The Captain of this Ship

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Glitter
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The Captain of this Ship

Post by Glitter »

This was written as a treat for the Gen Exchange last year. The prompt was for a character to have a surprise/unlikely skill or hobby.

This story features:
the Iron Triangle - the main tomb robbing team that the shows are based on. In order - Xiaoge (also called Ouxiang) - the muscle, Wu Xie - the scholar, and Pangzi - the wildcard
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Liu Sang - the hearing and mapping expert who has SUPER sensitive hearing
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Kan Jian - also muscle who specializes in sniper and slingshot weapons. Also a sweet puppy of a person.
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sir, that's my emotional support long haired male character
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Glitter
Graphics Team
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Valdemar
Posts: 670
Joined: Thu May 21, 2020 12:55 pm
House: Hufflepuff

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Re: The Captain of this Ship

Post by Glitter »

SUMMARY: Liu Sang and Kan Jian race to (well, race might be excessive, but they're working really hard) rescue the Iron Triangle from the other side of the cavern


Liu Sang paused his work and adjusted his ear protectors, staring across the water at the Iron Triangle and wondered how he got into these situations. There was no reason that he should have come on this trip at all and he wouldn’t be here now if it hadn’t been for the double wallop of puppy eyes from both Kan Jian AND Wu Xie. Even Ouxiang had given him a welcoming smile and obviously Liu Sang had given in. The hopefully presented box containing high quality ear protectors, the thickly insulated and padded ones that look like gamers headphones, was just an unnecessary bonus.

But really, why bring someone with extra sensitive hearing to a place called the Roaring Caves? These caves had already been explored and the artifacts safely removed. What hadn’t been done was interpreting the murals and texts on the walls. Then a breakthrough was made somewhere that exploded across the archaeological and tomb-robbing circles and suddenly Wu Xie wanted to go back and try to read the walls of the Roaring Caves. Sure. Fine. Liu Sang could see the appeal, for scholars and tomb robbers, to which professions he was only somewhat adjacent.

So here he was. And granted, the cave WAS interesting. It was big, roughly thirty-five meters in both directions, with unusually carved columns, shaped like tall, slender step pyramids alternating with the wide ends at the floor or ceiling. Murals on the walls were decorated with large amounts of text using symbols that apparently stumped everyone who’d ever seen them.

They weren’t any form of known modern or historical Asian characters and didn’t look like any of the western alphabets Liu Sang had seen, so that was moderately intriguing. Wu Xie said the new information hypothesized the use of some old African symbols mixed with Archaic Chinese characters. There were no language experts available or capable of making the trip so Wu Xie & Friends were here to re-document the murals with better digital photos.

The other stunning feature of the cave was the river that cut the chamber in half. There were, at least, stepping stones. Very nice, wide, comfortably spaced stepping stones for easy walking that almost made you forget the depth and speed of the water. Oh, and of course, the reason it was called the Roaring Caves? The water entered the cavern in a rushing waterfall through a great crack in the ceiling at one end of the room. Wu Xie had delightedly filled Liu Sang in on the details of the trip, but he’d let the information roll over him, learning only that the river was deep and fast and falling from a great height which made a lot of noise.

Apparently it was only verging on too loud for normal-hearing people. Liu Sang had snorted to himself when he had first seen it, pressing the muffling cups more firmly against his head. Seriously? They really thought he was the right person to bring here. He had felt it well before entering the chamber, like the water was rumbling in his bones and over his skin, making the fine hairs rise even though the protective gear was doing its job. He could just make out shouting voices over the muffled thrum of the water.

He heard the question well enough though, when Wu Xie idly asked Ouxiang if he could jump the river. It made Pangzi laugh, but Ouxiang gave it a serious thought before he shook his head.

So everyone had gone about the business of photo taking, setting up bright lights and taking shots from multiple angles. The Iron Triangle had happily made their way across the river to the more elaborate art on the other side, while Liu Sang had stuck with Kan Jian, working on the closer walls without feeling the need to test himself or the river.

Documenting the texts turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable and working with Kan Jian was naturally easy, so it was hugely jarring when Kan Jian suddenly started frantically tapping on his shoulder.

“Sang’er! Sang’er! Look!!”

He turned from the wall, following Kan Jian’s pointing to the Iron Triangle across the room. They seemed to be doing their standard behavior; clowning around with occasional spurts of work. In fact it looked like Ouxiang was the only one doing any actual work right this moment.

“Yeah - so? Surely they’ve done this before with you on other trips?” Liu Sang shouted at what he hoped was the appropriate level.

Kan Jian grabbed his arm and jiggled it, ignoring the vaguely outraged look Liu Sang leveled at him. He stared Liu Sang in the eyes and said very deliberately, “The stepping stones are gone!”

Whipping his head back around, Liu Sang’s jaw dropped at the sight of the smoothly rushing dark water where there had previously been white wavelets around rocks. Shit. “What happened? Did you see it?” he demanded.

Kan Jian shook his head, his eyes large and frantic. “Someone hit a trigger!”

“Of course they did,” he muttered, then sighed at his own pissiness.

“What?” Kan Jian shouted.

“I said, they haven’t noticed yet!” Liu Sang yelled back. Kan Jian lit up and quickly pulled out his phone. Then his face fell and he turned the screen around so Liu Sang could see the lack of reception. He shrugged, making a sympathetic face. It had seemed unlikely that it would work this far into the caves.

Then he had an idea. He unsheathed his knife, ignoring Kan Jian’s start of surprise and with the butt banged a general ‘hey you’ code against the rock wall, keeping his eyes on the others.

They didn’t hear it.

Frustrated, Liu Sang sheathed the knife, figuring it was just too loud and the water sounds rumbling through the rock overwhelmed the vibrations. Meeting Kan Jian’s eyes, he shrugged and mimed shouting then immediately waved his hands no, as he had a better thought, Kan Jian cocked his head. He put his hand to his lips like a whistle and gave Kan Jian a questioning eyebrow. Kan Jian nodded with a grin and started tugging Liu Sang towards the edge of the river.

After a few steps, Liu Sang hung back and let Kan Jian go all the way forward. His friend paused and Liu Sang could see his shoulders rise as he took a deep breath; he stomped on a flinch as the resulting whistle came clearly through the muffling headphones. Joining Kan Jian at the edge, they waved their arms at the startled trio.

Wu Xie led as the others came up to the river, a question on his face. Kan Jian shouted and pointed, “The stones are gone! You’re trapped!”

Liu Sang watched the emotions chase across their faces; confused, dismayed, curious, angry, annoyed, and - on Ouxiang - ever so slightly exasperated. They had a conference among themselves, shouted something at Kan Jian, then spread out over their side of the room.

“They’re looking for the trigger to reverse it.” Liu Sang nodded at Kan Jian’s update. Together, they watched for a few moments as the Iron Triangle searched, then they looked at each other with raised eyebrows. Kan Jian tilted his head and swept his arm around towards the wall. Liu Sang sighed and nodded. He knew they’d kick themselves if the trigger actually had been on their side of the river. So they gave everything a thorough inspection and after taking well over thirty minutes, they eventually came up with an unsurprising nothing. So they returned to the river to wait, as the other side was a somewhat larger area.

Eventually, Wu Xie came back to the water, frowning. “Did you guys touch anything?” Liu Sang bit back a flood of outraged words and just scowled fiercely as Kan Jian loudly professed their innocence and diligence in looking for the cause. Wu Xie shrugged and made apologetic gestures.

There was then a long moment as everyone paused to consider. Kan Jian started pacing a short path along the edge, then suddenly rushed back to his overlarge pack. Liu Sang turned to watch as his friend unhooked the coiled yellow rope and quickly returned to tie one end around the closest column to the river. Kan Jian fashioned a knot at the other end and positioned himself at the edge. Ouxiang shifted to be opposite as Kan Jian whirled the knotted end and let fly.

It went about halfway across and fell with a splash. Everyone looked astonished, especially Kan Jian whose jaw hung open.

Scowling, Kan Jian pulled the rope back, inspecting it as it came as if some unseen flaw had caused its failure to perform. As he coiled it for another attempt, Ouxiang waved, signaling that he was going to try with his own rope. Kan Jian nodded, looking relieved and gave a double thumbs up.

Ouxiang repeated the swing and throw - with exactly the same results. With a massively confused frown, for Ouxiang, he pulled the rope back and swiftly tied a fist sized rock to the end. The swing, throw, splash happened exactly the same. Liu Sang might argue that the rock put it at the three-quarters mark rather than half but it was still too far to catch.

Everyone took another moment to contemplate, Kan Jian stuck his hands in his pockets and wandered back to Liu Sang, head down. He looked remarkably like a chocolate lab upset that his favorite game wasn’t going well. Liu Sang quashed that thought before it got out by accident. Then Kan Jian’s metaphorical ears perked up and with a grin he pulled one of his small slingshots from his pocket. Liu Sang met his excited look with a delighted smile and his own thumbs up and followed him over to the column where the rope was tied.

Kan Jian’s return to his rope caught the attention of the three on the other side. Liu Sang could see Pangzi cheering Kan Jian on. The rope knot fit nicely against the placket and Liu Sang shouted encouragement as Kan Jian pulled back and carefully aimed in a high, far-reaching arc. He let go, Liu Sang imagining the snap and underlying thrum as they all watched the rope soar across the river and then inexplicably lose momentum and drop with a splash at the three-quarters distance.

Liu Sang could actually hear Pangzi’s shout of frustration as he put an arm around Kan Jian’s shoulder and pulled him into a sideways hug. “That should have worked,” he said miserably. “Why didn’t that work?”

“Good question.” Liu Sang let him go, cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, “How come that didn’t work?”

Wu Xie immediately started theorizing and waving his hands around, his voice an indistinguishable hum over the water. When he seemed to reach a pause point, Liu Sang poked Kan Jian. “What did he say?”

Frowning, Kan Jian opened his mouth a couple of times, then shook his head. “Blah blah blah, questionable science, tombs do weird things. He doesn’t know.” Liu Sang snorted, tried to hold back, and snorted again before bursting into laughter.

“That was perfect Jian-er!” And then the two of them were laughing together like hyenas, ignoring the increasingly loud shouts from the other bank. Eventually they straightened up and waved at the others.

“We’re going to have to go for help,” Liu Sang shouted. This set up another round of shouting, shaking of heads and waving hands at the walls.

“What?” Liu Sang asked impatiently.

Kan Jian rubbed a hand over his hair in dismay. “It will take too long. We’ve only got permits for today.”

Liu Sang's brain fuzzed out for a moment. “We can’t get help because it will take too long and we only have permits for today?” he asked incredulously, shoving his hands in his hair. He dislodged the headphones and hardly noticed the roar and spike of pain before absently fixing them.

Kan Jian nodded. “Big fines if we’re here longer.”

“But if they’re stuck in here longer than today - there will be big fines anyway. So why not go get help?! We don't know when the stones are going to come back up or if they’re going to come back up!!” Liu Sang became aware that he was waving his arms around in excessively large gestures as Kan Jian leaned back a little. “You - tell. Explain…” He flapped his hands at his staring friends across the river, still trying to process.

Kan Jian made a face, obviously reluctant, then his expression brightened with the light of an idea. The light of hope. Liu Sang watched with wide eyes as he shouted, “I can’t believe I forgot!!” With that he ran back and scooped up his entire pack. As he was coming back, Liu Sang traded shrugs with Wu Xie.

Kneeling, Kan Jian began emptying the pack until he was at the very bottom. Liu Sang crouched next to him and watched with surprise as he pulled out a large, deep case. Liu Sang may have randomly wondered why Kan Jian’s pack was oversized for this trip. This was not what he’d expected. Setting the box on the floor, Kan Jian met Liu Sang’s questioning gaze with a wide grin.

With a flourish, the lid popped open to reveal - a boat? Carefully, Kan Jian lifted out the sections of a miniature boat that resembled a high end power yacht, like something that Bezos might lounge around on. Well - miniature wasn’t really the right word, Liu Sang thought a little hysterically. Once he had it assembled, the thing was around seventy centimeters long. And of course, there was a state of the art control module.

“Kan Jian, this is amazing!” he breathed.

“Huh?” Kan Jian looked up from assembling and testing.

“This is amazing!” Liu Sang shouted.

The grin was blinding. “Thank you! I built it myself!”

Liu Sang pointed. “You are going to have to explain afterward.” A moment later he was supporting the boat, apparently named Soft Mist, as Kan Jian ran checks through the controller, the engine vibrating and the propellers spinning brightly. He held the ship snugly as they both stood and Kan Jian slapped him excitedly on the shoulder. With a few turns of his hands, Kan Jian had the rope secured to the ship in some mysterious way.

He led Liu Sang upstream a bit with a gesture and then indicated he should kneel at the edge. Liu Sang looked up to see that the Iron Triangle had followed and were watching intently, with various expressions of amazement.

“Set it in the water but don’t let go until I say okay?” Kan Jian said loudly and clearly.

“Yes.” Liu Sang tightened his grip, bent forward and gently placed the keel in the river, water rushing cool and clear over his hands. The engine started up, rumbling more vigorously than before against his palms and a small stream of white water appeared from the stern to be swiftly swept away. Soft Mist thrummed, vibrating with power and the movement of the water, seemingly eager to be on her way.

“Liu Sang!” Kan Jian shouted, “Let go!!”

He did and she was off, the rope following along behind in a snaking, yellow line. Shouts and cheers rose through the air as she made her way across. Even Ouxiang was smiling. The current pushed her downstream and everyone quickly followed. When Soft Mist crossed the halfway point, the cheers died down, everyone holding their breath. As she came up to the three-quarters mark, the tension was almost unbearable. Liu Sang glanced over to see Kan Jian’s forehead getting shiny with sweat. And then she passed that invisible mark and sailed serenely into Ouxiang’s waiting hands to the sound of more cheers. The yellow rope was now grasped tightly in Wu Xie’s hands and Liu Sang absently remembered that in Buddhism the color yellow stood for freedom.

Ouxiang handed Soft Mist to Pangzi, who took her carefully whose fingers trailed over the details, and quickly affixed the rope near the top of the nearest column that was shaped with the wide end at the floor. Now that their escape was secured, Ouxiang proved to be a stern taskmaster, marshaling the rest of the picture taking in short order and soon had them packing the equipment. During that time Liu Sang and Kan Jian also finished their photographing. Once the job was done, Pangzi walked upstream with the ship and Kan Jian carefully piloted Soft Mist back, Liu Sang happily capturing her from the water.

With swift hands, Liu Sang packed their photography gear and Kan Jian carefully disassembled and stored the ship as the Iron Triangle crawled across the rope. Wu Xie and Pangzi crossed hanging under the rope and going hand over hand. Ouxiang slithered over last in an impressive commando crawl, laying on top of the rope and pulling effortlessly.

“Ready to go?” Wu Xie asked and Liu Sang nodded enthusiastically.

As they finally retreated up the passageways, Liu Sang pulled off his headphones to hear Pangzi’s animated interrogation of Kan Jian, commenting on various miniatures and the paint job.

“Yes! You’ve built an amazing piece of art!” Wu Xie congratulated him as well. “I do have to wonder why you have it with you today? Not that I’m not hugely grateful, because I am! It’s just really unusual.”

Kan Jian, blushing a little from the praise, scrubbed his hand over his hair. “Well you see, Boss. I belong to an RC club. We’re having a big meet tomorrow. Really big! We’ve been working on our projects for months and this is the big display!”

“And it’s very impressive!” Pangzi chimed in as they exited the caves.

Blushing more, Kan Jian cleared his throat, unlocking the van and taking his pack off. “So anyway, I wasn’t going to have time to go home and get it tomorrow, so I just …brought it.” After stowing the gear, Ouxiang clapped him on the shoulder and Kan Jian smiled hugely.

“Do you think I could pilot it sometime?” Pangzi asked as he settled into the driver’s seat.

“I’m sorry, but I’m the captain of this ship.” Kan Jian said solemnly. Then he cracked as Pangzi turned to stare, giggling so infectiously at the look on Pangzi’s face that Liu Sang couldn’t help but join in as he sat down.

“You!” Then Pangzi let out a huge laugh. “Deal! You’re the captain! Can I be first mate and drive the ship?”

Grinning, Kan Jian nodded, leaned forward and fist bumped him very earnestly.

A wave of affection rushed over Liu Sang for this new crazy group of friends who wanted him to come on adventures even without being able to use his talent. He swallowed against a little tightness in his throat. After a moment, he tuned back in to find Wu Xie and Pangzi making plans to join Kan Jian at the meet, to make a day of it.

“Are you interested?” Kan Jian asked him. “You can wear your new headphones, you won’t even look weird. There will be other people wearing headsets. It’s okay if you don’t though.” Kan Jian smiled brightly.

Again, Liu Sang found himself helplessly agreeing. His friends were menaces and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

~Fin~
sir, that's my emotional support long haired male character