I Love Anaran Soldiers | 13 February 4/685

A huge concrete Fort standing on pillars in the sea.
Danaran Sea Fort

Dearest Jowan, Cora, and patrons of the Unarkida

Continued from Extract 1

We continue with our young friend out on the Whale Road. There exists an abundance of stories of young Unarans at sea, especially among the Free People. Stories of adventure and lives lived to their fullest.

This is one of the more compelling.

Extract 2 from the diary of a young woman on the Whale Road – (circa 3/135).

Day 19 aboard the Samssonar

I. Love. Anaran soldiers.

I should say Blackcoats. That’s what they call themselves.

We spent only a few hours offloading supplies for the Anarans at the first of the Sea Forts, leaving no time to visit or explore. Instead, we sailed on to the next without delay—but only as quickly as the seas would allow.

The weather has turned these last few days, and the swell is regularly over the bow. The Samssonar has been tossed about like a dinghy relentlessly. This leg of the voyage should have taken us half a day at most, but ended up taking nearly twice that.

I am immensely grateful I don’t suffer from seasickness. The same cannot be said for my roommates, Gail and Esi. Neither has been able to keep a meal down all week. At first, I felt sorry for them, but it has become tedious. Sorry, but I am not ashamed to say it.

Right, back to those Anarans. My Blackcoats.

When we had at last arrived and anchored up at the second Fort, we shuttled their goods over as quickly as we could. The Captain then proceeded to give us one day’s leave. Much of the crew went over for the afternoon and some of the evening, but almost all returned to the ship and their own quarters. Most of them have seen the forts before. This was my first time so I decided to make the most of it. Gale and Esi joined me, though I suspect they just wanted some respite from their shared affliction.

The Sea Fort is like a small city!

Standing on pillars in the middle of the ocean, the megastructure comprises at least ten floors of mostly living space, services and housing. The remaining areas are secret and closed to visitors.

Above, on the roof, are weapons and military equipment, as well as the tether to this airship that they call a Watcher. It flies high overhead, surveilling the sea for miles around.

Beneath, there are gunboats and a small warship hanging from gantries, ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice.

It has its own power supply, water treatment plant, and a tunnel farm on the roof. There’s a running track up there too, and—well, I imagine they have just about everything you might need to keep a small city running.

Honestly, it has better amenities than where I grew up. There are libraries, pubs and cafeterias. Multiple cafeterias. That make different types of food!

In all my wildest dreams, I have never imagined anything like it.

In the evening, we were invited to drinks by a group of young Blackcoats—cadets like us. I accepted eagerly. Esi and Gail stayed in the guest rooms to catch up on some sleep.

I had the best night—the best night of my entire life. I struck up a rapport with Toni and Saana. They said they were cousins.

First, we had beers at a pub called the Dank Daxian. They told me all about their home in Anara, which sounds fantastic. I think they must be from a wealthy family. Later, we went to a different bar with a balcony. Toni ordered the three of us a whisky.

There was this view out to sea, and we had a lucky break in the weather—I felt pretty spoilt. The moons were high and full, so I could see the Samssonar clear as day, floating on a glassy sea. As I soaked it in, along with my whisky, Saana suddenly stood up and pointed.

“Look, what the hell is that?”

When I found what she was pointing at, I answered, without thinking, “it’s a Whateroi!” Erka popped into my mind as I stood. I wondered what she’d say when I told her I’d seen him a second time on the same voyage.

He wasn’t far from the ship, circling, and based on the scale I thought he might be the very same one. The blackness against the sea at night was utterly bizarre, along with the piercing white dot that was his eye.

Everyone was silent for some time before Toni finally spoke, “Is it dangerous?”

“Do you know, I’m not sure, but—” my eyes were drawn in and focussed on his eye. “—no, he isn’t,” I said as if I knew. Somehow, I did. The Whateroi disappeared below again and everyone returned to their revelry.

The whisky must have been really strong because it burned my nostrils and throat. I did my best to keep up. It was around this point in the evening that it became clear that they both fancied me. They each said as much, but I had guessed already. The drinks had been flowing so fast it could only have been for confidence—or for something more nefarious, and they didn’t seem the types.

The feeling was mutual. Only, I couldn’t decide who I preferred. So, and this may have been the drink talking for me, I suggested we all find somewhere quiet. All three of us together. They had enough confidence and few remaining inhibitions by this point, so Saana offered to take her cousin and me back to her quarters.

A rough sketch in a notebook of a male and female.
Toni and Saana

I did wonder how much more of that evening I could write down. The words formed, but my pen remained above the page. The idea of anyone ever getting hold of my journal and reading any of this is mortifying. Especially a certain First Mate, who I shall not name.

So, those details I will keep entirely for myself.

Needless to say, I was sorry to leave in the morning. I got up before the cousins. They had indulged more heavily than I had and I didn’t feel like sticking around for any awkwardness, so I headed back to the guest rooms to rouse the others and head back to the ship.

Baz looked like he wanted to interrogate me when I boarded, but I’ll take last night to my grave—unless I cross paths with the Blackcoat cousins again.

I will be sleeping peacefully tonight, with the fondest memories of my visit to a Danaran Sea Fort and my Anaran soldiers.

Continued on 20 February in The Intervention.

Illustrations by Midjourney & G.G.B.

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