Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
We’d found her adrift off the stern of the city.
She was cold and hungry and close to death. She’d been feeding off of the other bodies in her life boat. From the blonde hair on the corpses, I’d say that they were related to her. The skeletons of carrion birds littered the bottom of the boat, jostling for position with the long bones of dead fish. I’d have to say that she’d been At Sea for months.
The currents had taken her North towards us. The freshwater rain she’d collected in buckets and cups was starting to freeze along with her food supply. Sunlight was getting scarce. She would have been dead within days if we hadn’t crossed courses. It was the sharp eyes of Lookout Jim that spotted her.
We took her to the motor priest in the aft engine-room hospital. He bathed her in steam to keep her warm and to sweat the salt out of her. He fed her meat from the pens to bring her strength up. She talked in words that we didn’t understand. The search was underway to find someone on board that spoke her language.
She’d need to be strong for the trial.
The no-man’s-land of Midships was where we kept the hall of records. The Ballroom was where the trials for new entrants were held. She’d be the seventy-eighth foundling since The End.
Bow Town believed that anything found adrift was theirs by right of salvage, living or dead. She would have been used for pleasure until she broke. After that, she would have been used for labour until she died. After that, she would have been food. After that, any remaining shreds of her would have been thrown to the monsters on Deck Twenty.
We here at Stern City believed in a more respectful attitude towards foundlife. It was probably because we had the weapons. We were descendents of The Great Crew.
She managed to communicate to us that her name was Hrafn so we called her Raven. It was a nice contrast to her pale skin and blonde hair.
The trial date for entry was set for one week hence. We all prayed to the Great Princess Cruise Lines for an interpreter to be found before then. If counsel couldn’t be found to defend her, she’d be given to Bow Town.
Until then, I brought her soup and tried to learn her language.
I told her stories of the past. I told her of our ancestors on the Cruise Ship that was at sea when the sky burned. I told her of the initial riots that resulted in our present ship factions. I told her of the outlay of the ship. I told her how lucky we were to have animals on board in the cargo hold at the time of The End to breed for meat.
Occasionally, we found people adrift that had survived on islands or mountain peaks that the radiation hadn’t reached and the rising ocean hadn’t drowned. Eventually, they all set sail in search of ships like us. Rumour has it that there were seven ships like us, caught at sea during the final days, circling the globe.
We’re called the Seven Arks. Generations from now, we may be the people that repopulate the earth.
Raven thinks we’ve saved her. She smiles at me when I bring her food. If we can’t find an interpreter to act as translator for counsel at the trial, I’m thinking of hiding her so that she won’t have to go through the hell of Bow Town.