RP Between Sand and Stars


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They descended from above.

The Dragonfly had seen them coming. With miles of golden orange sand, dunes the size of buildings, and nothing - nothing - resembling life, the pirates were hard to miss. Without cover, they followed, toying with the royal ship like it was nothing more than a field mouse.

Heavy and purposeful steps echoed through the air - tension filled air - as the soldiers prepared to fight, reaching for steel and iron, a calm voice leading them forward. Racing to his office, the navigator reached for his poorly developed maps, the maps they'd supplied him, and began to consider other options. Options that didn't exist. There was no where to run, no where to hide, no sanctuary, not in this strange, dangerous land.

Cannons, splintering wood - it was deafening. But nothing compared to the sound of heavy boots slamming onto the deck, nothing compared to the clash of iron. Nor the screams. Led by a figure cloaked in darkness; their face hidden, bright yellow eyes gleaming, even through the covering that shielded their gaze.

When it started, he turned away from the maps, knowing that they wouldn't help, not now. With shaking hands, he reached for his own weapon, heart thundering in his chest as realization sank deep, down into his very core.

He was going to die.

Glass shattered, and a cannon shot through the room, destroying the adjacent wall. Distant buzzing filled the air and his mouth went dry as he looked through the gaping hole. Beyond, it approached, unnaturally fast. A wall of grey and orange, taller than anything he'd ever seen before. Dwarfing the tallest building in Costa Duba; taller than the Academy, taller than ten of them, stacked on top of the other. He began to shout his warning, entirely in vain, and scrambled for the supplies he'd been given. For the head covering, the material that'd cover his nose and mouth, the goggles that'd shield his dark eyes. The material would stick to his face, staunching the blood flow from his wounded cheek - and then the wall would hit the side of the ship.

Had they known?

Screams were swallowed by sand, and then there was nothing but the heavy groans of wood. Nothing but the motion of falling. The feel of the doorway beneath his grasp, fingers digging into the wood desperately. Nothing but darkness.
As she opened them, her eyes itched with the sand that fell from her lashes. Her mouth had been dry for days, since they first entered the desert, but the taste of iron was new, as new as the wound on her arm with blood leaking through her teal jacket, also covered in sand. The sand was everywhere.

The pirate attack came out of nowhere, an ambush that had sunk many ships before Klaire’s, she was sure of it. The captain of the Dragonfly pushed through the wreckage that had protected her from the storm, the memories of what had happened before she blacked out flashing before her eyes. How long had passed since then? There was still light, but the sun was about to set so she had to hurry, find the survivors and set up camp before nightfall. If the pirates hadn't kill them, the cold would.

“Hoffer! Adfir!”
She shouted, pressing her wound tightly to stop the bleeding while looking around in search of movement. She didn't see any, not at first, but she kept searching - turning planks of wood, pushing cannons and digging through the sand.

"Willow! Callahan!" She tried again, being met with an overwhelming silence.
Consciousness returned to him suddenly; like he'd been submerged in deep, dark water and he'd finally broken the surface. Inhaling sharply, his lips were met with tightly wound cloth, preventing an inhalation of grit, yet causing a serge of panic to run through his body. He lifted himself up onto his knees, hands reaching for the fabric, attempting to stretch it down beneath his stubbled chin. It clung to his cheek and he winced; it was as though he were ripping the outer layer of skin from his face. But with another tug, it released. Ishaan took a second breath; desperate yet conscious, and when he found it, the third followed with composure.

Sliding the eye gear onto his forehead, he looked around his immediate surroundings. There was sand, too much of it, and not enough of the ship. A section of wood, perhaps once a wall, arched over him, shielding him from one side.

Crawling out from beneath it, Ishaan slowly began to rise, hands resting against his knees until he was able to straighten completely. He was sore, likely from the impact, but otherwise unharmed.

And alive.

He stood for a moment; just him and the sound of swirling sand against wood. Then he saw movement. He lurched forward in an uncoordinated fashion, toward his fellow survivor.

Rowan Adfir. Thank the gods - the man he'd trained with. "Sir - ," he began to say, the word coming out like a breathless rasp, likely inaudible. He tried again, but as he grew closer, the words wouldn't come out. He was there, alive and reaching, half buried beneath the sand, a plank of wood wedged between his ribs. Blood coated his teeth, dripping down his jaw and the side of his neck. Wordlessly, Ishaan felt himself kneel beside the man, who attempted to speak instead.

Echoes of names, belonging to another survivor, filled the air around them.

"Klaire-," Adfir breathed out, hand reaching.

"Here! Over here!" Ishaan called out, glancing away from the man to try and locate the only woman who'd been on board the Dragonfly. Their Captain.
Klaire was about to give in to exhaustion when she heard a voice answering her call. She followed it blindly, running as fast as the sand would let her towards the fairy, her vision swirling with the heat.

She exclaimed, recognizing her navigator prior the man at his feet. Her heart sank, and she dropped to her knees by his side.

“Help me get him out!” Klaire yelled, digging through the sand surrounding her mentor. “Rowan! Rowan, listen to me. I’m here. We’re getting you out- HELP ME!” Her voice wavered, because despite her determination, she could see how pale his face was. Perhaps she was too late.
Ishaan listened, but only for a moment. Until he saw the look in Rowan's eyes. Usually steel-eyed, the fae looked to the Captain with nothing but gentleness.

Rowan's hand reached out and took Klaire's, stopping her from the pointless digging. Despite everything, he closed his mouth and smiled tiredly. "You need to conserve your strength now," he said. "Find what you can and stay together. Cilma taught him well - he will find a way. Like Cilma did for your father. You will find a way together."

He paused to catch his labouring breath, one final time. "He would be proud of you, Klaire. I am proud of you."
A firm grip from a dying man. Klaire’s expression softened, tears forming in the back of her eyes. He was right, she knew it. Words were lost in her as she tried her hardest not to cry, to scream, to keep fighting. But he was right, and she knew it. In a last gesture of grief, Klaire closed Rowan’s eyes.

“Are you hurt?” She asked Ishaan, while standing up. Her eyes glistened, but her cheeks remained dry and her posture was back to that of a captain. “We have an hour to search for others who might still be alive, then we’ll find shelter. It’ll be a cold night. We can’t light a fire, it’ll denounce our position.”
The dead man's revelation did little to affect the Captain. Perhaps she'd already known, leaving Ishaan alone in the dark.

Cilma had known Klaire's father. Known him, and somehow helped him survive the desert.

It was shocking, of course. Ishaan couldn't imagine his mentor; frail and covered in age spots, seemingly ancient, navigating this excruciating heat and torturous landscape. Cilma had always been home, in Costa Duba, in his shop with his gadgets and maps. Why had he been out here?

Swallowing hard, choosing to follow the Captain's lead and focus on their survival, Ishaan shook his head. "No, I'm fine. You - you're bleeding," he stated, gesturing to her arm. "How bad is it?" Searching was an excellent idea, but not if she was about to bleed out.
Right, her arm - She’d forgotten about it. Klaire walked away from Rowan’s corpse, removing her jacket in the process and tearing apart what remained of her sleeve. It was a deep cut, one that probably needed stitches, slightly beneath her shoulder. She tried to bandage it by herself at first, giving up when she realized it was impossible.

“Can you?” She asked, handing over the fabric to Ishaan. She stood still, waiting for him to wrap it tightly enough so it would stop the bleeding. It would have to do, at least until they could find a needle, and something to clean up the wound. She knew where those things would be, if they could find a passage to the lower levels.

“What do you need to trace a route?” She asked, remembering the massive and expensive supplies they had provided for the navigator, most of which would have probably been destroyed by the crash.
There was a lot of blood. More than he'd ever seen. Sure, there'd been cuts and scrapes and the occasional slice, but nothing like this. He swallowed and gave the Captain a curt nod before taking the fabric from her hand and tentatively stepping closer. He wound it around her upper arm, the first loop being the hardest with the cut still in sight. A metallic smell touched his senses from the proximity but he continued slowly, making sure that the fabric was tight enough. "If I can find my pack from home, I'll have everything I need."

He'd brought the basics, of course, unsure of what they'd provide. And when he'd found the very best sitting in his office, the pack was placed inside a cabinet, forgotten. It was their best bet now though - the rest was probably destroyed or scattered. Finding it all would be near impossible. But his pack...

"There," He finally said, tying a final knot, before bringing his gaze up to meet hers. "That'll be our plan for tomorrow morning then."
If they survived the night. They had to, Klaire had made him a promise and she’d find a way to keep it, no matter what.

“We don’t have much time.” She said at last, stepping away and initiating the search.

A few minutes later she found Hoffer with a slit throat, and a body crushed by the weight of a cannon that she wouldn’t have been able to tell was Rob’s if not by the yellow wings. Those were just two of the half a dozen bodies she had found over the course of an hour.

Those men had trusted her, she was their Captain. The brunette wanted to scream and cry at the same time, but she held it together for the sake of Ishaan. He was all she had left, and they were the only souls left in that godforsaken place. After that realization was made clear, she changed the route to the clinic for the supplies they needed. She carefully walked over the glass covering the floor, noticing a lot of the medicine was missing, likely sacked by the pirates that had sunk them into the sand.

“Search the cabinets.” She said, pulling a blanket from the cot to use it as a makeshift bag.
There wasn't much of anything left. Between them, they'd found the remains of several of the crew, the rest presumed to be buried, along with the second half of the ship. Throughout, Ishaan kept an eye out for anything he thought might be helpful for their survival - for the night, and hopefully, beyond. In addition to the clothes on his back, he'd been able to return to his partially buried quarters, digging out his pack, including a rough map of the continent, pens, a compass, telescope, octant, as well as the clothes he'd worn while first boarding the ship. Much to his delight, he quickly remembered the small bottle of rum he'd tucked away within the clothes, which had survived the impact. Small spare knives were scavenged, three partially lit candles and a cracked lantern.

The mood between them was solemn and near silent as they began to search the clinic. He squinted to see now, eyes glazing over the wrecked shelving unit. There was one roll of bandages - partially used, probably down to the last couple of feet. And he'd found a small box meant to hold nine vials. Four remained, neatly stacked and separated by dividers to prevent breakage. The rest were missing; likely scavenged by the pirates, and those remaining, deemed as unimportant, though it was too dark to make out the labels.

With meager supplies, they headed for the structure that held the most integrity: just across the hall from his. It was dark now and growing colder by the minute, drastically increasing his uneasiness. Once inside and shielded from the wind, Ishaan took a seat, back resting against the smooth surface of the wall. He could just barely make out her movement. "You don't happen to have any matches, would you?" He asked, his voice quiet even amongst the near silence. "I found some candles, surely we can light one of those."
Klaire found the sewing kit on the floor by the cupboard, and picked it up along with the few vials remaining on the shelves, that she didn’t know what was used for. She laid it on the cloth, along with the boxes of bullets she had found on the level below, and the loaf of bread, cheese and carrots from the kitchen. It would keep them fed through the night, and hopefully they’d have the opportunity to go down there again the next morning, but she wouldn’t put all her hopes in it.

When they got to her room, it was just as messy as everywhere else, except for the lack of bodies. Klaire laid the items onto her bed and tried to use the cloth to cover the windows, dimming the little light they had left even more.

“Hm… The desk, second drawer.” She answered when Ishaan asked for matches, turning back to resume her task.

It wasn’t perfect but it would do, and if they kept the candles far enough away, it wouldn’t denounce their location in case anyone flew by them. The fabric would also prevent the sand from getting in, in case there was another storm. The glass had survived the last one, it would hopefully stay intact if another were to come.

Klaire waited for him to light up the candles before approaching, the sewing kit in hand. It was quiet, and the bruises in her body had finally started to hurt.

“Have you ever sewn a person before?” She asked, knowing the answer would likely be no. “Or a shirt, or something. It’s not that different.”
The first flicker of light brought the smallest bit of comfort, illuminating the most protected corners of the room. Only two flames were lit, one for each of them, the rest of the matches and candles hidden away with the rest of their meager belongings. It was only their first night, and as terrifying as the situation was, Ishaan held onto the hope that they'd survive longer.

He turned to the sound of her voice, finding her standing behind, just a couple steps away. He swallowed hard, glancing down to the small box in her grasp. "I- no," he answered quickly. "A couple shirts, yes. Buttons, but... not a person." He felt his hands grow clammy, breath becoming shallow. "Is that what you need? For me to stitch your arm? Captain."
Klaire felt bad for putting Ishaan in that position. She could hear the nervousness in his voice, even if she couldn’t properly see it in his face. The darkness was good for hiding things, but it wouldn’t take long for them to get used to it and when they did, she’d be better not looking this miserable.

“No,” she answered calmly, sitting near the candles. “I can do it myself, but I’ll need your help.”

With the sewing kit open in front of her along with a few of the vials she’d retrieved from the clinic, Klaire began untying the bandage around her arm. The dry coat of blood prevented it from bleeding, but she knew it’d likely do it again as soon as she finished cleaning it. To do so, she removed the shirt off her back, the thin linen undergarment keeping her somehow decent even if it didn’t prevent her from being self aware about how much skin she was showing. She opened the vial with the clear liquid and spilled it over a clean cloth. Carefully, she began dabbing it over her arm, slowly dissolving the crust and leaving behind a powerful sting whenever it directly touched the wound.
Time could change everything.

A few weeks ago he was safe and comfortable, albeit stuck in his endless routine involving work, home, and a rare social gathering. The worst thing that could happen was rain. Hell, even a day ago, he'd had a drink with Rob and some of the other men.

And now...

Hidden away by the remains of the ship, stranded in the middle of the desert, in pirate territory. He stood over a half-undressed, wounded woman who was preparing to sew her arm shut, while he stood by idly.

Eager to not let that happen, Ishaan found a seat beside her, hardly discouraged by her state of partial undress. As he pulled out his - thankfully unharmed - glasses from his small bag of belongings, he couldn't ignore the slightest flinch of pain she made, a direct reaction to the initial process of cleaning her wound. "May I?" Ishaan asked a moment later, once his glasses were perched on his nose, and a hand was extended out towards her.
Klaire hesitated, but gave Ishaan the cloth. She lowered her head, the burning of her cheeks suddenly accompanied by the burning in the back of her eyes, of tears she refused to drop. Could she even speak without letting her voice crack? And if so, what would she even say? ‘I’m sorry for sentencing you to die?’

She stood silent while he finished cleaning up the wound. It wasn’t until she’d regained control of her emotions that she said:

“It should take us about two weeks to walk back to the base in the mountains. If we walk eight hours a day in the right direction… We’ll need enough food to survive for that long. And protection from the heat and the cold.” She could keep listing the things that they’d need, but that would hardly matter now. “I’m gonna need you to hold it.” By it, she meant her skin. With one hand Klaire could stitch herself together, she preferred to do it herself if she was being honest, it would probably heal better than by the hands of someone who’d never done it before. “We can get a new ship there. Retrace our steps, start again.” She muttered, while the needle pierced her arm for the first time.
Ishaan did his best to focus on cleaning the wound, on ensuring that his touch was gentle yet substantial. Perhaps she'd noticed his tentativeness and chose to ignore it. Exactly like he'd noticed the tension in her jaw and the slight movement of her throat as she swallowed back tears.

Her words brought little comfort, though that wasn't their purpose. She was focused and relenting, both admirable qualities to have, especially now. But would it be enough? He doubted it, replaying the words she'd spoken in his mind. They'd need enough food to last two weeks of walking, and supplies to keep them safe from the elements. Even if these supplies dropped from the sky, they were sure to encounter obstacles they couldn't account for. So they were fucked, he wanted to say, even if Cilma and her father had managed it.

And if, by some miracle, they made it, he wasn't planning on starting again.

He didn't speak though, swallowing and doing as he'd been instructed. Standing impossible close, fingertips pressing into her skin, he moved either side of her wound together, closing the gap she'd need to stitch. "I'll chart a route. When we're done." Here, with this.
It didn’t get any less painful, one piercing of the needle after the other, and having a handsome man so close she could feel his breath in sync with hers just made the task even more challenging. Perhaps her heart was beating faster than his, though she wasn’t able to tell for sure. After what felt like forever, it was a relief to finally tie the final knot.

“Thank you.” Klaire said, looking away from his hands to return the needle to the small metal box, that dropped like a bomb through such intense silence.
Her work was slow but methodical, demanding her absolute attention. His too. Ishaan stood close enough to see every second of her work, to avoid his own fingers from getting pricked. Once finished, as if she'd done it before, sat a neat stitch, tightly closing the slash in her arm. With a nod of acknowledgement, he took a healthy step back and reached for his pack.

"I'll get started on that course," he said quietly, his other hand reaching for one of the two burning candles.

It was only once he made it outside, past the walls that shielded them, and away from the half-dressed woman, that he realized he was incredibly warm. Warmth that quickly vanished as he plunged into the icy darkness. The temperature had dropped substantially, gone with the blistering sun until the next morning.

Finding a suitable location not too far from their shelter, Ishaan knelt on the sand, and stuck the candle into a small mound. One after the other, he pulled out the map and pen, along with the necessary tools. He worked quickly, shifting his focus between the night sky above and the paper below, scribbling his calculations on a piece of parchment before making a small circle on the map - not too far off from their last known location.

It was then that a gust of wind blew out his only light source. Sighing, he blindly packed up his belongings and headed back, eyes slowly adjusting to darkness. By the time he reached the door, he was shivering, the wind dropping the temperature by at least one degree. His hand touched the doorknob, sending another jolt of coolness into his frozen hands. "Captain?" He called out, before knocking on the door twice.

She'd locked the door after him.
Klaire knew it’d be best for her to go with Ishaan; afterall, there could still be danger outside they didn’t know of, but she couldn’t find the strength to move.

The room grew colder when he left, and the memory of the last couple hours, that had been suppressed ever since, began flowing in like the tears covering her cheeks. With her body shaking, Klaire ran towards the door and locked it, before letting her body fall to the ground and curl up against the door, with her knees pressed tightly against her chest.

“He would be proud of you, Klaire. I am proud of you.”

“L-liar…” The young woman muttered in between sobs, grieving the death of her mentor, as well as all those brave men and women that had died because of her.

She was the one that had been lying to herself. She thought she was ready for it, knowing all the risks that came along with the job, but she wasn’t. As Klaire’s sobs became quieter and slower, she was able to listen to footsteps stepping down the stairs. Footsteps of a person that couldn’t find her in that state.

The captain stood up and walked up to the closet, using the hem of her shirt to dry her tears. The doorknob turned, letting her know he was already at the door right when she started to pull her shirt off. She’d already considered changing it, as it was too thin for a cold night, but now that it was wet, she had no choice but to do it. It would also work as a perfectly reasonable excuse to why the door had been locked.

“One second, I’m changing!” She said loudly, in response to the knocks. Her hands were still shaking a little when she put a clean cotton shirt over her head. Other than her uniforms, her closet was filled with clothes that were proper for the desert’s climate, and she picked a larger one that would maybe fit Ishaan, holding the hanger on one hand while the other turned the key to open the door for him.