ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I wrote this story for a fat-positive contest last year, although the voting eventually stalled out with some finalists selected but no winner(s) announced. Recently I went back to the story in light of my new Terramagne setting, and it fits that very nicely. Here, then, is a team of fat superheras of assorted ethnicity. The story has been sponsored by an anonymous donor and I'll be posting it in sections.

Begin with Part 1, Part 2, Part 3


"The Hand of Sedna" Part 4


With a graceful sweep of her flukes, Naartok turned downward. Inna led them deeper into the water, seeking the landmarks told in the old stories. The sunlight dimmed behind them. The ocean floor sounded like a blend of soft, muffling sand over a crisp layer of stone. Here and there the sharp clear shape of boulders protruded.

It was Ahnah who pointed out the correct rock, touching it with the tip of her horn. The thing stood as high as a house. Around it the water shimmered and hummed with something not quite sound, not quite light. Here lay a thinning of the boundary between the ordinary world and the spirit world.

Naartok looked around at her friends. Today they were called superheras, but in times gone by, people with their gifts had been called shamans. What they were about to do was dangerous. Sometimes, what you awoke would not return to sleep again. Of course, that very risk had brought them down here in the first place. Still she hesitated.

Ahnah nudged her in the flank. Naartok shook herself out of her daze. Nobody else could move that rock.

Naartok swam into place and pressed herself against the massive boulder. It felt different, exerting her strength down here, without the ground beneath her feet. She had the whole ocean to push against, though, and a body dense with muscle. Her flukes stroked through the water and her power heaved against the stone. Slowly it rolled aside.

The water gleamed with swirls of blue and green energy. They rippled past like the northern lights in the night sky. Strange sounds came too, ghostly songs of whales and sonar images of countless seals. The ocean seemed to teem with life that was not actually there.

Then She appeared, slowly emerging from the light and the sound, dark tangles of hair hiding Her face, powerful arms that ended in odd blunt hands. Her command throbbed through the water: Comb my hair, girl.

Kesuk swam forward, clutching the magic comb in her clever paws. It was a lovely thing carved from walrus ivory and decorated with images of many different sea mammals. Kesuk's family had passed it down for generations. Now Kesuk put it to good use. Wherever it touched, the black tresses untangled and flowed smoothly through the currents.

Come to me, She called. Her arms waved, beckoning them.

Slowly Naartok swam into Her reach and rubbed against the scarred edges of Her palm where fingers should be but were not. We are working to take care of the ocean and its creatures, Naartok thought. We are trying as hard as we can! The others, too, came forward to pay their respects.

Suddenly the vast arms swept past, scooping up the forcefield with its cluster of cowering men. A cavernous mouth opened. Sharp white teeth glinted.

If these men died, Shell would send more -- but the project would be delayed, and it might prove difficult to hire qualified help after such a loss. Naartok wavered. This wasn't what she had intended at all. It wasn't what superheras did. She couldn't just let them die. Naartok started forward.

Ahnah flashed past, knocking the bubble out of reach. "Qaigit!" she clicked, the sharp consonants of Inuit transferring quite clearly in whalesong. Naartok came as commanded, interposing her vast bulk to protect the men inside the forcefield.

Hamako swam after them. She and Ahnah would get the fools safely back to the surface. Inna sang, her dolphin voice a spangle of bright notes. Naartok joined her, deep voice carrying the tune of an Inuit lullaby. Kesuk plied the comb in long, soothing strokes. Sated at last, Sedna moved away.

Gradually the motion subsided. The eerie play of light and sound began to dim. Naartok moved to the boulder and slowly, reverently returned it to its place.

They were alone in the ocean again.

Far above them, the ship floated, a shadow against the faint light of the sun. Its metal hull sounded a clear belling note when Naartok's sonar bounced off it. She turned and swam toward the surface. Kesuk and Inna followed her.

When they reached the ship, Hamako and Ahnah already stood on deck, back in human form. Hamako had not yet released the men from her forcefield. Naartok breached and transformed in the air. Hamako scooped her up with a forcefield, then set her gently on the deck. A moment later, Inna and Kesuk joined them. The last forcefield popped as Hamako let go of the men.

"What was that thing?" the captain demanded.

"And why didn't she have any fingers?" Mr. Moore said.

"That was Sedna," Naartok explained. "According to legend, she was a beautiful maiden once. Her father gave her to Raven as his bride, but she ran away and tried to follow her father home. Then Raven caused a mighty storm. In fear, Sedna's father threw her out of his canoe and chopped off her fingers when she clung to the side. Her fingers turned into whales and seals and all the other sea mammals. Sedna became a goddess."

"She's always angry," Kesuk added. "I don't blame Her. Sometimes She raises storms, or makes earthquakes, or drives away all the fish. Then somebody has to go comb Her hair. That makes Her calm down for a little while."

"Who are you people?" the captain said, scowling at them. He seemed less intimidated now that he stood on his own ship again. But his crew still cringed, and the engineer tried to hide himself.

"We are the Hand of Sedna," said Ahnah. "It is our duty to protect the ocean and all its creatures."

"Unless, you know, you'd rather deal with Her yourselves," Hamako said sweetly. The men shuddered.

"Why are you doing this?" Mr. Moore asked. His voice had gone quiet.

"We just told you," Naartok said. "We are the Hand of Sedna; we protect the ocean. You can't drill here, anywhere near here. It's a bad idea to drill for oil at all, but in this area you'll upset Sedna for sure -- especially when you spill the oil, and you will. So we took you down there to show you why it's not safe. You need to find a way to kill this project, before Sedna kills the lot of you."

"She won't be sinking this ship," the captain said.

"Sedna has sunk bigger ships than this," Inna said. "Do not think your technology will save you." The captain blanched. These were hazardous waters.

"Enough," Mr. Moore said, and the captain stopped arguing with them. He turned to Naartok. "You brought me here; I expect you to return me to my office when you're through."

Naartok sighed. If the trip hadn't made enough of an impression on him, mere words certainly would not. "We're through," she said.

Ahnah teleported them back to the compound where they had found Mr. Moore. "Think about what you have seen, young man," she advised. He was hardly young, but Ahnah was much older.

"I liked my job," Mr. Moore said abruptly. "I'll miss it." He shook his head. "I'm not stupid enough to go drilling next to that. I'd sooner risk puncturing a live volcano. I'll have to falsify some of the survey results and rig a few other things to indicate this as unsuitable territory, and that's going to get me fired for not following through on the development plans."

"A wise decision," Ahnah said. "Perhaps you will find a better job."

Mr. Moore gave her a short nod and then disappeared into the building. Naartok pushed the door closed behind him. She bent the discarded doorknob into a wedge to hold it shut until someone could repair it.

"I really hope this works," Hamako said.

"Well, we tried," Naartok said. "That's all anyone can do."

"Taima," Ahnah said firmly, "That's all. If this does not work, we will think of something else." Everyone nodded.

* * *

Notes:

Blue whales are among the strongest animals alive.
http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-the-strongest-animal.htm

Sedna is the Inuit sea goddess. Her myths appear in many versions, including this one. Explore further in native resources.

Inuktitut is a language of varied dialects spoken in the north. These terms appear in the story:
Qaigit (K-eye-geet) means "Come here."
Taima (Tay-ma) means "That’s all."

Inuit singing includes both conventional and throat-singing. Here is a video of an Inuit lullaby. The sound reminds me of whale song.

The Arctic Ocean is notoriously hazardous for shipping and drilling. Shell has had many problems there.


[To be concluded in Part 5 ...]

I hope it sticks...

Date: 2013-07-02 03:27 am (UTC)
rosieknight: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rosieknight
Mr. Moore's decision sounds like a smart one, especially since ocean deities in general can be... fickle. Risking upsetting one who's known to be angry already seems like a good way to win or be nominated for a Darwin Award.

I just hope Moore's superiors at Shell listen to his warnings and advice.

Would a Selkie be able to approach Sedna as well, or is that limited to just shape-shifters from areas that worship/revere/acknowledge Her?

Re: I hope it sticks...

Date: 2013-07-02 04:30 am (UTC)
rosieknight: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rosieknight
>>Probably so, although it might take some fast talking. Selkies are seal-folk and Sedna is interested in seals and other marine mammals, so it's a reasonable match.<<

I knew Selkies are seal-people. The thought behind my question was that if and when the younger members of the Hand of Sedna go to college - especially if they go out of state, they might want to leave the older members with some backup.

If Sedna is alright with Selkies, there might be a couple of Selkie teens who'd want and be willing to study abroad in Alaska for at least a semester. (I might end up prompting something like that for the Fishbowl...)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-07-04 11:50 pm (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwKX0feyAVE</a>A musical version of the Sedna story</a>... I had forgotten about shamans as shapeshifters. Interesting way to handle it.... This one is chewy too. Munch, munch.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-07-03 05:45 pm (UTC)
thnidu: Bin There Dun That (Bin There Dun That)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
A-and... needs a link to Part 5.

Re: Well...

Date: 2015-07-04 03:38 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Ooops. Sorry, for this & the other similar ones.

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