Chapter 1: Raiders of the Solar Winds
How in the world did I end up here… I needed the money, sure, but working on a flying ship?! I've never been on a vessel like this before. On water sure, but lake water was never choppy or “turbulent” as crew members described. Ugh, it's a good thing my stomach is pretty empty or I might’ve hurled all over the place. If I did that and was fired would they still keep me on the ship? Would I have to walk the plank or be sent overboard? I… I should probably stop thinking about those kinds of things and just get the job done, yeah, focus on the job.
Which in itself isn’t all that exciting either. I know I’m new to working on boats or whatever but did I really have to be the one to clean it? After briefly introducing himself the first mate said I would be “swabbing”. It sounded way more interesting than this. Every time someone walks by a new mess seems to appear. How can their feet possibly be getting so dirty, we haven’t been on land in days!
Huh. That’s so weird to think. I’ve spent my whole life with two feet on the ground but now… Well, I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing these days but I guess in some kind of way this is nice. The scenery here is awesome. To see clouds so close to the ship. Space clouds? Going through a “cloud'' for the first time was so weird. A couple crew members laughed so I must have made a face or reacted somehow. And the stars! I’ve seen stars before at home, but never like this. These stars don’t seem to follow the same rules if stars can even do that haha. They appear in all sorts of different colors, sizes, and a few even seem differently shaped. The stars here come in shades of pinks, oranges, and greens. My- My siblings back home would love them…
I’m probably done for today. I’ll go see what they have in the mess hall. Get myself something to eat and then go to sleep.
Uhhh, what is all that noise? It sounds like a bunch of angry chickens. Squawking and yakking at one another. It can’t be time to work already…
“Ack-!” Who is steering the ship right now? Is this some kind of tactic to get us out of bed? I suppose it worked but I think I would’ve rather someone yelled in my face. Whoa. It just tilted again. I guess this is a little weird. Now that I’ve woken up a bit I don’t see anyone else asleep in the bunks. I better get up there, whatever is happening must be urgent and I don’t want to get in trouble for being the last one awake. I can definitely hear yelling now. Are we in a storm? If that’s possible here. Oh no! Thinking about it… could we be under attack? I thought I heard that attacks were happening quite often on shipping lanes but I never could imagine it would happen to the ship I was on. Now that I’m at the door, do I really want to go outside? It's not like I’m getting paid to guard the ship too, not with what I’m making. Heh, well I won’t make any money if we’re knocked out of the sky. Here goes nothing.
Oh. Well then. I guess it isn’t that strange that our ship is doing the attacking.
It's chaos. Sparks are flying as blades collide and gunpowder weapons are volleying at dangerous speeds between the two vessels. Hoo boy. I just need to take a deep breath and assess the situation. I can’t help anyone if I get in the way. Besides those steering the ships, everyone else seems to be engaged in a battle of some kind. Maybe… I could sneak onto the other ship. If we’re raiding them they must have something worth taking. If I find it, maybe this fight can end much sooner or I might get extra pay or something from it.
Yeah. Now I just need to get across in such a way that no one will see me. And I won’t die… The other ship is not that far but it isn’t all that close either. I think I can… I can jump it. I just need a head start and a little bit of height. I’ll run off that pointy bit in the front when we tilt a bit closer. Wait… wait… wait… Now!
Wow. This must be what it's like to fly. To be suspended in the air above it all. To feel weightless.
Sigh, just as quickly crashing down. Hopefully that wasn’t too noticeable. If anyone left… Well if anyone is left I think footsteps might be the least of their worries. They could get stabbed or worse at any moment. Probably best to avoid that side of the ship. Hmmm. If I were something expensive and worth protecting where would I be? This looks like a craft built for carrying things, maybe belowdecks? Nah, then any old crew member could take it. It would have to be somewhere special. Like in the captain's cabin! But is it always in the same place… This looks nothing like the ship I was hired to swab. If I remember the ship structure correctly it should be located towards the back.
Hmmm. I don’t see any lights on, and I definitely can’t hear much over the commotion the gunpowder and weapons are making. I can try the lock. Darn, I should have expected as much. I’ve never picked a lock before, but it can’t be too hard. I've seen my little sister pick the lock when our dad was away and we were stuck outside. I only have my dagger… Well. There is one thing I can do.
“Yes, yes, yes! I am so glad that worked.” A little brute force is okay now and again. Push open the door and- what? It’s empty. No gold, no treasure. There’s gotta be something somewhere. In drawers, shoved between furniture. Why attack a ship with nothing on it…? I just need to stop and think… They probably won't be so cliche as to have money shoved into treasure chests… Where else are valuable things kept? Hmmm… Oh! A safe! Is there a safe nearby? Hidden behind a painting maybe? Yes! Jackpot! I just have to open this sucker up. The dagger ought to do it.
Oh. Oh no. That was my only weapon. Is it usable all bent up like this? Jeez… And I still have to open this stupid metal box. What else can I do? Rip the safe out of the wall and carry it with me? I don’t even know how heavy it is.
Oh jeez. I... I haven’t practiced since I discovered it but I can try my plant thing. I think I made it grow with my mind? It's been a while, but if I can control a plant in any way then maybe I can control its growth then I might be able to jumble up the locks, or something. People with money like useless plants. On the desk… and bingo!
All right. How do I do this? I can try picturing it. Imagine the plant working through the mechanism and unlocking the correct component. Maybe this way? No, that's not working. Nothing I'm doing is working. Someone can walk in at any time. I could get captured or left behind. They might kill me.
“ARGHHHHH!!! WHY CAN’T IT JUST DO WHAT I WANT!!”
“Oh… Thank you?” Not sure what worked there, I’m just glad it opened. The moment of truth… and it's a bunch of papers. Sigh. Might as well stash them and get the heck out of here.
Oh my goodness this ship is peppered with holes. None struck near me but I bet that was intentional. I need to be quick if I want to leave in one piece. I just need to find someplace to leap off again and-
“HEY! Hey, you!” I had to stop myself from falling over to locate the source of the voice. A man with a colorful shock of hair was jumping about and waving their arms frantically in my direction from our ship.
“Hey! You're one of our crewmates! Did you get them?” He began to mime out what the crew must have been looking for. The papers! I grabbed one from my bag and waved it above my head. It must have been what we were after because he started pumping his fists in the air with a big grin plastered across his face. He began shouting but it was lost to the sky as cannon fire crossed and shook the boats. He began rapidly pointing at something. Something… something I could use to jump across. I wasted no time and before I knew it I was in the air but-
I undershot it. It wasn’t close enough. Now I’m falling…
Two hands shot out to catch me. Within moments more reached down to grab me by my arm and cloak and pull me on board. The first thing I saw as I lay on my back was the grinning face of the man who had signaled to me. Hmm, maybe not a man. Not a human one at least. His ears had little points to them. He extended his arm.
“The name’s Silvyr, Silvyr Rose,” I was pulled to my feet.
“That was pretty crazy. The jump I mean. Well, everything about this mission has been all kinds of crazy. We thought we were going to need to send an entire team over to retrieve the target.” He quickly looked around.
“You’ve still got them right?” he said in a hushed voice. I nodded, resting my hand on my bag. I was still too shaky to feel comfortable speaking.
“That is wonderful! I’ll bring you straight up to the captain where you can explain everything.” He noticed my hesitation.
“I’m sure there’s a warm meal in it for you, and the captain’s not that scary, come on!” He flashed a cheeky look and pushed forward. The pirates on board parted around him.
Well. Here goes nothing.