Open doors NINE

Alek handled the straughers, smelling the metal of the engine. They had left the cold Himalayas behind and now were nearing the tip of China, over the sea that separated the Japanese islands from the mainland. Alek sighed. They were entering Darwin territory.

He'd only been to a Darwinist county once, long ago. All he remembered was that it had been much too devoid of clanker mechaniks. In their place were large fabricated creatures as transportation and pulling carts. He'd been downright terrified and clung to his parents until their departure back home. Looking back now, though Darwinist creations still upset him and confused him occasionally, Alek found his child self to be rather foolish. He couldn't help but to let a chuckle out.

"What's so funny, your Highness?" asked Master Klopp from the back of the engine pod. His smiling face was covered by a face mask and protective goggles.

"Nothing, Klopp. Just old memories," Alek answered, hardly looking at him.

The master mechanik let out a hearty laugh and sat back in his seat, watching the surrounding clouds hanging over the marina.

A few hours more passed until a message lizard scurried its way to Klopp. He hesitantly put an ear to the creature's mouth to hear its quiet message. A quick nod of understanding and the lizard scurried itself up the ratlines.

"What did it want?" Alek asked, curiously watching the little beastie depart.

Klopp leaned closer to the prince and murmured, "A message from Dylan, he wants to see you soon."

Alek nodded and focused back on the engine, straining his arm and back muscles from pulling at the controls. As soon as he found an appropriate time to call a break, Alek left the controls to Hoffman, catching a cold stare from Volger when switching. But it hardly mattered. He just wanted to know what Dylan was calling him for.

Following down the back bone of the Leviathan, Alek found the safest way to the lower gondolas and into the warm walkways to the midshipmen dorm.

The halls were lit by the hanging glowworm lambs and heated as well. It was a relief from the cold ocean winds outside. Alek licked his chap lips, now realizing how icy his hands were. He curled them to his mouth and blew warm air. Thoughts went through his mind, mostly about what Bovril said in answer to his question yesterday. Of course, it was just the usual Mr. Sharp, coupled with a giggle. What he had once considered a cryptic code Alek was beginning to address as mere parrotry and ridiculousness. How this creature was intelligent was beyond Alek's comprehension.

Still.

He'd been raised to see animals, and Darwinist fabrications for that matter, as lower than humans. Fabrications as the evil spirited inhabited little creatures as he was told. But being on Leviathan, seeing its crew grow with the creatures, and Bovril acting more and more like a human, made Alek re-think once again. Alek thought hard on Bovril's answer. Mr. Sharp. What more could be beneath the surface? Calling it a repeat of what the creature had heard, and nothing more, was just Alek keeping a closed mind to it all. As he rounded the corner to the midshipmen room, Alek continued to sort through his thoughts, trying to make sense of it all.

Mr. Sharp, Bovril's chuckles, and Dylan . . . There was more to this, and destiny was trying to guild Alek through it.

Without a thought, Alek reached out for the handle on the door, opening it quickly. "Dylan—?" Alek entered the warm room, but before him was a sight his tired mind couldn't process.

Standing by Dylan's bed was someone, who looked exactly like Dylan, topless with gauze wrapped around their upper torso. This thin, curved, blond was unwinding the gaze, dropping the cloth to the floor and hugging herself. Alek felt his face flare, and he immediately shut the door loudly and clapped his hands to his mouth. Eyes widening and head shaking, one thing kept flashing itself in Alek's mind. The blond at Dylan's bed, even from Alek's poor view point, was Dylan. But his back was curved and the side of the boy's face seemed softer...almost feminine. Alek slapped his forehead and pressed his back to the wall. "Dummkopf" He spat through gritted teeth. Alek slammed a fist into the wall and began storming down the halls to his state room. "Mr. Sharp indeed."


edited by Maple the wacky tree