You are no longer standing in the engine room
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|You are no longer standing in the engine room|
Story description[edit | edit source]
The tunnel is skin-tight. You descend face first. The wall presses the back of your head, urging you downward. (You should not have come.) The entrypoint of Aigul is regret. (No one enters Aigul without.)
Trigger conditions[edit | edit source]
This event is triggered by choosing the Ask the First Mate for help finding the regret of the Sensitive Brother option in Aigul.
Interactions[edit | edit source]
Not today. You cannot do this today. Perhaps some other time you will be ready.
||You draw your hand away from the spine
...and at once you are restored to your own body. The tunnel no longer surrounds you. The subaqueous pulse no longer beats in your ears. There is light in the engine room, even if it is only the dim glow of the ship's lamp.
Aigul is made of needles. The inside of a needle is strait.
||Sharp, thirsty, dry
There is a scent of green bitter things, of fermentation. (Cactus pulp renders an acceptable wine.) Someone once died in a desert and you are traversing the cause of their death. (They lived long enough to regret.) Here is the memory of a dying man seeing a vulture overhead. (The sky.)
(But only if you feel strong. From here, you cannot surface until you have found what you seek.)
Do you want to die down here, in the dark? (Death is not the thing to fear.) Do you want to live down here, squeezed between one misery and the next, so that you can barely move your limbs? (We prefer it.)
Has your nerve failed you? (You have not moved.)
|You intend to move, and the tunnel moves you
A fresh red memory: She stood still when she wished to go. She answered questions from the man with the knife-shaped smile. (She was afraid of him.)
She pretended his questions were questions a sociable person would ask. (She was more afraid of being discourteous.)
He did not kill her. (After, she was angry at herself anyhow, for having her fears out of order.) She had a new tongue installed in her mouth. In the presence of trespassers, the new tongue says, "I dislike you, I fear you, I wish you would go," whether she bids it to or not.
|The tunnel branches
(We tell you which way to go, but you do not understand.)
The skin of the tunnel is rubbery. The Rubbery Men do not do what they are supposed to do. (We try to improve them.) Among humans, they are sad. (We should have made them with more teeth.) Among Flukes, they disobey. (We should pierce them with more spines.)
The passage circles on itself; it leaves you back where you began. (But older. Time does not stop.)
You narrow your shoulders, press your toes and your knuckles into the tunnel wall, squeeze left-and-down through a passage lined in fragments of amber. (They gather what we wish to know.)
Here is the smell of a cloying perfume. A woman left her husband for a scoundrel. (In a few years she was poor and alone.) "He seemed like a good man. How could I have known?" (Of course she knew.)
Her husband offered to take her back, but she could not endure his forgiveness. (We have his regrets also.) He minded her absence much more than her unfaithfulness. (But he could not persuade her.)
|Only forward exists
Do you regret continuing? It is too late.
|Dry heart and dry eyes
It is so narrow in this passage that you cannot feel anything. Like a professional mourner two funerals from retirement: you have no true feeling remaining, and even proxy grief is hard to summon.
A recollection the length of a hatpin. It would have been a baby.
|Collect what you came for
(Will you be pierced by the Brother's regret?)
||The Secretive Brother was a clerk at the Admiralty. (One can regret even clerical misdeeds.)
He fell behind in his filing, so he burned a stack of Port Reports, and lied when his superior asked where they were.
The lie went undetected. The loss of the Reports caused no great trouble. Nonetheless, the regret rankled. (The Brother had learned integrity from schoolboy novels.)
Confession offered no cure. It would not retrieve the Reports. It would only disappoint the superior and open the whole department to censure. (Sometimes cowardice and common sense lead to the same end.)
The Brother's regret caused more trouble than the deed. (We cured him.) Have you undone the cure? (Get out, you've done enough--)
|Note the regret but leave it where it lies
It is guarded by nacreous layers. This is not for you to take.
||You cannot ascend from here with nothing
You have come too far. But you can take a different regret instead, the star-white shard by your left hand. (Not human!) It stings -
And you know a sorrow that is shaped like an ellipse, the sorrow of a long approach that also hastens departure. (And all the while you travel, you are melting.) Would it have been possible to crash, and arrest the trajectory? (During your first orbit, you are so bright that you cast a shadow in daytime.)
...afterwards, long afterwards, you are kneeling on the floor of the Engine Room while the First Mate quarters a solacefruit under your nose.