The Intervention | 20 February 4/685

Daxian Battleship caught in a maelstrom, black tentacles reaching for it.
A Daxian Battleship Pulled to the Depths

Dearest Jowan, Cora, and patrons of the Unarkida

Continued from Extract №2

This is where our young friend’s story takes a turn, as they so often do, from adventure to terror.

At the time, the Home Island War—between Anara and the Daxians—was at a peak, and in Refuge, the city-state stood on the cliff-edge of revolution. The events below would likely have been lost to history if not for our young friend.

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

Day 31 aboard the Samssonar

The Samssonar is nearly back home. In Refuge! So much has happened in the last two weeks.

Where to begin?

Where did I leave off?

I’ve re-read my last entry, and I cannot believe how much has happened since that night.

That wonderful night.

I’m not sure I’m ready for this…

I needed to collect myself, or my journal may have been a soggy mess. Replaying things over in my mind is exhaustingly emotional, but I have to work through this eventually. If Baz can be strong in the face of all that’s happened, then so can I.

Here we go…

After we left the second Sea Fort we made a final stop at the third, the southernmost. Once again I went over on the shuttle with their consignment of supplies. This time we only stayed long enough to offload as the Captain wanted to get on quickly. We were back underway within an hour and headed directly east.

This has been a voyage of firsts for me; before long, I saw the Whale’s Teeth. Even at a distance, I can see why people write about them. The shimmer off the icy peaks rising out of the water really catches the eye. At first, it feels like some bizarre trick of the light. It takes a while for it to sink in that they stretch the length of the horizon—and come back around from the other side.

As you draw closer, the seas get more treacherous, with enormous icebergs and increasingly large floes making more regular appearances. By the time you begin to make out the beaches and the violent wash you are dangerously close.

Baz came below deck in the evening carrying strict instructions from the Captain. At some point the next day the command would be given for all crew to head below deck. There would be no exceptions. We were not to return to our posts until commanded to do so. To call this highly unusual is an understatement.

The next day came and the command was given. All crew retreated below decks.

I sat by the porthole in my room and wondered if we’d be able to see anything. Likely whatever it was would be off the bow by design, but my curiosity was aching. I tried to get a peek but could only see the water. I say water. I mean ice. Lots and lots of ice.

Then, the dolphins appeared, and smaller whales. I wasn’t sure what I was seeing at first, but it soon became apparent that they were heading straight for the ship. Some started to circle us, and soon after we began to hear knocking on the ship’s hull, this time from the outside.

As I recount the events of that day, this is the point where it feels like my world turned on its head. My casually confident grasp on reality was about to be wrenched apart.

The whole time we’d been below deck, there had been activity above. By this point, I knew the sounds of goods being offloaded to the shuttle. The familiar shuffling, scrapes, and bangs on deck were soon followed by the vibrations of the shuttle’s propeller as it departed.

All was quiet for a short time after that, apart from the knocking on the hull. After a few minutes, that also stopped, and everything went eerily silent.

Moments later my ears practically exploded. A crack so violent I felt immediately nauseous.

Until this point, the sky had been cloudy, but light. Now everything went dark outside my porthole. There were shouts above, and we heard many doors bang open, followed by heavy footsteps. Gail, Esi and I responded at precisely the same moment, meeting in our shared living area and making for the main door.

I barely noticed the Captain screaming over the intercom. He was scarcely intelligible, but I think I remember him calling for the crew to stay below. Not one crew member obeyed.

The ship bucked violently as I climbed the stairs. The last time I had looked through my porthole, the sea was glassy-calm. What could that have been?

I arrived on deck to see most of the crew braced to the railing towards the bow. I squeezed myself through to see a ship some distance ahead of us. It was dark grey and had heavy guns fore and aft. Fireballs were exploding from the weapons all over its deck. Perhaps that had been the source of the loud crack?

The shuttle was returning, and we could see the crew running around frantically on its deck.

“That’s a Daxian Destroyer,” the ship’s Chef said. All of the crew were in varying states of horror.

“What are we doing dealing with the Daxians? Where’s the Captain?” another crew member asked.

“Emergency stations, engineering to your posts, we need full power!” Baz’s voice blared loudly from a nearby speaker.

I looked up at the bridge to see Baz—my brother—alone at the wheel. The ship bucked again, and I looked down into the water. It was alive with sea life.

I saw him again. The Whateroi.

My whale-like behemoth, black as pitch, one smouldering white eye trained on us. He had just struck the side of our ship and was now circling between us and the other two vessels.

The Samssonar began to shift to port slowly. Baz was trying to turn us, but there wasn’t enough power.

“What in all Unara is that?” The same question was issued by most of the crew.

A group of engineers immediately broke from the railing and headed below deck. I took up one of the spaces they had left to get a better view.

I saw it immediately. The Daxian ship, and our shuttle, were caught up in a vortex—a maelstrom. The ocean surrounding them was foaming and swirling. Ice and debris were being sucked down beneath them as they began to turn and jostle.

Then, from below came something… something long, black, and writhing. I would have said they were tentacles, but from what sort of creature, I couldn’t possibly have guessed. They seemed to be grabbing at the Destroyer. More explosions lit up its deck, and the enormous bulk seemed to warp and buckle.

Our ship rocked again. This time it was the engines kicking into gear. We started to turn. I looked down at the water. Most of the creatures had abandoned us, except the Whateroi. He was ahead. It was as if he were shielding us somehow.

I could see something else deep beneath us, black and menacing. A million eyes were looking back at me. I blinked, and it was just black. The Daxian ship shifted to our starboard as we turned. Then to our rear.

I looked down again. That deep black seemed somehow to be receding towards the Destroyer.

As we completed our turn and started slowly pulling away, those still above deck shifted to the stern. Wordlessly we watched as the warship went under, along with our shuttle. The scene eventually vanished behind a thick fog, and the evening drew in as the dark clouds fell behind us.

Finally, I turned my attention to the bridge where I could still make out the lone figure of my brother. I climbed up to join him. The Captain was nowhere to be seen. I could see the stress in Baz’s eyes. I’d seen that look before. Every time father came home when we were children.

Continued on 27 February in Inheritance.

Illustration by Midjourney & G.G.B.

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