Ship of Dreams

Disclaimer: I don't own any of this

An Ocean of Memories

Once upon a time, there was a wealthy young man who had everything and yet he was greatly unhappy for he believed his dreams would never come true. And there was a poor young maiden who had nothing and yet she was greatly happy, for she believed in the fulfillment of her dreams.

With their lives so different, it seemed unlikely they would ever meet. But Destiny was a mysterious entity and decreed that two worlds become one in way that no one would've ever imagined, in one of history's most remembered events.

November 1, 1996

The day was bright and clear and windy on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, but unless you had special lights, the bottom of the ocean was dark as pitch and quite cold. Submersibles were going under to retrieve relics and hopefully a special diamond from the history's famous sunken ship known as the Titanic. It had been underwater since the year of 1912, eighty-four years.

Special cameras filmed and took pictures of the historic ship, for even in its sad algae-covered state, the ship was still a majestic masterpiece. On one of the submersibles was young and beautiful Rue Raven, a ballerina who'd been helping her uncle, Mr. Cat, locate something incredibly precious from Titanic's walls. She'd spent three years helping him when she wasn't busy with her social life or practicing her dancing.

"Wow," murmured Rue, as she gazed at the ship through her tiny window. They were more than two miles down beneath the surface of the ocean and it was beyond incredible. Rue quickly took advantage of the moment to records her thoughts in her diary.

Seeing Titanic coming out of the darkness like a ghost ship still gets me every time. To see the sad ruin of the great ship sitting here, where it landed at twenty past two; in the morning on April 15, 1912, after her long fall from the world above just makes my heart ache. What must've it have been like on that fateful day, eighty-four years ago, I wonder?

"Get ready, Rue," said Cat, snapping her out of her thoughts. He seemed quite excited. "Soon, we'll finally find the diamond!"

"I hope so," murmured Rue. They'd been searching for three years and had already dived down six times. Rue wanted to find the diamond as much as Cat did, but she was starting to grow a little impatient and concerned that the jewel was lost forever.

For all its majestic beauty, the Titanic was a graveyard in all but name and it was starting to give Rue chills. However, her fear quickly faded when they entered the room of the famous Kraehe Crow and found her safe where the diamond was said to have been kept.

Excitement went underway as they returned to the surface and onto their boat, the Gold Crown, with the safe in hand. Cat had even brought about a news reporter and camerawoman to record the event. It seemed almost too good to be true that after three years, they had finally found what they'd been looking for.

"We've found it! We've found it!" exclaimed Cat, as their men began cutting into the safe. "Oh! Rue, open a bottle of champagne! Where's my cigar? We must celebrate!"

Rue chuckled. "Hold on, Uncle. Let's save the celebrations for our victory," she said. Rue was as excited as the rest of them, but she preferred not to count her chickens before they hatched.

It quickly proved that she was right to hold off on the celebrations. Right after the safe was cracked open, plenty of mucky water spewed out and a search of the safe for the diamond proved to be fruitless. Inside was only some papers, sodden money, and a portfolio.

Cat was gravely disappointed and howled in pain. He actually sounded the creature for which he was named, to be quite honest.

Rue patted his shoulder. "It's okay, Uncle. We'll find it. There are still at least a dozen places we can search," she said. She knew this was a blow, possibly a very heavy one to both their careers, but they couldn't quit just yet.

"Yes, yes, I suppose you're right," sighed Cat. He resumed his usual posture before glaring at the camera. "TURN THAT CAMERA THIS INSTANT OR I WILL HAVE YOU MARRY ME, RIGHT NOW!"

The camerawoman let out a terrified squeak as she quickly obeyed him while everyone else went about their business.

Later that day, Cat's crewmen who took great care in restoring whatever they found on Titanic were making quick work of the paper found in the portfolio. Rue watched with great interested as the muck was carefully cleared away to reveal a beautifully and masterfully done drawing.

The picture was of a beautiful young girl and a handsome young man together in a ballet pose. The girl was dressed like a princess and the man was dressed like a prince. They were holding each other in a ballet pose. The girl's head was under the young man's chin as she looked at him and he was looking at her with great love in his eyes as he held her.

Rue's eyes widened when she caught sight of something else in the drawing. "Uncle, come here, quick!"

"What is it, Rue?" asked Cat, looking concerned. When he saw the drawing, his jaw dropped. "Sweet catmint and tuna fish! Where's the photograph of the diamond? Someone give it to me, this instant!"

A photograph was quickly placed in Cat's hand and when compared to the drawing, it was a perfect match. On the neck of the girl in the drawing was what they'd been searching for, the Prince's Heart diamond. The picture was signed, A&F Forever, and dated April 14, 1912.

"Uncle, you realize what this means? If we can find out about the people in drawing, we can find the diamond," said Rue, excitedly.

Cat looked overjoyed. "We must offer a reward! A thousand dollars for anyone who can tell us about these two in the picture!" he declared.

XXX

In a beautiful house near a lake lived an elderly couple. Ahiru was a retired prima ballerina and her husband, Fakir, was a retired published author. They'd been together for eighty-four years and had enjoyed every moment of it. They'd enjoyed a bit of fame in their youth, but now they lived quiet, yet happy lives together with their youngest grandson, Mytho. Their grandson had been looking after them for several years now and was the light of their old age.

At that moment, Ahiru was softly humming while feeding her bird friends their breakfast while Fakir was reading the Morning Star newspaper at the breakfast table. Mytho was dishing out their morning meal while listening to a news report on the television.

"Treasure Hunter, Cat Feline is best known for finding Spanish gold, but now he and his niece, the famous ballerina Rue Raven, have chartered Russian subs to reach the most famous shipwreck of all, the Titanic. They're with us live via satellite from the research ship Gold Crown, in the North Atlantic," said the television reporter. "Hello, Mr. Feline, Ms. Raven."

"Hello, Tracy," said Cat. "Everyone knows the stories of Titanic, the nobility and the band playing until the end, but my niece and I are more interested in the untold stories, the secrets locked away in the hull of the ship. We're out here using technology to go further into the ship than anyone's ever gone before."

"Did I hear that right?" murmured Fakir, as he looked up from his newspaper. Even Ahiru looked interested and had stopped in her bird feeding routine, something she'd never done in all the years of her married life. "Mytho, turn that up and help your grandmother."

"Of course, Granddad," said Mytho. He turned the volume up on the television and then helped Ahiru come into the dining room and take her place at the table. She used a cane to get around these days and sometimes required a little more assistance. "Is everything alright?"

"Yes, of course, dear. Don't fret," said Ahiru, smiling as she patted his hand. "We just need to hear this, that's all."

"In this picture we've recovered and perfectly preserved here today," said Rue, as a drawing appeared on the screen. "We have a pair of young lovers who were on the Titanic and according to the date inscribed on the drawing, this drawing was done on the night that the ship sank. If anyone has information regarding the two people in this picture, please call this number."

"Well, I'll be darned," said Fakir, astonished. "They actually found it. And it's still intact after all these years."

"It's a miracle," said Ahiru, looking as if she might cry.

"Is that drawing the one I think is?" asked Mytho, looking just as astonished as they were. He'd grown up on stories of his grandparents' lives as a child.

"Yes, it is," said Fakir. "We need to call those people."

"Yes, we do," said Ahiru, in agreement. "Mytho, sweetie, where's the telephone?"

"Right here," said Mytho. He quickly placed the phone on the table and dialed the number for his grandmother before handing her the receiver.

XXX

The hour was growing dark as Rue watched the next dive into the Titanic take place. She wasn't boarding this time, but for some reason she liked to watch them go under.

Pique, a friend and fellow passenger, tapped her on the shoulder.

"Rue, there's a call for you on the satellite phone," said Pique.

"Can't it wait? The submersibles are just about to head under," said Rue. It's probably just another journalist asking questions and I've had my fill of them today.

"You're going to want to take this call," said Pique.

Rue could see that Pique wasn't about to be dissuaded, so she sighed and followed Pique to telephone.

"You'll have to speak up. Her name's Ahiru Penn and she's kind of old," said Pique.

Why am I not surprised? Rue picked up the telephone receiver. "Hello? This is Miss Rue Raven, Mrs. Penn. How can I help you?"

"Please, call me Ahiru. I was just wondering if you'd found the Prince's Heart, yet?" asked Ahiru.

Rue's eyes widened. No wonder Pique told her to take the call. How does this woman know about the Prince's Heart? We didn't broadcast that information. "Well, not yet, Mrs. Penn. But we might find it soon with a little help. Can you tell me who the couple, in the picture are?"

"Oh, yes," said Ahiru, cheerfully. "The couple in the picture is me and my husband, Fakir."

Rue's hand flew to her mouth in shock. Ahiru and Fakir. A&F! Could it be? "It's you and your husband in the drawing? You're sure?"

"Quite sure. Listen, I know you'd like to hear the story and my family and I would very much like to meet you, so do you think we could talk in person?" asked Ahiru.

"Yes, yes, of course!" said Rue. How could she possibly refuse?

Before Rue knew it, she was making arrangements for the elderly couple and their grandson to come onboard the boat via a helicopter to tell their story the next day. When she told the news to her shipmates, they were all ecstatic, save for Cat, who was quite suspicious and didn't believe a word of it.

Rue found herself trying to ignore his yelling and protests as she walked up to where the helicopter would land with their guests.

"Look, all I'm saying it's too suspicious that on the exact same day, we offer a reward for information, that woman and her husband call and they claim they know about the diamond because they were on the ship!" said Cat. "They must be lying!"

"And why would they be lying? They enjoyed plenty of publicity when they were younger and they're well off, so it can't be for money or publicity," said Rue. She didn't know why he was making such a fuss. The first real lead they'd had after the previous day's fiasco and he was acting like a child.

"Don't you think it's a little strange? I've done my research! Fakir Knight and Ahiru Duck died on Titanic when they were sixteen and seventeen! If either of them were still alive, they'd be over a hundred years old!" protested Cat.

"Ahiru's one hundred and Fakir just turned one hundred and one last week," said Rue, smirking. She'd done her own research as well.

"Okay, so they're very old liars, but still liars nevertheless!" said Cat. "I did a background check of those two all the way back into the 1920s! Back then, Ahiru Penn's name was Swan before she married Fakir Penn shortly after the Titanic sank and she worked not only as a prima ballerina, but as an actress and her husband not only published books, but also movie scripts! Then they move to a house by a lake and settle down with children and whatnot!"

"And yet somehow, everyone who knows about the diamond is either dead or on this boat, but they know!" said Rue, firmly. She didn't speak further, as the helicopter arrived and landed right in front of her.

After quite a bit of luggage was removed from the helicopter, a sweet grandmotherly woman was helped out of the helicopter and was followed by her elderly husband.

"Mr. and Mrs. Penn, I'm Rue Raven. It's a pleasure to meet you," said Rue, over the noise of the helicopter. "Welcome to the Gold Crown. If you'll follow my man here, you'll be taken to your quarters."

"Thank you, young lady," said Ahiru, smiling.

She and her husband were taken to their rooms just as a very handsome young man with white hair, brown eyes and the sweetest of smiles emerged from the helicopter. He disappeared after his grandparents before she could speak with him, but the very sight of him made Rue's heart flutter like mad.

I wonder if I can get to know him while he's here? she thought to herself.

XXX

Half an hour later, Rue went to visit her guests in their quarters.

Ahiru was arranging black and white photographs on her trunk while gently stroking her pet bird, which sat in her lap. Fakir was writing out something in his notebook while Mytho arranged their luggage.

Rue knocked the doorframe, alerting them to her presence. "Hello. I just came to see how you were doing. Are your rooms to your satisfaction?"

"They're fine, thank you," said Fakir, politely.

"Have you met our grandson, Mytho? He looks after us," said Ahiru, cheerfully.

"No, not properly," said Rue.

Mytho rose up from where he'd been sitting, smiled and then kissed Rue's hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Rue."

"Pleasure's all mine, Mr. Mytho," said Rue, blushing. What a gentleman! Aloud she asked, "May I inquire about the photographs? Are they all of you and your family?"

"Yes. All our travels and adventures from our younger days," said Fakir, smiling softly. "Ahiru insists on taking them with us wherever we travel. It's a tradition."

"I see. Well, is there anything we can do for you?" asked Rue. "Is there something I can get for you? Food, water, anything?"

"Some chamomile tea while we tell our story after seeing our drawing would be welcomed, if you wouldn't mind," said Fakir, sounding a little grumpy.

"Of course. Please, follow me," said Rue.

She led them down below deck where the drawing lay perfectly preserved. It was a little faded, but no less beautiful, even after eighty-four years. Ahiru and Fakir looked at it with great reverence and smiled a little while holding onto one another's hand.

"Mr. and Mrs. Penn, if I could have your attention for a moment?" said Cat, snapping the elderly couple out of their thoughts.

The two of them looked at Cat, who held up a photograph as well as some history documents.

"Louis the Sixteenth wore a fabulous stone that was called the Sunset Diamond of the Crown, so named for its red color with tiny golden flecks. The jewel disappeared in 1792, which was about the same time that King Louis was beheaded. The theory is that the diamond chopped too, recut into a heart shape that became known as the Prince's Heart. Today it would be worth more than the Hope Diamond," said Cat.

Fakir snorted. "That blasted thing wasn't worth squat. It was ridiculous and heavier than you could've imagined. It was mainly kept in that old witch's safe for safekeeping. I remember it only being worn twice, once by that old witch when she showed it to me, and the other time was when Ahiru wore it before she drew our picture."

"You actually drew this, Nana?" said Mytho, surprised. "It looks almost like a photograph."

Ahiru blushed. "Thank you, dear. But I was just an amateur back then. I was better at dancing than I was at drawing."

"Well, I think you did a wonderful job. You both looked like characters out of a fairytale," said Rue, smiling.

Before either of them could respond, Cat cleared his throat, diverting their attention once again. "Now, I tracked it down through the insurance records and found a claim that had been settled under absolute secrecy. Can either of you tell me who the claimant was?"

They both nodded, though it was Fakir who spoke.

"Let me guess, Blackheart Crow?" said Fakir.

Everyone looked excited to hear this.

"That's right. Blackheart Crow, a Pittsburg steel tycoon," said Rue. "He claimed the insurance was for a diamond necklace, his daughter Kraehe bought herself as an early wedding present before she would marry a man called Fakir Knight—you, Mr. Penn. But it seems the engagement between you was broken before Titanic docked."

Fakir nodded. "She didn't take too kindly to it, but yes."

"Well, the diamond was bought a week before she sailed on Titanic and the insurance claim was filed right after the sinking, so the diamond have to gone down with the ship," said Rue.

"And if the date on this drawing is correct and if your grandparents are who they say they are, Mr. Mytho, then that means that your grandmother was wearing the Prince's Heart the day that Titanic sank," said Cat, almost smugly.

"Indeed, I was. But not for the entire day," said Ahiru, chuckling. "I only wore it for the picture and while it was beautiful, it was also dreadful heavy thing."

They all looked interested, but it wasn't quite time for storytelling just yet. Rue took the Penn family over to a table where several relics from Titanic lay, safe and preserved and almost looked brand new. They'd been recovered from Fakir's old room on the sunken ship.

Ahiru looked delighted as she picked up a handheld mirror, engraved with a swan on the back. "My Aunt Edel gave me this as a birthday present before I went to England to study dance. How wonderful! And it looks the same as the last time I saw it." She turned it over and gazed at herself in it. "The reflection's changed."

"Not in the slightest. That silly duck I fell in love with is still there," said Fakir, smiling.

Ahiru blushed again.

Fakir then delicately picked up an old owl-feather quill and inkpot. "I remember this. I spent whatever time I could on Titanic, writing such silly nonsense."

"It wasn't nonsense, dear," said Ahiru. "And it certainly wasn't silly."

There was a moment's silence as they continued looking over their old possessions and then Rue broke it by asking, "Are you ready to return to Titanic?"

"Yes. Take us down, Miss Rue," said Fakir.

They were taken down even further and seated before Cat showed them a computer generated version of Titanic's famous sinking. Apparently, he'd decided to go over how exactly the ship had gone down, despite knowing two of its passengers were there and knew perfectly well how the ship had sunk.

"If you'll look here, you'll see that the Titanic hit the iceberg on the starboard bow. Small holes were punched in along the side below the waterline. Then the forward compartments started to flood. As the water level rose, it spilled over the watertight bulkheads, which unfortunately, didn't go any higher than the E Deck. So, then as the bow went up, the stern went down. It went slowly at first, but then picked up speed until the ship was half undersea and half above sea, and naturally snapped in two. As the bow sank, it pulled the stern up until it properly detached. At two-twenty a.m., the remainder of the ship sank to the bottom of the Atlantic, two hours and forty minutes after the collision," said Cat, dramatically. "Fantastic, isn't it?"

Mytho and Ahiru looked almost frightened, while a slightly cross look was on Fakir's face.

"Thank you for that fine forensic analysis, Mr. Feline. But I can assure you, the experience itself was anything but something fantastic," said Fakir, testily.

"Would you still be willing to share your story?" asked Rue, softly.

"Assuming they're not too old to remember—OW!" Cat's not-so-quiet mutterings were cut off suddenly and he looked rather disgruntled as everyone laughed at him. It seemed Fakir had just whacked Cat's leg with his own walking cane.

"We're not too old to give you a licking for such disrespect, Mr. Feline," growled Fakir. "You stupid idiot."

"Fakir, dear, don't lose your temper. Be polite," said Ahiru.

"Of course, Ahiru," said Fakir. His anger had faded as quickly as it'd come as he sat down and took his wife's hand. "Now, do you want to tell it, or should I?"

"We'll take turns. You can start first," said Ahiru. "You boarded first, remember?"

"Yes, of course." Fakir cleared his throat as everyone gathered around them and Rue turned on a handheld tape recorder.

"It's been eighty-four years, and yet I can still smell the fresh paint. The china had never been used. The sheets had never been slept in. Titanic was called 'the Ship of Dreams,' and it was. It really was," said Fakir.