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27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27 27

27

The sun’s daughter sits smiling, wind blowing in the air, on the steps of the ruined temple. She gazes into her mirror, and sees a ghost ship in stormy seas, the lady pirate and her good companion, mistresses of all they survey. The image suddenly changes, to a glowering, skeletal face, who speaks His name with a certain degree of relish, a terrible name that makes even the sun’s daughter shudder. Then an old man, in a rustic cottage somewhere in the hills, his troubled pondering interrupted by the jangle of the jewellery of a good friend, and then...

Her!

She is coming, the voices whisper. She is coming to take us away! Oh joy, oh joy, she is coming!

“Shut up!” the sun’s daughter hisses, throwing down the mirror.

Oh, she is special, she is unique! There’s no one like her in the world, in the universe! The world is sick. Let us have her medicine! Antillia in the flesh, sword in hand, bringer of justice! The cosmic bride! She is coming!

“No,” the lady says calmly. “I will stop her.”

The day of the dead approaches...​

***​

After leaving the dread labyrinth, Anton had made his way across Navassa Island until he came to a small copse of trees overlooking the ocean that somehow looked out of place. The sound of their rustling leaves was drowned out by the crashing of the waves. He spent a few minutes pressing his left foot into various patches of the ground. He would have looked ridiculous if anyone was watching, which they were, although he didn’t know it. After all, how else could I recount these events if I wasn’t watching? He did look ridiculous, but he was doing it for a very good reason.

After a minute or so, he found the right patch of ground, and suddenly there was a deep rumbling of rusty machinery coming to life, a great clanking and screeching of rust coming from under the earth. Before him, the copse of trees slid away, revealing themselves to be a mere cover, and the ground opened up. He licked his lips. There it lay, his pride and joy. His very own mini-airship, which he had named Liberty, previously hidden in a secret room under the ground. It was about twice his height, a few metres from end to end. Underneath the main body of the airship was a small compartment, which contained the cockpit and another area for passengers behind it. He clambered down, and took a few moments to admire it, like he always did. For this, his beloved Liberty, was no ordinary airship.

For one, it didn’t need fuel. The outer shell was made of super-reinforced Mithrillium, the strongest lighter-than-air substance known to man, and this flew not using helium, but through the creation and manipulations of vacuums within its shell. It was the only such airship in existence, and of course it did not technically belong to Anton, but that didn’t bother him too much. Its real owner had been quite rude and annoyingly rich, and Anton’s acquisition of Liberty was a subtle message that he hereby resigned from his employment. It was his pride and joy, a thing thought impossible by most scientists and engineers. Quite appropriate really, he mused, as he climbed aboard the cockpit and flicked some switches, releasing air in the necessary places within Liberty’s shell in order to get airborne.

As the Liberty slowly rose, Anton stared at the glittering sea that lay before him, and frowned when he saw a dot on the horizon. The HMS Impossible was making better speed than he had anticipated, and in his slow airship, Anton resigned himself to the fact that this could be a long, difficult hunt.

***​
The seas were calm, and the HMS Impossible still seemed to be afloat, lurching forth into the great blue yonder. Marissa spent a lot of time watching the sea as it passed, trying to catch sight of land or other ships. So far though, nothing. The sea seemed to be a big empty void. Her companion appeared beside her. Marissa remained silent.

“I’m sorry, Marissa,” she said, hair blowing in the breeze, “I know you wanna go home. But you know, so do I. I ain’t ever gonna get back to the old country though, so this is the next best thing. It’s the only chance I have.”

“I suppose.” The HMS Impossible, as Miss Charlotte had told them, would take them wherever their hearts desired. A slight problem thus arose when they discovered that these were two very different places. Marissa just wanted to get back to Port-au-Prince, to see Pierre and try and find out if there was any news of Roerich’s whereabouts. Her friend, on the other hand, did not.

“I’ve been alive a long time,” she had said. “An; I’m tired, you know, too tired for all this stuff. I remember back in the old days, with Jack and Mary...you know, those were fun times. We did some stuff I ain’t too proud of, as ya might have guessed, but those were the glory days. I drank, I swore, I danced and it was all good.”

Marissa shook her head. “I still can’t believe you’re her...”

“I ain’t been that person for a long time. I had a husband once, you know, an eight kiddies. He died, as did they in time. But you gotta move on, right? So I got myself over first to Tortuga, and then to Port-au-Prince. I had a good time there, you know, met some real nice people, but I don’t wanna go back. My time there’s over. My super-duper ironic facade has lost its appeal. Smacked over the head and left to die by some lowlife scum in an alleyway, though they weren’t to know I wouldn’t of course.” She sighed wistfully, and looked out to sea “I don’t wanna be ol’ blue-eyes Anney Burleigh anymore. Ain’t fun. It’s time for something to change. I wanna go back to where my family are buried in Charleston and put that ghost to rest, and then I want you to come with me to find some hidden treasure.”

Marissa shrugged. “I can see why you want to go back to the States, but I don’t understand though, what hidden treasure?”

Not-Anney-anymore grinned, and clicked her fingers as a breaker smashed against the side of the ship. “You'll see.”

***​

“...Yes, I agree, one cannot dismiss the possibility of God from the equation. Even if the world is entirely deterministic, the possibility of choice must exist in the mind of God, which would allow such differing realities to exist. Though,” said Professor Jean Toussaint, with a grin, “I’ve always considered God to be a personification of the infinite.”

“How so?” said Pierre.

“Infinity is something which we finite mortals can never truly hope to comprehend. We’d need infinite minds for that, which we, alas, do not have. But the idea of infinity holds immense appeal; it inspires us, scares us, and sometimes even drives us mad. We want to hold infinity, quantify it, find some way of making sense of it. And we do, through God. God is both presented as a man with a beard who lives in the sky, but also a powerful, infinite, universal force. Essentially, I believe that God is infinity, in a sense. A kind of pantheism, I suppose. Makes sense to me.”

“But what about the Saints? Where do they fit into all this?”

Toussaint shrugged dismissively. “The Saints? Who really believes in them anymore?”

“Well...”

Molly was vaguely listening to the conversation, hunched in front of one of the Simulation terminals. She had spent some time watching the world unfold, wars being fought and peaces being made, and had been puzzled by some really weird looking borders which resulted from this.

She was troubled. Immediately, she had seen why Toussaint was at the fringes. It wasn’t something she had any understanding of, but it almost seemed taboo. Wrong, somehow. Creepy and unpleasant. Pierre hadn’t noticed, of course, almost as if something inside was blinding him to it, distracting his attention. She sensed innately that Toussaint was in real danger. She didn’t know why, but she just knew.

The reason; on the screen, above the map of the countries, flashed the date “January 1st 1836”.

A chill crept down her spine, and she went to the window. A black car with shaded windows pulled up, and she was astonished to see Maurice Molyneux coming out of the passenger seat. Her heart almost stopped when she saw the driver.

M. Minuit, identical to Pierre yet somehow different, in a dark suit, looked up to the window straight at Molly. Their eyes met for a split-second, but it was long enough. She desperately looked over at Pierre and Toussaint—

Molly? Molly? Can you hear us? Molly? It's time to wake up.

“Mmff...what? What happened? Wh-where am I?”

You’re safe.

“Safe?” She blinked, and found herself lying prone, in pitch blackness. She waved her hands in front of her, but there was no light at all. “Wh-who’s there? And what about Pierre? And Professor Toussaint?”

Certain things have occurred. Do not be alarmed. Toussaint has been taken away. We had to make sure you were safe. Do not be alarmed.

“I don’t understand,” Molly said, “Taken away? What does that mean?” Silence. “Who are you? Please, answer me!”

Silence. Then, a light, a terrible blinding light. And then...​

She was at home, in Port-au-Prince, sitting on the chair in front of her computer. She looked wild eyed around the room, and everything seemed normal. It was dark outside.

“What...the hell.”

She sat, too astonished to move. After a few moments she sensed the presence of someone else in the room, someone behind her, watching her, who hadn't been there before.

“Hello Molly,” said a familiar voice eventually said. “I’ve wanted to speak with you for so long.”

She turned, and gulped. The girl sitting on her bed she knew well, better than anyone else in the entire world. She stared, her mouth dry, as if she had seen a ghost. “It can’t be...” she stammered, shaking her head. “Bessie...??”

Her sister smiled, and blinked her hollow eyes. “I came back.”

End of Section 1/3​
 
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Stuyvesant

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I can tell you that being jetlagged while reading the last update doesn't do anything for my comprehension levels. :) Still, it was an entertaining read.

I can't place the sun goddess, but the skeletal face that argues with her sounds like The Criminal. That realization is like two connected pieces of a puzzle in a sea of random pieces: a nucleus from which I will (hopefully) be able to build a complete picture. In due time.

Anton is a man of surprising secrets. Not exactly like a stereotypical fat, dumb guard to be the current owner of a highly advanced personal airship. Hopefully, his airship will get caught in the magical winds that are steering HMS Impossible and plummet to a watery grave, taking Anton with him (I'd prefer a good ole hydrogen explosion, but you've already made it clear that that won't happen. And that was before you introduced Anton's experimental/otherworldly playtoy).

Looking forward to parts Two and Three!
 

Enewald

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What the hell.... most of the update remains as a mystery within my head, but so be it.
 

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I can tell you that being jetlagged while reading the last update doesn't do anything for my comprehension levels. :) Still, it was an entertaining read.

I can't place the sun goddess, but the skeletal face that argues with her sounds like The Criminal. That realization is like two connected pieces of a puzzle in a sea of random pieces: a nucleus from which I will (hopefully) be able to build a complete picture. In due time.

Anton is a man of surprising secrets. Not exactly like a stereotypical fat, dumb guard to be the current owner of a highly advanced personal airship. Hopefully, his airship will get caught in the magical winds that are steering HMS Impossible and plummet to a watery grave, taking Anton with him (I'd prefer a good ole hydrogen explosion, but you've already made it clear that that won't happen. And that was before you introduced Anton's experimental/otherworldly playtoy).

Looking forward to parts Two and Three!

It's not the skeletal face arguing with her, but rather unspecified "voices". The Criminal is just one of various people and scenes she sees in her mirror. Sorry if I broke your nucleus.

Anton's craft is one of these, or at least a variation upon that concept. I knew I had to include one when I read about the idea. Anton has an interesting past, he wasn't always a fat dumb guard.

He could still die in a hydrogen explosion. Just because hydrogen is illegal as a fuel, doesn't mean people don't still use it. ;)

What the hell.... most of the update remains as a mystery within my head, but so be it.

Yeah, it surprised me at first. The bits with Anton and the ladies aboard the Impossible were relatively straightforward though, weren't they?
 

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Try as I might (not that I tried mightily, mind you), I cannot picture the lifting powers of a vacuum. But that's okay: clearly, others have thought about it and figured out how it could work (if certain fundamental laws of nature did not exist or could be circumvented), so I'll take it on faith. An intriguing concept, though, even if I can't get my head around it. Certainly something that fits the story mold. :)
 

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Expositiontastic!

Beginning of Section 2/3

28

Once fully airborne, Anton spent a couple of minutes flipping switches until the Liberty had achieved the right internal balance, and was cruising at a steady speed. He took a deep breath, and stared at the vast sparkling sea that lay below. The HMS Impossible was just a speck in the distance, and he was content to follow slowly, so he sat back in the plush leather pilot’s chair, and closed his eyes for few moments, the ridge of his brown crinkled in concentration.

The employ of Madame Tzarsou had been an interesting experience, that was for sure. A pathetic, deluded soul, worthy more of scorn than pity, or so he thought, but she had at least been willing to hire him no questions asked when mentioned that he had his own transport. Just a child, really, at least in mind, it seemed to Anton. But then along came the Criminal; now that had been quite a surprise. It was like some kind of demonic possession. The first couple of times, the Criminal seemed to appear at random, but eventually Anton twigged why it was happening. It was the music. That was the catalyst, every single time.

Madame Tzarsou, for all her insanity, showed an amazing genius when placed in front of that subterranean organ, with pipes built into the walls so that it almost appeared to be part of the cave, like enormous stalactites. Anton had seen her play. The wildness in her eyes faded when her hands touched the keys, and a concentration came over her, a calm resolve that was at all other times absent. And then the notes--oh the notes! More splendid than any music Anton had ever heard! The notes swelled up and burst and ran through the veins of anyone listening like a powerful drug, a most wondrous drug, and there could be nothing more beautiful in the whole world than those powerful, astonishing notes. The cloud that blighted Madame Tzarsou’s mind lifted, the fog dissipated, the mist evaporated...and then the Criminal would come, enticed by the music, slipping between the gaps like a monstrous thief and taking control.

And he was back again, Anton was certain. He had heard the organ echoing underneath his feet as he had made his way to the Liberty's hiding place.

Anton had come to Navassa Island after hearing whispers that something big was happening, from certain people whom he knew made sure to keep their ears to the ground. “There’s something going to happen on Navassa,” they had said, “Somethin’ big. The instigator is setting things in motion, setting two important people on the right path. Placin’ them in the care of a madman called Tzarsou, only to let them escape when the time is right. Only way of makin’s sure they meet each other, so I’s told. There’s a change coming. There’s a change coming. There’s a change coming!” This last one Anton had kept hearing. In a seedy bar in Santiago de Cuba, he had got talking to this old seadog, all beard and big toothless grin and stinking of gin.

“What do you mean, a change is coming? What’s changing?”

“Everything! The Saints!” The seadog had roared, with a massive grin. “The Saints are coming! Oh how I want to be in that number! When the Saints come marching in!”

Anton had finished his drink, and left in silence. A great horror had overtaken him upon hearing these words, but he had no idea why. Something about the way he said it, the way he had leeringly slurred the word “Saints,” had disturbed him to the core. Then he realised. This is what she had warned of, back when...no. He shook his head, dispelling the memory. The lady had been kind to him, given him shelter, given him warmth. I was so cold, so alone, so afraid! he thought, with a slight tear coming to his eye. I was nothing but a dog, a pathetic dog, and she...

He had negotiated his way through the streets of Santiago and out of the city into the rolling Cuban countryside, to the hidden spot where he had hidden Liberty, while all kinds of thought and memories fizzed and crackled in his mind. He stopped when he got there, and cleared his mind of all thoughts.

“Next stop, Navassa Island,” he had said, with a grin and a wink to the camera,* and then he heaved himself on board and flew into the sky.

But that was then. His plan was simple. They’re supposed to escape, the man had said. Well then, Anton had thought, I’ll simply make sure that doesn’t happen. Those wretches will stay right where they are! Anton, you’re a genius! That, as Anton knew only too well, hadn’t worked out as planned. Not only did they indeed escape, but they humiliated him in the process. And then Miss Charlotte had appeared, so ditzy and vain yet clever in her own kind of way, and given them that ghost ship. He didn’t know who these women prisoners were, except that they were opposed to his mistress. Maybe even they didn’t know who they were, or what role they were to play in the events that loomed on the horizon like a thundercloud. But that didn’t matter.

Anton opened his eyes, and looked at the sea with a dreamy smile. They would have to die. He realised he didn’t even know their names, but he didn’t care. This was his duty. In that way he was no different to Maurice or Eleazar, or any of the others. He would not, he could not, fail. The sun's daughter was depending upon him.
__________________

*In doing so Anton broke the fourth wall, and was charged for the damage incurred as is appropriate
 
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Stuyvesant

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Hm. Some things make more sense now, some still await proper placement in the scheme of things (such as Anton's mistress, briefly mentioned. Is she Tzarsou, or someone else? I feel like it's the latter, but can't be sure).

Then there's another mention to the Saints, whom I'm starting to realize should not be assumed to be the same as the Saints as we know them. Possibly I should look more into the curious Haitian mix of catholicism and voodoo to peg these Saints?

Finally, I noticed that Anton namedrops Maurice. I know I've heard that name before (yes, I realize that the first name 'Maurice' isn't that uncommon in francophone places), so clearly this is A CLUE, Watson! Now if only I could marshal the necessary willpower to read back through earlier updates to see who this Maurice is and where he is mentioned previously...
 

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Everyone dies sooner or later. :p

It's funny you should say that... ;)
Hm. Some things make more sense now, some still await proper placement in the scheme of things (such as Anton's mistress, briefly mentioned. Is she Tzarsou, or someone else? I feel like it's the latter, but can't be sure).

Then there's another mention to the Saints, whom I'm starting to realize should not be assumed to be the same as the Saints as we know them. Possibly I should look more into the curious Haitian mix of catholicism and voodoo to peg these Saints?

Finally, I noticed that Anton namedrops Maurice. I know I've heard that name before (yes, I realize that the first name 'Maurice' isn't that uncommon in francophone places), so clearly this is A CLUE, Watson! Now if only I could marshal the necessary willpower to read back through earlier updates to see who this Maurice is and where he is mentioned previously...

His mistress (or lady, or whatever) is the sun's daughter, whoever that may be.

As for the Saints, I'm not saying anything at all. My lips are zipped :p EDIT: but I should say, it's been there all along, right from the very beginning.

Maurice Molyneux has appeared in story a couple of times, and is a colleague of Anney and Molly in the Port-au-Prince police. He's the one who "melted". Also, Eleazar has been mentioned once before, but I can't for the life of me remember in which update.
 
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Now that's an funny coincidence, isn't it?

29

It was during the Bicentennial Celebration*. No one noticed that out of those two hundred years, Haiti only had one hundred years’ worth of history, but that’s beside the point. Moldavia and Bessarabia Nemoy were very young, just seven and five years, and watched with awe as the parades passed through the centre of Port-au-Prince, at the heart of the carnival. People dressed up in 18th century outfits—there was Toussaint Louverture, and Jean-Jacques Dessalines! Someone had had the audacity to dress up as the French General Leclerc, but the boos and hisses he got as he waved to the crowd were in good humour, and did not spoil the party atmosphere but rather added to the fun. There were symbolic re-enactments of the slave revolt, and the glorious victory at the Battle of Vertières, and it was all such good fun.

It was August 22nd 1991. Such a long time ago now, at least for some, but how quickly the years pass! It seems like yesterday to me, but then I’m old and I have a somewhat different perspective on things to most people. I shuffled through the crowd, keeping my head down as I always did, and watched. I noticed the various stall selling trinkets and rubbish. I looked at the faces of the crowd, and saw nothing—nothing whatsoever. They didn’t really understand what they were celebrating at all. This prosperous nation had spoilt them. A great act of liberation and bravery, reduced to an excuse for a party. What would Toussaint Louverture or Jean-Jacques Dessalines think of all this?

I found myself standing beside a dark skinned lady wearing a rather fabulous pink hat, watching the celebration with a vacuous smile.

“This is much better than the Centennial celebration,” I said. She looked at me strangely, and shrugged. It was just completely irrelevant. No one cared about things like that. “I took part, you know. It was really just a whole bunch of the old guys getting drunk on rum and reminiscing. But this!-” I said, pointing, as a bunch of young men and women dressed as slaves passed by, shouting and hollering and asking for money, “This really is something else.”

Two little girls had appeared beside the woman’s legs, both holding humongous sticks of candy floss that were bigger than their heads. The younger paid me no attention, but the taller of the two was staring up at me, with a puzzled look on her face. “Excuse me Monsieur, but that doesn’t make sense!” she said, with a faint Jamaican twist to her accent.

“Why not?” I said, with a little laugh. “This lady is your mother, is she not?” The girl nodded strongly. “Well then, if I was speaking nonsense, then she would surely have alerted me to my error? Wouldn’t she have noticed such a thing?”

The woman looked at me briefly with a slight glare, but otherwise ignored my presence, as if I was a mere distraction, an irrelevance.

“But you couldn’t have been alive a hundred years ago, unless you’re really, really, really old.” The girl’s eyes widened. “You don’t look that old, Monsieur.”

I was surprised, I confessed. The girl’s little sister and her mother were taking precisely no notice of me whatsoever, but this girl...there was something unusual about her, something different. I laughed, and fanned myself with my hat.

“I’m not. I was just making a joke. Now if you’ll excuse me little lady, my legs are tired and I must go home to rest.”

I walked away, through the crowd, in the direction of Calico.

---​

Molly went into the kitchen to make some instant coffee for her sister, feeling numb and stupefied. She fumbled with the spoon, dropping it to the floor with a clatter. Molly bent down and picked it up, with a quick look towards the lounge slash bedroom, and then went to the sink and rinsed the spoon with cold water. She dried the spoon with a cloth, and picked up the sugar bowl. She paused.

“Do you, erm, still take two sugars!” she called out.

“Yes please!” came the response.

She took a cup from the washing up board next to the sink, and placed two spoonfuls of sugar into it, following a single spoonful of Orinoco Coffee. It was then that she realised that she had forgotten to boil the kettle. She can be excused, as she was still incredibly disorientated. She was trying not to think about it. One moment she was in Havana, speaking with Pierre and Professor Toussaint, and then suddenly she’s here, and discovers that she’s here as well. She hoped that Pierre was alright.

The kettle was boiling, and Molly found herself tapping the sideboard over and over, with the tips of her fingers. She looked at her watch, but found that it was broken, the glass shattered and display unreadable. She tapped her fingers. The kettle clicked, and the bubble of boiling water faded away. She poured the water into the cup, and stirred. She almost forgot the milk, and remembered that Bessie liked it milky. She added the milk. She took the coffee through to where Bessie was sitting.

Bessie took her drink and took a sip. Molly stared at her strangely, and Bessie frowned.

“What’s the matter? You’ve been acting real strange all of a sudden, sis. I was just saying I missed you, so I came back. Where's Natalie?”

All of a sudden? I get the feeling I knew Molly better even than her own sister! Anyway, Molly shook her head.

“Oh, gone. What...what just happened? How come you’re here?”

Bessie looked somewhat affronted. “Well, I just thought I’d pay a visit to my older sister. That’s not a crime, is it?”

Molly couldn’t help but smile. “No, I don’t think it is. Not yet, anyway. But what I meant was; what exactly happened? I just...woke up, and you were here.”

“No-o, I left a message on your phone, and then I came and you greeted me with a smile and a hug, and we decided we would spend the day together tomorrow and go shopping and stuff. I’ve read about this great big shopping mall under that Hall of Records! It sounds fabulous! Then afterwards we could go out and hit some parties, find you a man!”

Molly blinked. “Oh. Um, okay. Really?” She glowered. “Why would I need a man?”

Bessie smiled sweetly. “Or a woman, if you like. Someone to make you a little bit saner.”

“Oh you’re one to talk, little miss addiction.”

It came out sounding a lot harsher than Molly had meant it. Bessie appeared to ignore it, and took a gulp of her coffee. She glanced at the clock, and pointed. “Oh hey, it’s midnight. Probably a bit late to be drinking coffee.”

“Midnight?” Molly said, feeling a slight panic within her. It was the beginning of July, she knew that at least. She was on holiday for a week. She was...black stones, Piedras Negras! Toussaint had said that! I need to go to Piedras Negras. I need to find out what happened to that crazy professor...both those crazy professors. And Pierre. “What date is it, exactly?”

Bessie laughed, and twirled her hair with her fingers. “Honestly Molly, what planet do you live on? It’s August 22nd!”
__________________

*Haiti officially gained independence in 1804, but the Haitian revolution began in 1791, so that is when the 200 years is adjudged to have begun.
 

Enewald

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The character is nearly as confused as I am. :p
What about getting a parrot for Molly?
 

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So Molly has met the narrator (Pebble? Or someone else?) in her youth. Not knowing much of the narrator's motives, I can't tell if that's good or bad.

Considering the time-and-space-continuum manipulation Molly's just been subjected to, she's holding up very well. Let's see if she can get any kind of explanation for what happened to her, once she makes her way to the Piedras Negras.
 

Fiftypence

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The character is nearly as confused as I am. :p
What about getting a parrot for Molly?

Okay you've lost me. Why would Molly get a parrot??
So Molly has met the narrator (Pebble? Or someone else?) in her youth. Not knowing much of the narrator's motives, I can't tell if that's good or bad.

Considering the time-and-space-continuum manipulation Molly's just been subjected to, she's holding up very well. Let's see if she can get any kind of explanation for what happened to her, once she makes her way to the Piedras Negras.

Any narration in first person is Pebble (unless it's clearly differentiated from the rest of the text). I'd say it's good, as this story wouldn't exist if it hadn't have happened.

It's not exactly space-time manipulation, it's more akin to a memory wipe. She can't exactly go swanning off to Guatemala while her sister is around, so that will have to wait. Bessie isn't really the kind of person who would enjoy trekking into the humid jungle and visiting ruins.
 
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Where's Admiral Ackbar when you need him?

30

A long time to be alive, but isn’t that what we all strive for? she said, rolling waves and crashing breakers like raindrops against a cliff face. Strange times I’ve seen, many a strange time, oh yes missy, but then I’ve had time to see them, so much time, too much time. It’s funny you know I can’t go home, isn’t that funny. It’s damn hilarious, oh I’m rolling around on my side splitting open guts rushing out so goddamn funny.

Three hundred years? No one cares after three hundred years, it’s just history, whatever that is. No one ever told me what it is, I just dig things out of the ground and let my heart flutter and buzz, just a honey bee in a garden of plenty. Strange how the waves distort everything, it’s like we’re not even here, but—ooooh, Miss Charlotte you tricksy lady? Magic MAGIC crashing waves impervious no harm a wreck that’s still floating can’t sink, it just can’t, it would go against everything. It shouldn’t be floating anyway, so the magic must be strong. Is it magic, or something else? I never believed in magic before.

But you believed in angels? Let me tell ya girl, ain’t no angels coming to save us.

But “what” was she, if “she was not” an angel? Marissa opened and shut her mouth, and her ears popped like when in an aeroplane. “I...I oh.”

Look, land, “land ahead,” said Anney, followed by a little smile as the words in the air disappeared in a puff of smoke, and sound filled the air again. “It’s funny how it does that, ain’t it? It comes and goes, like the ebbing and flowing of the tide, or a dodgy Grid connection. Do you know what island that is?”

Marissa shrugged. “How would I know? You’re the old seadog, right?”

“So I am. Lessee now, well we’ve been travellin’ north for what, a day and a half, two days? I sure as hell hope we've been going north anyway, so, erm...Tortuga? Got some friends there, good people, would treat us decent. Nah, not Tortuga, not big enough.” She shook her head. “Well I don’t know, but you know I’m hungry as hell, and I could probably drink this entire sea if it weren’t full of salt.”

“Yeah, it’s all very well having a magical floating wreck that takes you wherever you need to go, but it’s pretty useless if you die of hunger and thirst along the way.” Marissa gazed at the approaching island, and frowned. “It looks awfully small though, do you think anyone lives there?”

“Don’t matter, hopefully. There’s always food and drink on these islands, if you know where to look. When you’ve been around as long as me, you learn a thing or two.”

The boat tilted in the direction of the island, sensing their desire to make landfall. Marissa opened her mouth to speak, but stopped, before eventually saying, “Yeah, about that. I didn’t believe you when you first told me.”

Anney raised her eyebrows. “Oh?”

Marissa laughed. “I thought, ‘great, not only have I been kidnapped, but also locked in with some creepy nutjob.’ But now, I am fully prepared to believe you. It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever...but then nothing does anymore.”

Anney fixed her gaze on the island, and took a breath. “It ain’t somethin’ I go blabbing to any old person about, you know. One time I was nearly burnt as a witch—superstitious folk don’t like a girl who stays young and healthy while they all grow old and wither and die. Wouldn’t have done much good, but I bet it woulda stung plenty! Couldn’t ever stay in one place. Had to leave my family, even, eventually. I left without a word, in the middle of the night. I tole myself it was for their own good, but I didn’t really believe it. I coulda told them the secret, but I didn’t. And damn, they all grew old and died, and here I am, still plying these waters, an ancient relic, an anachronism—gee that’s a mouthful, huh? An anachronism,” she said again, really chewing on the words.

Marissa looked at her companion, with her hair blowing in the wind and her blue eyes still full of vigour, if a little dulled with time. “It’s funny. I learnt about you at school. How you just...disappeared from the history books.”

“That was just the first of many. Well I became respectable for a while, thought I’d lay down some roots, but the water seeped into my veins and my heart and my brain, and it never let me go.” The island loomed large now, but they both knew the ship would so all the work, so let it. “1719 it was I found the Fountain of Youth, November 2nd, 1719 to be precise. I won’t ever forget that date. Ah look, coconut trees!”

The boat ground to a halt and before them lay a golden beach, with a dense, uninviting tangle of dark trees lying beyond. They jumped off the ship into the shallow sea, and waded their way to land. Anney sat down on the soft sand of the beach and breathed in the sea air, while Marissa eyed the forest, her brow furrowed.

“We’re being watched,” Marissa said after a while, in a quiet monotone.

Anney turned her head. “Watched? By who?”

“Come on, get off your backside and look. And I don’t think it’s a who, but rather a what.”

Anney stood up and turned around, and saw what Marissa had seen. About fifty metres ahead, standing just where the beach ended and the forest began, was a wild boar and a goat, standing side by side. The boar leant it’s head towards the goat as if they were somehow communicating, and then scurried off into the darkness, leaving the goat alone.

“Somethin’ ain’t right here,” Anney muttered, but Marissa was already walking briskly forward, staring at the goat all the while. There was a certain intellect in its eyes, she thought, a strange intelligence that one would not normally associate with a goat. The goat looked at her intently, and was unresisting when she reached out her hand and placed her hand upon its head.

“Anney, come on, stop being a suspicious Aloysius. It’s friendly. Look!” The goat was kneading its foot on the sand insistently, and then turned and walked a little way into the forest before stopping, and looking back, gesturing with its horns.

“Why’s it doing that?” Anney said, now standing beside Marissa.

“It wants us to follow, I think. Come on, let’s go!”

Anney was about to say something, but Marissa had already charged after the animal into the dark wood. She sighed, and followed, murmuring “geez, nothing good’s gonna come of this,” to herself under her breath as she did.

A short distance away:​

“Oh we have guests?” the sun’s daughter said, looking up from her mirror with wide-eyed delight. Her mouth twisted into a smirk, and she patted the loyal boar on the head. “How wonderful! Soon you’ll have some new friends to play with, Alby! Won’t that be so much fun for you?”

The wild boar grunted, and walked away heavily with a flick of its tail.
 

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It's not exactly space-time manipulation, it's more akin to a memory wipe.
Ah, I see now. Some agency (human or otherwise) intervened as Molly was in Havana and abducted her, Pierre and the professor, held her captive for a few weeks, wiped her memory and set her free in her own apartment.

That doesn't really explain Molly's sudden incomprehension when faced with her sister (since her sister claims Molly greeted her normally just a short time earlier), but I guess that could be a side effect (or an aftershock, if you will) from the earlier wipe treatment.
 

Enewald

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Is Sun evil or good?
Neutral?
Or just bored?
Or is he related to Sun Tzu or Sun Quan? :p
 

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This is the second time I've responded to a prior update without noticing that there was, in fact, another update right above my response... I'm losing my mind, it seems. Or wait, I'll blame it on the Mac laptop I got from work. Yeah, that'll do, it's not me, it's the Apple...

This:
“Oh we have guests?” the sun’s daughter said, looking up from her mirror with wide-eyed delight. Her mouth twisted into a smirk, and she patted the loyal boar on the head. “How wonderful! Soon you’ll have some new friends to play with, Alby! Won’t that be so much fun for you?”
does not strike me as being very friendly. I'm afraid Anney's prediction is about to come true. We can only hope that the bad stuff doesn't involve our female protagonists turning into animal companions for the boar and goat.
 

Fiftypence

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Ah, I see now. Some agency (human or otherwise) intervened as Molly was in Havana and abducted her, Pierre and the professor, held her captive for a few weeks, wiped her memory and set her free in her own apartment.

That doesn't really explain Molly's sudden incomprehension when faced with her sister (since her sister claims Molly greeted her normally just a short time earlier), but I guess that could be a side effect (or an aftershock, if you will) from the earlier wipe treatment.

They didn't hold her captive. She's been living her life, but on "automatic", so to speak, until her sentience rather abruptly returned. A better explanation will be forthcoming within the story soon(ish).

A little bit more info about the fate of the Professor will be revealed in the next update, but I can tell you now he did not get the same treatment as Molly.

Is Sun evil or good?
Neutral?
Or just bored?
Or is he related to Sun Tzu or Sun Quan? :p

The sun is powerful, indifferent and completely inconsequential. Just a big ball of gas, really. ;)
This is the second time I've responded to a prior update without noticing that there was, in fact, another update right above my response... I'm losing my mind, it seems. Or wait, I'll blame it on the Mac laptop I got from work. Yeah, that'll do, it's not me, it's the Apple...

This:does not strike me as being very friendly. I'm afraid Anney's prediction is about to come true. We can only hope that the bad stuff doesn't involve our female protagonists turning into animal companions for the boar and goat.

You posted only two minutes after the update, so I'm guessing the update wasn't there when you began to type your reply.

No, it's not at all friendly. Not friendly at all. And we've encountered "Alby" before...hint hint hint. :D
 

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Monday's child...

31

Selena Berenice Eryx, founder and sole owner of the Eryx Corporation, is a woman on the rise. From humble and obscure origins, this amazing lady has risen from a self-described childhood of poverty in the slums of Alexandria to become one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the New World. Her precise date of birth is unknown, but in interviews she has described growing up in Egypt in the late 1980s and early 1990s, where she lived with her father Iah Eryx. When she was a young lady, her family immigrated to Haiti, and she enrolled through a government scholarship at the University of Havana where she studied Business and Experimental History, under the tutelage of Professor Jean Toussaint. She graduated with the highest marks ever received by a student, and rather than studying for a PhD, she set up her own business, Eryx Industries. Initially, Eryx operated by purchasing helium and exporting it abroad for profit, and the boom of the early 2000s meant soaring profits. The development of personal airships, due to hit the mass market later this year after a successful pilot scheme, means that those profits are surely destined only to carry on rising.

Earlier today, in a joint press conference with the directors of Cuban Gas, the Eryx Corporation announced that it was to take over Cuban Gas in a multi-billion dollar move, and thus become the largest energy company in the entire world. A spokesperson for Miss Eryx said, on behalf of the company, “this is a splendid day for Selena Eryx and all the hard work that has gone into building this company from the ground up. It is incredible to think that Eryx was established by a fresh-faced young woman just out of University in her bedroom, and that the first contract was for a mere cubic meter of helium. Today, Monday 25th August 2008, is a truly momentous day in Haitian industry, and, indeed, in the history of this nation." I was able to speak with Miss Eryx herself earlier today, and this is what she had to say...-


Bessie picked up the remote and turned down the volume, and turned to her sister. “It’s funny, you can’t go anywhere without hearing the word “Eryx” anymore. TV, magazine, newspapers, they can’t get enough of her!”

Molly hadn’t really been paying much attention, but she frowned. “Who is this Selena Eryx person, anyway? I’ve never heard of her.”

Bessie looked at Molly as if she was metamorphosing into some kind of hideous insect. “What?? Everyone knows who she is! Although,” she said, creasing her brow in thought, “it is strange how she’s all over the place so suddenly. I don’t think I’d heard of her a month ago, in fact...well, maybe two. I hadn’t heard of the Eryx Corporation either. That is a bit odd, if you think about it, how she’s just suddenly there...”

Molly didn’t want to think about it, as she had more pressing matters on her mind. It had been three days since her...return, and she was desperate to get to Guatemala to find out about this Maya ruin. It's not like she had a job to go back to after all, as when she had returned to the Police Station she had found the place deserted and terribly vandalised, in a perplexing state of disrepair and abandonment. Bessie seemed intent on staying for a while, and Molly didn’t have the heart to tell her to leave, so she just had to grin and bear it.

But there was something else, playing on her mind and begging for attention. Then it clicked. "Wait, when exactly did you first become aware of her?"

Bessie shrugged. "Oh, it was just after the funeral of that Professor guy, Toussaint I think his name was. She gave the eulogy, or something." She then turned her attention back to the TV, not noticing Molly's horror. On the screen the glossy lipped, shiny haired, pearly teethed, oh-so-perfect Selena was pouting and purring her way through the interview with top journalist and number one fan, Yannick Trudeau.

“...Eryx is an ethical company. We care about keeping Haiti beautiful. But we also care about keeping power cheap, and energy plentiful.” She flashes a coy smile at the interviewer, and hearts melt all across the nation. “I live for helium; helium is my life. It defines my existence....” she giggles, “and it made me rich! And, you know, Yannick, the word ‘helium’ comes from the Greek word Helios, which means sun. I intend for helium to burn bright in the minds of Haiti, and in the world beyond.” She looks directly into the camera, and there is a genuine twinkle in her eyes as she flutters her lashes, “I promise you all, people of Haiti; the Eryx Corporation will not let you down or betray your trust. The Eryx Corporation will be a light that shines on all your lives. The Eryx Corporation...” she says, followed by a lingering pause. A blissful expression appears on her perfect face, a look that would make most men and some women swoon, “The Eryx Corporation will shine on you all, Haitians, with the power of a million suns!” She titters playfully, and then suddenly her smile vanishes and her eyes darken. “Try not to get burnt.”