Shipbreakers on the Endless Sea

Cohost writing prompt: @Making-up-Mech-Pilots — Mech Pilot who has never done one of those derelict ship jobs before

"Ya don't see many elves in this job," Stonecutsmun says over the voxbox.

"No," Valora Night-Swimming Bird says, hunched uncomfortably into a dwarf-sized seat, and begins the Doll-Machine's startup sequence.

"Ya'r not very friendly, for an elf."

"No," Valora agrees.

"Ya done this work before?"

Outside the borders of material reality are endless fragmentary planes of dreamlike incompletion. Realms of infinite sea, or groundless sky, or endless, nonsensical, jumbled underground architecture. Fire or dreams or silver mist. Ones where ageing makes you grow younger, or walking north makes you grow while returning south makes you shrink, or any of a million strange properties.

For centuries, there was a shipping route across this plane, of shoreless sea beneath endless sky. Vast ships plied the waves, docking briefly at great seafloor-anchored rigs holding only cranes and waygates, cargo pulled and pushed through between this world and others, sailing smooth and uninterrupted by the navigational concerns of landmass or landmass-generated weather.

And then the great thanatic empires of the merchant-liches built speed-roads by laying tunnels on the very membrane between material and astral, pouring their endless disposable workforce into painstakingly handcrafting every inch of the continuous mechanisms required across the astral, and the great ships were obsoleted.

Their decline is slow, but one after another, they are falling out of use and being broken down, as much as possible. Dwarves hate wasting worked material. Scuttling the ships, or even simply leaving them moored and rusting, sits ugly with them. And so the breaker-teams in their machines go in, with their cutting-wands and greater-than-elvenoid lifting power, and pull out everything that can be pulled out without the ship folding up and sinking with them entombed inside it.

"Not on boats," Valora says, without further explanation, and smoothly operates the tricky ignition on a steel-cutting wand, the hot blue glow and her first confident step with the Doll attesting her credentials.

There are not so many other environments where the Doll-Machines are used, and all of them are...worse. Let them wonder. Valora is not here to make friends, and she doesn't want to talk.

The sea air will do her good, and the chance to chop up things that don't chop back.