Swamped

Swamped
RE: Swamped
The thing that's strangest about what she said is that you don't have a head injury. Admittedly, your head doesn't hurt, but you definitely felt it when that slicer hit you.

Makes you wonder about something else. You roll up your sleeve. You've had a scar just under your elbow for a few years.

And it's gone. Not a trace of it.

"The hells," you mutter quietly. Then you look back at Swallow.

"We aren't big on carrying identification around in the Marshguards, so I can't offer any direct proof. But your wizard can probably figure out if I've had a spell cast on me. That's the best I've got."

"Wouldn't prove you weren't brought here willingly by magic," she points out.

"I thought you were just here to find out who the hell I was," you say, a little frustrated. "Well, I've told you. And I don't see how someone who goes by Swallow has any room to pick on me for being named after a bird."

"It's a nickname for me."

"Well, it is for me too. It's just that where I come from, there's no difference between a nickname and a real one."

"Now we're getting somewhere," Swallow says. She shows a hint of a smirk. "Why don't you tell me where that nickname comes from, then? And why make it all fancy instead of just calling yourself Crow?"

Well, that's easy enough. It's because you were a courier...

Wait a minute. You're seventeen years in the past. You're pretty sure messenger crows aren't in widespread use yet. How are you going to explain this without making her even more suspicious of your story?
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RE: Swamped
Crowbars have an entirely different connotation than crow birds, so corvus was as meaningful but less ambiguous.
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RE: Swamped
"Because we've got the sort of people in the Marshguards whose first thought when they hear 'crow' is 'crowbar'. So I went with Corvus to avoid that whole conversation happening over and over." You pause briefly, and decide to go for honesty. Just leave out the full context for now. "As for why crow, well, I used to be a courier, and around when I arrived, they were setting up a system of messenger crows. So I went with that."

"Messenger crows! Are you just playing with my head now?" she asks. "And if the Marshguards are as rough-and-tumble as you're implying, what's a courier doing there?"

"That has a lot to do with what I was delivering," you say vaguely. "Not that it matters any more."

Well, it kind of does, since your past self must be running around doing some of the dirty business you got away from. Of course, that past self is miles away.

Swallow looks annoyed, but puts away her notebook.

"Well. It's probably a load of fish eggs, but I guess that's all the answers I'm getting out of you right now. We'll see what Mr. Resk thinks when he's got time to attend to you properly."

And with that, she leaves. You're stuck here alone.

Now what?
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RE: Swamped
Think about the nigh endless miles upon miles of water churning around and below you.
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RE: Swamped
Now that you're alone and free of distractions, you're struck by just how loud the water is. You can hear it all the time.

Mind, there's plenty of water in the swamp too. It just doesn't normally get this loud. You have to wonder how the sailors adjust to it.

Not to mention the way it makes the boat shift. Ugh. You're not actually seasick yet, but that might just be because you're not trying to move about while this is happening. You're just sitting still in a sickbed.

You wonder what's going to happen to you. Are they going to toss you in the brig? Dump you off on the next island they hit? They're certainly not going to turn back on your account, and even if they did, where would you go?

Honestly, you can't see this mess going anywhere good for you unless you figure out how to get back to your own time. Ideally, back on that airship, but you're not that picky right now.

And your best bet for doing that is probably to talk with their wizard. If that doesn't work out... well, you can worry about that if it happens. Right now you're better off directing your energies to thinking of a way to even get a chance at that conversation.

But since nobody's coming by, you opt to take a nap.

You're not sure how long it is before the alarm wakes you up. You think you can also hear someone shouting "Pirates!" some distance away.

Which strikes you as weird. This ship is six months away from port. What kind of pirates would wait this far out? They'd have trouble finding ships to raid. And if they're in good enough shape that they don't need to raid... well, why do it?

Because this ship's in their territory, that's why. Pretty good chance that they're just trying to chase you away.

Hmm. You wonder if the officers on this ship have figured that much out. They ought to know enough to, but officers can also be quite stubborn creatures. Maybe you should pass that idea along just in case.

Except, you're not sure how to get someone's attention around here.
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RE: Swamped
"Hey! Anyone around?" you call out. But you just hear groaning. Other patients, most likely. Not a peep out of anyone else, except for the occasional shout from outside.

Well. Your legs still work. And nobody seems to be actually watching you - maybe because there's not many places you can flee to on a boat.

Still, you pick yourself up. Your first steps onboard are a little awkward. This sea is quite a bit rougher than the waters the Bogknights' barge travels on.

As you step beyond the partition around your bed, you see that the door's open. And some things have been dropped. Things that look like what a medic might be carrying. He must have left in a hurry. To tend to the freshly wounded sooner, perhaps? Or is something else going on?

Doesn't look like he was forced out. There's a mess, but you don't see signs of a struggle, even if you somehow slept through one.

There's no one specifically watching the door, either. There's a bunch of sailors running around, but they seem preoccupied. Which makes sense if the ship's under attack.

On the other hand, anyone can clearly see at a glance that you're not one of the sailors. So it's not as if you can just go running off anywhere you please.

Nobody's yelling at you right now, though. So you'd best think about what you're going to do next.
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RE: Swamped
Go find out who was groaning and see what they have to say.
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RE: Swamped
Well, you're not the only patient here. Maybe someone who sticks out less will be in good enough shape to pass on your warnings. Or at least have an idea of how you can best do that.

You take a quick glance past each curtain. Don't want to disturb anyone who's out cold. First you see someone hooked up to a weird breathing device... that's out, they don't look like they can even talk.

Next curtain is an unconscious woman, also with the same sort of breathing aid. You're starting to wonder if you're supposed to get one of those, since apparently you were exposed to gas.

Another unconscious woman... no breathing aid, she looks strangely like the previous one though. Very odd. What's weirder is that you think you see your breather mask on her bedside table. Did she grab it off of you?

Well, you want it back, but given your precarious position here, you don't want to risk trouble by snatching it. No sense getting branded a thief as well as a liar, even if it was yours to begin with.

You hear groaning behind the next one. You're extra-careful looking in, because whoever it is might be conscious, but perhaps not in any shape to help you out. Best not to bother them if you can help it.

Then you see who it is, and you barely restrain yourself from shouting. The woman lying in the bed is the spitting image of Bigfoot. Younger, to be sure, but her face hasn't changed much. Nor, for that matter, has her body shape.

Up to now, the idea that you were in the past was so abstract, even once you heard the year. It was more like you were in a completely different world, you were so far away from anyone or anything you recognized. But now you're seeing one of the future top officers of the Marshguards lying in bed and groaning.

What do you even do next?
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RE: Swamped
This is good news, it means you won't all die together in a shipwreck or something... At least one person will survive.

But now you have to reflect on what you know about Bigfoot's life before the Swamp and whether you know anything that might help you enlist her aid.
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RE: Swamped
You have to pause and take a deep breath just to grasp what this even means.

Well, to start with, it means even if this ship sinks, at least one person's going to make it out alive. Or is capable of it, at the very least. You hadn't even thought about the potential for changing history until right now.

But another thing it means is, there's someone here you have some experience with. You were on Bigfoot's squad for a while, before she moved up the ladder and you fell down it. Of course, Marshguards being the secretive sorts they are, she never told you about her past as a sailor on a cross-continental voyage, let alone what ended up happening on it.

What you remember is that she was real stubborn. You felt like you were always fighting against her worst instincts; she was always fond of picking fights that didn't really need to be picked. It took a while before you figured out how to argue productively with her. You couldn't get anywhere unless you made her think something was her own idea.

Hmm. Hard to reconcile that with her working as a sailor, though. It's a job where you've got somebody else barking orders at you all day, and you just can't imagine her taking to that kind of life. Then again, you're in the past. Maybe whatever made her so bitter hasn't happened yet.

Well, you're doing her a disservice by only remembering the grumpiness, common as it was. It wasn't as if she was never happy. The main times you recall seeing her smile were after some fights with Bogknights, including a couple you lost. She also looked up to Mudviper, and seemed eager to talk to her whenever the chance arose.

Oh, right. There was another thing that made her real happy. You only saw it happen the one time, but it definitely made a strong impression.
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RE: Swamped
There was that one time with the spider eating a butterfly
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RE: Swamped
It was on a pest control job. You don't remember the details, just that there was a huge swarm of butterflies in Mantis' makeshift church. Something about them getting diverted from their normal migration route.

Bigfoot had been asked to clear them out, and she was pretty miserable the whole time. It was bad enough that you risked asking about it; she said she didn't much care for being in any sort of church, and then just went back to shouting orders and complaining.

But then you found the web on the wall behind the ceremonial flutes. There were loads of butterflies caught in it. And when you showed it to her, she smiled.

"Don't mind a spider taking care of our work for us," she laughed. She pointed right at it. "There's the little fellow now. Eating up one of its prisoners. Now, see, that's providence. When's the last time you saw a god do as much for us as that little spider, hmm?"

At the time, you were confused about why she was so happy. She never seemed to care much for nature, or for violence unless she could be involved in it.

But after a while, you think you got it. She liked seeing unexpected favors. Most of them didn't make her as happy as that one, but she always seemed a little bit less grumpy when someone did something she wanted before she actually issued the order.

Now the question is, what do you make of all that. Do you even approach her at all? And if so, how do you go about it?
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RE: Swamped
You're not ready for this.

You don't have any idea what's going to happen if you go talking with someone your past self is going to meet later. Besides, she doesn't sound like she's doing too great right now. There's still a few other patients to look in, so best to do that rather than squander too much valuable time worrying about causality.

It's almost a relief when you don't recognize the next patient at all. He's a large fellow, and he's snoring. Well, there's a difference between being asleep and being knocked unconscious, so you might have to consider him. You move on for the moment, though.

Oh dear. The next one is awake, but he's thrashing wildly. He's a skinny fellow for a sailor, and it looks like they've chained him to the bed. You're a bit relieved that they didn't do that to you. Hopefully, that wasn't solely because they lacked the extra chains.

The next patient is a woman. She's rubbing her head and mumbling, looks half-asleep but conscious. You don't recognize her, so she's probably your best bet. No need to wake her, deal with chains, or risk messing with time more than you already have.

On the other hand, you're a stranger and your uniform isn't likely to be recognized. So you'll have to handle this carefully.
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RE: Swamped
Wrap a bedsheet around your armor to cover up all the purple and then ask her if she heard anything about the pirates
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RE: Swamped
Well. Your uniform is a bit inconvenient to get off - which is probably why they didn't take it off while you were unconscious - and you're not wearing much under it. But you could put something on over it.

You slip back to your own bed and grab a sheet, then drape it over your shoulders. Hopefully now you look like someone who's sick, not a soldier. Not like you can really check in a mirror right now.

You head over to the woman's curtain. You poke your head in.

"Excuse me," you begin. "I've got a bit of a problem."

"Who doesn't," she grumbles at you. "I just got clubbed in the head by someone I thought I could trust, so pardon me if I ain't my best self right now."

"Well, the medic seems to have left, and I don't know who else to ask. Someone was shouting about pirates, and, well, I'm wondering what's going on."

"We're under attack by pirates, presumably," she shrugs. "Either that or someone's trying to cause a stir, in which case they'll be in deep trouble. But the pirates probably ain't comin' in here, they probably want supplies or..." She pauses. "Now hang on a minute, what would pirates be doing all the way out here. We're the only ship that's come out this far in an age. Hardly a good route for piracy."

"That's what I was wondering," you say. "Best guess I have is that this is their territory. I was hoping to suggest that to the officers, but, ah. I don't know how to go about doing that. Especially as the medic isn't around."

"What do you mean? We've been sailin' six months, how do you not know how things work around here?"

"I'd rather not get into that right now."

She looks skeptical, but then shrugs.

"Well, if there really are pirates, it'll be an emergency situation. Most of the officers are going to be busy. If we got something more mundane that still can't wait, usually what we do is contact the support officers. Well, Donnie tends to have his hands full, but I'm talking people like the navigator, the quartermaster, the cook... Oh, wait, the navigator's sick and the cook's been acting weird."

"So, the quartermaster then?" you ask.

"Well... if the pirates have boarded, then she'll have her hands full protecting the supplies. Wouldn't be safe." She pauses. "Oh, hold on, think I know who you should talk to. Not even that far off from here."
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RE: Swamped
The wardress. Can you find your way to the brig?
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RE: Swamped
"The warden," she continues. "We mostly use the brig for disciplinary measures, since we weren't expecting to run into anyone all the way out here. And in an emergency, usually we need the manpower. So she lets everyone out and then doesn't have any particular duties until the emergency's passed. Even if we captured a pirate, there wouldn't be a lot to do with them right away."

"And the brig is where?"

She gives you a bemused look.

"I, ah, haven't had to go there before," you explain. It's technically true.

"Three doors down to the left. Bad idea to keep the brig and the infirmary too far away from each other, never know when you'll have to move someone between them."

"Right. Thanks."

You leave her alone, and step out again. Your sheet should give you a little more anonymity than your armor. Even if you run into someone else you recognize, they probably shouldn't know you yet and probably won't make anything out of the resemblance later on.

Fortunately, everyone is too busy rushing around doing whatever needs to be done to fight off pirates to pay you much attention. Then again, maybe that's not so fortunate.

Regardless, you open the door to the brig and hope that the warden isn't someone else you recognize. Even if you can probably handle it, you don't want to look too surprised. You step in and see her sitting behind a desk, reading.

"Excuse me," you say. "I'd like to ask something quickly..."

"Allow me to ask first," she says, standing up and putting down the book. "Why are you surrounded by time magic?"

Oh hells. Now that you've got a better look, you recognize her. It's Carma.

What do you do?
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