Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tidewaters - The Ship


The Ship is the center and border of the established and provable world, a vast construction of rusted and corroded steel four hundred meters in length upon an utterly endless expanse of ocean. Drifting freely with the tides or under its own power, it heads toward an unknown destination with unknown purpose in a journey that never seems to properly find closure—at least, so the enigmatic Captain claims. And as the Captain wills, so the crew obeys, for else the Ship would become yet another piece of flotsam or jetsam without purpose.

The regular seascape
As the population is rather small, only a handful of hundreds to fifteen hundred at most, the Ship is reliant on its inhabitants be able in a scattering of skills to support the inbuilt crewmembers, whose numbers are even lower. Salvage from incoming flotsam, fishing, hydroponics and water retrieval, simple structural repairs, inventory management, and exploration of the bilge deck all are commonplace jobs, all to simply live to the next day; that is, if a sun appears in the first place. It is not an easy life, but it provides for the little civilization that flickers atop the waves, mostly alone.

Structure and Decks

Being a former vessel for transport containers, the Ship is blessed with space and materials to build and rebuild the interior as necessity states. As said it is three hundred fifty meters in length, fifty meters across, and eighteen meters deep, with five below-decks and three above-decks.

For the former, below-decks one through three are used for habitation and storage; this area is known as Tanglefront, being arranged from emptied out storage containers and recovered building facades in a complete mess according to how foot traffic flowed at the time. They are increasingly squalid and dark lower down, relying on electric or oil-lamps rather than natural sunlight, and holding a higher quantity of people per building. Usually little clades of families or species tend to cluster together and have property in groups. A fluxuous mercantile culture has grown into this section, reliant on the annual scavenging holds and any mistakes in inventory they can skim off for profit.

To the bow of the lower two below-decks are hydroponic farms, which draw in fluid from the reinforced bulkhead pumps to extract both potable water and valuable salt. Mostly these farms grow types of edible fungi, stunted root vegetables, rice grains, and some citrus fruits when the weather is right. 

Below-deck four is separated into engine, boiler, and tunnel sections. The first two are primary care of the Crewpeople—as their utility suits are useful for industrial work—albeit intermittently functional. A reliance on gasoline or refined oils for fuel keeps energy production very limited, and the great steering propellers are on perhaps once every few generation. The sternmost boiler is powered by coal, potassium salts, or burning wood, and thus quite dangerous, but helps with heat and refinement of metals. The latter corridors are narrow, cramped, dark, and proper space for medical wards and isolation chambers.

Below-deck five is the Bilge, and where most of the population originates from, dragged up from the sloshing, salty murk or cut out from packing crates or bundles of rotting cloth. This is the Ship's most mysterious region, as it never is quite the same twice around, and seems to have shifting geography in the utter darkness. Aside from planned sweeps, it is a rare place to venture.

Above-decks, in contrast, have almost completely barred access to the population on command from the Captain, aside from the waiting-room and offices of above-deck one. A very strange kind of Crewperson guards the upper levels around every locked door, much more sealed-up and uncannily perceptive of intent. They have cut down many intruders without much effort, but allow scriveners, brokers, and scholars to use the offices for study and reflection.

There are those who claim to have seen into the upper levels, to the Captain's quarters themselves, and observed thousands of figures of things known and unknown—subsequently, they believe that all things are modeled off what in inside the quarters. Others scoff at this, and think the Captain is long-dead and the Crewpeople mere mindless automatons, relics of a older time when the Ship had purpose.

Captain and Crew

Of course, this is just speculation recycled continuously in low smoking-pits and card-rooms, and no-one living can claim to have interacted with the Captain beyond occasional public messages that may or may not be recorded.

Beyond this enigmatic figure, there is a short hierarchy of Crewpeople: the 'Navigators', and the 'Proles', as per common slang, despite how their proper names have been lost. Both types appear to be at least semi-mechanical, have regular behaviors and actions, and do not often seem comfortable interacting directly with the population, which lends credence to the theory of mindless servitors.

One of the Eight High Navigators
The 'Navigators' are taller, about seven feet, with rounded helmets and higher quality sealing-locks and air tubes. Their suits, plated with copper and tarnished gold, suggest artificial bulkiness or muscle, and their proportions are fit specifically to stabilize their large upper halves. Residing entirely in above-deck  two near the radio towers, they are a rare sight out on the prime- and below-decks, often fending off myriad hordes of curious populace. There are perhaps eight of them, all unnamed.

The 'Proles' are shorter, plated, more corroded and worn in their constant physical use. Built  sturdily of steel and bronze, they are the baseline of functionality for the Crew, doing work in heavy repairs, maintenance of the engine and boilers, and martial defense when flotsam proves to be dangerous. Their helmet portholes, if opened, reveal several sets of fleshy jaws and teeth layered on top of each other; so too, they bleed when punctured. Preference to meat as food has been noted, though no official dissection has been done of a Prole to explain why this is. Bipeds are able to wear the utility suits, albeit with great difficulty.

1 comment:

  1. I just read the whole tidewaters tag, this is gold and I wanted to give you props, what a beautiful setting. loved it