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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Beyond the Sea of Stars   8th September 2016, 6:35 am



Her eyes were looking at some distant place again, lost in her memories.

She held her breath, counting the seconds that ticked by. It was so dark in here. She couldn't even seen the door, although she could feel the groove of the wood if she reached out her fingers. Her ears were trained carefully on the sounds, listening with hushed breath to the room beyond.

She could hear the footsteps. One. Then a pause. Two... Three... Four... They were coming closer now. She had to wait for the right moment. Exactly when the location was perfect. Five, Six. That's when she would strike. She heard the light shuffling of objects being moved, and steeled her nerves. This was it!

The child burst out of from behind the compartment door, arms stretched wide, screaming and giggling as she launched herself at the red-haired woman standing just outside.

"Ulysses, you scamp!" the tan-skinned woman exclaimed, instantly gathering up the blonde child in her arms, eyes twinkling with mirth.

"My cupboard is no place for you! Trying to find my treasure of cookies, were you? You'll have to sharpen your mind to outsmart the likes of me!"

"Oh no!" the child giggled, wriggling about in the faded tunic. "Don't tickle me, Gray!"


It had been so different, back then. So much simpler. If only she could have revered those memories as beautiful jewels from her past. They were tainted now, the facets of the gems revealed for the paste and paint of their falseness. How had she for so long been ignorant to the glimmer of betrayal? It was hard to separate her current bitterness from the joy she had felt at the time.

"Chaotic? A bit," she finally mused. "But alive."

The images the artist produced to display were a welcome distraction. Ulysses leaned over with vague curiosity mixed with a healthy dose of indifference. Art. It was one of those things they had surrounded her with as soon as she returned to Uranus, intent on teaching her things a proper lady should know. Most of it held no interest for her—stiff people in stiff clothing. Cloudscapes that all looked the same, trying so hard to be expert that she couldn't equate them with the reality. Perhaps on this planet it would be more of the same, but with sea instead of clouds.

She expected overdone characters wrapped up in finery. She expected romance and ideals and impossible beauty. All of the things "artists" tried to impress with, particularly when working outside of the confined rules of "real life". These were imagined people; she expected imagined affectation.

Instead, what she saw stunned her.

Ulysses felt all of the possible words suddenly blown from her thoughts by a gust of cool wind. The young woman clearly possessed skill at the rendering, although not without flaw, but it was the emotions that left the Uranian princess speechless. The curve and weight of the lines used seemed to convey a feeling rather than striving for technical accuracy. The two figures together—Ulysses felt like she could understand them and the depth of their feelings for each other, even if a leg was too long or an angle slightly beyond natural. The same for the woman staring at the blue, consumed by her pensive yearning for those distances.

"They're wonderful..." she whispered, the words catching briefly in a throat suddenly dry. "I've never seen anything like this."

That was, absolutely, true.
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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Beyond the Sea of Stars   20th October 2016, 2:02 am



“Really?” she asked, suddenly feeling self-conscious. “Thank you. It’s just… one of the ways I feel I could express myself, it seems.”

She settled on her chair, her fresh page of paper on hand. “What about you? What are your… interests?” There was something about Ulysses that made her want to know all about her. Everything about her seemed intriguing. How she could seem both masculine and feminine at the same time. Because even though Calypso had mistaken her for a man, now that she got a good look at Ulysses and discarded her default assumptions—the predetermined set of categories that existed in one’s mind and must sometimes be consciously put aside—she noticed the graceful lines of Ulysses’ figure, the smoother and softer angles of her face, and how she was both beautiful and handsome. She had never seen someone embody both genders’ qualities in such a balanced and complete way. Was everyone on Uranus like her?

And what of this living situation she spoke of? Was communal living a common thing on Uranus, too? Calypso realized that as a future queen, she knew very little about one of their neighboring planets. She probably ought to make this opportunity as a lesson as well.

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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Beyond the Sea of Stars   20th October 2016, 9:28 am



Her interests? The question vaguely took Ulysses by surprise. The blonde woman leaned back, once again deep in thought. A few years ago, this would have been easy. She would have announced that she loved exploring the universe, meeting new people and visiting new places. At the time, her younger heart was filled with the thrill of adventure and the freedom of living a life unbound by the rules. She answered only to her captain, who she had so willingly devoted herself to. She was happy.

What about now?

She knew what she had no interest in: being royalty. She couldn't say such a thing, though. Not here. Calypso didn't know of Ulysses's unwanted role on Uranus. Sharing such information now would only make things worse when the scouts inevitably came after her. Plus... she didn't want to be that person right now. She just wanted to be herself.

"I like... moving," she started awkwardly, quickly realizing how silly that sounded. "Running or piloting a ship—anything like that. I want to be free, like the wind. Wrestling myself away from gravity and boundaries, trailing off into the vast reaches of the sky. I'm always chasing that feeling."

Ulysses wasn't sure that her words would make any sense.

"I used to race," she continued, hoping to mention something more concrete. "It gave me a taste of that sensation."
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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Beyond the Sea of Stars   2nd December 2016, 3:42 am



Somehow, the answer didn’t surprise her. Movement was the only constant thing about Ulysses; Calypso had yet to see her be absolutely still since she was unconscious. It was a mix of restlessness and impatience, but also a passion for action. The things that she captured on her sketch with slightly blurry lines, not quite fully there as if she was vibrating, already moving toward another destination even as she stayed rooted in one spot.

Her words captivated Calypso; it was like the very thing that she had wished for. Adventure, travels, the chance to see the world. Having no boundaries. Maybe this was the answer to her prayers. Maybe Ulysses was the one who would take her far away from here, to show her a whole new world and to fill her with a sense of wonder.

What would Ulysses think if she said that, though? She felt self-conscious about her dream—will Ulysses laugh at her? Wonder what was keeping her here in the first place? She wasn’t ready to reveal that she was the princess of this planet.

“Race?” she asked even as her hand continued to work on paper. “As in running, or with a vehicle?”

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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Beyond the Sea of Stars   2nd December 2016, 6:29 am



A cocky, mischievous grin immediately arose to Ulysses's face at Calypso's question. Her dark blue eyes sparkled with the memory of speed and adrenaline. It may have been better to start with what the blonde hadn't raced; she had always been the person pushing against boundaries and testing the limits. Her feet, legs, and lungs knew the primal chase deep within their cores, and the rest of her body could never forget the actions and reactions to propel machinery forward. It was a part of Ulysses—perhaps even a part of her soul.

"Oh, both," she said, the few words conveying much more courtesy of her tone and expression.

But then the eyes grew wistful, looking outward at some unseen point. A haze settled there, dusty with the unpleasant emotions of so many memories. Mirrored on those were the fears for the future. The voice that spoke again was low, almost like a mournful breeze more than human speech.

"It's the only time I feel alive."

She coughed, embarrassed at her continued weirdness. The lovely young woman here must consider Ulysses absolutely crazy. The dark eyes looked up from under the long blonde lashes—so delicate and pale—and glanced at the woman's fine features. Now that was someone to be painted, not herself. Everything about this Neptunian woman evoked the grace and power of the sea. Ulysses imagined herself on a vehicle that could move across those waters that crashed beyond the confines of this island, driving headstrong into the icy spray. These thoughts wandered, becoming more abstract, until she was side by side with Calypso as two elemental forces, one of sea and one of sky. She wanted to...

Ulysses shook her head slightly, trying to break through the distraction.

"So... what else do you like, besides painting?"

It was a heavy-handed attempt to redirect a conversation, but it was all she had.
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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Beyond the Sea of Stars   17th January 2017, 3:15 am



The only time she felt alive. Suddenly Calypso pictured herself in a ship—perhaps that flying one that Ulysses had commandeered—with the wind whipping her hair, watching Ulysses smile—no, laugh freely in the way she always did—feeling the thrill of adrenaline and excitement as the speed propelled them forward, to an unknown destination. It wasn’t the destination that mattered, after all. It was the journey, the fun of it, of just stepping outside what was comfortable and familiar to the great mysteries of the world out there.

She was lost in her own daydream, completely missing Ulysses’ change of mood, until the other woman spoke to ask her a question.

Calypso thought momentarily before answering. “Music,” she said at last. “I compose them… and play them sometimes. Primarily string instruments, but it’s just a hobby.” She felt self-conscious for some reason, and protective. She never spoke of her own passions to anyone else, fearing they might be viewed as trivial or useless. Sure, her parents appreciated the arts, and they did believe a princess should be able to have artistic skills, but then if she were to be a real artist, she must be perfect, and she must only play the kind of music they liked…

She wanted to carefully keep her secret passions to herself so they might remain pure and untainted by expectations or an attempt to control them. She wanted them to remain… free.

“Do you play anything?” she asked, wondering what instrument, if any, might suit this unusual stranger.

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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Beyond the Sea of Stars   17th January 2017, 5:51 am



Music: how fitting. Despite having just met so very recently, Ulysses could immediately imagine the teal-haired woman standing there, facing the sea, notes from her instrument mingling with the crash of the waves. She felt awed by Calypso's desire to create—she drew and painted; she composed and played music. The blonde made nothing. She only kept moving, tore herself away from anything that attempted to bind her. It wasn't the same kind of skill in the slightest; this young woman was so much more than herself.

And then the question was turned back to her. She chuckled awkwardly, fingers reaching up to rustle her hair.

"I didn't really have... that kind of education," she tried to explain, searching for the right words.

The instruments her former comrades played were handmade and handed down. They were rough and sharp, with the twang of uneven strings or the rattle of scrap metal. Sure, Ulysses could tap on one of the hand-drums, but she hadn't really embraced the rowdy accompaniment for their get-togethers as something for herself. She preferred moving, dancing—stomping with her feet and clapping with her hands. Of course, since her return to Uranus, there were multiple attempts to teach her "refined accomplishments for a lady"—musical studies included. She hated the uptight, exasperated teachers and their complicated instructions and lack of explanations. Everything about the experience stifled and suffocated her.

She wondered how the sketch was coming along, but she didn't want to ask. Right now, this moment provided a sense of calm and freedom that she hadn't felt in a long time. She knew that she'd have to find a way to retrieve her ship or acquire something new, but the runaway princess was banking on the time it would take for them to follow her route and the negotiations that would be needed with Neptune to begin an investigation. Perhaps they would think she had been killed in the crash. Then maybe she could stay here and get to know Calypso a bit... No. She had to leave. She had to keep running. She couldn't let them take her again.

"How did you learn so much, when it's so deserted here?" she asked, the blue eyes flickering towards the window and the silent forest. She regretted the strange question, possibly insulting, the moment it left her lips.
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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Beyond the Sea of Stars   20th March 2017, 1:24 am



She asked the question that Calypso couldn’t craft a good lie for, and she considered momentarily. Of course, this island was deserted. She could say there were other islands—populated ones—but then what would her excuse be of not taking Ulysses there? And the people of Neptune weren’t exactly the most… welcoming bunch. Especially these ones that had been banished from the kingdom. They would not care for the princess, nor for a stranger from another planet. Asking for their kindness would be foolish. But she couldn’t exactly take Ulysses home either. She could not introduce her to her family.

“I have not been entirely forthcoming with you,” she admitted at last, abandoning her sketch to concentrate on her companion. “There are people here, on the other islands, but they’re not really... I’m not really from there. I’m…”

She wondered what it would sound, how it might pose any danger to reveal it like this. But it wasn’t like it was a secret, exactly, that Neptune denizens lived underwater. As long as she didn’t tell Ulysses she was the princess… and if Ulysses never came into the sea, she would never know.

“I actually came from the ocean,” she said at last.

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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Beyond the Sea of Stars   20th March 2017, 6:59 am



"The... ocean?" she whispered, blue eyes suddenly seeing so much that had never been visible to her.

The crash of the deep waves, liquid turquoise and pale foam that tumbled across itself. The salty brine, warmed by the sun, cooled in the deep, and heated again far below by the very core of the planet. She remembered the strange embrace of the stuff when her ship crashed and it surged in, surrounding her with that sensation she had never felt before. To be submerged like that felt both heavy and weightless simultaneously. There was nothing similar on Uranus, nor had she experienced anything like it in space during her childhood. What must it be like to live within it, to look up from below and see the orb of the distant sun fractured across the surface as it filters down? Her imagination failed her. Ulysses could only remember snippets of what she had felt, accompanied now with that deep sense of awe.

"What is it like?" she asked, slowly emerging from the daze of her own confused thoughts. Ulysses was looking past now, trying to see the sea from within the cabin, trying to remember the little she had known of it.
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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Beyond the Sea of Stars   8th May 2017, 2:45 am



She had not expected to see the wonder in Ulysses’ eyes. Confusion, maybe. Or perhaps she would look at her strangely. After all, the notion of living underwater seemed to baffle most land-dwellers.

What was it like?

“The ocean is… beautiful,” she started, looking out the window even if she couldn’t clearly see the waters from here. “It’s brimming with all kinds of life. It is the source of life. I wish I could show our kingdom down there. It is much more colorful than anything up here. And down there you’re never truly weighted down—you don’t feel rooted to the ground the way you do up here. I have the feeling that you might like it. However, you can’t easily see the stars, the sky, or the clouds.”

Things that she had come to associate with Ulysses. In fact, as she looked down, she discovered that she had drawn just that. Ulysses, aboard a ship that resembled the one she crashed in, her hair flying free in the wind, her smile wide and carefree. She was journeying among the clouds across the sky, to a destination that was still unknown to Calypso.

“It is done,” she said, carefully turning the sketch so Ulysses could see it. “I apologize if it isn’t… accurate.”

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PostSubject: Re: [Advanced] Beyond the Sea of Stars   1st June 2017, 7:49 am



She listened intently as the young woman spoke of her home, latching onto every word and trying to envision it. Trying to imagine what it might be like to be within it. The weightlessness that Calypso spoke of—would it be like that of space? Would it be different? What sort of creatures and colours existed in a place that could be called 'the source of life'? Her brief encounter with the salty depths had not allowed for much observation. Now she wished that it had.

As the blonde listened, almost in a daze, one phrase slowly stood out to her as somewhat incongruous with the others.

Our kingdom.

Her mouth twisted into a wry smile.

"Kingdom, huh? Can't seem to escape those dregs even in an underwater paradise."

The words were out before she could stop them, and she coughed with embarrassment as she heard her own sarcastic and ill-tempered tone. She hastily turned her attention to the sketch, finished and held out before her. Her mind raced, but Ulysses couldn't think of anything to say to tone down her words. She wasn't going to apologize with empty words and hollow intentions, but she hadn't intended to say something so polarizing. She didn't even want to guess what Calypso's reaction might be.

Thankfully, her companion's artwork provided an excellent distraction.

"It's... wow... It's really amazing," she stated, eyes wide. The picture looked as free and easy and she always wished she could be. How was that something this almost-stranger could capture on paper? How could she know that was what Ulysses was always chasing?

"I'm not just saying that. I don't even know... wow."
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[Advanced] Beyond the Sea of Stars

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