47 – Bilge

You decide that you can’t leave Ika here to take the fall for the situation at the bar.  With the mercenary’s body rotting in the harbor, you do not have time to waste.  The medic walks away from Ika, leaving her alone for a moment.   As you approach the god blood, she stiffens, sensing your presence.   You whisper in her ear “I can’t get them to let you go, but I can take your name so you won’t get a record for this.  I’ll come….”

“No!” Ika hisses.  She looks around to see if anyone heard her.   In a lower tone of voice, she says “I don’t need any more Sidereal ‘help’.   Leave me alone.”

You observe the feathered-haired woman in her ill-fitting Yu-Shan clothes.   Though she looks like she is in her late teens, you realize that she is older than Wanahton.   God bloods live longer and age slower than mortals.   You have been letting Rikali’s emotions color your perceptions of Ika.

“Are you sure?” you ask.

“Just go.” Ika says wearily.  “I can take care of myself, kid.”

You start to walk away to follow your friends.   When you look back, you see Ika hold her face in her hands.   You reluctantly turn away to follow your Dragon blooded friends as they are led away from the crowds by a young man.

After walking a few blocks away from the crime scene, Chiyoko exclaims “Oh!  I know where I am at now.  Thank you, Officer!”  Chiyoko beams at the young officer.   The man returns the smile, slightly besotted by the young Dragon blooded girl.  He turns and walks back to the bar.

You pull your headband from your pocket and tie it around your forehead.   After adjusting the headband to cover your glittering caste mark, you walk back into fate.

Chiyoko smiles with relief when she sees you walk up.   “Where have you been?  You’ve been gone for a long time.” she asks.

“The harbor.  Masaru, I going to need your help.”   You say to Masaru.   He doesn’t respond.   “Masaru?  What happened?”

Aiko says, “A lot of things happened while you were gone.  The bar burned down.  We almost got arrested.  Your bum friend took the cocaine and the other mercenary and ran.   ”

“He’s not really my friend.”

“Oh?  Just like the drug dealer wasn’t really your friend either?“  Aiko raises her voice.

“Instead of yelling at me, why don’t you tell me what happened?” you yell back.

“I killed that man.”  Masaru answers, as his anima fades.   “I didn’t mean to.   When I saw him stab that woman, I just reacted.   I punched him in the face. “  Masaru rubs his fist.  “ I felt his…”  He closes his eyes.  “I never killed anyone before.”

You don’t know how to respond when Masaru says this.  “I’m sorry.”   You say.  You don’t know what else to say.

“It’s not your fault.”  Masaru says quietly.

“No, it is his fault.”   Aiko crosses her arms.  “We wouldn’t be involved if it wasn’t for him.  What are we going to do when the magistrate’s office files their report tomorrow?”

“Aiko, stop!  Svante didn’t even know the drugs were in his bag.”  Chiyoko says.

Aiko turns away and starts to pace.   “But Chiyoko, this is about more than drugs.  The bum was another Sidereal.   The drug dealer…  I think her mother was one, too.  “

“Aiko, stop trying to blame this whole mess on Svante.   If your blood ape wasn’t there, then maybe the patrons wouldn’t have freaked out and burned the bar down.   “

“What? You are trying to blame this on me now, Chiyoko?”

“No.   I want you to understand that no one was making good choices in the bar tonight.   All this finger pointing is pointless.  ”  Chiyoko clasps your hand and intertwines her fingers with yours and holds out her other hand to Aiko.  Aiko glares at you, but takes her cousin’s hand.   Masaru walks over and joins the three of you.    “We are a circle.   We don’t argue whose fault it was.   When something goes wrong, we are all at fault.   We stand together or we will fall.   “

You feel guilty, holding hands in the circle with your dragon blooded friends.   Chuzei Enki was right to name you “Cuckoo.”  Even outside of a Resplendent Destiny, you were still a Sidereal hiding in this nest of Dragons.   You look up to find Aiko staring at you from the other side of the circle.   She knows that this is your fault.  She knows that this night isn’t over.   You look at Masaru and remember him telling you about trust back when you were still Cnead Svante.

“Aiko is right.  It’s my fault you have been dragged into this situation. “  Aiko eyes widen in shock when you say this.   “The bum back in the bar was a Sidereal.“   You feel less guilty admitting that, so you continue.  “I don’t know what exactly is going on.   I know some things.”    You explain that Haythem is investigating your kidnapping a few months ago.

You study your friend’s reaction to your words.   Aiko is pacified by the fact you said she was right.   Masaru looks like he just barely keeping it together.   When your eyes met Chiyoko’s, she gives you a tired smile.  She squeezes your hand and asks “What can we do to help?”

If you were a real friend, you would tell them to go back to the dorm, but you have to find the Bureau Mole.   “I was hoping Masaru can help me with something….”

 

Masaru looks down at the water dubiously.   “The water in Vanchow is disgusting.  My father says that the Harbormaster fine ships when empty their bilge into the harbor.”

“You can still breathe it, right?” you ask.

“You can still breathe the air at the dump, right?” Masaru retorts.

“If you don’t want to…”  You begin.

“No,”  Masaru interrupts.  “I said I’d do it.”   He grabs the crowbar from you.   “Someone is going to need to catch the body.  I can’t touch it with my Anima up.”

You sigh and unbuckle your sword and hand it to Chiyoko.  You strip off your clothes and kick the pile away from the edge of the dock, so they won’t get wet when you come out of the water.  After a moment of indecision, you pull your headband off and throw it to the pile.  Your caste sign should fade soon and you could always hide in the water if someone comes by before then.

You dive into the murky water.  The water is shockingly cold compared to the warm humid air.   You surface and slick your hair back.   The three dragon bloods are staring down at you in shock.   Must be the caste sign.  Did they not remember that you had one?  Stupid Arcane fate. You hoped that you wouldn’t have to have a conversation about Sidereals not being Anathema.

“Are you coming?” you ask Masaru.  Masaru bashfully starts to strip off his own clothes and jumps in after you.  He ignites his anima and dives down into the harbor.   You wait at the surface and watch the glow of Masaru’s anima as he makes his way towards the crate.  You hear giggling.  Looking up, you see Chiyoko and Aiko whispering.  When they notice you watching, the two girls fall silent.

“Is there something wrong?” you ask.

“No.”  Chiyoko looks down and blushes.

Aiko smirks and starts to walk along the long edge of the dock.   When she looks down at the water, Aiko takes a sharp intake of breath.   She recovers quickly and continues to walk along the dock.

“There is an immaterial spirit on the dock with us, watching.”  Aiko’s voice whisper in your ear.   “He doesn’t know I have seen him yet.”

Chiyoko, upon hearing Aiko’s message, casually sets your sword on the edge of the dock, where you can reach it.   She starts to sort through you and Masaru’s clothes as an excuse for setting it down.   “Where is he standing?”  she asks Aiko soundlessly.

“He’s standing on the dock, not far from Svante.  He doesn’t seem to be threatening, just watching.  Maybe he is a curious water god?”

What do you do?

  • Attack the Spirit. It has to be the Bureau Mole.
  • Try to talk to the Spirit. Maybe it will Materialize if you ask
  • Ignore the spirit. Recover the body and head back to the dorm.
  • Other
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