The sprawling, epic adventure of two vulpines and a tiger, taking them from the docks of Meson to the depths of forest ruins, all in pursuit of exploration, adventure, and science! The road is long, and hard, with many unexpected twists and turns, but great challenge brings great reward…
Setting: Meson - Rickety Wharf
A young man, an otter* pasu, a city-dweller. From head to heels, he is few inches short of six feet in height, long-limbed, sinuously slender, and muscled in a way that suggests running or swimming rather than any heavy lifting. Likewise, unwebbed and clean-nailed fingers suggest some use of a pen rather than any farm implements.
His short velvet fur is generally cinnamon-colored and (at least in the mornings) properly brushed from head to muscular tail. A spray of white vibrissae appears to have been trimmed back a bit. The overall warm brown fur is interrupted by a line of light gray fur that starts under the brown nose, circles the lower half of a short rounded muzzle under dark-colored eyes, continues back under small rounded ears, progresses down the front and sides of the neck and finally fades out on the chest.
There might be some hints of Meson mixed with the Acre accent, or perhaps that’s only an imagined effect of his deviation from the heavy starched fashions of the metropolis. He tends to sport earth-toned salwar kameez— lightweight trousers that hang in loose pleats between the more snug ankles and waist, and over this a long-sleeved tunic that hangs to knee-level but has open sides from the waist down. His shoes are older but decently-maintained leather.
A male White Tiger of above average height, around 6’8”. He is not particularly muscular, possessing a middling build, though his size alone confers that he is by no means weak. Both his dress and mannerisms suggest a utilitarian attitude, though his pale blue eyes are alert and inquisitive. He wears a black cloth overcoat, hanging from his shoulders to halfway down his digitigrade legs, above his unadorned footpaws. The coat itself is devoid of the common urban filigree, no doubt produced somewhere near the wastes; though slightly beaten, it is still in good repair. The grey shirt below is smudged with grease in places, which seems odd considering the pristine white of his striped fur. His tan pants have a number of external pockets, filled with an array of screwdrivers, wrenches, hammers, and other tools, along with a few less discernible devices. A small metal disk gleams on his right wrist, held in place by a black leather belt. Upon closer inspection, it appears to be a silver pocket watch – complete with hinged cover but lacking a chain - which has been adapted to fit on the notched strap.
His stripe pattern is more or less average; unique of course, and perhaps a bit darker than normal for a White Tiger, but otherwise ordinary. His nose and the pads of his hands and feet are all black, an uncommon trait, but nothing monumental. A lithe, flexible tail swishes back and forth from between the flaps of his long coat, idly flicking at the end. His retractable, feline claws are kept extremely sharp, though weather this is from constant use or done simply as a precaution is impossible to tell. His fur is thick and fairly long, suggesting a familiarity with colder climates. The blue of his eyes is so pale that in some lights they seem to shift to grey, though they are always scanning and observing, genuinely interested in the world nearby.
A large caliber rifle is slung over his shoulder, at first glance a kind of repeating rifle, but with obvious modifications. It has a much thicker profile than a standard rifle, with a tubular magazine running parallel to, but slightly offset from the barrel. The stock and grip appear to be a rather high quality of wood, but don’t precisely match, signifying that they are likely scavenged from different guns. Along the gun’s receiver rest a number of interconnected brass tanks, pipes, and gears, which connect the rifle’s lever action to a small flywheel, reminiscent of those used in locomotives. A connecting rod links the flywheel and a strange sliding mechanism, which is presumably responsible for chambering the next round.
At first glance, you would think that this hulking person was just wearing heavy scuba gear, but upon taking a closer look, you find that it is actually a very large automaton body, outfitted with scuba gear. Once you take an even closer look, you find that the scuba helmet ‘head’ of this seeming automaton is actually a holding tank full of water, and that there is a strange creature inside controlling the machine. The tank is also a lot bigger on the inside than what you see outside, it fills the entirety of the helmet and expands into the chest area, to give room for the occupant.
The creature inside is a newt, with rubbery dark brown skin, almost black, and a bright orange belly. He’s not very big either, while the mechanical body is an imposing seven feet tall, the little guy inside controlling it is only about a three feet long, or about two and a half standing, his head is large and slightly disproportional to his body, housing a supposedly large brain. The inside of the tank is outfitted with numerous cranks and levers, all used in controlling the body, while an aperture hook-up lets him speak through a phonograph like mouthpiece, making his voice sound echo-y and off-tune. Upon turning a crank in the back, the aperture can also double as a feeding tube.
The hulking body being controlled by the newt is heavily built using both scavenged automaton parts and scuba gear, and heavily rusted, looking as though it were just drug out of the sea. Being so heavily built, it is surprisingly exposed, allowing you too see all the ratchets, clockwork, and hydraulics used in moving it’s very large arms and legs, but only on the undersides, as the rest is covered in barnacle encrusted, mossy seaweed covered plate metal. It’s chest is mostly covered in the same plate metal as well, but the sides still show it’s inner clockwork and frame, most of which is so rusted you are surprised it still works without seizing up.
It’s legs are stout and wide, most of his seven foot height coming from the chest, but very sturdy, with multiple hydraulics used in just moving them forward. It’s arms are similar, but longer and not as wide, with a claw ending it’s left arm and a three fingered hand ending it’s right. Finally, a steam engine is outfitted to his back, just like an air tank or a backpack, spouts of steam rising up in the air as it rumbles and shakes, providing power to the suit.
Viktor is a young Arctic fox, in his very late teens, his hair bleached and dyed so it stays white all year long, except for two black lines of dye that run from the top of his muzzle starting at his nose, to above his eyebrows and back behind his ears, traveling down his back. His face is very lithe and obviously vulpine, with an angle at the end of his snout that puts his chin just a bit farther back than his nose. His eyes are sea-green, very deep, and very bright.
There is a rusty, chipped, and very old pair of bronze goggles on the top of his head, the lenses yellowed and cracked and the strap fraying at the edges. His clothing starts out with a muddy-grey cotton undershirt with a sleeveless reddish-brown vest over top, stained with mud and dirt. He has a pair of fingerless black gloves wrapped up in bandages all the way up to his elbow on both arms, his hands shaking lightly and uncontrollably, seemingly non stop. His knee length shorts are the same color as his vest, held up by a pair of suspenders hidden underneath, with a construction and utility belt strapped around his waist, holding various objects. He wears fairly large brown hiking boots, being plantigrade, laced up to well past his ankles, yet not quite reaching half up his shins.
Attached to his construction belt are a pair of three foot tuning forks, the fork end attached to a shaved steel rod with a wooden handle on the far end, about a hand and a half in length. Inside the pockets in his vest are a set of smaller forks, each one similarly made, except without the wooden handles, and are considerably smaller than the two three foot ones, the largest of the smaller ones about three inches long.
This less than towering creature, five foot four inches tall (if you include the ears), has a markedly expressive face that makes him quite memorable. Tawny colored fur ruffles in the wind, and brown eyes scan about. His twitching nose always seems to be finding some sort of scent, or perhaps his eyes are just wandering and surveying the beauty of life. He wears a nice sort of school uniform— though it seems quite worn, a thread here and there sproinging off like an unruly child rebelling from its mother textile.
His bare footpaws leave little dents in sandy soil, but are otherwise silent when he scurries around. His voice, however, seems surprisingly flexible, as do his expressions. Generally he seems quite happy, and he carries with him a bag that has a few fountain pens and several sheets of paper. Some of them are poking out, little scribblings shown on them.
The streets of Meson are nearly empty, getting close to late at night, though there are still a fair amount of sunlight to see with. Around on all the lampposts and poles there are fliers, specifying an event that transpired not too long ago, and on these fliers is a large drawing of a glass bulb, lines shooting out from around it, to simulate light. These fliers explain more into the event, a presentation of Loka’s first incandescent lightbulb, named ‘The Sunsphere’ by whoever came up with it. On the bottom most portion of the fliers shows contact info for a ‘Sovereign’. Scrawled in quick charcoal writing in the margins below a few of the fliers is a poorly written ‘Help Needed’, as if a child wrote it.
Zorro is near one of the poles, staring up at it. Whoever placed the poster on this one placed it rather high, and he is jumping up and down, attempting to read it. He knows he recognizes the shape of that bulb. It looks like that thing he saw the other day…
Bansi plods in from the direction whence the sea-crossing ships dock, wearing a backpack bulky irregular items and pulling along a oilcloth-wrapped package of rectangular items strapped to a two-wheeled frame. Bansi’s on a bearing for an inn, but stopping now and then to shake the stiffness from his legs. He takes a deep breath of air, which, this being late January, doesn’t do much damage. Spotting the child at the lamppost, he calls out amiably, “I think it might be easier to adjust if you had a ladder.”
Raziel strolls along behind Bansi, trusting his companion to navigate the unfamiliar city. He looks to the scene unfolding in front of the lamppost, and smiles. “I hardly think a ladder will be necessary.” He walks up to the pole, and barely stretching pulls it down, inspecting it before handing it to the fennec next to him. “Sunsphere, eh? Looks interesting.”
Zorro takes the poster with his paws, “Ah-ha! I knew it was that.” The fennec shakes his head, “He should have gone with ‘The illuminator!’ He points to the child-like writing on the bottom, “And if this scribbling is any indication, this fellow needs a marketer!” He straightens his scraggly tie, and then pauses, “Or… maybe he needs help with the bulb itself.” He shrugs.”
The luggage rhythmically thumps across the boards of the dock as he follows Raziel over to the lamppost. “Ah, an advertisement…” Bansi nods a greeting to Zorro, then leans over to examine the paper thoughtfully. “I’m sure it’s all very important, but I’ll not hold my breath waiting for a replacement to this.” Bansi points a finger upward to the gas light. “The last electric light I saw was only marginally less disagreeable to the eyes than standing next to a lightning bolt.”
Raziel turns back to the otter, a look of mock disbelief on his face. “You can’t tell me you’re not even a little curious. Innovation is the cornerstone of civilization itself! And you seem rather happy to be back inside the walls of a city,” he says, grinning.
Zorro makes a bit of a face, “Well, the Jacob’s ladders weren’t exactly intended as lighting. The technology is certainly improving— what I saw seemed… almost practical!” He gestures to the page, “This fella was out and about just a short while ago but… the thing broke! Then he scurried off. The writing on the bottom of the sign is new, which prompted me to try to take a look.” He notes, “Really, though, if you’re interested at all in innovation, it’s worth the stop by. Why, his lab is just over yonder…” He gestures toward one of the floating docks that makes up much of Meson.
Bansi chuckles at Raziel’s expression. “Oh, absolutely! A fair portion of my income comes from mathematical and process innovation. And I’m likewise all for reaping the fruits of mechanical innovation. But the harvest only comes after someone has spent some time standing about in the muck.” As Zorro explains further, Bansi looks on curiously, then glances over to the mentioned building. “Now, I will be glad to have a proper bed again, but would you mind a detour on the way to the inn?” Bansi inquires of Raziel.
“Pass up an opportunity to see new technology? I’d forgo sleeping in a bed for a week to see something like this, even if it is broken. Of course, I’m sure you already knew that; I’ve made my proclivity for all things engineering fairly obvious.” His enthusiasm is entirely genuine, and he begins inching closer to the dock, even as he’s speaking.
Zorro ambles toward the structure with the new, double-checks the address on the paper, and then raises up his fist, knocking on the door. He folds his paws, tail swishing rapidly. It should be quite a sight to see!
Bansi smiles and nods to Raziel, thumping the luggage along after him. “Well then, let’s see about this invention,” Bansi remarks amiably. “If this one should turn out to rearrange civilization, then we can say that we were present when it began. And if not…” Bansi adds with a smile, “at least we can help put the fire out.”
Raziel says, “That’s the spirit, Bansi!” Raziel walks back toward the otter and grabs the luggage handle, dragging it (and by extension, Bansi) toward the building, trying to get there faster.
The building in question is a large covered dock, one used to dock a large steamship before it was decommissioned and condemned. It looks to be recently rebuilt, with the addition of large spikes and a few small spires jutting from the top, as well as a large metal orb right in the center of the roof, their uses unknown. A large rumbling can be heard from inside, though it stops suddenly, the door opening soon after. A small being is on the other side, dressed in a tight rubber looking suit. “Hello, can I help you?
Zorro hands the critter that is much closer to his size the paper. “Ah, ummm..” He tilts his head, “We’re here to see about this help wanted. Are you the big fella’s assistant?” He wonders if the position has already been filled!
Bansi raises a brow at Raziel’s mode of encouragement but seems to take the hint by quickening his steps. He comments quietly to Raziel, looking up at the structure along the way, “Perhaps it’s the dark, but that looks rather ominous. And sounds so too.” Bansi quiets and raises a hand in greeting as the door opens.
Raziel disengages himself from the otter’s luggage and gazes around at the strangely adorned building, noting the strange rubber clad creature, but mostly trying to look into the workshop. He gradually realizes his impoliteness, and greets the pasu in the doorway. “Hello. We heard you were having some problems with the invention.”
Sovereign looks up to the fennec curiously, then smiling, gazing out at the rest. “That ‘big guy’ is me, of course. And yes, I am in need of help. If you’d like to follow me inside. “
Zorro looks a bit confused, “But he was huuuuge!” The fennec waves his little paws around, and then starts following the Sally Man Dir, ears bobbling in curiousity.
Bansi chuckles at Zorro’s reaction. “I’m Bansi Nata, merely an inquisitive onlooker,” Bansi offers, slipping inside after the invitation. “My ‘big guy’ friend here is Mr. Raziel, someone who will probably want to spend the night in your lab.” He looks to Zorro briefly after that, then turns his gaze to the contents of the building.
The inside of the building is expectedly large, though there’s more water than one would expect, as if the whole front half of the dock was lowered into the water, with the front of the building submerged into the delta, while the rear is high and dry, with all sorts of equipment and wires at that end, small steam engines, large panels and gauges, wires of all sizes running up to the ceiling and out to the spires and spikes on the top of the roof. Two very large cables run up to the big metal sphere. Back to the rear of the building, there are large glass tubes and bulbs, arcing wires inside them, as well as strange boxes bolted to the walls, and a large panel of switches. The middle of the room is removed, allowing a boat to sit inside, though Sovereign seems to have built large bridges to cross the watery gap. As the group enters, Sovereign runs up to a very large automaton looking suit, hopping inside and starting it up, the big metal construct slowly grinding to life. “Is this the ‘big guy’ you were thinking of?” He says in his phonograph-like voice, from the inside of the suit.
Zorro’s eyes widen as he sees the little critter crawl into the suit. He points to it. “Yes. That would be the big guy!” He scratches his head, and pulls out a paper and pencil, scribbling something down, “So! Were you able to fix ‘The Illuminator’?” He grins, hoping that will catch on.
Bansi slows to stare wide-eyed at the equipment, obviously impressed but perhaps a bit skeptical as well. His eyes follow the wires up to the metal sphere, return to the murky water, and finally to notice everyone has moved on. He hurries to catch up. As Sovereign starts up the suit, Bansi blinks but doesn’t yet remark on it, instead looking to Raziel and then to the host.
Raziel investigates the number of devices scattered around the room, though he is perplexed by the submerged area of the workshop. He pays a particular amount of attention to the wires running around the area, nodding and talking to himself. Eventually, he addresses the newt in the suit. “I take it you specialize in electrical technologies? Always a fascinating field, and a favorite of mine…well, right after weaponry.”
Sovereign sighs, shaking his head, though the suit doesn’t move. “No, unfortunately, I have tried to find a suitable filament replacement, but all my experiments have failed, and all the help I had before fell through. However, I have found a metal that would be perfect for ‘The Illuminator’. I took some time to request for some documents to be shipped here from the AKA archives, and I found a reference to the metal used in making the original Svargan counterparts, and then a story about a statue made completely out of a very similar metal, at least I believe so. But it’s in a place I cannot go, and so I’m stuck till I find something else suitable.” He then looks over to Raziel, nodding. “Yes. I specialize in electrical technologies. I find it fascinating.”
Zorro looks up, “A place you cannot go?” The fox looks confused, gesturing to the big suit, “Look at ye! Who’s going to tell that where it can and can’t go?”
Bansi takes hints from Raziel’s attention as to where to direct his own gaze. Unlike Raziel, Bansi doesn’t just look perplexed by the water but by the entirety of the workshop. He looks back to Sovereign at the mention of his historical research. “I suspect the owner of said statue would be a bit reluctant to give it up for scientific experiments…” Bansi frowns. “Or is it not in the kingdom?”
Raziel listens attentively to the explanation, his ears perking up at the mention of the Academy. “I didn’t know the Academy kept records of statues and the like; unless of course they incorporated a considerable amount of machinery.” His tail flicks idly as he paces back and forth for a few seconds, thinking. “Where did the materials for the original model come from? I take it you’ve already expended that source?”
Sovereign looks over to Raziel. “The Academy keeps a record of all it’s research, and it just so happened they looked into Svargan lighting sources when they went into the electrical portion of their studies. The reference was vague, and it has no name, but it described the material very well. The story I had to dig up from another source, but it was close to the archives. The statue was made of a metal that had some very close similarities to the one described in the Academy’s records. And no, I cannot go there. I am too large, and I can’t survive on the surface without my suit. I’d dehydrate too fast. Anyways, the statue is supposedly held in the ruins of a tribe that existed while the Ze’ev were still young, but they died out for an unknown reason. I believe they were either killed or assimilated into the growing Ze’ev tribe. “
Sovereign adds. “Also, yes, the original filament was destroyed, in my last attempt to light it up.”
Zorro shrugs, “Well, if largeness is your problem…” The little fennec wiggles his ears, “It’s something I have nothing of, save for my ears. Though I don’t think I’d be well suited to travel alone therefore, especially if I have to get a statue…” He turns around looking at the other two with a big smile.
Bansi listens thoughtfully as Sovereign explains and rubs the back of his head as the inventor finishes. “I see where this is going, but some difficulties come to mind.” He holds an open palm out to the side. “One is that the locals, tribal connection or no, may voice some objection to hauling this statue out into the daylight, particularly if they know what it’s to be used for.” He gestures to the other side. “Another involves future sourcing of the metal. If scavenging rare artifacts is easier than mining and smelting the ore for this metal… I assume it has ore?… what does this say for your hopes for eventual widespread adoption?”
“You may have a point, Bansi,” Raziel says, “Though there is no reason to believe that the Ze’ev know - or care - about its existence. From what you’ve told us, these ruins seem fairly obscure. As for future availability…well, it’s hard to find what you’ve never looked for before.”
Sovereign blinks at Bansi, tilting his head inside his suit. “Did I not say ruin? According to the story, which is less than reliable I admit, the tribe was destroyed, with nothing remaining. I do not believe that it is occupied. As for widespread adoption, it doesn’t take very much to make a filament, which I have made several of using various materials. I believe this statue will last until a more stable source can be found, and with limited supply I will be able to fund a survey team to find such a source.”
Zorro nods, “That does make sense.” The fox’s tail wags, “Now, now, Mr. Otter, I do believe it is you who mentioned something about grasping opportunity and being on the cusp of history. Sounds to me like now’s that time, don’t you?”
Bansi nods to Sovereign with Zorro’s remark. “Am I correct in assuming that finances are a bit tight at the moment?” Bansi suggests. “I wonder if you should alter your advertising pitch a bit. Rather than suggesting that you need help with a speculative invention, perhaps more people would be attracted by the prospect of an uninhabited town from which to collect valuable artifacts,” Bansi offers, gesturing to Sovereign. “Historical artifacts have a known and very definite value, whereas the value of this scrap metal that you’re desperately seeking is likely to be exactly the amount left in your purse.”
Raziel shakes his head as the otter explains. “It’s not /always/ about money, Bansi. Sometimes the objective is progress over profit.” He nods in Sovereign’s direction. “If you’re requesting my assistance in the name of technological advancement, I’d be more than happy to assist you.” He chuckles, then adds under his breath, “Also, we innovators need to stick together. Everyone else thinks we’re mental.”
Sovereign smiles brightly at Raziel. “Ah yes, that would be wonderful. I would greatly appreciate your help. And don’t worry, I give credit where it is due. And no, I am not short on funding, but a survey team to traverse all of Loka would be far to expensive for me, as of right now. Also, if it is successful, it would draw more publicity to the site, or at least I’d see to it, regardless of the outcome.”
Zorro nods a bit, scribbling down some notes on his paper, “Sounds like a good way to spend the time, writing history.” He gives a smirk. “So, the Ze’ev, you say? Is this site near Estenne, then?”
Bansi chuckles at Raziel’s remark before quieting to listen. He then gestures to the luggage. “I think I’m in need of that nice unmoving bed about now,” Bansi mentions, then says as an aside, “If you like, Mr. Raziel, I can book a room for you as well and make sure the linens are free of unwanted guests before you get back.” Bansi looks back to Sovereign. “Despite suggestions to the contrary, I /am/ interested in certain intellectual pursuits for their own sake. I’d like to stop by again in the daylight to hear more about the daily operations of your lab. That is, if you don’t mind, Mr…?”
Raziel nods. “I would indeed like a room.” He digs a paw into a coat pocket, and hands a pile of money to the otter, not even bothering to count it. “I’ll be along shortly.” Almost as an afterthought, he interjects, “You know, you’re going to have to stop calling me ‘Mr. Raziel’ eventually. It’s strange.”
Sovereign nods to Bansi. “I would appreciate your help as well, thank you. My name is Sovereign. Thank you for your time, and I await your arrival in the morning. Thank you again for your assistance.”
Zorro chuckles to Raziel, “Mind if I call you that? I don’t have any other name for you, of yet.” The fox yawns and stretches. “Though I should head to the inn myself. It is incredibly late. Perhaps in the morning we may gather together and see about this strange statue.”