Back for more, are you? Well, you don’t need to twist my arm to get a story out of Duncan! Gather ‘round and listen to the mysterious tale of Tajiri Station!
I must warn you in advance, this story might pose more questions than answers. I can’t take the blame for that. You see, Tajiri Station isn’t a typical town. Sure, I’ve told you about Qurada Colony, which clings precariously to the side of a great stone bluff in the Agarid Barrens, and of Kijang Village, built up the trunks of the Great Trees of Kunisi Wood. But trust me, Tajiri Station is stranger still!
First of all, you won’t find Tajiri on many maps. Most folks wouldn’t even recognize the name. And if you told them that it was located at the bottom of the Shallow Sea, they’d probably call you crazy or accuse you of telling tall tales. But I’ve walked along its tunnels and I can tell you it’s most certainly real!
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The first question to answer is, “How in the world did I manage to find a secret underwater city?” The truth is that Tajiri Station isn’t technically a secret, it’s just very remote, very secure, and very much the kind of place that most folks don’t bother to think about. You see, it’s actually a research outpost, established by scientists several decades ago. Today they use it to study Lunari in controlled environments, or something like that. Frankly, talking with the locals about their experiments made my eyes glaze over a bit!
I’d heard stories of the place for quite some time. A few years ago I managed to finagle an invitation through a friend working there for a season. When I arrived, I found that the town itself only takes up one of the many domes that comprise the region, which its discoverers named Blue Haven. Nobody knows what it was originally called, or even who built these domes in the first place. It’s actually a bit unsettling, if you think about it…a whole network of domes and tunnels at the bottom of the Shallow Sea, and nobody really knows how it got there or even how long it’s been there! The construction is nothing like any of the other prehistoric ruins lying about, like the crumbling stone buildings near Gateway or the Mesachie Ruins in Kunisi Wood. Mind you, I did come across one other location that reminded me of Blue Haven…but that’s a story for another time.
Where was I…oh yes, Tajiri Station! The town is named after Dr. Hayao Tajiri, one of the first scientists to explore Blue Haven. In fact, during my first visit there I met his great-grandson, who shares not only his ancestor’s name but also inherited his single-minded focus on studying this region.
Dr. Tajiri was very friendly, introducing me to other scientists—whose names I’ve sadly forgotten over the years—and giving me a tour of another nearby dome that the locals call the Barrier Zone. I was glad for his guidance, because in just the short time we spent there I spotted several Squillexes, a few Zurgles, and a Sleespark.
Dr. Tajiri explained that Blue Haven was teeming with Lunari even before the first scientists discovered it. That surprised me, for I had assumed all the denizens were brought there specifically for study. In fact, Dr. Tajiri was working on a hypothesis that Lunari had lived in this undersea complex for untold generations. Scientists had long since discovered a nearby set of domes that held dense foliage—plenty to keep thousands of Lunari thriving and healthy. Tajiri’s ancestor had dubbed this place the Menagerie, and my new friend felt certain that he’d identified containment structures, observation areas, and ancient machines that he believed might once have kept the entire ecosystem alive and well.
When I suggested that the flora and fauna might have naturally settled here from the surrounding sea, Dr. Tajiri pointed out a Riffix standing not ten meters away from us! He further confirmed that he’d identified Scuttlebugs, Hedgelocks, and even Blastropods within the Menagerie, none of which you’d normally associate with living in such a watery environment!
Upon our return to the safety of Tajiri Station, the doctor introduced me to their newly arrived guildmaster, Zhousteau. She greeted me, somewhat brusquely I’d say, and after she left Dr. Tajiri apologized for her attitude. Apparently she was one of those types who deal better with data than with people. I told him not to worry, as I’d met all varieties of personality during my travels.
After allowing the kind doctor to return to his work, I managed to chat up some of the locals. Perhaps unsurprisingly, few people had lived very long at Tajiri Station. In fact, other than some scientists, the average stay in town was only a few months! It seems that most people there are temporary workers, taking care of the various needs of the research staff, who are in turn stationed for cycles of six to twelve months. That made sense. After all, most academics I’ve met seem ill-suited to tend to basic necessities such as food, maintenance, and the like!
The workforce of Tajiri Station was heavily tilted toward the young and energetic, which also seemed quite reasonable. Other than myself, I’ve found few people still interested in such adventures beyond their twenties. Every person I met was friendly and outgoing, and I admit that I allowed many of them to engage in the apparently traditional mode of welcome by purchasing copious beverages for me at the local tavern. I’d offer a few names of the people I met, but I’m afraid my memories of those evenings aren’t quite as clear as I’d like!
That said, it also seems quite likely that most of them no longer work there, having long-since moved on to new adventures or back home to friends and family. I couldn’t help but compare this lifestyle to that of the long-term denizens of Kijang Village, for whom such a transitory existence might seem quite unthinkable!
Before departing, I asked Dr. Tajiri if there were any other dungeons like the Menagerie in the area. To my surprise, he became quite flustered at my question! He mumbled something about there being sectors of Blue Haven that were “off-limits” due to “security protocols” but he was so uncomfortable that I let the matter drop.
All in all, Tajiri Station is certainly one of the most unusual locations I’ve ever had the privilege to visit. Had I the patience to spend years learning about a single place, I’m quite sure I would find Blue Haven worth a lifetime of study.