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The Long Grain's First and Last Voyage » Arcs » Chapter 1: Arrival and Introduction

The passengers arrive and get acquainted.

As written by: YouDontKnowThisGuy, HedLeeman, blazeorama, LadyAiralana, marisol_29, Waldo


23 pieces and 10 characters involved, written by 6 different authors.

5 places involved




So begins...

Chapter 1: Arrival and Introduction


The Outdoor Pool and BarSetting: The Outdoor Pool and Bar


Alyse J. Taft

Alyse Taft stared at the bronze liquid at the bottom of her glass. She had been saying goodbye to her family for ten minutes before making her way on board, and this is the first stop she made; the Outdoor bar. At first she was worried that they'd card her but the bartender barely looked at her.

Her fingers played along the rubber armrests of her mechanical prison. She had been stuck in a wheelchair since birth, and looking now at the people walking around the pool and deck she felt a familiar pang of jealousy. Why could they walk? Why had she been forced to sit in this chair for the rest of her life?

She tipped the rest of the drink into her mouth. Being a parplegic wasn't why she drank, she drank because she could. She drank because the burn of the alcohol made her forget that she would never write a book as well-received as her first. She spent her life imagining amazing worlds but when she really needed it her mind was blank, uncreative. She waved at the bartender and watched as her glass was filled again.

It was funny, she had been on this ship for less than twenty minutes and she was already getting drunk.

She opens her bag and pulls the rectangular, flat stone out along with the note she'd spied her grandmother slipping into her bag. The stone was rough and engraved with the words, "Save Our Ship". She laughed at her grandmothers humor. As she had been growing up, her grandmother was one of the few people that supported her creative nature. When Alyse had published her first novel, her grandmother had likened it to sailing a ship into uncharted waters. Since then her writing career was always "their ship". Her grandmother, like her father, felt that this trip was just what she needed to revitalize her creativity. She didn't believe that, but she found her self lightly kissing the cold stone for luck.

Slipped the stone back into her bag, she unfolded the note:

Dear Alyse,
This stone has been giving our family good luck for as long as I can remember. I have no doubt that, even if you didn't have this stone, you will find your voice again but I figured that more luck couldn't hurt.

Be safe, and have fun.
With love, Your grandmother.


She waved the bartender to fill her glass again. Luck ... wasn't what she needed.

The Cruise Ship Long GrainSetting: The Cruise Ship Long Grain


Steve Baker

Another day, another patrol, same as all the others. Well, except now the passengers were starting to board, the chefs making food, crowding. It was a welcome change. For the last few weeks it had been nothing but walking empty halls, memorizing layouts and persons of interest, learning bypasses, and spending time in the security office assembling and disassembling the on hand weaponry. None of it was military, but the ship seemed to be stocked to prevent a pirate takeover. Steve knew his firing position, though he hoped it wouldn't be necessary knowledge.

The crowds were a welcome change, occasionally someone would come over to pat Spock, his partner in crime. Well, partner in crime prevention. The doberman loves the attention, and Steve appreciated the occasional break from what had been the norm for so long. He couldn't stop too long and Spock knew when it was time to move along again. Back and forth, back and forth, looking for anything strange, anyone out of place or unrecognized. He wasn't too worried though, nobody wants to be trapped in the brig for the duration of a globe circling cruise.
Image
The Boss is magnificent. He moves among the others and is on task.

I am on task as well.

The smells. Everywhere new odors fill the ship, nuancing the air currents of the once uniform spaces. Gone is the astringency of the clean smell. Now, all these new people, and once they have arrived and settled, I will be nose smart for the substances that the boss wants me to find and sit near, so that I can play with the Ball!

The Ball. Not just any ball, but The Ball. I love when he rewards me with the delightful tooth pleasing squishiness of the rubber.

Even just imagining it, my stub of a tail wags.

People pet me. This is part of my job, making friends. Some folks, though, they shy away. I am wise to this, if they do not extend a hand or look my way? Either they are hiding something, or they fear me.

It is important to the Boss that I not exert my natural alpha tendencies with these folks, so I remain chill. I return to heel. There are special cookies in his pocket, just for me. The crunchy kind I love. When patrol is done, he will award me one, and then perhaps The Ball.

Tonight I shall sleep with my nose in his shoe. Inhaling the scent that is his will reaffirm his status in our pack of two. I will know how he is doing from that magnificent odor as well.

He is my hero.
Image
"Hey, Army." Amaryllis Danziger walks up to place a friendly hand on Steven Baker's shoulder, the good one.

She is in her dress whites, slacks, not skirt. She reserves the skirt for formal dinners when dancing may become involved.

"Hey, Spock!" She tousles the Dobie's ears. Because he is on board, she has downloaded veterinary texts on dogs, and read up on dobermans. Her time as a Marine has taught her that K-9 units are worth their weight in gold, and that the dog is vital to the human. While she hopes that Spock won't ever need her assistance, she has purchased -out of pocket- some common medicines the dog might need and stocked them.

She glances from passenger to passenger. Most of what she will be doing will be simple, treating diarrhea will be task one, and heart attacks will happen, usually at ports of call, because too many people will drink too much and eat too much and overdo the extreme sports with little or no prep. Next will be flu, and STDs close behind that.

Already she has dossiers on the folks smart enough, or experienced enough, to let the cruise line know ahead of time about their chronic illnesses. Both Steve and the Purser know who has brought supplies of their own meds. These will be brought to the Sick Bay as needed.

"Coronary waiting to happen at two o'clock." She murmurs. Then she grins, because at ten o'clock is a likely looking fellow for some recreation later in the voyage. No, he has a wife. Ah, well, she thinks, it is still all good. Something will turn up, it always does.

Sick BaySetting: Sick Bay


Image Sick bay is clean, quiet and ready. It is located in one of the most stable sections of the ship*, so even on the choppiest days its denizens benefit from a smooth ride

It is where Danziger will spend at least eight hours a day when the ship is at sea. She is also on 24 hour call, which suits her fine. On a spanking new ship like the Long Grain? She can handle just about any medical needs of the crew or passengers.

She has also seen to the first aid stations scattered around the ship. Each is stocked and ready.

When there are no patients, she hits the treadmill, reads medical journals and runs drills with the staff. Her credo is that there is no such thing as being too ready.

*Midships deck 2.

Gambling HallSetting: Gambling Hall


Buster A. Trifilo

"Sir, please calm down or we'll have to call security." The small, blonde dealer spoke as calm as she could.

"You clearly are cheating me, why should I calm down?!" Buster could feel that familiar anger rise along the back of his spine like a searing hot snake, "You are counting cards and now I'm out $100!"

Buster was hotheaded, he's known that since he sent his college football water boy to the hospital. That little tussle almost got him 6 months, but he was able to bring the punishment down to community service. He didn't regret it though. The spineless nerd had decided that Buster's harmless jokes were too much and keyed his car. He wasn't one to accept people being assholes. That stands true even for this cute-in-a-uniform cheater.

"Sir, I assure you there hasn't been any underhandedness. If you would like another dealer can take my place." She was shuffling her feet and there was a look of guilt in her eyes. Or was it worry?

Buster raised his hands, "Yeah, sure whatever, just give me my hundred and a new dealer and we'll be fine."

"Uh," Now she looked nervous, "That's not our policy, Sir. I can't do that."

Buster's smacked his hand down on the table, dumping drinks and making everyone sitting at it jump. Several of them stood and made their way to a more peaceful table. The snake of anger was settling in his head, and what he said next came out in his special yell.

"That is not acceptable!"

Buster's normal yell was actually pretty docile, more like stern talking. However, when he got especially angry his yell had its volume inflated with anger. When he yelled this time, he actually saw the fear in the dealer's face and heard the whispers of the other patrons around him. He heard many of them walk away, and saw the dealers hand slip down under the table.

"I think you're done for the day, Sir. I've called the security and they'll escort you to your room."

"What do you mean I'm done!? I'm not done, until I get the hundred you stole! This is unbelievable! If I had known that this cruise was a money trap I wouldn't have gotten on this ship!"
Image

"Marine,"

Steve turned his attention to the doctor on board, and then to the 'Coronary.' The doctor was right, there was a guy who knew his food. Steve mused briefly whether he was out of shape or caught up in some other medical condition. He knew all to well how much your fitness can tank with an injury.

"Well, hopefully he'll use the gym responsibly, shave a bit of that. Though some guys try too hard right away, and then they're off to see you anyway."

A quiet rumble in his pager and his earpiece comes on. Casino was part of his department today. Steve sighs and shakes his head.

"Not even out of port yet and someone is causing trouble in the casino. Hope none of us end up in your office, Marine."

After a quick salute to the doctor, Steve makes the quickest path there with Spock at his heels. A motion has the dog sitting while he approaches the big guy yelling at one of the blackjack dealers. Casually approaching him while still ready for the guy to take a swing, there's a few too many drinks on that table.

"Sir, you look like you could use a relaxing dip in your room's hot tub."
Image
Sit.

Sit is good, because it gives me time to feel the room. This room is so different now that new humans are on board, gone is that awful smell of the new carpet, which made me sneeze repeatedly. Now? People.

People love and hate this place, they feel excited, hopeful, I can smell that. For some it is almost a mating ritual. For others? Exhaustion/elation/exhaustion... Everywhere there are lights flashing and noises. Like a pack frenzy over a kill, with so much food that a craze settles over them all.

The Target Human is angry. I can smell it coming off of him. Maybe he will let me chase him and jump on him! I like the sensation of flying I get when I spring upon a body. Maybe the Boss will calm him down. Either way, for now I sit. I sit and wait for the next command.

I know my duty.

The Cruise Ship Long GrainSetting: The Cruise Ship Long Grain


Image

Steve rejoins with:
"Marine,"

Steve turned his attention to the doctor on board, and then to the 'Coronary.' The doctor was right, there was a guy who knew his food. Steve mused briefly whether he was out of shape or caught up in some other medical condition. He knew all to well how much your fitness can tank with an injury.

"Well, hopefully he'll use the gym responsibly, shave a bit of that. Though some guys try too hard right away, and then they're off to see you anyway."

A quiet rumble in his pager and his earpiece comes on. Casino was part of his department today. Steve sighs and shakes his head.

"Not even out of port yet and someone is causing trouble in the casino. Hope none of us end up in your office, Marine."


Danziger nods, "Safety first." She calls after him. "Because second is too late!" Then she makes best speed to her duty station. The Sick Bay
SETTING

With all of its passengers finally on board, the ship slowly starts to pull away from the dock. The sea here is warm, something the ship is grateful for as it forges on into deeper waters. The sky is clear, and the scents of the sea fill the air. The PA system crackles and a low gruff voice fills the air.

"Hello, everyone, this is your captain speaking. Welcome aboard the Long Grain, the largest cruise ship in the world. As you may know this ship is built for your entertainment; there's a pool on the deck and a bar for those of you who like the taste of whiskey. Down below we have the large Gambling Hall and the Gym. If you head down even lower you'll notice what I like to call the moving aquarium; a large portion of the hull completely made of glass with lights so you can see deep into the depths. There are hundreds of cabins so go ahead and take your pick. However, if none of that sounds appealing then let me tell just what you'll see on this trip."

For a few moments it is silence, but then there's another crackle and the voice continues, " ... do I look like I'm stupid? Mind your station Jerry or I'll have you mopping the deck with the janitors ... again. Oh crap, I pressed the button ... don't give me that look!"

The PA goes silent again and then the voice came back with a small laugh. More laughter can be heard in the background as the captain continues, "As you may know, we'll be making a complete circuit of the world. On our travels we'll see waters that are brighter than the night sky, because of the glowing jellyfish that hang out near the surface of the water. We'll be escorted by humpback whales and, thanks to some incredible patronage a few of you will get the chance to swim with the dolphins. We'll be making a stop in waters so clear, that you can see into the pristine depths to the bottom of the ocean. For the next 156 days, you won't step on land but I can assure you that you'll remember this trip for the rest of your lives."

There was another slight pause before the captain came on again, a bit more serious this time, "However, before we can get to all that fun, I'd like to call everyone to the deck so that we can go over some safety procedures. When you get to the deck, please find your nearest hostess and they will explain the lifeboats and what to do in case of emergency. I hope you all enjoy your ship and ... for the love of god Jerry! What did I tell you about putting gum on the bottom of my desk!?"

The PA system cuts out and people begin to make their way to the deck.

Passenger Cabins and HallsSetting: Passenger Cabins and Halls



The Cruise Ship Long GrainSetting: The Cruise Ship Long Grain


She had been robed! Some little punk, who had knocked into her as she boarded the ship. She had felt the swipe of her shield from her right pocket, but he had disappeared into the crowd of people. She steamed, chucking her bag onto her bed. Her friend Meloney, who was a maid on the ship, told her all she could do was report it, she did what what really could they do? Meloney had also told her she would tell the other maids to look out for it too. She sighed and got back up, she was going to look over the ship. She would be spending a lot of time here mine as well know where everything was. She thought to herself, tossing her hair back and walking out the door.


She walks out of the hall entering out onto one of many decks. Her eyebrow twitches. This place was even bigger then she thought. How could you not get lost?! She sees some stairs to her right and decides to climb them. Before she knew it she was at a very hi point on the ship, looking over the railing, she could see for miles. She smiled this time feeling her brows unknit. Maybe this wont be so bad she thinks, holding her hair back as it catches in the nice breeze.

Gambling HallSetting: Gambling Hall


BUSTER A. TRIFILO

When Buster was 12, he broke into the local supermarket. As he was just getting acquainted with his new superman action figure, he was rudely interrupted by the security guard doing rounds. He broke the guards leg with a baseball bat, but despite that the guard was still able to drag Buster to the security room and phone the police. Buster's parents didn't take the news too well and the security guard sued. With the full force of the supermarket chain behind him, the security guard won. That was the year when buster stopped getting monogrammed shirts and began going to a public school.

Some security guards just take their jobs way too seriously.

Buster turned toward the guard and held out his hands, palms up.

"Sir, this dealer was clearly counting cards and now I've lost 100 dollars. I want that money back."

He fought to keep is anger in check. Another slip-up like when he was twelve and he just might end up drifting at sea with nothing but the clothes on his back.

The captain's voice blared over the PA and Buster frowned, "Perhaps she should get me my money fast so that I don't miss out on the emergency procedures?"

The Outdoor Pool and BarSetting: The Outdoor Pool and Bar


Image

It is only a matter of moments since the Captain's life-boat drill announcement that Danziger trots rapidly up behind Miss Taft. "Miss Taft, I'm Amaryllis Danziger, Ship's Doctor, well one of them. My crew and I have been assigned to help you with mobility issues for Life-Boat drill. With your permission?" Danziger has her pick of orderlies for this duty, and she has chosen the four strongest, smartest men on shift. Guys who can carry the VIP, her chair, and all the med supplies needed. They have drilled even prior to passengers coming on board. She trusts these fellows, and Danziger doesn't trust just anyone with her patients.

This is a drill and so it is up to Miss Taft if she accepts help, but Danziger hopes she does. It will be good practice just in case something untoward happens.
Alyse J. Taft

Downed her half full glass and glances behind her, "Amy? Is it alright if I call you that?", her voice slurred giving away her drunkedness, "Did you know that we're more likely to be hijacked by pirates than we are to sink?"

She slammed her glass to the counter with a loud clunk and began tapping the rim to alert the bartender.

"And," she waved her hand into the air, "if pirates did hijack this ship the last thing we'd be doing is heading to the life boats."

She lifts her glass to her lips and finds it empty. Not bad for her first time drinking. Maybe this would become a new past time. Right now, with a belly full of poison, she didn't feel so bad about her lack of creativity. In fact, she was looking forward to a trip of gambling, sleeping, and of course drinking.

Sick BaySetting: Sick Bay


Image

Well, dayom. If it isn't the most beautiful woman on the ship. Danziger shakes her head and gets to her feet, "What happened?" She walks to the patient dragging a rolling chair. "Sit!"

Cosmic injustice being what it is, the lovely blond before her, in the together outfit is a guy. Ashleigh, one of the performers. He is adorable, and sweet... both at the same time. "Didn't your psychic powers give you a heads up, honey?"








NB: This vine takes place prior to lifeboat drill.
"My psychic powers did warn me there would be trouble, but I thought it would be in the form of somebody finding out that I'm wearing a last season Oscar de la Renta!"
Image

That makes her laugh, even as she rolls him to the examination table, which she helps him upon. The duty nurse, Philomena, brings her a cold pack and a bandage, asking if she needs a second set of hands. "Got this, Phil."

Then the Nurse asks Ashleigh if he wants a juice or something.

Danziger palps the area gently and pronounces, "I think a bandage , some ice and a couple of acetaminophen with do you right. You will dance again!"
Ashleigh considers the offer of juice. He hasn't had anything for breakfast after all. He winces as Ree prods him, his anxiety over the injury threatening to get the better of him.

"How soon will I be able to dance again? I have a show tonight! What am I going to do? Do you really think it will be all right?" He notices the pretty highlights in her hair and decides he is going to have to get a new wig in just that color.
Image

Feeling his pulse begin to race, Danziger pats his knee. "It will be fine, do you have a pair of lace up boots? I will come to your Quarters, and lace it onto you, so you can dance tonight. Stay off it all day. But if it really hurts? Dance in a rolling chair!" She takes special care as she wraps his foot and ankle. He waxes his legs, and has the prettiest feet. His toe nails are polished.

Danziger's own leg hairs are so fine and blond she doesn't bother waxing any more. "I think one of the South American maintenance crew members can repair shoes, so if you want those fixed ask down there... and if you can't get them to understand, I will translate for you."

The Cruise Ship Long GrainSetting: The Cruise Ship Long Grain


Image

Egecatl Quispe sees a woman lost in thought at the railing, and wonders if she has not heard the Captain's order for life boat drill. He understands reverie and does not want to startle her out of some trance or commune with whatever spirits guide her. Still, everyone must do the drill. It is the law.

"El mar, es muy hermoso." He says. "Beautiful." His Spanish and English both are accented with the lilt of his native language, Quechua. "The Lady should go to her life boat now, however." He smiles.

His eyes are deep brown, like fine chocolates, and his long black hair is barely tamed by braids and pulled back into an elastic. His uniform is not like that of the ships officers, instead he wears white duck trousers and a white tee shirt with the cruise line's colors decorating the left sleeve. The name tag on his left breast reads, "Egecatl, Peru" and under that it says, "cleaner." Lean and muscled he is nearly the same height as the woman at the railing.

He touches the brim of his extremely non-uniform hat, and nods.

The Outdoor Pool and BarSetting: The Outdoor Pool and Bar


Alyse J. Taft

"Fine."

Something about what Doctor Danziger had said was sobering. It could have been the insistence on a formal title, but Alyse knew better. Growing up, she'd rarely felt constrained by her disability. Her entire life had been spent in a chair and quickly grew used to the condescension, strange looks, and exclusion that came with it. Now as she allowed her self to be wheeled away from the comforting liquids she felt that constraint.

She remembered her fathers finger on her forehead, "You are human because of this," his hand moved to tap her knee, "Not this. It's better to ignore someone who can't see the difference."

She remembered that day well. She was eight. A fellow student had begun calling her a robot and claiming that he didn't want her around because he was scared that she'd go 'terminator' on him. She came home crying and it took her father nearly an hour to get what happened out of her. After she told him, they both watched all of the Terminator movies back to back and when the next school day came, she went in dressed as Arnold complete with a horrible accent.

That was the last day she could remember that she'd let her disability really feel like a disability. So this feeling she had right now was strange, foreign, and probably the reason she wasn't feeling as cheerful as she been had a few moments ago.

She said nothing as Doctor Danziger went through the procedure. She just stared at the calm sea and blamed the alcohol for how bad she felt. Even when something in the back of her mind said it wasn't the drink.

Gambling HallSetting: Gambling Hall


Buster A. Trifilo

"Fuck this! I paid nearly $2000 dollars to get on this boat," he lied," What's another $100?"

His finger tipped over a full glass of whiskey so that the liquid splashed across the table as he turned to walk out. He knew that he shouldn't have, but Buster never had been able to fully push the anger aside. When he was able to keep himself from getting violent it usually resulted in property damage and swear words. He was a ticking bomb. He knew this, his coach had known this, and his co-workers knew this.

He'd love to say he hadn't lost his temper since he was twelve but there were many hospital bills, ruined friendships, and broken hearts that said otherwise.

"Maybe I will take it up with whoever you said, and then I'll be expecting an apology and a refund." He pushed the door open.