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I was not able to post on the 2nd as anticipated, due to moving house. I hope to make the next installment by Sunday, as I'd like to return to a weekly posting schedule, though the 16th at the latest (I hope). Classes resume for me in October.
The Rig (part 2)
The air had the peculiar taste that temperature controlled air tended toward, and her footsteps fell quietly after she muffled her feet. Her invisibility had not been countered, which meant it unlikely that any of the old charms that rendered magic void had been placed. The lack of "superstition" worked in her favor. Peeking around a corner, she held her breath, and in this fashion she slowly made her way to the control room, praying to any deity that cared to listen that none of the crew would learn of her presence. If she could just find out what stage of operation the rig truly was at, then she could determine what the correct action would be. It would do no good to decommission the rig, if there were no cap. That mistake had been made by others, in other operations that had opposed deep sea drilling in sensitive areas, that she was aware of, and each time it had resulted in a mess.
The man in the room monitoring the readouts was not impressive by any form of the imagination. A warm worksuit, to counter the effects of the temperature swings out here if the heating failed, swathed his average build in a grey-blue. Blonde hair could be seen under the workman's cap, wispy and fine, and his facial scruff was far beyond five o'clock shadow. Slightly more impressive was the company logo, though it displeased Etain greatly to recognize it. The futuristic red letters imposed on a racing white oval was one she had encountered several times since her graduation from the traditional school, and beginning of her true career.
He was alone here, this was in her favor. Etain stole her way behind him, where she too could see the monitors and gauges properly. Images and numbers stared at her, and as she did her best to read them, she wished for a team of her own, to more quickly hamper the progress and enact a more permanent solution. She thought briefly of the Triton, but he was forever seabound, and likely to simply chuck the offending humans into the brine and be done with it, bringing yet more out.
While she was deciphering the displays, the door to the room opened again, and another man walked in, speaking in a gravelly voice a question in a harsh sounding language. She thought it Scandinavian, or perhaps German, and she grated at the fact that she had not learned these, nor did she have Marsali's ability to understand languages she had not learned. Etain held her breath and posture, praying her spell continued to hold.
The conversation was done quickly, the one passing the other a large mug of strong coffee, black by the smell. The other then left, just as her stomach began to growl, the sound masked by the door for the one leaving. However, the man at the monitor heard and looked around for the source. She retreated to a further spot in the room, and stifled a sigh when he muttered to himself, as if deciding perhaps it had been his own stomach.
Etain watched as he took a sip, winced and grimaced, then set the mug down. She drew close again, touching the back of his neck lightly with her fingers, and bent over him. A sighed word into his ear, and he was asleep in his chair, slumping down. Quickly, she drank what was left of the coffee, to quell her stomach since it threatened another growl, and discovered why he'd set it down so soon, after scalding her lips and tongue. When she set it down, exactly as it had been, the mug was half empty.
A few strokes on a keyboard, and a few buttons of varied colors and shapes began the process she needed. She closed her eyes and reached out with her awareness, heading down, searching out the pipe and the black substance within, feeling the water within the oil. With effort, she forced it to begin downward. The temporary cap began to slide into place.
Her cloak swirled as she turned, and slipped out of the door again, moving quickly. She only paused at a few valves, to turn them to the proper positions, then made her way toward the exit. Hurried footsteps sounded in corridors, crew moving for some purpose she could not be sure of, likely summoned by changes at workstation, and she moved faster. Her breath came in gasps, partly because of the speed she moved at, partly from the effort of sustaining the invisibility spell. She could feel it flickering and slipping.
The footfalls came closer, and a surprised shout behind her alerted her to the fact that her invisibility spell had completely failed. Desperation made her feet even fleeter than before, and she knew her hood had fallen back, revealing the spill of hair, but hopefully not her facial features. She heard more, could feel them coming, as whoever that was called for help on his radio in that strange language, and hearing it again she was more certain it was not German.
She unleashed her cry, hoping to use the sound to deafen or stun, not wanting to use an offensive spell unless she needed to. Her keen filled the small hallway, hurting her own ears even, and she heard the person drop to the floor. Turning around, she could see him clasping his ears but still looking toward her. An outstretched hand, and a desperate pulse of energy, and she flicked out the lamps by exploding all of them that were in her range. Etain's hair and cloak whipped around her in the magical current, and lightning crackled and danced around her, the water held in Mara's vial within her pouch drawing the electricity to it greedily.
The man managed to gain his feet again, running away from the apparition, screaming about the sea ghost. Once an unbeliever in the paranormal, he now would have his own tale to tell about his brush with the sea's mysteries, and how he had to run from an attacking "ghost" on the haunted oil rig he'd worked. It would not be long before he would meet up with others, hopefully with torches so that he would no longer be in the dark with her visage etched into his eyes.
The lights around Etain died. She felt, more than heard, Mara's voice in her blood. That part of her that was Selkie quailed at the rage normally hidden in the sea.
"Go down now, before I kill them all for what they do to my children."
Etain continued her run, shooting back out the door, pounding down metal pathways and stairs, scurrying down ladders, knowing full well that if the cameras were not on the same circuit as the lights, she was likely being recorded with infrared technology. Once her feet landed on the deck of the Sea Witch, she cast off moorings, then pulled her skin about herself and dove into the sea without removing her human coverings. Behind her, the boat rode the swells obediently away to where she wished it to wait, she hoped beyond where they were likely to board it.
She continued downward, and the Triton was at her side within the moment, bubbles from her entry still floating upward. Etain only went through half the change, leaving her as half humanoid as he was.
"I slowed and reversed the process, though I doubt it will take them long to reinstate full functions as their company intends. Probably didn't even know you were here and thought the buildings just odd formations, at least by the look of their monitors."
He snorted as they flipped and drove further down, thinking that these "monitors" were just more of one of the human brands of magic.
"Aye, formations that take a lot of intelligent work to make serviceable."
Etain nodded in agreement. "Young race in a very different world, that denies what it is capable of on the one hand, while the other has reasons to hide itself from that majority."
Her attention drifted off to the water's health again, now that she was fully submersed and inundated with its information, causing her to miss the Triton's reply. Her whiskers and fur spoke of the way the current was running, and the direction the closest fish were in. Her blood sang of the way the currents ought to be running, the ph the water should be, and a host of other things.
They finished the swim to the bottom in silence, the structures of the now abandoned city coming into view around the base of the pipeline. Weedbeds lay unattended, deep sea sea stars and other things without names now beginning to run wild. The futher in, banners waved and began to tatter, the magic of the city's king no longer keeping these fresh. Here and there, a forgotten gem, carved shell brush, or pearl lay where dropped during evacuation.
Etain's tears mingled with the salt sea when they registered that the drill had plunged right into the center of the palace. The throne room, when she gained the floor, was exactly as it had been left, though now damaged by the stress. The throne, or where it had been, was now occupied by the oil well, and statuary was broken, still bearing their gem eyes and crowns of beaten gold and pearl.
"I taste old blood. It shouldn't be in the water anymore." She looked at the Triton questioningly, her voice unable to rise above more than a whisper.
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