Airship Pirates (Peregrine x Jackalope)

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  1. At first the islands only appeared as a haze of grey in an endless blue sky. Seth Nash had already hallucinated islands twice, and he did not believe these, same as he had not believed the ones before. He knew this wind current would take him to the islands eventually, knew they should be close, but he couldn't allow himself to believe. If he did, and somehow he was mistaken, it might be the end of him. He would sit down, and go back to drifting. He would let the winds take him where they would, waiting for death to claim him.

    It seemed foolish. After working so long to stay alive, fighting tooth and nail as his crew-mates had slowly turned into animals as the supplies of water and food had dwindled, now that he had found food and water and a way to get home, now that he was, perhaps, only a few minutes away from the land he called home, he was giving up.

    Their navigator had miscalculated the winds. And in a world of floating islands trapped in a seemingly limitless sky, tiny miscalculations would be the death of you. The chances that a ship would drift to an island, or that setting a random heading would cause you to run into one, were so small that they shouldn't exist. After all, it took three years of drifting for him to pass by one island. It was so small that it could hardly contain any resources, but it had enough for one person.

    That was all that was left by that point. At first the crew had remained loyal to the captain, taking in the harsh cuts to food and water that the quartermaster had issued. Until someone realized that the captain and quartermaster were working together to horde food. Then there was mutiny. The captain had been the first victim, followed by his second-in-command only a few moments later. The fight had been vicious, and more than one person who had only wanted to hide had been caught in the crossfire. Some of those who had survived rounded up the dead bodies, and set them up over a fire made from the crates that had once held supplies.

    The grey haze was starting to resolve itself, and was undoubtedly getting larger. Seth could almost believe he could make out the grey spoke, streaming from a factory, or one of the blimps that carried supplies drifting through the air with its bright colored cloth. He dared to hope, and pulled himself up on the wheel.

    "We are almost to my home," he murmured to the ship. "I'm lucky you are so easy to fly, or I never would have made it this far alone."

    That one tiny island had saved his life. He had crashed the ship into it, did his best to jump off. The ship was almost as big as the island, but significantly more solid. He had made it off, and watched the smoldering ruin of the cargo ship drift away on a wind. It took the corpses with it. Almost everyone was buried that way, now. There was no room for proper graveyards, so they were set alight and cast out. The ashes would drift all over the world, and the spirit would be free.

    Seth had never taken much stock in such religion, but he still offered a silent prayer to the departing pyre.

    Someone had lived on that island at some point. Whoever it was had been a genius. He had dug into the Vitae, the energy of the world, in a way that almost none of the welders and miners of today would dare. It had driven him insane, there was no doubt of that, but his home was a wonder. Of course, at the time, all Seth had really cared about was the food and water. He had lived in a semi-comatose state for three days, before his body was able to fight off the shock and illness lurking in his system.

    It wouldn't have been a bad place to live forever, had there been no way off. the place was fully provided for, and created its own food and water. There was enough information in the man's library to keep him entertained for years. And, for a while, he had left himself to just that. He had taken the luxury of recovering slowly, and worked his way through the former owner's notes.

    It was there that he found the pièce de résistance of the man's work. It was a ship, a ship unlike any that the world had ever seen. Sleek and streamlined, driven by Vitae engines, rather than left to the mercies of the wind, fast and maneuverable, far more than any of the balloon-like ships that were so commonly seen. The man had spent years designing it, even more years competing it. He intended to fly it away as soon as it was complete, to find a place where he could live out the rest of his years with a little bit of company.

    He had died three days before her maiden voyage.

    But she was complete. Or, at least, she had been, fifty years ago, upon the man's death. She had sat there since then, taking the weather and sun full force. But he could call her nothing but beautiful. And he did so, repeatedly, as he wandered his way through her, lightly running his fingers along the smooth, metallic lines of her body.

    He hadn't known at the time that the ship could hear him. And, after several days of his fruitless searching for a way in, punctuated by frequent compliments, she had let him in. And they had worked together to get her ready for flight again.

    There was no doubting that those islands were real now. He could make out details, and was almost confident enough to call them home. The island that he grew up on had been a part of a large group, chained together long ago to become a nation. They connected outwards in a massive sphere, the whole thing run from the central island, where those rich enough lived.

    He had not been so lucky. His was a factory island, cluttered with smoke and machinery. His parents had worked twelve hour days just to keep enough food on the table, and his brothers and sisters had been pressed into service before they were ten years old. The only reason Seth had escaped that same fate was because a ship captain had taken an interest in him, and bought him from his parents at the tender age of twelve.

    A part of him didn't know why he was returning to these islands. They had no safety for him, and the only work waiting for him was another factory job. He may be able to make some money off of the man's research, but there was no telling how long that would last him. Truthfully, he dreamed of returning to the open air.

    The winds had nearly driven him mad those first few days sailing aboard his new ship. Takeoff had been easy enough, he had simply navigated to the edge of the island and pushed her off. Even loaded with supplies and as much of the man's research as he could find, she had taken to the air naturally and soared away easily. The problem was, he had no idea where he was, or where the winds would take him. There was a chance he was committing himself to the same fate he had only just escaped.

    That was, of course, until the first gust of wind had hit him squarely in the face. He must have screamed, but at the time he couldn't remember. It was overwhelming, the constant buffeting, and everything that had gone along with it. The winds held no secrets from him, and dumped everything into his mind. Where they had come from, where they were going, how long it would take to get there, what other winds they had intersected or would soon intersect.

    He had left himself to to their tender mercies for days, while he tried to find a way to deal with the information. At first it had only been when the wind had been touching him, but soon even looking at a gust was enough for it to unload its information on him. It took him a long time to figure out how to manage the information, what was relevant right at that moment, and what could be ignored.

    To the ship it wasn't much time at all. She didn't seem to have even registered his absence when he finally stumbled his way back to the helm. There was no doubt that she cared about him, as soon as his hands locked around the wheel he felt an answering burst of speed, and a small hum filled the room, but her personality was only partial.

    He had caught a wind that was heading to the islands that had once been his home at random, and had set his course before he even consciously acknowledged that he planned on going home. It was almost miraculous that he hadn't gotten sidetracked on the way there.

    He was going home.

    Of course, it wasn't until he felt the ship begin to respond to the pull of the chained islands that he realized he had no way to land her. It took a crew of at least five to fully work her, at least ten for optimized response. He was one man. There was no way for him to pull off a successful landing. All he could try and do was pick a good place to crash.

    "I'm sorry," he whispered. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry." It was the only litany he had as the ship was pulled in, and he fought the wheel to try and control her decent. It was the very outer rings of the islands, at least, so the chances that he could find somewhere deserted to crash were probable.

    The ship didn't seem to know her destiny, any more than she had known his absence. She recognized his worry, tried to calm him with soft noises, and he did his best to accommodate her. There were tears streaming down his face as he plunged towards the solid rock. He would rather have drifted forever than sacrifice her to find a way home.

    And then, a sudden impact, flinging him backwards. His head crashed into something, and he heard the ship scream around him as she crumpled.

    And then, nothing.
  2. For all its smoke and smog, the scent of sickness and of malnutrition, this island of factories and desperation had been a sanctuary. He who was as desperate as the dying men and women working at murderous paces in the grips of a factory line, had set his eyes upon the island four years ago with the excitement of the recently freed, his wrists bearing the lines of confinement and a wild, haunted look in his bright yellow eyes. He had broken free of the prison with a twisted mixture of good luck and good sense, taking the opportunity for escape the moment it had reared its head, and even with the labels “Pirate” “Murderer” “Monster” floating around him he had slipped through the crowds, his head covered in a thick hood and his tails coiled tightly—desperately, shaking like leaves—around his legs beneath his trousers, and onto a ship that drifted from the floating prison onto the factory isle.

    It had been thought that he would be found and no immediate alarm had gone up—no one feared that the mottled blonde with his unmistakably mutated body would blend into society, could disappear into the shadows of the factory’s tall tiers—and with no way of getting off the island without being seen, the police were merely biding their time…waiting for an act of desperation. Unfortunately for them, the act of desperation had already been done, and the factory’s thick alleys and hollow-eyed people made for an excellent hiding spot for a man with a tainted backstory.

    Avira was a striking young man, a manmade freak of nature born from the experimentation of scientists who knew no boundaries, but his even nature and fiery temperament had made him allies in his years of life, and some of those yet lived in the factory’s wake, so he hid in plain sight, his yellow eyes hidden behind a blind man’s wrappings and his warped feet guised in a cripple’s thick bandages. He hobbled around with a bent cane, his deep skin so covered in the white ash of the factory he lived beside that he appeared as pale as a ghost, and his sickly blonde locks were filled with the thick black soot of another nearby factory. More bandages were wrapped around his head, hiding the elongated shape of his ears, as well as carefully disguising the second set entirely, and his tails remained permanently curled beneath his trousers despite the painful angle it left on him.

    Day by day he wandered the streets, never taking nor asking for charity, but never serving any particular purpose either, and night by night he shed his guise like a second skin, a dangerous grin spreading across his face as he took to the rooftops, shimmying about like some half-starved lemur and breaking into the offices and storerooms of the overseers and owners. He lived off of what he took—never more than a few coins that could easily be mistaken for miscounted—and had done so for years. Nevertheless, his sharp attention and mind was always locked firmly on escape—on getting a message out to his restless crew and setting his sights back on the ever drifting skies.

    Needless to say, he had not missed a streak of movement careening to the ground halfway across the island.

    He had heard the approaching crash well before he saw it, the strange screaming of something big and fast moving far too quickly towards an uncontrolled landing perking his attention and causing him to frown, tilting his head towards it and reaching up to lower one of the bandages over his eyes, his plus-shaped pupils contracting sharply at the light but adjusting quickly enough to catch a quick view of a strange shape rocketing through the sky just before the faint sound of a distant crash echoed. His frown grew, brows knitting together in deep thought, but he didn’t linger long enough to consider before he was off like a rocket, taking the back alleys and the roof tops to clamber his way out of the city with as much haste as he could manage.

    Avira made it to the outskirts of the factory town before he put on the breaks, quickly ripping the bindings from his feet and head and abandoning his cane, carefully untwining his tails and letting them droop comfortably behind him. He took a moment to stretch himself out, reminding rarely used muscles that they were in for a treat they would both regret later, before he was off in a strange bounding pace, nimbly making his way about the rocky ground with his tails outstretched for balance, their wide, prehensile fingers spreading out as though he were a bird navigating the air.

    He skidded to a true and complete halt on a rocky outcropping before the crash zone, dropping to a crouch to peer at the unusual ship from over the broken stones, his nose twitching as he inspected the scene from a distance. Never before had he seen a ship like this—something so sleek and foreign and positively vibrating with vitae. He had virtually no affinity for vitae at all, but even he could hear it humming in the air around the wreck, shimmering like heat around what he believed were the engines and practically moaning in pain. His brows shot up in disbelief and he spread his ears wide, the double sets twitching independently of each other as he listened for any sign of life, his attention and alert on high as he crept down the rocks and approached the ship.

    As the mutant walked he scooped up a sharp stone in each of his tail hands, reading to fling them at a moment’s notice even as he pulled a roughly made dagger—his only remaining weapon—from his belt and slunk patiently forward. “Oi—anyone alive in dere?” He finally called out, nose and ears twitching as he straightened to his full, imposing height, his tails drooping and hiding their weapons as he took on a commander’s stance, eyes narrowing sharply, “Preferably someone I will not have to be killing—anyone dat is not official alive in dere?
  3. Seth woke only a few seconds after the crash. For a moment he was blurry, thinking his whole escape, the island and its ship, the winds and the islands, had all been one absurd, vivid dream. However, the feel of the floor under his back quickly convinced him that it hadn't been a dream. The feel of the ship vibrating worriedly around him also convinced him that it hadn't been a dream.

    He let out a quiet moan, but ran a hand reassuringly along a surface. "I'm alright," he murmured, before starting to stand up.He paused, weaving side to side, as his head began to pound. He ran his hands lightly over his skull, quickly finding an egg-sized lump on the back of his head. When he pulled away his fingers, however, there was no blood. He let out a sigh, and continued to work his way to his feet.

    "Oh, beauty," he whispered, "I'm so sorry."

    She wasn't broken beyond repair, but she was damaged. Even from in here, it was possible to tell that. He ran a hand lightly along her wheel, and felt a small, answering shudder from the ship. Weak, but still alive. If that was even the word to use. But he had no idea how he was going to repair her. He had the plans, he knew how she went together, but he was no engineer, and he certainly didn't know how to manipulate vitae. If he left her here, even if he tried to place a guard on her without any money, she would still be scavenged. Brought down to framework, maybe less, in an hour. There was no doubt that every ounce of vitae metal was valuable, and for people who needed all the money they could get.

    Seth could understand, but it ripped at his heart, to think of her torn apart.

    He heard the voice only moments later. Had the scavenging already began. He wobbled his way towards the door, and as soon as his feet were solidly under him he raced towards the exit. The figure was easy enough to spot, and he didn't look closely, just charged forward blindly. "Vagrant!" He hollered. "Get away from her. Leave her alone!"
  4. Avira was just stalking closer, frowning slightly as no reply met his ears, when from a completely different angle than he was looking, an exit became apparent with the furious yell of a very distinctly alive young man. The mutant cocked his head to the side with a baffled expression, one set of ears up and the other down as he repeated with a confused twist, "Vagrant? Dat is very rude--I am a lot of dings but a vagra--" He cut himself off as he realized that the other wasn't just yelling at him, but charging as well, and fell into a defensive position, his tail hands dropping their stones as Avira slid forwards, moving to intercept the other and attempting to cut him off and flip him securely to the ground before sidling smoothly out of reach.

    "Typical. No manners from de nearly dead." He whined, scrunching his nose before he held both hands and tail hands up to the other, taking a lazy step back, "But, I am sure I was de same so...look. No weapons, see?" He pointed towards his dagger with one bare foot, wiggling his toes at its position on the ground, "I even ditched de knife--very polite, no?" He cracked his teeth in a grin, the double canines glinting dangerously, and licked his lips, settling into a relaxed, non-threatening position, "You are obviously not anyding official after all. I am only a dreat to dem." He chuckled and winked playfully, trying to exude as friendly an aura as he could even as his attention flicked hungrily to the ship. "I will not boder your pretty ding."

    The mutant shifted his weight, licking his lips again as he eyed the vitae filled metal, only to flick his attention back to Seth, eyeing him thoughtfully, "I assume it is yours? Very unique. Very unusual....and very broken." He laughed and took a cautious step forward, offering both his right hand and his right tail hand, "Perhaps we can be friends rader dan enemies, no? You are clearly in need of help, unless you are secreting a hoard of helpful little crew members somewhere behind you, and I am...equipped to help. I am Avira. It is a pleasure, I am sure."
  5. It may not have been the smartest plan of attack, Seth reflected as he felt his body hit the ground. He let out a huff as the air was knocked out of his lungs, and curled up into a small ball. He was, however, very careful to make sure that he paid attention to everything the man said. After all, there was a very good chance that his life, or, at the very least, the mechanical integrity of his ship, might ride on what this man had to say.

    If "man" was even the right word. Seth had grown up in the poor quarter, and had seen some fairly strange mutations caused by the factory climate. But this guy took the trophy hands down. He did his very best not to gape, figuring that it would probably be taken as quite rude. And that was another thing he did not need at this moment. So, as soon as he had assessed that the man really did have no weapons, and was planning no form of retaliation, he closed his eyes. There was nothing odd about the man's words, except a slight accent that was relatively common. It had been beaten out of Seth at the age of thirteen, but barely got in the way of his ability to understand the young man.

    Who, despite himself, Seth liked. It truly seemed that the man was not a scavenger, come to take advantage of his crashed ship. Or, he was, but he was going about it the proper way, by offering aid. Then he would have some claim to it.

    Satisfied that he was ready to behave himself, Seth re-opened his eyes. Just in time to catch the hungry look the man cast at his ship. He felt a brief flicker of jealousy, but quickly scolded himself for it. Hadn't he looked at her the exact same way when he found her? The man was certainly not threatening her, and the chances that he would be able to fly her... It was easy to imagine the man getting electrocuted if he put his hands on the wheel. When he took the man's hand, the one connected to the arm, thank you all the same, the smile he offered was honest, if slightly malicious.

    "The name is Seth," he replied, casting an eye over this most unlikely of allies. "And, no offense, but the thought of people I don't know tinkering away inside of her gives me shivers..." It really was more to see how this Avira reacted than out of any real ability to protest. He needed to get her repaired, and get her repaired quickly, before the scavengers did manage to make their way along to the site of her crash. And it was going to cost him something. It was only a matter of whether he would be able to wriggle out of it before it cost him something important. Most notably, his life or his ship.
  6. (( Okay it totally just occurred to me that Avira won't be able to pronounce Seth's name. xDD He's totally gonna have to call him "Sed". ))

    While it was not often expected of him, Avira could be quite the patient individual when he chose to be so, and he chose to be so now, keeping patiently silent after he had finished his words and allowing his eyes to scan the ship as he waited for the other to gather his senses. He was surprised that the young man was looking as good as he was after such a crash--to give him a few moments was a small mercy. "Sed it is den." He rumbled agreeably, smiling as he gave the other a firm shake, respectfully moving his tail out of reach as he did. He was never surprised when they took his human hand, but he tried all the same to find someone who would take his mutation without fear or hesitation...or disgust. "Dat is understandable." He replied a few moments later, shrugging his shoulders amicably, "I can certainly relate to de feeling--I reacted with similar violence when my own ship was taken from me...aldough she was never as much a beauty as dis."

    The mutant gave a sort of lopsided grin at the ship before he looked to Seth, finally actually looking at the other for the first time. He dipped his brow slightly, frowning subtly, and tilted his head as he clucked his tongue, "You will have to acquiesce to engineers dough. I do not get de feeling dat you are a vitae craftsman--and certainly not one of dis caliber, no offense." He shrugged, a full body expression and shifted closer to the other, offering his hands palm up, "I read vitae. Cannot manipulate it, but I can measure and translate. Dis much I can do, but it will not get her off de ground again. Dis island is bad for engineers too--de good ones are too smart to stay in dis hellhole...not dat I can blame dem." He shrugged again and reached forward with one of his hands without permission, lightly poking Seth in the forehead, "You, meanwhile, are very lucky. You do not even seem to have many scratches--de ship must like you very much to do dis for you."

    He nodded to himself, ears twitching, and his attention moved to the ship a final time, a truly assessing look coming sharply into his stare. "I have never seen a ship like dis. Feels different too...I am betting it is fast, yes?" He turned his eyes to Seth, and there was a sternness that wasn't there before, a sort of quiet threat in his tone that rumbled against his lips as he spoke, "I will be honest with you, Sed. I want off dis island. I want off it very, very, very badly. Dis ship...she would serve as a miracle. I have honor left--I will not try to take her--but I will ask...what is de chance I could convince you to work with me and mine? I have contact with an engineer...a savant who I have no doubt could make dis lady shine like never before...if you would join me and my crew...we could make a mark on dis world dat has never been made before...well...a black mark, anyways."
  7. He certainly knew how to talk, this monkey man. There had been some men like that on his old ship, charismatic speakers, who said more words than necessary, ostensibly kind, but mostly interested in hearing themselves talk. He seemed to be one of them. He clearly knew how to flatter, wheedle, and bribe someone into doing what he wanted. And then there was the matter that he had no choice. He couldn't hire someone to fix her, Avira was right when he said that she was a model of vitae craftsmanship. He would never have the money for it. And he couldn't leave her to be salvaged. He just couldn't. She had saved his life in more ways than one.

    The crash was only one of those measures. He couldn't help the sheepish smile that crossed his face when he heard Avira say that the ship must really like him. Like some lovestruck teenager, he scolded himself. But the smile came anyways.

    "Fast," Seth agreed carefully, keeping his eye on Avira as much as the ship. It had taken him several weeks of cajoling to get her to take to him. And now that she had someone to devote her attention to, the chance that Avira could get in without him was very small. But Seth watched him nonetheless. Under his bright exterior, Seth could almost feel something cruel in this strange young man. He had to believe that Avira would not try to take her, but that left an even greater mystery as to what he might do. "She is."

    He was silent for a moment. There was a part of him that longed to chase this strange man away, and there was also the part that had already be charmed by him. Under the right circumstances, Seth honestly believed he might be willing to follow this strange young man anywhere. He couldn't deny a measure of pride at Avira's words, as well. He, leave a mark that had no match. Were he a bird, he might be tempted to preen.

    But if he could get out without obliging himself to this man, that would be the best option of all. There was no guarantee that he could escape the man once they were off the island, but the idea that it would be a possibility, that there was no binding agreement, was a measure of comfort to him.

    "I can get you off," he replied. "If you help me fix her. After that... I make no promises."

    Would he be content with that? He must know that the chances of his running away with this ship were small, and he also clearly wanted off. Perhaps that put him in just as much of a bind as Seth himself was.
  8. The smile--tiny and secret--did not escape Avira's attention. He noted it with the barest tick of his brow, not mentioning it or bringing it up, but keeping it stored away immediately. He had commented on the liking without true meaning, but there may yet be something literal to it...something that would make this ship even more incredible Still, Avira knew when to hold his tongue in check. He was silent for the longest time, working around Seth's quiet terms with slow, patient thought.

    In all honesty, Avira wanted to get his hands on this ship. He knew a ship with potential when he saw it, and he had very little doubt that a single flight in its hull would be unlike anything in this day and age, but more than that...he wanted off. If he was off the island even without the wondership he could find a way in the world--it would be simple with a reputation in the underworld that he had. Not even his bravest crew would risk the wrath of the entire police state to brave a rescue here, but if he met them somewhere.... He clucked his tongue audibly and gave a curt nod, nostrils flaring as he made a second affirmative noise.

    "Dis is reasonable." He chirped, running his tongue over his teeth, "Aldough I may convince you yet." He grinned, all charm and suave with a cheerful little wink, but did not press the matter as he walked boldly forward, reaching out with one tail hand to hover his palm over the skin of the ship. He tilted his head, his ears swivelling to and fro with his attention as he let his eyes drift half closed. "Yes--dis can be done. De vitae seems to be mostly intact...I do not dink dere will be a need for anyding more dan a vitae engineer....aldough a miner might would be nice..." He shrugged and stepped away from the ship, flicking his eyes to the sky, "Okay. I will send a message--but I can only send it once so we had best hope it gets drough safely. After dat, dere will be noding to do but to wait."

    Avira shifted his weight and glanced back to Seth, "Do you want to come into town wid me? I need to get supplies and to send off de message. After dat, we can hole up at your ship. It will be safer for bod of us--even outside of it will be safer den in de city. If we are lucky no one else will have noticed de crash...and my friend will fly quickly to us."
  9. Seth shook his head politely, working his way quickly back to the ship. As he drew close the door to let him back in slid open. He would have winced, yet that would have made things even worse. Let the man make of that what he would. For now, it didn't matter.

    "I'll stay with her," he said softly, running a hand along the doorway. "Make sure no scavengers find her while you are away." He certainly wasn't going to leave her alone. Especially when he had yet to fully convince himself of Avira's intentions. For all he knew, Avira had someone waiting around, ready to damage her. He was being paranoid and he knew it. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that this was the first time he had met a stranger in three and a half years. But, in this kind of city, there were worse things to be.

    He wasn't going to let Avira out of his sight, though, until he was quite sure that the man was safely underway. As soon as the man was gone, Seth was going to hide the plans he had taken from the small island. The ship was a maze, even when you were familiar with her. Things seemed to shift sometimes, making new spaces that had never existed before, and removing the places that were familiar. With a few sweet words, he could probably get her to hide the documents in such a way that no one would ever find it unless they completely tore her apart.

    And then he would assess the damage. Savant or no, Avira's engineer was not going to know what to do with her. He could probably figure it out quickly, but a break-down would possibly be of some help. But before he could do any of that, Avira had to go away.
  10. A sharp brow quirked immediately at the opening door, but once again Avira let it slide...although he did give the other a significant look to make sure the other knew he wasn't that unobservant, thank you. Look over, however, he gave a shrug and without another word turned on his heel. Avira wasn't stupid--there was no way Seth was going anywhere with a ship that damaged. He'd go get the things he wanted, send off his message, and when he came back what would be would be. So off he ambled, waiting until he was over the outcropping and out of view of the ship before he moved forward into his strange lope.

    He slowed to a stop where he left his bandages and quickly did up the majority of them, still moving at a quick pace until he was deep enough into the city for his crippled shape to be recognized. Here he weaved with quick but handicapped purpose, weaving around in an absent map to make sure he was alone before he dropped into his hidey hole near one of the factory drainage grates. He didn't bother to shed his disguise as he made his way to where he had been living for the past new months, knowing he'd be out of it soon enough that putting it back on would be more of a hassle than the few minutes without it.

    He made quick work of bagging up his things, strapping the mixture of food supplies and basic necessities onto his back, and only then retrieved a worn out bottle buzzing unpleasantly with strange black symbols. Inside--and less than pleased to be there--was a shifting and writhing mass of individual words; a few dozen different verbs, nouns, and adjectives that had been painstakingly pulled from an entire book written in vitae ink. As soon as they were released from the bottle they would return to the page that they had been ripped from, plastering themselves onto it with desperate abandon and hunger to be back where it belonged. A skilled vitae user would be able to tell which ones had come first, and thus read a message.

    Over time Avira had used these bottled words to get word back to his crew and there were only a few select ones left. He would release the important ones, then let the rest of the useless terms free. It was about time the page was completed anyways. He would do so here, then make his way back to Seth he decided, not quite sure he wanted the young man to know exactly what he was sending. Frowning slightly he settled onto his haunches on the sewer floor, carefully taking hold of the vitae enhanced tweezers tied to the bottle before he uncorked it and set to snatching the words he wanted.

    The first was "shipwrecked", followed quickly by "found", "impossible", and "need" in quick succession. It took him a bit longer to separate "doctor" from the mix, flicking a quick "vitae" on its heels before he fished out "urgent" and, after giving them some distance, promptly upended the entire bottle and sent the flurry of words on their way. Smirking to himself Avira stored away the bottle and clambered out of the sewer, heading back to the wreck with as much careful attention as he could manage.
  11. There was a pot of tea boiling on the stove, and Irdyn was doing his best to carefully fish out a cup while one hand was occupied with a heavily-creamed bagel. He stuck it in his mouth, biting down just enough to keep it there, before fishing out the cup. He quickly poured himself some tea, and then transferred the bagel back into one had with a rather large bite missing from its edge. He sipped delicately from the tea, and worked his way into his bedroom, stepping carefully about the piles of stuff that littered the floor with his long legs. He would have groaned, had it been worth anything, but he was the only neat one in the family, and eventually he just got to the point where he couldn't clean up after them. He kept his room neat, and did his best to move quickly from bedroom to the outside, whenever possible.

    He set the bagel down on his drafting table, and cradled the mug of tea close to his chest.He sipped deeply, rolling the flavor around his mouth, before looking up and nearly spewing his mouthful of tea all over his pile of papers. He quickly swallowed, grey eyes going wide, and set aside the now-forgotten mug of tea. There was a grin spreading across his face, despite the frown plastered on his lips.

    "Bastard," Irdyn muttered, running a hand through short brown and blonde streaked hair, before starting to laugh. "You had to let them all go, didn't you? Couldn't you have at least saved some of them?" But he was undeniably laughing as he pulled the sheet down from the wall, and quickly went to work deciphering his captain's message.

    It didn't take him long to put the message together, although its meaning was mostly unintelligible. All he knew was that Avira was finally, fully back, and he needed Irdyn's help with something. Presumably a ship. When he had finally gotten word of Avira's escape, Irdyn had expected the man's call for months. He had checked the paper whenever he had a spare moment, and had tried his best not to let the stabs of disappointment hit him too hard every time he only saw a blank paper.

    Four years he had waited now, four years of the nothing he was expected to call life. But now it was time to go. He quickly read over the message again, taking the extra few minutes to sort through some of the later words to make sure that he hadn't missed anything. Such as a location. "Bastard," Irdyn muttered again. He could track down where the words had come from, but finding his captain after that was likely to be similar to looking for a single ship in the sky. Or, perhaps, one on the ground. That would, at least, be a place to start.

    Still, it didn't take him more than ten minutes to gather everything together. He knew where all of his supplies were, had made a list of all the things he would need to leave so many times that it came back to him more by instinct than memory. He was one of the few travelers leaving home with the certainty that he had not forgotten anything.

    What he was kicking himself for, however, was having the nerve to leave some of those tools in the shop. For the first three and a half years he had brought his tools back into his room every day upon closing. But he had begun to allow himself to believe that Avira wasn't coming back. He had gotten lazy and disheartened. And now it was going to come back and bite him.

    His father and uncle, the owners of the shop that brought in almost all of the income for this family, had been nothing short of pleased when their wayward genius of a son had finally come home. They had pressed him into service of the shop as soon as he hit the legal working age of twelve, and he had been expected to pull his fair share, despite his age. The work hadn't been that challenging, even then. Now, it was nothing short of tedious. But that did not change the fact that he did better work than his father and uncle combined, and often in less time. They were not going to be happy to see him leave. They, like him, had started to believe that his threats of leaving were nothing but a fantasy to keep him content were he was. Irdyn had been hoping to avoid the fight of whether or not he was "allowed" to go, and he had written up the letter a long time ago to explain his sudden absence as best he was able.

    But he had left the goddamn tools in the shop. And now he was going to have to face his whole family, likely all at once. But this was no time to be stalling. He needed to get going. The captain didn't use the word 'urgent' lightly.

    They noticed his rucksack as soon as he stepped into the room. Moments before it had been filled with happy chatter, but then there was dead silence. They stared at him for a moment, dressed in shabby travel clothes, rucksack flung over one shoulder and tools firmly clasped in both hands. And they all knew what it meant, his father and uncle, their wives and all their children, his brothers and sisters and cousins. And all of them reacted in a different way. His aunt was the most accepting, standing up quietly and draping her arms around his shoulders. "Stay safe," she whispered in his ear.

    The shouting match began moments later, and Irdyn was reminded over and over why he had wanted to avoid all this. He gathered together the last of the tools, trying his best to ignore his father and uncle shouting, but he was inevitably pulled into it. Finally, he stormed out the door, leaving his father shouting at him not to come back again. But that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was hearing his littlest sister shout out through her tears "Don't forget to write."

    It was expensive to get from island to island with any sort of speed, but Irdyn hadn't wasted his income over the years. He was no doubt going to need materials to get this ship up and running, but draining his bank account wouldn't be a problem. Assuming his father didn't try and get to it first. but, even if he did, Irdyn had planned for that eventuality. He had a secondary bank account, with significantly less money, that his father would be able to drain. Never let it be said he did nothing for his family.

    As soon as he reached the island that Avira's call had come from, Irdyn set about blending in. He abused his packages carefully, before proceeding to abuse himself. It never did to look too well off in a place like this, and while there was a risk that he would still get mugged for whatever materials he was carrying, he could fight off a couple waves of attackers without sustaining too much damage.

    He hid his tools away securely, and then set about rumormongering. Taking the captain literally at his words, he set about gathering information on any nearby wreckage. Mostly there was nothing, but he did catch the occasional tale of an unexpected crash, just a couple days back. He tracked it across the island, and finally found the field where general rumors placed it.

    At first he was certain he had gotten it wrong, that he had found the wrong field. But when he finally saw the ship he staggered back in shock, wondering how he could have missed it. His mouth was hanging open, but he didn't bother to close it. Picking up his tools like a man in a dream, Irdyn moved forwards, his mind quietly turned to mush.

    He had never seen such a ship. Never even dreamed that such a thing could exist. The whole thing practically sang with vitae energy, and every line was made cleanly, and with the ultimate purpose firmly in mind. That of a ship unlike any other. The perfect ship. His fingers were gentle as he touched the exterior, probing carefully into the extent of the damage. However, he yelped quite loudly when he felt his explorations firmly rebuffed by... something. He tried again, only to have the same result. Was this ship alive?

    "Avira!" Irdyn bellowed at the top of his lungs, getting a satisfying echo on the inside of the ship. "Get out here!"
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  12. Well if that wasn't a voice he could pick out in a crowd.
    A wide grin spread unabashed onto Avira's face, splitting around his mouthful of bread as he gave a rip-roaring laugh and bolted up from where he had been sprawled awkwardly in a thick chair, nearly upending the entire thing as he skidded on his bare toes, his tails spread out wide for balance as he shot through the ships halls. "Better get up and about, Sed! Dere is a useful ding outside!" He bellowed, crowing cheerfully at the end of his statement as he slid to a messy stop near the exit, barely waiting for the door to slide open before he was leaping out of it and very nearly tackling Ardyn as he outright assaulted the younger in a fiercely excited hug.

    "Ah dere is de little brat!" He cheered, clapping the other loudly on he back, "Ack, it is been too long--I almost forgot how screechy you were. Will your voice ever break?" Teasing was evident in his tone as he winked, his ears all perked with glee as his tails flicked wildly behind him, occasionally reaching forwards to touch Irdyn on his shoulders or arms or ruffle his hair as though Avira was resisting wrapping him up in another hug. His grin didn't drop even as he finally withdrew, however, making a churring sound of happiness as he stepped back and gestured widely to the ship.

    "Is she not de most beautiful ding? De boy Sed found vitae in her...dis is unlike anyding I ever imagined--can you believe she is here?" He crooned at her, smiling widely, and after taking a quick moment to check and see if Seth was near enough to hear, he sidled back into Irdyns' space, his voice lowering to a quick whisper. "Dis one is special, yes? I dink we will tread lightly....I do not want to lose dis ship...but dat will be determined entirely by de boy. Unfortunately..." He swiped his tongue over his lips, eyes narrowing with rapt attention, "weder or not de ship lets us near her is based on de boy. De ship likes him very much, dis much is obvious."

    Avira rumbled, rolling into a laugh as though he had ben sharing a sneakily clever joke and slid his hands into the pockets of his jacket, running a tail hand though his hair before adding louder, "Do you dink you can get her off de ground to a safer island? De coppers....dey have not yet forgotten me, you see." He chuckled and tugged on a lock of his hair, frowning as the color caught his eye, "Ah....any chance you brought any dye of any sort, by de by? De bastards did not let me change it in de slammer, and de soot can only do so much for dis disgusting shade."
  13. As soon as he finished his shout, Irdyn braced himself, setting one leg solidly behind him, and bending both knees. The brace was not premature, because as soon as he spotted Avira he was tackle-hugged. Had he not put himself into a better position, it was entirely possible that both captain and crewmate would have wound up sprawled on the ground. He wrapped his arms firmly around Avira's shoulders, hugging the man firmly. "Four years, you bastard," he croaked through a tight throat. "Four years, and not a word." He clubbed his captain on the back of the head lightly. "Even one word, and I would have known that you were alright."

    He firmly pushed himself back, and a smile spread over his face. "You are looking good, all things considered. But now, I take it, is not the moment to play catch-up." He moved towards the ship, running an admiring hand over it. "She is beyond imagination," he said, his face sick with envy. A moment later, he moved back over to his captain, catching the conspiratorial grin in Avira's face. He bobbed his head carefully, keeping one eye on the ship.

    "Boy?" Irdyn replied, just as softly. "But that is beside the point. So it was the ship herself that prevented me from looking her over?" he mused, turning eyes over the ship again. There was no doubt that he was going to need to get in this "boy"s good graces. The ship wasn't going to let him do much of anything without it. But, he was endearing in his own way. And surely the ship would appreciate being repaired. Maybe, soon enough, he could be a solid rival for this ship's affections.

    He listened with half an ear as Avira finished talking. "No dye," he responded absentmindedly, "but I can go get you some. What color?" Irdyn turned back to his captain, and there was an intense, glowing passing in his eyes. "This ship is beyond anything I've ever seen. I can get her back in running order, but if you really want her perfect... I'm going to need to go pick up a friend."

    A moment later, Seth stepped out of the doorway of the ship. Irdyn could feel the pressure of his eyes on his shoulders, and he turned around and offered a winning smile. "Boy" might just be the right term for him. He was young, probably younger than twenty, and there was little experience in his bearing. This was the kid they were all going to have to rely on? He was skinny, practically malnourished, with a messy mop of black hair that really needed to be trimmed. The only thing about him that was worthy of attention was his eyes. They were the color of young grass, and glowed with some incomprehensible intensity. If Avira was right, and he undoubtedly was, this kid was important. Best to be polite, and perhaps make assumptions in his favor.

    "Your ship is incredible," he said, approaching and offering a hand. "Call me Irdyn."

    "Seth," the boy relied, taking his hand cautiously. Irdyn shook it warmly, before turning back to his captain.

    "He might not be easy to persuade. How long have I got?"
  14. Avira snorted, rolling his eyes, and tolerated the smack to his head with an absent hum. " know how difficult to get rid of I am. Dere was no worries about me surviving." He rumbled again and stretched himself, clucking his tongue. "Better dan I could be, I suppose..." He agreed, not without a sour expression and a memo of revenge filtering through his head, "But you are correct. Better to wait and enjoy a cup of someding stinkingly alcoholic high in de skies."

    The captain shifted his weight, attention elsewhere as he fiddled with a stone on the ground, shifting it between his hand-like toes and his tails. "Oh yes, she is very opinionated about dese dings. I dink she would have never allowed me near if I had not been so careful to play nice and not tough widout permission. It is somewhat amusing dough--she likes to loop me around in de halls....I dink I must be getting too close to someding fun." He grinned, wide and mischievous, and wiggled his toes before he leapt to attention, flailing his tails, "Someding bright! De bright purpley pink, yes? Dey dumped a nasty black over it when I was caught--I did not even get to enjoy de shade."

    He clucked his tongue again, rolling his shoulders, and turned his attention to the arrival of Seth, grinning lazily. "You do not have long," he admitted, arching a brow at the idea of a new friend, "Every second we stay here is a second we are at risk. Is dis man word de effort...?"
  15. "He is the best miner I know," Irdyn replied promptly. "And coming from me, that really means something." Irdyn set down his packs, and turned back to Seth, trusting that Avira would take his word as to the value of Irdyn's friend.

    "Is there somewhere I can leave my stuff?" Irdyn questioned, pointing to the rucksack and boxes of tools he had abandoned a little ways away while preparing to Avira's tackle. "That stuff will be almost irreplaceable when it comes to repairing her."

    Seth looked him over for a moment, and Irdyn met his eyes calmly, trying to look as though he wasn't hiding anything. And he wasn't. Not really. But Seth didn't seem to see anything odd in him, and beckoned Irdyn on with a mind "come on." Irdyn ran and grabbed his bags, before slipping in behind Seth. All through the hallways he studied her, and now that he was inside she seemed a bit more friendly to him. She let him examine her wounds, so long as he did not touch. That was something he was going to need to find a way to work around, and quickly. He could not go asking Seth every time he needed to examine a break or repair something that seems unrelated to the overall problem.

    The boy was abnormally quiet, especially after being exposed to Avira and his family for the past seven years. But he didn't break the silence. As soon as Seth cleared him to set down his bags Irdyn was off, winding his way quickly through the maze-like ship. She seemed quite willing to let him out, and he found himself back at an exit much quicker than it had been for him to get in.

    "I will go as quick as I can," Irdyn told his captain, "You'll like Kail. I think..." With that rather uncertain response Irdyn was off, racing across the field. He understood even better how pressed for time they were, now that he had been in the ship. She needed attention, there was no doubt about that, and if anyone else found her Avira and Seth wouldn't be able to protect her. They needed to get her into the air, and they needed to do it now. And, as long as it might take to get Kail off of his lazy butt, he would speed up the process exponentially.

    He considered himself lucky that he had seen Kail not all that long ago. The man was likely to roam, and he became hard to track down as soon as he was on the move. Irdyn and Kail were familiar with each other in a way that most people could never understand. Both of them quietly glowed with vitae, and that was how they had first chosen to speak to each other when they were both still kids. After that, they had never separated, through street fights and engineering projects alike.

    He was home, Irdyn could feel him through the door. It had been as quick of a journey as Irdyn could manage, and he was out of breath from having run halfway across the island after some rich ass had pushed him off the bus. He hammered on the door, shouting around his panting. "Kail. Open up, please. I need to talk to you."
  16. "Coming from you dat means more dan a lot." Avira replied slowly, arching a brow to regard the other thoughtfully. Mostly he was wondering why this super miner had never come up before, but he didn't mention that as he let the other maneuver his stuff indoor, waiting patiently to see the younger off. "De faster de better." He agreed, still giving the engineer a thoughtful look, "But do what you must. I am not so weak a fighter as to lose de ship immediately. Still, I do not fancy bleeding too much over someding dat is not mine." He laughed lightly and pushed the other in the direction of the city, watching him scurry off before moving back towards the ship, "I would like to sit on top of you, if you do not mind." He announced loudly before moving to clamber up, perching on high where he could keep watch...and wait.


    The door, as usual, was unlocked. Less normal, however was how easily it swung open on Irdyn's hammering, the hinges giving a pitiful creaking whine before remaining open wide and proud. Inside the bare bones of what was generally a chaotic pile of pillows and nesting materials (split with the occasional tool or twitching bottle of vitae ink) stood stark and empty, the studio completely and neatly packed away into a single rucksack flopped to the side next to an ancient looking futon that had come with the apartment. The bag itself absolutely buzzed with vitae, and a skillful user could easily pick out the hundreds upon hundreds of objects all carefully deconstructed into vitae components all packed with careless abandon into the bag. The action itself was thoughtless and lazy, the absent tossing of a messy packer, but the sheer ability to have broken up an entire apartment into vitae with the same careless ease of throwing a book into a box spoke volumes about the individual who had done it.

    Irdyn, it would seem, had been exceptionally lucky, catching the gypsy mere hours before he disappeared into the sunset with lazy whistle on his lips.

    But as for the man in question...well he was still apparently absent. The studio, with its tiny kitchen and tiny bathroom, was empty. The main room too was empty, and the futon had been folded up and away, yet a quiet snore echoed through the room, sounding from the open mouth of the missing miner. Closer inspection would find the noise coming from the folded futon, and as the man's breath caught in a strange way, the sound seemed to awaken the very futon itself, which shivered once before violently unfolding and spilling a sprawled out Kail awkwardly onto the tile.

    The miner flailed slightly, stuttering around his own breath, before he abruptly sat up, his outback hat laid awkwardly half over his face, and stayed that way in a state of complete stillness...before dull grey eyes peered out from beneath the brim of the hat and Kail set his stare on Irdyn, blinking owlishly once before a charming, lopsided grin flopped onto his lips and he reached up, scratching absently at his stubble. "Oh...Irdyn. I thought y'were th' bloody landlord. Not nice t'be scarin' me like that." He yawned, wide and slow, and stretched catlike and slow, mussing up his already messy braid more as he rubbed at the nape of his neck, "Welp...g'night." And with that he was flopped bonelessly to the side, one hand latching on his rucksack to use as pillow just before his head hit ground, and quiet snores were already whispering through the room.
  17. Irdyn wandered into the room with an absent sort of focus. He looked around quickly, letting out a small sigh. He kenw full well that Kail would never have left the room with that much vitae just lying around. That meant he was still here somewhere. It didn't take him much longer to find Kail. When you knew him for a little while, it became easier to track him down on his habits. The only soft thing in the room was a futon. That was where Kail was.

    He was proved correct moments later when the man unrolled just long enough to see who was daring to disturb his nap. Believing it was someone he could safely ignore, he went back to sleep. Honestly, he should know better than that by now. He might not be able to gather vitae from the world around him the way that Kail could, but he still knew how to control it. And the man had just left all of those bottles, lying around...

    It took all of his considerable self-control not to set up a trap for the sleeping man. But Avira's words had stuck with him. He was in a hurry, and he needed Kail to wake up. He needed him to do it now. In an effort for that, Irdyn offered a perfunctory kick at the futon, certainly hard enough to get his attention. "I don't have time for these games right now, Kail. Up, or the beating continues."
  18. The kick stuttered Kail out of his nap just barely, but it was enough for him to grunt, brows knit in distaste as he cracks open an eye and outright glowers at Idryn, baring his teeth halfheartedly, "There ain't anyfin that important." He grumbled, nuzzling into his bag, "Can't it wait til m'awake?" He didn't mention the fact that he was very very rarely actually awake, but he didn't need too either. Rare indeed was the day that Kail was fully awake on his own violation....especially not in these slow as dirt days.

    He shifted again and tried to squish himself under the futon, whining under his breath as he hid his face beneath one brawny arm. After a beat, however, Kail moved his face back into view, a faint green tint to his stare as he arched a brown brow, frowning slightly, "Wait a minute. You didn't mess wif my stuff." He rumbled, slow and suspiciously as he clutched the vitae bag closer, "What exactly do you need, Idryn...?"
  19. It was good to know that there was still something that could, at least partially, wake his friend up. The fact that it was his departing from their usual routine and not the kick was entirely beside the point. Right now, Irdyn would take anything he could get. And if that meant begging, threatening, blackmailing, or flattering, he would do whatever it took. It would take a very quick burst of information to get his friend's attention for longer than a couple seconds best to start now. It was a good thing he had a lot of practice at this.

    "Avira's back," Irdyn said, kneeling down next to the futon. "He has found himself a ship made almost entirely out of vitae. Except it is wrecked, and the longer we sit here talking the more likely it is that someone is going to start scrapping it. She's sentient, and needs our help. If you don't get out of bed now, I will cause so much trouble for you that it might take months to fix. So, please, lets just get moving. I can't do it without you." It wasn't exactly the best persuasion he had ever used, but it should work on his friend. It certainly wouldmanage to get his attention. For now that was all he needed.

    Irdyn stood fluidly, using the movement to try and stand up with Kail's rucksack. "Shall we go?"
  20. "Avira? That weirdo two-tail yer always talkin' about?" He frowned sleepily, arching a brow, and yawned, closing his eyes as he hummed, "Idunno, Irdyn...piracy's an awful lot've work." Kail nuzzled deeper into his back, the vitae a familiar buzzing sensation against his skin, and only after Irdyn had finished and tugged at his pack did he move again, latching onto the rucksack like a determined rodent and rolling off of the futon and onto Idryn's legs with a groan.

    "Sentient ships aren't real." He murmured, curling around the other's limbs childishly, "Why should I believe that y'ain't just off yer wits, mm?" He nodded slowly, more to himself than anything, and all at once what he had actually heard seemed to click and both eyes snapped up, the young man up and on his feet in a flash of movement as he moved to drape his taller form onto Irdyn, his arms flopped onto the other's shoulders and his forehead butted up against his.

    "You said sentient ship. A sentient vitae ship." His eyes gleamed with excitement, the vitae in his bag seeming to reflect his exuberance as he tossed the rucksack over one shoulder, barely moving out of Irdyn's space bubble to do so before he was leaning in again, leaning his hat up against the other's head as he gave the other a goofy grin, "Carry me to the scene of the crime, my good man."
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