It came about, in a world without limits, that Marius arrived at Blue Robin Skyport. If he'd had a choice, he would not have landed there. Blue Robin was built on one of the floating islands hovering several thousand miles above stable land, and Marius was terribly afraid of heights. Being a pilot was supposed to conquer his fear, but it didn't. He still had to close his eyes as he hopped down from his plane and put as much distance between himself and the edge as possible.
"Congratulations! You have managed to crash land on Caerus, and it was one of the most brilliant displays of a person's good luck that I have ever seen before in my life!" A large man with grease and oil covering every inch of his body stepped towards the pilot. "Your engine's toast."
"You can tell that just by looking at it?" Marius turned around to squint at the vessel. One wing was barely holding on. The tail was bent. The glass on the front was cracked. One side of the plane was smoking, and the other was making popping noises.
"The smoke kind of gave it away."
"Oh. Well," the pilot rubbed the back of his neck in embarrassment. "Do you think you can fix it?"
"I can fix anything." The greasy man pulled a black towel from his pocket and wiped his hands. "The name is Charles Rain." He forced his still dirty hand into the pilot's and shook it heartily. "I'll get someone to drag it into my shop and see what I can do. It'll take at least an hour, maybe two." Fishing into his pocket, he produced a scrap of paper covered in scrawled writing and handed it to Marius. "Here's the address. Come by later and we'll talk prices, okay?"
Before he had a chance to respond, Charles had clapped him on the back and walked off. The pilot studied the paper but couldn't make out anything except that the second line started with a P. As he walked away from the skyport and towards what looked like a shopping district, he continued his attempt at reading the paper. "P...r? No... I think that's a c. Or an o." He mumbled to himself as he walked. "Actually it might be an a. I should have stopped him before he-"
"Hey!" Shouted the man he had just run into. "Watch where you're going!"
"Excuse me." Marius took a step back and looked up at his roadblock. "I'm terribly sorry."
"You should be!" The man had red hair and a red mustache, and a red face to match. "Do you have any idea who I am?" The pilot tried to explain that he had just arrived in town, but wasn't given the opportunity. "I am the chief law officer on this here island, and you would do well to remember that!" The officer raised a red eyebrow as he surveyed his offender. "Are you new in town?"
"Huh. And what business brings you here?"
"The engine on my plane gave out just as I was flying over and had to make an emergency landing. I'm only staying until the repairs are finished." Impatience began to spread throughout his mind as he felt himself being scrutinized by this scarlet man.
"How long do you think that will take?"
"I really have no idea. I was on my way to-" He remembered the piece of paper in his hand. "Hey, do you know Charles Rain?"
"Of course I do," the officer puffed out his chest a little. "Everyone knows him."
"Can you tell me how to get to his shop? He gave me an address but I can't make it out." Marius held up the paper for inspection.
"Pah!" The paper was snatched from the pilot's hand and tossed aside. "No one can ever read that man's handwriting, don't even bother. I'd be surprised if he could read his own handwriting! All you have to do is keep following this street for three more blocks, then turn right. You should see it, and if you don't, then you're blind." With a nod and a grunt, the officer stalked off with an air of indignation for everything around him.
Hating his circumstances more than ever, Marius walked the three blocks and turned right. At first he didn't see the shop and mockingly expressed his fears of going blind. It eventually caught his attention. The shop was a large warehouse with "Rain Mechanical" posted over the door. It was made of brick and concrete and the occassional broken window. From halfway down the street you could hear the noises of drills and clanking. When you got closer, you could hear men yelling over the noise.
"Has anyone seen my red oil can?" A muscular young man shouted as he walked around. "I've been looking everywhere and still can't find it!"
Marius stepped quietly in the doorway, taking in the sights and sounds with absolutely no interest. The building was at least four stories tall, but was comprised mainly of one large room resembling a hangar. Along one side, there were stairs leading up to three or four offices, and there seemed to be a small supply cabinet and a bathroom in one corner. The entire place appeared to have just as much grease in it as its owner and echoed every single sound, causing a racket beyond description. Littered throughout the building were three planes and four automobiles of various sizes and shapes. Each one had one or two men working on it. Towards the back, right next to the hangar door, was a navy blue plane.
It was a beautiful piece of aircraft, had it not been so horribly taken care of. On the side was a red star, and smaller yellow stars graced the wings. It was a big freight plane, with room and boarding for at least four passengers. A few of the mechanics had wandered from their work to admire the new arrival, and Marius listened to their comments with interest.
"Can you believe the size of this thing?"
"I hear there's only one man for crew. What a waste."
"I wonder how he got her in such bad shape!"
"Look at those engines, though! It has to be fast."
"Yeah, when it's not on fire."
The men were shooed away from the plane by Charles, who barked at them to get back to work and mind their own business. He marched around the aircraft with a clipboard and scribbled down his observations, no doubt calculating the profit in his head. Not wanting to interrupt and be forced into conversation with someone again, Marius took a seat on the floor and leaned against the cold brick wall. He had been flying for nineteen hours straight and hadn't slept for a day and a half. It wasn't long before he was sound asleep, despite the incessant racket.
"I wonder how old you are. You can't be any older than fifty. Maybe you're only thirty and just greyed young." She paused to take a bite of her sandwich. "I wonder what colour your eyes are. I'm betting on green. People who snore usually have green eyes." The girl giggled at her own joke and took another bite. "Are you homeless? Maybe you just didn't have anything else to do."
Marius squeezed his eyes shut then slowly opened them. His back and neck were killing him. How long had he been sleeping?
"I bet your name starts with an S, like Sam or Steven." The sandwich being finished, the girl began brushing the crumbs from herself. "Lunch break is almost over and you're still not awake."
With a groan of grogginess and some stretching of the muscles, the pilot straightened up. "I'm up. I'm up."
The girl who had been sitting beside him immediately scrambled to stand up. "Sorry, I don't mean to bother you."
He waved his hand to assure her she was no bother. "How long was I sleeping?"
"I dunno. I noticed you, like, two hours ago. Roughly. I don't know how long you were sleeping before that, though." She offered him a hand up, which he didn't take, and stood up on his own. He was a full foot taller than her, maybe more. He rubbed his short grey hair and blinked his blue-grey eyes. The girl noticed them and wrinkled her nose at being wrong.
"Ugh." The man continued to try and wake himself up. "Do you know where Charles Rain is? He's got my plane."
As if appearing at the sound of his own name, Charles walked towards them. "Auto," he shouted, "Get your skinny butt over there and get back to work! Lunch break is plenty over! Quit bugging the customers!" Auto quickly said goodbye and got her skinny butt back to work, as ordered. "Sorry about that," the owner of the shop apologized. "She tends to forget her place. I assume you're here to discuss the damage." The pilot nodded sleepily. "Why don't you come upstairs to my office where we can actually hear each other."
The walking oil spill led him across the hangar and up the stairs. The offices were less dirty than the shop below, but seemed to be polluted by Mr. Rain's very presence. He ushered Marius to a chair and took one across a desk from his customer. "The number I have to present to you is not a happy one. Whatever you did to that poor kite has left her completely unflyable. It's going to take a lot of time and a lot of money to get her in the air again."
They discussed the price and the work to be done, and it was eventually settled. It would take at least a month to be fixed, and the money would be produced within a week or two. Mr. Rain offered suggestions on where to find lodging in the meantime, and lectured him on treating his aircraft so poorly. "For a crate that size, you should really consider hiring a full-time maintenance man who can fly with you and keep her running smoothly. In fact, I'm surprised you don't have any crew at all! If you need a recommendation for a good mechanic, I know of several that would be willing to fly with you."
Marius assured him that wouldn't be neccessary and thanked him for all that he had done. He only needed to retrieve some of his belongings from his plane and would be out of there as soon as possible. They shook hands, and Charles left him to his business.
All of the men working in the shop watched the pilot as he approached the blue plane. They each began to wonder what kind of man he could be, and started to rate his flying skills based on the condition of the aircraft alone. He couldn't wait to get out of there. Pulling the door open, he hopped inside and picked up a few of his things that somehow survived the crash. His luggage was in the back and he crawled through the cabin area to a lockable, man-sized portal, which began a narrow hallway with several other doors lining the walls. At the end was a larger door that led to the cargo hold. He reached for the handle, but it swung open before he could touch it.
"Aaah!" Auto screamed and fell backwards. "You mean she's yours? This big blue kite is yours?" Marius offered to help her up, but she refused his invitation just as he had refused hers. "You really scared me there for a second."
Mumbling his apologies, the pilot brushed past her and looked around for his suitcase. Once he secured it, he turned towards the big door leading out of the plane. "So," the girl stepped closer to him. "What are you, some kind of sky pirate?"
The man rolled his eyes and faced her. "No, I am not."
"But you just have to be!" She walked up to him."You fly this huge boat all by yourself, and it isn't registered with any commercial company. It's all very suspicious!"
"I can assure you that there is nothing at all suspicious about me. It's all in your head." He turned again to leave.
She stepped in front of him. "You seem awfully defensive for someone who has nothing to hide."
Marius glared down at her. "Trust me. I have nothing to hide. Now will you please let me leave?"
Grudgingly, she stepped aside at let him go. He slid open the door and hopped down. All the way out of the shop, he was aware of the suspicious, watchful eyes of the young girl. He didn't stop feeling their burning glare until he was at least a block away from the shop and could breathe easily.
A/N: So... this is one of my babies. I wrote it at least 3 years ago and have been editing it periodically ever since, but never put it up on fictionpress because I have no idea what I really want to do with it. Auto's character needs changing, and the red law officer might be deleted altogether. Does the dialogue flow, however? And does it cause you to be interested in the world? What are your first impressions of the world, anyway? What do YOU think is going on? Please, be critical!