Monday, June 5, 2017

December 20



Another day, another amazing location. Either this planet is paradise, or Cifa and his company know how to avoid all the yucky locations.

Abcuhera, the city I have so much trouble pronouncing, is a city in the same sense that the capital is. Because this is Kalquor, only Mother Nature has any business showing her face to the outside world. There are cliffs, a healthy fishing industry, and acres of beach to enjoy. Beautiful, but not as remarkable than Nacabri, truth be told. But journey into the caverns and such, and you find a much different world.

Abcuhera Caverns are the largest cave system on Kalquor. They descend two miles down and span ten miles at their widest. Within is a sprawling cityscape, with many-storied buildings for business and living. There’s a lake inside, as well as a forest on the far outskirts…the many openings in the ceiling of the caverns allows for natural light and rainfall to penetrate.

We arrived just after nightfall, the perfect time to go ashore and have dinner. All the clans have been here many times due to Abcuhera being a regular stop for Cifa’s family’s cruise line. They know the places to eat, stay, and party. We disembarked and rode a shuttle into the caverns.

Abcuhera at night dazzled. The buildings were architectural wonders that swooped and curved and took on the most fantastical shapes. They’d obviously been designed to not be just utilitarian, but also aesthetically pleasing. With them lit in an array of colors, it was like looking at a living painting. It was particularly amazing to look at near the lake, which reflected all that beauty. Even the bridge that spanned the lake was illuminated, an arc of golden light.

“A good place to be around during Christmas time,” Joelle said in an awed voice. “It reminds me of the neighborhood a couple of miles from the house I grew up in. An entire block would light up their homes and yards for the season.”

“Amazing,” I agreed. “Look, Anrel. Look at the pretty lights.” She looked and crowed. Her little starfish hands reached toward the shuttle’s window vid in an attempt to capture the magical realm.

Cifa pointed out a tall tower that looked like a ship’s sail, glowing with bluish-white light. “We’ll go to the viewing deck there. The vid footage will be gorgeous.”

I shivered in anticipation. We’d brought along our recording equipment, and I knew I’d capture more images than we could possibly use. It was going to be a bitch figuring out the best shots, because we already had a ton of great stuff. This was going to make choosing even harder. I’d have to narrow down the focus of the promotion to decide what would be best.

The night was as amazing as the cityscape. Dinner was topnotch, served on the roof of one of the buildings (this one was shaped like a cresting wave, and we had a stunning view of the lake). Walking by the lake was romantic, especially since Joelle did her grandma thing and took charge of Anrel. She kept in sight of me, but stayed far enough back to let me have alone time with the guys. Even with Cifa and I shooting vid, we still had a lovely stroll with plenty of conversation and laughs.

The view from the tower was as spectacular as Cifa promised. On the ground, there was music and entertainment all around, much like the market in the capital city. But where that was more a center of politics, Abcuhera was the planet’s acknowledged base of commerce. It was bustling and busy even as the night went on. In fact, it seemed to get busier the later it got.

We wandered and recorded and had a great time. I let Anrel stay up a little later than usual. For one thing, she was dazzled and delighted with her surroundings. Her mood stayed good and she didn’t fuss. For another thing, I felt awful that Joelle always seemed to get stuck babysitting by default. I knew she didn’t mind, especially since she didn’t have her sweethearts with her, but I still felt like I was taking advantage. So we all stayed out for a while, enjoying the free street entertainment, plus some games and activities. We all enjoyed ourselves immensely, and Cifa and I got stellar footage for the promo.

“I don’t care what you say,” I told Cifa when we finally retired for the night in yet another plush room. Seot was in the shower, and Larten was on the room’s balcony, returning the com of the trainer who was filling in for him while he was on break. “I can’t wait hardly another second to start a rough cut of the vid. When we get back on the ship, I’m going to do a little work.”

“All right. We can talk about the specific direction the campaign should go in,” he agreed.

“You said you wanted a more intimate feel, right? Family oriented. We’ve shot plenty of stuff with your clans. Candy and Stidmun too. Anrel and Joelle will be adorable to show how family-friendly the cruise can be, how it appeals to different age groups.”

“Definitely that stuff, and don’t forget the shots of you diving at the reef and climbing the clouds at Nacabri.” When I made a face, he shook his finger at me. “You look amazing and the fact is, I want to also showcase the variety of places the ship will go. A kind of ‘small vessel, big adventure’ feeling. It has to be grand while intimate. Know what I mean?”

I frowned. “Really? Because you get the grand vibe with the big ships, right? Don’t you want something different? If I was watching, I’d want to see how different this cruise is from the others, how cozy and comfortable it can be as opposed to glitzy and hectic. I thought that was the direction you said you wanted.”

“No, I want to strike a balance between the two, to show it can be either or both, depending on the passengers’ wants. Big fun on a small ship…that’s our goal.”

I sighed. “I don’t know, Cifa. I think you’re shutting out the clientele who would prefer a quiet, relaxing getaway.”

“A lot of my patrons are Nobeks. If I don’t offer them some excitement, they won’t want to cruise.”

“They will if their clanmates insist.”

“Shalia, trust me on this. There has to be a sense of adventure included. No decent Dramok, Matara, or Imdiko is going to take a vacation where their Nobek’s needs aren’t taken into consideration.”

I sighed again. As we’d shot footage over the last few days, I’d formed an idea of how I was going to use it in my head. I was sure Cifa had made a point early on of saying he’d wanted a more sedate vibe than what he was talking about now.

“I wish you’d made it clearer before,” I said. “I was operating on a whole other wavelength. Now I have to press the reset button.”

“Sorry,” he said and tugged me towards the sleeping mat. “Can I perhaps make it up to you? I promise you’ll get over my lack of clarity.”

He was right. I got over it in a hurry.

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