Author: Smonorkith PM
Hundreds of years into the shadow of the apocalypse, humans survive, thrive and advance once more. They build airships and skyports - towns in the sky. On the ground, land raiders inhabit the wastes; cities and towns are spread thinly apart. In the skies of the new world, Galland and his crew find themselves at the dawn of a new age, mired in revolution and conflict.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Sci-Fi - Chapters: 17 - Words: 44,041 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 05-06-13 - Published: 09-08-12 - id: 3056732
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Thummim was obviously smoking desert hashish, and the pair were feeling the effects of the herb as they emerged from the smoke filled tent. With the words of the old man still ringing about their heads, Galland and Seroni set off into the heart of the nomad camp in a haze. The captain checked his watch; it was half six in the evening. As the pair explored the camp, they walked past a man selling freshly cooked meat out of his tent. The meat looked strange but to Galland and Seroni, who were suddenly hungry, it smelled delightful. The man noticed Seroni looking at his store, and moved in to sell his product.
"Hello my friends, you want good meat yes?" he asked, gesturing at the meat that was rotating on a spit above a grill. Galland hesitantly nodded before speaking up.
"For you my friend, only good price, eh? Two gears for one portion!"
Galland was surprised at such a reasonable fee, expecting a ludicrous price. He reached into his pocket to pay the man, who was now shaving meat from the spit and piling it onto a tray. Galland froze. He'd left his money on the Hyperion. Seroni rolled her eyes at his mistake, and paid up for them both, producing four gears from a pouch that was hidden by the tongue of her left boot. The man grinned and handed over two trays, before giving them each a wooden fork.
"Enjoy friends!" he said, as the pair turned and left.
Galland gave the meat a suspicious look, and prodded it with his fork.
"I can't even imagine what kind of animal this came from."
Seroni grunted in response, she didn't share his qualms, and was now already wolfing down the meat as though it was her first meal of the month. Galland decided that if it was good enough for her then it was probably edible at the very least. He took his first bite and a torrent of flavour washed through his mouth. After eating nothing but tasteless protein bricks for weeks, this was a godsend.
"I think this is actually better than sex," Seroni remarked with her mouth half full. Galland nearly choked, which caused Seroni to howl with laughter. For at least moment, the pair had managed to forget about Astreios and the price he had put out on the Hyperion.
Galland left Seroni to her own devices and headed to the ship to get his money, he imagined he would probably need some at some point during his stay. Approaching the ship he was stopped by two burly nomads with curved swords drawn, blocking his entrance to the ship. Confused, he asked them to let him pass. They responded by shifting closer together, further blocking his path. Galland took a deep breath, but before he could shout in anger, Ra'Zek rushed towards them from seemingly out of nowhere. He began talking quickly in his native tongue to the guards. They looked at Galland, then back at Ra'Zek, before shifting and the captain passage to his ship, apologising for the misunderstanding and bowing. Galland was quick in finding his gears, though he had to raid his chest for a few more, as his pouch had been all but emptied through games of blackjack with Seroni. On his way out he, grabbed Seroni's jacket and his own, night would descend soon, and they would need them to cope with the cold.
As he left the ship, the two guards retook their position blocking entrance to the ship. The captain was thankful that the armed guards were so diligent, he felt quite confident in leaving the ship for a few days. After briefly looking over the camp from the edge of platform to see if he could spy Seroni, he saw her by a tent admiring clothes made by the nomad tailors. He rushed down as fast as he could to deliver her jacket.
He found her at the same store, still admiring the soft fabrics that the nomads used for their clothes. As he neared, she picked up a black sheer skirt and handed over some gears to the woman who owned the tent. She slipped it on over her leggings. The skirt was fairly short, being cut off midway between her hips and knees, and was just transparent enough that the colours of her leggings were visible through it. She looked at herself in a mirror and smiled, before catching a glimpse of Galland walking towards her in the background. He passed her the jacket before checking his pocket watch, by now it was a quarter past seven. Seroni had noticed him checking the time more often than usual. She frowned.
"Afraid you're going to be late for your date with Kayleigh Truss?" she asked, bitterly.
"Look, with Astreios gunning for us, we could use a friend or two. I'm just trying to gain some allies."
"And what if she's one of Astreios' spies? Or worse?"
Galland dismissed the comment and left, in search of Joe's Bar. Seroni hissed and stormed off in the opposite direction in a huff.
Elsewhere in the camp, Bendis and Sarah were browsing jewellery in one of the bazaar tents. The tent was full of jewellery, crafted of fine silver, gold and brass. All of it was handmade by the nomads, and some pieces were encrusted with beautiful jets, sapphires, rubies and other precious stones. Sarah was captivated by a particular necklace. A delicately cut fire agate sat in the centre of a charm of silver, shaped like the sun, hanging from a necklace of fine white gold; the necklace represented Bader, one of the gods of the skies. Bendis, seeing how infatuated Sarah was by the piece, bought it for her, using the gears he'd won playing blackjack a few nights ago. Bendis fastened the charm around her neck, and she gave him a thank you kiss.
Bjorn had led the rest of the crew to a large food tent and bar, and was now orchestrating eating, drinking and arm wrestling contests between the crew and the locals.
After a while of searching, Galland finally found Joe's Bar, he was ten minutes late. Luckily he saw Kayleigh sat by the bar, with double rum in front of her. She's definitely an aviator, Galland thought to himself. She saw him standing at the door to the tent, smiled and waved.
"You finally made it then! I was beginning to worry that you'd stood me up."
Galland approached and took a seat beside her. She gestured at the barman for another drink, who brought her a double rum. She passed him a few gears, before giving the drink to Galland.
Galland thanked her and picked up his drink. Before he could drink it Kayleigh raised her glass, and made a toast.
"To smugglers like us!" she grinned, before knocking the spirit back.
Galland nodded in agreement and did the same. She ordered another couple of drinks, and the pair got talking.
"So you're a smuggler like me?" Galland asked.
"Guilty as charged."
"You're out here in the great eastern, so I guess it'd be nomad hash you're smuggling?"
Kayleigh grinned and nodded, "yes sir, we have a whole batch of the nomads' finest that we're bringing to London Town."
Galland smiled at the thought of London Town. It was a nice city, not as full with the smoke of industry or the hustle and bustle you find in most other cities. The lawman was strict though, and you couldn't even take a pistol out with you. Smuggling there was risky business, but it paid well enough to make the risk worthwhile.
"And what about you, the famed sylph, Captain Galland? Smuggling any of the nomad's fine herb out to where it's needed?"
He shook his head, "no, nothing like that. Haven't been on a smuggling run in a while actually, been kind of, preoccupied."
"Ooooh, mysterious," she laughed, before finishing her drink and ordering another. Galland did the same. He was beginning to feel his head spinning already.
"This stuff is even stronger than aviator rum!" he laughed.
"Another thing the nomads are great at!" she raised her empty glass and shouted at the barman, "Joe, another!"
After more small talk, and many more drinks, Galland finally let up, and blurted out the story about Astreios. Normally he wouldn't have shared such delicate information with a stranger, but he liked Kayleigh and besides that, he was drunk.
"Heavy shtuff," Kayleigh slurred, "listen, after we finish our delivery to London Town, you and I could meet up if you'd like. It'd be an honour to help you out of this messh."
He wasn't sure if she was serious or if it was just the rum talking, but he agreed anyway.
"When we're done here, we'll head to the Holmgard and wait for you there."
After another drink, the pair decided it was time to leave the bar. As they stood up, Kayleigh grabbed Galland's head, pulled him down towards her and kissed him, and he didn't protest. She took him by the hand and began to lead him to her tent. Seroni turned a corner to see Galland walking down a side street hand in hand with Kayleigh. She frowned. She still didn't trust her, or perhaps it was just jealousy. Seroni was used to being the only woman in Galland's life, even if they'd only ever made a few drunken moves on each other. Full of venom, she stormed into the Joe's Bar and bought a bottle of rum. Throwing gears at him, she pulled out the cork with her teeth and took a deep swig of the fiery amber liquid, before heading off to one of the guest tents, vision blurred by anger and drink. Once she arrived, she continued to drink, and, after nearly the full bottle, drifted off into a rage filled slumber.
Before long, she woke up again, with a burning need to relieve herself. She stumbled out of bed and dashed off to find a latrine. After failing to find one, she decided to squat down at the edge of the camp. A shout interrupted her as she was half way through.
"Hey! What are you doing down there?!"
The voice clearly came from a nomad that much was obvious from the accent. It was an angry male shout. Fearing it may be a guard suspecting her of troublemaking; she couldn't help but shout back in an annoyed tone.
There was a silence, followed by a howl of laughter. The nomad, for whatever reason, found the idea of a drunken girl relieving herself in a street hilarious. He left her to finish in peace, and after she did, she managed to stumble forward a few feet, before throwing up on the side of a tent and in her hair. I am never drinking nomad rum again, she thought to herself, as she mopped her mouth with her jacket sleeve. She decided a walk in the fresh air would help settle her stomach, so she set off blindly through the camp.
Walking through the streets, she swore she passed one of those strange scouts they had seen before they found the nomads. She shrugged and continued walking. She stopped and watched a commotion unfolding on the dock, it was dark and she couldn't really tell what was happening, but she heard raised voices, and could make out the outline of what appeared to be a very strange airship. The ship looked almost like a bug. Seroni shrugged again, these nomads are a queer folk. She carried on down the maze of streets formed by the tents for at least half an hour. After a while of exploring, she heard a shout that sounded familiar. It was Galland! Rushing over to where the noise came from, Seroni heard him cursing.
Turning a corner, everything came into view. An exotic looking woman, clad in a leather bra and leggings, with a blue silken scarf covering her face. The woman was brandishing a fierce looking sword, swinging at Galland. Encircling the two, were six men in black robes. The scouts we saw in the desert! she thought. It was becoming clearer now. Galland had a sword too, but Seroni knew he wasn't too quick with a sword, and besides that, it looked like a piece of crap and he was drunk. The exotic girl raised her sword above her head and brought it down sharply. Galland was quick enough to raise his sword with both hands to protect him, but the force of her blow sent him to the ground. The girl struck with such power that Galland's own sword was pressed close to his face, so close that the girl's blade managed to slice deeply into his chin. She laughed and put one arm behind her back. She was toying with him, like a cat with a mouse.
Seroni quietly snuck up behind one of the black robed nomads, and unsheathed her combat knife. The nomads were so engrossed in the fight, they didn't even notice as she silently cut his throat and let him down. Seroni threw the blood stained combat knife at the assassin. Alas, she was drunk, and had never been brilliant at throwing things anyway. The blade missed miserably, but the clatter it made as it hit the tent behind distracted the assassin, forcing her to turn around and investigate; that was all Seroni needed.
Like a feral beast, Seroni closed the distance between her and the assassin, and pulled out her boot knife. The assassin swung around to see Seroni's blade thrusting straight for her. The assassin dodged swiftly, but not quickly enough. If Seroni hadn't have finished a bottle of nomadic rum, the assassin might not have even had the chance. The exotic girl let out a blood curdling shriek. Seroni had managed to slice through her cheek and into her left eye, blinding her in that side instantly. The assassin doubled over, hands clutching her face, blood gushing from the wound in her cheek. Seroni helped Galland up, and turned around to see the black robed men unsheathing swords, just as fierce as the one the assassin had been using. The pair were surrounded in an instant. Seroni swallowed the air nervously; she knew they were both too drunk to fight, and even if they were sober, they were still outnumbered.
One of the nomads smiled a wicked grin and raised his sword. Galland shielded Seroni with his own blade in preparation for the attack. A thunderous crack ripped the silent air. The nomad hurtled backwards and gargled. Emerging from a tent brandishing a pistol, Kayleigh Truss rushed forth, shooting at the nomads, ushering Seroni and Galland into the tent.
"Where did you get that?" Galland asked, drunkenly.
"Maybe one day I'll show you," Kayleigh laughed slyly. Seroni scowled at her.
The gunfire roused the crew of the Hyperion and the Beckett, who, being smugglers, instinctively prepared for a fight. In a few moments both crews had arrived at the scene. The attackers had fled, two of the black robed nomads carried the assassin away; she was too debilitated by pain to move herself. The other four black robed men had been killed by Kayleigh. The captains decided it was best that they make a hasty exit from the nomad's camp. As they rushed towards the dock, the bug like airship Seroni had seen earlier passed swiftly overhead.
"No doubt that that is my would-be assailant's ship," Galland commented, as the crews ran. At last the crews reached the dock, and the scene there was one of utter horror. Nearly all of the armed guards lay in pools of their own death blood, throats slit from edge to edge. A surviving guard fell out from his hiding place behind a box, shaking with dread. He was young, barely a man, with a smooth olive face and big dark eyes. His headscarf had come off at some point, and his short shock of brown hair was exposed.
"Please Captain; let me join your crew," he begged on his knees, "I'm not much of a fighter but I can cook and clean. Please take me, anywhere away from here."
Galland needed a chef and agreed to take the boy on as long as he told him what had happened.
"It was horrible sir, there was no ship on the radar, but then out of nowhere it appeared from the night sky like a lone locust. The black robed men, exiles from our own tribe, began to kill. I hid and..." his voice trailed off into sobbing, "my friends." The boy was obviously distraught. Edson led the boy onto the Hyperion, his age and experience made him the best choice when it came to consoling a person. Galland spoke with Kayleigh, wiping blood that was streaming from the gash on his chin.
"Does your offer still stand? Will you fight with us?"
"After seeing it first hand, we will. I'll hurry to London Town and then make a hard burn to the Holmgard. Oh and, before you go, take this. It will bring you luck, and from the looks of things, you're going to need it a lot more than I."
She took her hammer charm from around her neck, and placed it around Galland's. He thanked her.
"It is the hammer of Thor, an ancient neoviking god of the skies. He will protect you."
With that, she and her crew departed hastily, and Galland led his crew aboard to follow suit. Galland had never really given much thought to gods and deities before, but Kayleigh seemed to believe Thor would give him luck, so he decided to put his faith in that. The engineers got to work on installing the barrel of complimentary gas that had been left on the deck by the nomads and Bjorn took them straight out after removing the tethers, not needing to wait for clearance from a harbourmaster. Meanwhile Galland, Seroni and James headed to the infirmary; Galland's wound needed stitches fast.
"This is going to leave a nasty scar cap'," James said flatly, as he finished the last stitch. He left the infirmary quickly with a first aid kit to see if anybody else needed assistance.
An awkward silence between Seroni and Galland developed, eventually broken by Seroni.
"I saw you and her leave together..."
Galland remained silent.
"Did you two..."
"No, we didn't do that, if that's what you're thinking." he snapped.
Seroni nodded sceptically.
"Why not? She was an attractive girl, with no obvious disfigurements."
"I just didn't want her Seroni. Can we drop this? There's more pressing issues," Galland paused and sniffed the air, "can you smell sick?"
Seroni went red with embarrassment, it was obviously her, and left in a sulk.
Galland collapsed on the infirmary bed and sighed; he was exhausted and stressed, and now he felt guilty too. He shut his eyes and fell into an uneasy slumber.