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Sep 18, 2020 2:55 AM
alteriverse!imrainai lands on atlantis!serg
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"Near water. Need direction. And sleep. Imrainai meet Saikirei tomorrow, tomorrow go?"

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Nod nod.

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She hugs him again. She's not unaware of the fact that she's sort of - scratch that, is - asking him to participate in getting rid of the one interesting thing that's happened to him in literal millennia. 

"Imrainai happy know Saikirei. Saikirei good."

And then she heads off to prepare for tomorrow.

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—he smiles, and keeps smiling as she walks away.

The next morning he's waiting in the garden.

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She is well-rested and moderately confident when she meets him. "Hi! Direction?"

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He gets up, smiles at her, nods in a direction, and starts walking.

It's close to the direction she takes to get to her crab-hunting grounds, but different enough that the trip to the edge takes closer to three hours than two.

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She's brought snacks, so she'll be fine. She doesn't make very much conversation this time; the occasion seems too serious for it, somehow.

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Yeah.

They reach the edge. He piles up a whole lot of cloak—it's not clear where it all even comes from—and then pulls it back again to reveal her entire pedal-powered submarine, true to the design in all functional particulars but slightly aesthetically embellished. It probably did not need to be this pretty.

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"Awww. Thanks." She fastens her helmet and checks that it's sealed and tests her comm. "Saikirei wave?"

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Wave!

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"Good." 

She looks forward. There's nothing ahead to steer by, so she'll just have to keep heading away from her beacons. Good thing she's a spacer now.

"Ancestors guide us home," she murmurs, and doesn't know whether to think of her parents on Yahivi or her niece and nephew on Earth or Saikirei here or whatever it is that's ahead of her.

She pushes her little craft into the water and follows it in.

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Saikirei stays back and watches and worries. He's sure he made it as well as he could, but what if he didn't make it well enough? What if she gets out there and something happens to her? He can't follow her past that rippling wall; there's nothing he could do to help her if she needed it.

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This would be worrying for her, too, if she were letting herself worry right now. Which she is not. She hops on her craft and pedals, vaguely surprised that the thing actually works under however much water pressure this is.

"Alllll right," she says, heading away from where her map readout says her beacons are. She doesn't bring her main lights on; it's not like there's going to be much out there to make sense of. "Craft safe so far. - I should really name this thing, I wonder if she's more of an Intrepid or more of an Explorer. Or if those are boring names. - Sorry, try talk Saikirei words, Imrainai thinking."

Pedal pedal pedal towards whatever lies out there in this extremely dark ocean.

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He steps up to the wall and presses his hand against it, even though it hurts and makes his skin come apart into curls of smoke. He feels... helpless. He does not like feeling helpless.

Imrainai is so important—a friend, a good friend, the first one he's ever had, the first person he's ever really truly deeply cared about—he wants her to be safe, more than he can ever remember wanting anything, even more than he wanted the things he shed his mortal flesh to gain—

 

—And then, all of a sudden, his half-disintegrated hand snaps back into full solidity. He can feel water against his skin.

He has only a moment to notice the change before he feels his world come undone.

It's a little bit like stretching out after a long sleep, or stepping out into the light after a long time in the dark, or taking a full breath for the first time after centuries spent underwater. It's wide and wild and dizzy and painful. The ground shakes, and he falls to his knees in a pool of shadows. He can't keep hold of his shape; it flows, dissolves, comes back together and breaks apart again. He is a boiling lake of black smoke and green fire.

He breathes. The whole bubble breathes with him.

And then he just... reaches out, and... the wall reshapes itself, stretching out a long pathway of air toward Imrainai.

He's not sure if that's what he should be doing. He's not sure what he should be doing. He has... so much to say to her, and no idea how to even begin to articulate any of it.

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She has about half a second to notice that something is happening behind her before the water is gone and she's pitched off her still-unnamed craft and tumbled onto the ground, because submarine bicycles don't do so well in air.

She feels like she should be checking on Saikirei. She can't actually do this, because she doesn't have a receiver. She feels like she should be doing something, but she can't think of anything that isn't stupid, so her mouth starts making decisions without her.

"Ground control, we have a situation? I'll let you know what it is in, like, three seconds here."

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He—breathes—no, that's not quite right—he reconstructs himself out of the pool of shadow and takes a real actual breath with his real actual lungs.

Steps forward—vanishes in a swirl of smoke and shadows—appears next to Imrainai.

Oh. She fell off her thing.

Sorry, he says—tries to say; the sound doesn't come out quite right. She has her helmet on and probably can't hear him anyway. He reaches hesitantly toward her to offer her a hand up.

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"Hi," she says, still talking through her comm, because he probably hasn't brought his receiver with him but she's a little bit not super thinking about that right now. 

She takes his hand.

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—right, the receiver. Which he can still hear with perfect clarity. For some reason.

This is all very overwhelming.

Well, first things first: he helps her up and then gives her a hug.

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She is super unclear on what's happening, but she hugs him back.

"Saikirei underwater?" she says, when she's calm enough to formulate the question.

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He opens his mouth, then closes it again. How does he even begin to...?

 

"I accidentally freed myself by caring about you more than I cared about the things that got me trapped here," he says, and for some reason she can hear this through her helmet and also understand every word of it perfectly.

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"Wow," she whispers, entirely about the fact that she can understand what he's saying now.

" - wow," she says, half a second later, about the actual content of that. She feels like - like half of her brain is screaming that that's way too much caring and she's never going to live up to whatever impression caused it, and half of her brain is elated and filled with some emotion that she doesn't think it romantic love but which could maybe be if you squinted at it, and the two awful machines are grinding their gears against each other in some kind of vicious attempt to destroy her sanity between them, and - she wants something, she decides, and she doesn't exactly know what it is, but whatever it is she wants it a lot.

"Wow," she says, for the third time, aware that she's probably going to start sounding pretty stupid if she doesn't use a different word pretty soon. "I, uh, I can understand you now."

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"Yes," he says. "That... happened. A lot of things have happened. I think... I think I might be able to make the doors work. The gates. So you don't have to pedal all the way to Lohei."

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" - that sounds comparatively less likely to get me killed, yeah. Why don't we, uh, walk back and you can tell me about your very eventful past ten minutes?"

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He smiles a little, and nods.

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She looks vaguely relieved, and then smiles herself. She starts walking back, minus one submarine bicycle that she feels like she probably won't need after all. "Cool. ...so more than life itself, huh?"

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