CatH Post 3 sees Clear and Hebedee trying to figure out what happened to make The Hopeful's A.I., Note, force a sudden and unexpected jump across space. Note states that they require salvage to jump again, having run out of fuel. Concerned about their third, and new, crewman, Clear goes off in search of Green. Green has commandeered a small area of the ship, seen by the magical plants and insects that inhabit it. She communicates to Clear via vibrations in the communicators that they use, rather than speaking vocally. Clear asks Green to join her in the salvaging mission and Green is positively enthusiastic at the opportunity to join Clear and make friends with her.
Clear is hunched over a console and presses a few buttons. She swipes a holographic display and the massive monitor above her flashes on with information about the planets outside. There weren't many abandoned locations or floating wrecks - it is all inhabited worlds thriving with life and commerce. What Note expected her to do out there is anyone's guess.
She sits herself down in a swivel chair. Most of the padding had been plucked out of it years ago, but it still worked well enough to sit on and not fall off. Being the only chair there, Heb had to stand. He is a tall, fat human with pasty white skin and a mop of blonde hair on his head. He always winces with his right eye and his teeth looked like they'd been removed, broken, dragged through muck and then put back into his mouth. He always smells like oil and his command of the English language is either terrible or masterful - Clear could never tell which because it was just as incomprehensible in either case.
Heb: "I reckon aliens done it."
Clear: "Did what?"
Heb: "Took away the Earth, o' course!"
Clear: "Well, I didn't take it away. And I'm an alien to your world."
Heb: "Well not your aliens! But other aliens. Bug aliens I reckon."
Note: "Coordinates lost. Salvage mission required."
Clear: "He's like a broken record player."
Heb: "I hear ya. And there ain't nothin' we can go salvagin' out there. Not unless salvage mean stealin' now."
Clear: "Maybe I can trade something. I don't know... I don't even know what kind of fuel they'll have in these parts."
Heb: "I suppose it don't hurt to ask, does it? I'll look int' this Earth thang. See if I can get informations about where it mighta gone to. Then maybe the old Hopeless can quiet down if she knows where her momma is at."
Clear: "Momma? Earth?"
Heb: "Jus' sayin'. Note seems pretty attached to that planet. Mus' be a reason."
Clear hops off the seat and starts for the door of the command room. Then stops and turns back to Hebedee.
Clear: "Have you seen Green? The little pixie girl we took aboard a short while back?"
Hebedee, already headed for the opposite exit, shakes his head.
Heb: "Nope. Ain't seen 'er since she came aboard. Wan' me to find 'er for ya?"
Clear: "No thanks. I'll find her myself."
The command room was actually the secondary command chamber as the primary room is now Icer's room and frozen in time. The secondary chamber, however, is not too shabby itself. One of the few rooms without blood stains everywhere, the room sports a classy semi-circular pad for the commander to stand upon and look important, while just below that pad are the consoles where the grunts would have been hard at work. The ship was likely meant to house thousands. Now it has just three. It is no wonder the ship is beyond repair. Sometimes Clear thought it a miracle the ship lasted at all. Yet the ship's basic systems and repairs were meant to be done by the A.I., so it could conceivably last as long as it has salvage with which to work. The command room is also one of the few rooms that could be brightly lit as one single, massive circular light existed on the ceiling. The railings around the pad are also illuminated, albeit with several bulbs missing.
Out in the dim corridor, Clear presses her badge. Heb would ignore the call, knowing its not for him.
Clear: "Green? Green, are you there?"
It took a few moments for the girl to respond.
Green: "Yes. I'm here. What happened?"
Clear: "We've jumped through space. Are you okay? You sound shaken."
Green: "I'm... okay. I just didn't know what was happening..."
Clear thought, from Green's voice, that she still doesn't know what is happening.
Clear: "I'll come find you, okay?"
Clear: "Activate your tracking beacon."
Green didn't reply for several minutes and eventually Clear realised Green was probably fumbling with her badges trying to figure out how to activate said beacon. Clear then walks her through the number of clicks she needs to activate it and then the last remaining Martian woman goes on the hunt for the weird pixie human girl. Clear watches the radar on her holodisplay as she navigates the corridors. Corridors down which she has never been before.
The first clue that Clear was headed in the right direction was a gathering of dead leaves on the usual metal floor of the corridor. Clear pokes the leaves with her boot. As she continues she finds more leaves, only this time they're attached to vines. They're on the walls mostly, but further still they're on the ceiling and the floor too. Clear steps onto the vines as gently as she can, testing her weight and the strange plantlife underfoot. Then she continues on. The plants grow thicker and prouder, the closer to Green Clear gets. Then there are flowers. Bright yellow and as big as Clear's head. Clear can't help but marvel at the wonder of this. She didn't understand how plants could be living without sunlight in such a place. No water, no soil even. Evidently Green's name reflected her powers in some way. Then Clear heard a sound. Like a chirping. There is definitely a creature in here. Clear steps again. And again. Her keeps her eyes peeled but the dim light was always bad enough, but with vines and leaves and flowers to push through too, Clear could hardly see her own feet. Then there is a buzz. Insects. More than one variety. How could they live down here?
Clear is beginning to feel creeped out. She presses the badge on her breast.
Green: "Are you here?"
Clear: "Well... I'm somewhere. Probably nearby. Lots of flowers. Lots of... insects."
Green: "Wait. I can... feel you..."
Clear leaps in shock as she realises the vines are creeping over her boots and crawling up her leg. Her yelp suddenly silencing all of the chirping and the buzzing in the corridor. Clear holds a hand to her mouth.
Green: "I didn't mean to scare you."
Clear: "You? It was these vines that scared me."
Green: "I just got excited to touch you. Please keep coming this way."
Then the vines on the floor rose up and to the sides of the corridor, parting the way. Clear almost lost her breath. She had never seen anything like it. A gentle wind breezes down the corridor. A magical, unnatural wind but still filled with the soft scent of the yellow flowers. Clear starts walking. She finds that the vines settle back down behind her, while moving aside before her. Finally she comes to an open door where the vines have thinned out and new flowers are in bloom, this time red and rose-like. Clear peeks around the door. Where the bed might have been is a gigantic flower, its lower petals spread out from the yellow pollen centre, but the upper petals are curved down, almost like they might close down on anyone sleeping there. Vines lower the girl down towards Clear from wherever the girl had been towards the ceiling.
Green: "Hello Clear."
Clear nods slowly.
The girl is wearing a short white dress patterned with stylised bamboo shafts. Her green hair is long, all the way to the small of her back, and tatty. Tattier than even Clear's and she rarely bothered to keep her hair in check save for the braid. Clear noted a couple of twigs sticking out of the matt of green and wondered if she should help Green remove them. Clear thought better of it.
Green: "How can I help you?"
It was then that Clear realised Green wasn't speaking vocally, but continuing to somehow project a voice through the communicator. The girl's lips don't move at all, but a voice emits from the communicator all the same.
Clear: "Well that's just... peculiar. Hello Green. I'm sorry if you were scared by The Hopeful's jump."
Green's face reflects her words, but she still doesn't speak directly to Clear.
Green: "It was scary. I didn't know what was happening. Thank you for worrying about me. I feel reassured by that."
Clear: "I have to ask... how are you talking without... talking?"
Green's face lit up like a child's.
Green: "My communicator is with my friends. I can move the plants to create exacts vibrations that will mimic speech through your communicator device. Otherwise... I cannot actually speak. I have no vocal chords."
Clear: "Wow... okay. Odd. Well, I was wondering if you could join me on a salvaging mission? We're in a tight spot and I need all the help I can get. Since you're on the ship... thought you'd like to help me out."
Green: "Thank you! It's so great that you would ask me for help, Clear. I'm so excited to come with you!"
Clear: "Great. Were you just waiting down here all this time for me to come and get you? You know, you could have come to talk to me anytime."
Green: "I can't talk."
Clear: "Well, okay. You could have come to see me. Be in my vicinity. Vibrate your communicator at me. Whatever. You didn't need to wait down here for me to come to you."
Green: "It's okay. I have my friends here anyway. But I'm happy to make friends with you too!"
Clear: "Wow. I really wish that didn't sound so creepy. Okay. Let's go and see what we can achieve together, shall we?"
"This was the formal introduction of Green, though she was name-dropped in the previous post. Like Hebedee, Green is an incredibly minor character that I took and remoulded for use in Clear and the Hopeless. She was actually part of the Chinese Students' Contest, one of the many promising submissions to become characters for the Never-ending Story2. While the character Frank Smith ultimately won that competition, Green was featured in a minor role with the Forgotten Army before she was then included as a main character for CatH. I felt Green's introduction required its very own post, rather than being included in a much larger post, because I wanted to very clearly show her powers and the lengths to which they can be pushed. A complicated power set like Green's would become confusing if thrown at a reader, while a gradual and slow introduction like this whets the interest and gives the reader a solid base to work up from."
"I was surprised at how popular with the two readers/writers, Al Ciao the Writer and Gebohq the Writer, Green proved to be. Because of her popularity Green turned out to be the longest-running staple for CatH, aside from Clear herself. Green's personality, unusual powers and mysterious past are all probable reasons for her enduring presence throughout the first Clear and the Hopeless chapter." - Britt the Writer