Log Title: A Day at Ayers Rock
Date: 11 April 2016
TP: Killing Jar TP
As logged by Major Bludd
Desert - Australia
This is the Red Centre, the desert interior of the continent of Australia. Red earth and sand abound here, as do dry salt-lakebeds. Getting lost in these parts is generally a death sentence, as there is no fresh water for kilometers.
Famous locations within the Red Centre include Uluru and Kata Tjuta, better known as Ayers Rock and the Olgas, Alice Springs, Coober Pedy and Lake Eyre.
There are +views here, including enterable Uluru and Alice Springs, and Coober Pedy.
The sun has barely begun its daily beating upon the desert below; the air still holds much of its nighttime chill. Yet standing outside the Erldunda Cafe, huddled in hastily-purchased jackets, Bludd and Kimber watch as a colourful bus pulls up in front of the building. "Rodney Roo's Desert Tours", proclaim the stylised letters emblazoned on the side of the vehicle, which is decorated with paintings of desert scenes and Aboriginal artwork.
"Wait right here, love," Bludd instructs Kimber. "Lemme make our travel arrangements for the day."
Kimber smiles at Major Bludd. "Sure thing, Sebastian!" she says perkily, hugging herself energetically to ward off the morning cold. She'd ditched her wrinkled white half-jacket for a more practical, warmer one, although she still has it unzipped. She's been friendly and open all morning, the awkwardness of the night before either forgotten or just pushed it aside in her mind. Today she just treats Bludd like they're the best of friends out on a vacation.
Bludd's all too happy to forget the previous night's awkwardness. Thanks to Kimber's holograms, he stands out a bit less than usual. His face appears clean-shaven, his hair a bit longer and tied into a very short ponytail at the base of his neck. Most notably, a functioning eye appears in place of his typical eyepatch. The holographic disguise has also taken ten years or so off his usual appearance. Anyone looking for him would be hard-pressed to recognise him as he is now.
He steps aboard the bus and begins an animated conversation with the heavyset, dark-skinned driver. Other people begin to come out of the woodwork, wandering in from the caravan park or the austere hotel on-site, and gather near the bus.
After a few minutes, Bludd steps back off the bus and comes over to Kimber. "'Sall settled," he drawls. "We'll be goin' with the tour bus up to Ayers Rock. Should arrive late afternoon, so there'll be plenty of time to wander about before sunset, which is when it gets really spectacular." He beams at her. "I can't wait to see it," he enthuses.
Kimber beams. "You look so happy - and it's not just the disguise!" she chirps. "I'm really glad we're doing this - thanks for sharing this with me, Sebastian." She smiles up at Bludd, and hooks her arm in his to walk with him to the tour bus. She's in a different disguise today - younger, but less outrageous, with normal-colored auburn hair and very little makeup - perhaps in response to what Bludd had said earlier.
Bludd's grin broadens as Kimber slips her arm in his. "They look great," he tells her in a low tone as they board the bus. He ushers her ahead of him and follows her to a seat. "-You- look fantastic," he adds, sitting down beside her and taking her hand. "Nono, wait." He gives her a mischievous look. "You look ... outrageous."
Kimber giggles and punches Bludd lightly in the arm with one of her tiny, bony fists. "You're teasing me!" she grins, smiling up at the Major. She looks up the row towards the front of the bus, and then turns to look out the window. "This is so fun! I wish my sisters were here with us." She bounces up and down excitedly on her seat, swishing her auburn hair back and fro in its ponytail. "You said you've never been to Ayers Rock before - where are you actually from in Australia?" she asks with curiosity.
Bludd laughs when Kimber punches him. "I'm from Sydney," he says. "I'm a city boy." He smirks. "My best friend and I came out to Alice Springs for the dry riverbed regatta when I was a teenager. That was pretty crazy. But we didn't have time to come out to see Ayers Rock."
Within fifteen minutes the bus closes its door and heads out onto the Lassiter Highway. "You ever been to Australia before this?" Bludd asks Kimber.
"No, actually - Jerrica never booked a tour for us here. After this visit I'm definitely going to come back, however - maybe you can catch one of my shows!" Kimber beams, as if it would be just that easy for an internationally-wanted criminal to just drop by a Starr and the Holograms concert. She looks out the window as the bus travels down the highway. "It's really beautiful out here!" she sighs. "Usually even when I tour I only get to see the airport, the venue, and then the airport again - or just the highways if we take the tour bus."
"I'd love to see you in concert," Bludd replies. Even without the use of holographic technology, he has his ways of getting into places authorities don't want him. "That's a shame," he adds, in response to her mention of not getting to see much of the places her band tours. "You should ask Jerrica to tack an extra day onto your tour," he suggests. "At least give you a chance to see -some- of the place."
Kimber beams. "That's a great idea! The Holograms have been my band since Jem retired - I should really start having more of a say in what goes on." She makes a face. "Jerrica did back me up in mentoring Starr, though, so I guess she does listen. I kind of miss her, actually." Kimber frowns, looking out the window a moment in deep melancholy. Being Kimber, though, it doesn't last. "So," she says, turning back to Bludd. "How big is this rock we're visiting?" She smiles.
Bludd squeezes Kimber's hand on seeing the sad expression pass over her face. He reaches into his back pocket for the brochure he picked up at the cafe. "Says here it's 348 metres high, and nine and a half metres around." He shows her the info blurbs on the brochure, which describe local flora and fauna. "They do walking tours around the base of it, tell all about Aboriginal stories featuring Uluru -- that's the Aboriginal word for it -- and some about bush food."
The landscape outside is fairly regular: yellowish earth punctuated by the occasional large rock or stand of thin, scraggly gum trees.
"'Bush food'? What's that?" Kimber asks, perking up immediately. She looks over the brochure and frowns again. "348 metres high? How high is that in American units?" she asks. Her mood seems to have rebounded quickly as she leans close to Bludd to look over the info blurbs and the pictures in the booklet. Her skin is soft and she smells like hotel shampoo. "This is going to be so cool!" she enthuses.
"Oh, let's see..." Bludd gazes upward as he does a mental calculation. "Something like a thousand feet, I'd say. Funny they don't have it in feet on here, given they get American tourists." He releases her hand in favour of draping his arm over her shoulders. "Bush food means food gathered or hunted from the bush." He makes a vague gesture toward the landscape outside the window. "The land out here. Aborigines have been living out here for thousands of years. They know how to live off the land a lot better than we whitefellas do." He grins at her. "Goanna, for example. They hunt goanna lizards."
"Lizards?" Kimber shrieks in Bludd's ear. "Eww! No!" Her interest seems to be piqued, however. "Pretty cool, though. I could maybe forage in San Fernando Valley, but only if I had a map and a credit card." She laughs. "Don't the tourists upset their way of life, though? Obviously most of those thousand years they didn't have white people showing up in tour busses."
Bludd flinches away from Kimber's shriek, but in contrast to the last few times he's done so, he laughs in response. "Aw, c'mon," he coaxes, grinning at her. "I thought you were adventurous." He gives her a squeeze. "Tourists don't wind up in all the places the Aborigines live out here. And t'be honest, the number of 'em living life the old ways is going down." He scowls briefly. "Forty thousand years they survived out here just fine. Then in come the whitefellas an' upset the metaphorical apple cart." He glances aside to her. "Not gonna get into my opinions on that."
After a brief stop for lunch and the stretching of legs, the bus gets under way again. A few hours later it arrives at its destination. The monolith looms before the tour group.
Uluru - Northern Territory - Australia
Uluru, more commonly known as Ayers Rock, is the single largest monolith in Australia and has become an icon of the nation. Aboriginal peoples hold Uluru as a sacred location.
Kimber seemed to have enjoyed the trip, leaning casually on Bludd with complete comfort. When Uluru looms into view, Kimber literally presses her face against the window, blue eyes wide in awe. "Oh, like, wow!" she enthuses. "It's beautiful! And bigger than I'd imagined! It's like... wow!" She bounces in her seat again with excitement. "I should have brought a camera!" She fishes in her souvenir T-shirt for her star necklace, and whispers, "Synergy! 3-D recording for reviewing later!" She turns back to Bludd and smiles.
Major Bludd leans in to peer out the window over Kimber's head, gazing at the monolith with great interest. "I didn't even think t'bring a camera," he laments quietly. He smiles down at her. "I make a lousy tourist, don't I?"
The tour group piles out of the bus, most unable to tear their gazes from Ayers Rock. A friendly, dark-skinned woman with an unusual accent approaches the group and begins talking about the significance of Ayers Rock, or Uluru, to the Aboriginal people.
Kimber grins, hooking her arm in Bludd's again once they're out of the bus. She looks up at the Major. "I don't have a lot of experience as a tourist, either. I don't think anyone can tell us we're doing it wrong, though." She glances around, but her gaze keeps being drawn back to the massive sandstone rock formation. "I wonder what makes it that color," she muses, unwilling to tear her eyes away to look back at the brochure.
The afternoon is consumed by a leisurely walk around the monolith, the guide describing all manner of details about the location. At one point a pair of rock wallabies peer down at the group from a niche in the rock, then bound away. The group returns to the base site just as the sun begins to set. There's a collective gasp from the tourists as Uluru shifts from a dull yellowish to a brilliant, nearly glowing red colour.
Bludd pays close attention to the stories the tour guide relates on the walk, occasionally sharing an opinion or personal insight with Kimber. When the monolith begins to glow, he stares at it, rapt.
Kimber stares as well, mouth agape. "Like, wow. That's truly outrageous!" she exclaims, too in awe to realize that she's opening herself up for teasing again. As she enjoys the sight, she slips her arm around Bludd's waist, half-hugging him as they both enjoy the brilliant vision of the setting sun at Uluru. "I can't believe it," she breathes. "And I can't believe I owe this entire trip to alien abduction!" She leads a strange life.
Bludd absently wraps an arm around Kimber's shoulders, holding her close to him. He's unable to tear his gaze from Uluru for a few minutes, but simply stands there with a look of awe and reverence on his face. "I can't believe I never came out to see this before," he murmurs at last. "I feel..." He looks down at Kimber, still wearing that look of reverence. "I'm glad I got t'share this with you."
Kimber finally tears her gaze away long enough to smile up at the Major. "I'm glad you got to, too. This makes everything worthwhile, you know? Maybe we should send that alien a thank-you card. I'm sure they sell postcards here, right? I wonder what the postage is to outer space!" she laughs, squeezing Major Bludd in a tighter hug. After a moment she asks, "So, what do we do now, boss?" with a hint of post-high sadness.
"I was thinkin' of sendin' him a fruit basket," Bludd quips, his voice still quiet. "But not really." He brushes a lock of hair from her face. "I expect we'll be staying here for the night and heading back to Erldunda in the morning. After that..." He frowns, then looks back toward Uluru.
Kimber grins up at Bludd. "Let's not worry about 'after that' yet. Forget I said anything. Let's just enjoy the night and see what it has to offer." She gives Bludd's waist another squeeze, and turns back to catch the last of the sun's rays as it sets on the horizon, turning everything one last flash of brilliant color before starting to fade into night. "It's kind of romantic, isn't it?" asks the Queen of Mixed Signals.
Bludd smiles down at Kimber fondly. "Yeah," he says simply, and leans down to press a gentle kiss to her lips.
Kimber's blue eyes widen at Bludd's kiss, but this time she doesn't pull away, and gently returns the kiss. "Oh. Wow. Uh..." she gasps after the kiss. "I... I don't know what to say. Wow. I guess technically Stormer and I are on a break, but... Oh, my." She shivers. "I guess this place is even more romantic than I thought!" Her eyes remain wide, showing white all around her blue irises.
Bludd lifts Kimber's chin slightly, looking at her with that fond gaze. "Guess it is." He grins, casting a brief glance back at Uluru. "There -is- something about this place," he agrees. "It's not the sort of thing I usually admit to, the capacity t'be ... moved... by a place like this. All that talk the tour guide gave about the Dreamtime and how everything in Australia came from it and it's all connected..." He levels a mock stern glare at her. "If you let on what a romantic sap I am..." He chuckles, letting the end of the statement drop. "I was born in Australia," he goes on. "I'm a part of this. I just never really felt it like this. It's ... indescribable."
Kimber's fixes her wide blue eyes up into Major Bludd's half-holographic ones. "Wow," she repeats. "You know, you can be almost poetic when you want to be, Major Sebastian." She smiles, looking a bit guilty, but still makes no move to pull away. "Your secrets are safe with me, however. I mean, really - who would believe me?" Her laugh is tinkling and as refreshing as the night air.
"Good," Bludd replies. He brushes the backs of his fingers along her cheek. "I have been known to write the occasional scrap of poetry," he admits, smirking. "Maybe I'll even share some of it with you sometime."
"That would be outrageous!" Kimber squeals. "My girlfriend is a writer," she says perhaps inappropriately. "I wish I could write! I can write music, but I'm not that great with words. Everything I write sounds corny." She pauses, and then gushes, "I'd love to read what you write, though! You're so interesting! I'd love to know just what goes on behind the eyepatch," she grins.
Bludd gives a wistful sigh, unable to stop smiling at her. "We'll have plenty of time to talk about what goes on in my head on the ride back to Erldunda. For now..." He glances toward hotel the tour group is meant to be staying at. "For now let's find our room, shall we?"
Kimber grins. "Sounds great! And maybe we can try some of that 'bush food'. I'm starved - but no lizards! Or spiders! Yuck!" She laughs uproariously. "After you, Major!" She takes a step back, but only long enough to link arms with Bludd to walk back to the hotel. She begins to hum to herself, composing a tune that sounds happy and wistful as well. She flashes Bludd a smile and a wink as they walk.