transluminary: (Default)
[personal profile] transluminary
Who: Dairine Callahan ([livejournal.com profile] wizard_errant), Adam Eddington ([livejournal.com profile] transluminary)
When: Home Plot 2011, Session 2. After arriving, before departing.
What: Dairine and Adam borrow a boat. And have a penguin adventure!
Well?: Incomplete and unposted.

There were a lot of rules about leaving the station unsupervised, wandering the local premises, or operating a Zodiac. Although he had given each one careful consideration, Adam wasn't about to count how many he and Dairine had just bent or broken. It was okay. He had booked his share of hours on this exact vessel and Dairine and Spot had their wizardry.

"And anyway, it's a dream!" he yells over the scrapping of the wind. "What's the worst that could happen?"

*

Dairine snorts. “Depends on how messed up your subconscious is?” she says. She keeps looking around the place, scanning it, memorising it. She wants to know what absolutely everything is, see everything this freezing continent has to offer. They haven’t run into anybody else yet, and she’s not sure if that’s because there isn’t usually anybody here, or Adam’s brain has just written them all out. She kind of wants to take notes on the whole experience--not just Antarctica, but whether the experience of being in a dream like this is different when you know that’s what it is, if it responds to your conscious mind, that sort of thing.

*

There are definitely people at the station. Only a handful, and only during the summer, but people. Adam isn't entirely sure why they haven't run into anyone either. It makes the experience more surreal, somehow.

"Cheerful outlook. Apart from," Adam makes a vague sweeping gesture at their surroundings, "I think mine is fine. How about yours?"

*

Dairine flashes him a wicked, but also really genuinely delighted grin. “Twisted,” she teases. “Terrifying. But not quite so twisted as to dump us in snow, so....” She trails off, though, looking around the landscape, her eyes bright and half-covered by the hood pulled down over her head. “This? Is amazing.”

*

"Hey, mine dumped us in beds," Adam protests, but still grinning. "If it had been yours, I expect we would have wound up on Mars or something. No beds." He pauses for a moment to imagine it, then adds, "and space is definitely colder than snow. What do you think: penguins first?"

*

“Hey! The only time I woke up on Mars without falling asleep there first, I was in bed!” Dairine protests, her laughter ghosting out of her lips in pale wispy clouds. “And yes, penguins, definitely penguins. They’re huge, right? Are they friendly?” She’s not nervous; she just wants to know what to expect.

*

"They're... I guess some of them are pretty big. Some species are nearly 90 pounds although the colony of Adelie we're headed for usually only grow a bit more than 10 pounds. Still, that's pretty big for a bird. And definitely friendly." Adam smiles, remembering, and leans across Dairine to get double-check something in the steering. "Like other very remote and wild species, they don't fear humans at all. We really hope they never need to learn better. I wonder what they'll make of Spot."

*

“The ones at the zoo aren’t too big,” Dairine explains, “but things don’t grow as much in captivity as when they have a whole frozen continent to themselves. Do you talk to them?”

*

"I did," he admits. He would sing, too. "They talk right back. I think there will be more of them, but not bigger. Sometimes you can't walk for penguins." There's a good chance she means the same zoo he used to visit, and this thought makes his smile nostalgic.

*

She probably does. New York is one of those crossover places, that seems to exist in most worlds and most times. It’s comforting, in a way. She beams at him, gloved hands clutching at the side of the Zodiac in ill-contained excitement. “Lead on, then. This is amazing. I’ve said that already, haven’t I?”

*

"You may have," Adam concedes, "But when you're right, you're right." He hadn't thought he'd be returning here again for a good long time, if ever.

*

She leans forward suddenly, reaching out to grab hold of his arm. “Oh, look! They’re over there!”

*

"Wh-- oh! Terrif! And we can probably swing around just over there." Words to action, he adjusts the controls. As the Zodiac approaches the ice floe, Adam turns down the engine and they can even hear them.

*

Dairine grips the edge of the craft tight in gloved hands, leaning a bit over as if that few inches is going to make a difference in how well she can see. "God, there's a lot of them, aren't there?" she breathes as they get closer. "Dai sti'ho, hrashti!" she says aloud, once they've come into distance the penguins might hear her.

*

Dairine's greeting makes Adam blink, but he focuses on docking, as excited as she is. "Don't get between them and the water," he advises. "That's the general rule, anyway. They don't always cooperate." In fact, never, case in point the tiny, curious gaggle already headed in their direction. He holds out his hand to help her out.

*

Once, Dairine would have disdained that, but the years have made her a bit more polite. She takes his offered hand with a grin and clambers out. “Oh, I think they did hear me! Awesome.”

*

"But did they understand?" Adam joins her out on the ice. A few penguins approach in their distinctive waddling way, even to the floe's edge. They do seem a little more interested in Dairine than Adam.

*

Dairine nods. “I think so, I mean, I don’t see why they wouldn’t have. I don’t actually know whatever language penguins speak to each other, but they should be able to talk to me somehow, if they want to.”

*

"Well they do respond well to music." A pause and Adam looks briefly embarrassed. "I'm not the only one who's tried." Squatting down to penguin eye-level, he says with some surprise, "Hey, these guys sure are excited today."

*

“Really? Do they dance?” Dairine asks, and it might be actual scientific curiosity, but it also might very well just be that the idea of dancing penguins is pretty funny. “They are, aren’t they?” She sways and grabs hold of his shoulder as one determined penguin tries to butt the side of her leg. “What’s wrong?” she asks at its frantic flapping.

*

They sort of... bob to the beat, Adam doesn't say. He frowns as one appears to run into Dairine with a lot more... aggression... than your average fuzzy bird, and shifts to one knee to steady them both. "That's not right. Can you ask them what's wrong?" he asks Dairine, unaware that she already has.

The penguins, if anything, get more excited. (What's that? You say Timmy's down a gravity potential well?)

*

“Already on it,” Dairine promises, bending down to get a better look at the penguin spokesman. “They’re not very coherent. There’s...something wrong, in the water?” Her forehead furrows in concentration as she listens to the frantic gibbering of the birds.

*

They certainly aren't very coherent to Adam, but if they were communicating successfully with Dairine, they probably wouldn't need to retreat back to the Zodiac. "Ask them why they're afraid," he instructed. "Ask them what it looks like." There were any number of things that could be wrong in the water, starting with poisons and then working up the scale.

*

Dairine shoots him a look. “You think?” she says dryly before turning back to the penguins. “A whale went where it’s not supposed to go.” She smiles wryly. “They don’t talk to human wizards much, which isn’t exactly surprising, but it explains the communication problems.”

*

Adam doesn't even take the time to look abashed. "A whale? Where isn't a whale supposed to go?" Until further notice, he's going to be taking things like penguin wizards or whatever on faith, and not worry about how this could completely revolutionize evolutionary biology. And so on.

*

Dairine does not point out that if he’d shut up for more than ten seconds at a time, she might be able to find out. Probably because she’s trying to sort out penguin chatter. “In the water?” she says, sounding confused. “But that’s where whales l--oh! Ice!” And then it all sinks in at once. “We have to go get it!”

*

"We should at least go see what's what," agrees Adam, having mostly managed to follow Dairine's side of the conversation. "If there's a whale trapped by ice" or in ice "there may not be a quick solution and we're not equipped for a weeks-long stay."

*

“We probably won’t get a week anyway,” Dairine agrees. “And if we do, we better worry about our bodies back on the island.” This is all so complicated, sometimes. “They’re going to show us where to go, come on back to the boat!”

*

"Are they coming back with us?" As long as Dairine seems to know what's going on. Adam climbs in and prepares to start the motor.

*

Dairine nods. “They’re showing us where to go--I mean, not in the boat, obviously.” She grins at him, despite what is actually a rather severe situation, and points on mittened hand. “Follow that penguin! Wow, what a thing to get to say.”

*

"Obviously." Adam throws Dairine a cheesy salute and does just that, squinting ahead as he steers. The penguin's dark, sleek shape difficult to make out in the equally dark waters, but they can keep up more than easily. "This is so wacky."

*

“Tell me about it.” It’s hard not to laugh, with a script like that, even if the actual situation is kind of serious. The other penguins, crowded together on the ice, make excited noises as they make their way on land. “Not that I actually know how to get a whale free--just try to break stuff, I guess.”

*

"Well," Adam begins, and then stops. He doesn't know how much Dairine's wizardry can manage, but he knows it comes with a price. This is a project for a whole crew of scientists and support, working in shifts. Not two kids and a computer, on a boat. Some helpful penguins.

"Well," he says again more slowly, "that may be just what we need."

*

“What, breaking stuff?” Dairine asks, leaning over the bow to try and get a better look. And then she freezes, her hands gripping the edge of the boat--she doesn’t have to see it, she can hear it, a low pleading groan vibrating up through the water and right into her skin. “Adam--”

*

Adam nods sharply as he feels it, flicking off the motor. "Can you make sure it knows we're here, and that we're here to help? I can't risk bringing us closer. But if it can understand you..." then maybe they have a plan. A dangerous plan where most of the danger falls to Dairine. How much energy does it take to break stuff, when 'stuff' is entire ice sheets?

*
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Adam Eddington III

April 2011

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