boat never reaches its destination, being who these people are? Mooring them on an island wouldn't be especially hard, albeit a risk they might just return to their business. Fly away, and never be the wiser…

She decides on a point. An easy leap to pitch herself over the side, to hit the sea. The cool water closing over her head is the stuff of shock, but she drags a deep breath into her lungs before disappearing under the surface. Ships of any size have a rudder, and their hydraulic systems aren't generally made for dealing with the likes of the Soul-Thief.

Gordon Reef isn't so very far. All she needs to do is wrench the rudder in the direction of the reef and the ship won't have much of a choice to but to run aground, and then dealing with the unfortunate pirates becomes so much easier. Especially if a soaking wet tourist walks ashore at Sharm el-Sheik and tells the authorities about a certain smuggling, hijacking, and general piracy ring. Have at, kids.

It's a task that, while not particularly easy as far as easy things go, is doable, and is done. There is a lot of shouting from the ship, and a crew of about eight find themselves running about trying to correct the error. How was this allowed to happen!? Who was in control? Fights break out even as the ship is listing. No honor among thieves, and no trust. The reef will have a decoration for decades to come. Maybe in time weather will wear away the sloppy paint job and reveal that the ship used to be of Russian origin.

Regardless, it won't be taking its cargo of drugs, weapons, and that rare ingot it has already lost to wherever it intended to go. There is a satisfying crunch of the heavy ship connecting with the reef, and the buckling of the ship's hull. Water rushes in, and any fish around the cargo hold are about to get really high when that opium dissolves.

Finally, the ship comes to rest in its final place. The pirates may bail, tourists may come, but the unnamed vessel is done.

No honour among thieves, but at the very least, the soaked young woman won't leave them entirely to die. She's not that kind of girl, for all that disabling transportation skirts the threshold of good or bad or the grey in between. Shrieking metal and her absolutely aching lungs force her up again at times, shooting out to the side to avoid the churning, biting propeller. Nothing good about their intentions in the telegraphed Morse code of coral crunching into metal, biting open seams.

Muscles throb despite the seawater and she goes under the waves multiple times, shoved down by the tumbling current breaking against the ragged fringes held at terrible removed. Poor fish. When she can determine which way is up, her leggings completely shredded in places, but the coat and tunic firmly in place. Never mind her pink-soled feet are finely abraded, cheaper than a pedicure. She forces herself away from the reef, fighting against the confused watery labyrinth.

Sharm el-Sheikh won't know what hit it. She literally walks out of the waves, bent over double to put credence to someone washed up by a spar. The first group to point her to the authorities receives the news: a wreck on the reef, bad pirates, disrespecting Egypt's authority.

The authorities are quick to respond. Disrespecting Egypt's authority is frowned upon around here, and everyone loves the drama of a shipwreck. It draws quite the crowd. Of course Scarlett is asked if she's all right, poor dear. It must have been frightening for a young lady.

The Sudanese pirates, though? They are rescued, then rough-armed. Drugs. Weapons. These are bad. Very bad. The Egyptian authorities have no idea what the scant few ingots are, what they represent. They will likely end up in an evidence room, forgotten forever.

But Scarlett has her prize, and she's free to go. She just doesn't seem the piratey type, after all.

Scarlett knows, at least, and as an official witness she can leverage that later with people fully capable of bringing things home. People with importnat names and significant leverage, not the least because the world owes them a greater debt than some. She will be making a house call to one of those particularly interesting souls, though not before performing a jaunt to fetch a towel. And more important, trying to identify what she has.

No, magnets won't help. But for that, she has a certain few allies on hold.

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