The Infamous Adventures
of Callisto the Pirate
The floating city was home to many thieves, criminals, and other scandalous sorts. There was a good side, yes, but it was constantly overshadowed by its darker reputation. Everyone knew, however, that there was no better place to have a good time. The taverns were always alight, and somewhere a drunken brawl echoed through the streets. Truly heaven in some peoples' opinions.
On one particularly rowdy day, a girl of about eight or so was running about the busy marketplace. She was dressed in rags, covered in dirt and grime, and was grinning crookedly as she snuck up behind a rather wealthy-looking gentleman. One might think that a child with such looks should be looking sad and mopey, but she broke such expectations. In fact, she looked quite happy, if not terribly devious.
Too distracted by the wares of the merchant he was conversing with, the gentleman did not notice when the child reached into his pocket. Obviously, she was experienced. Her hand was a flash, and then she was gone, melding back into the hustle and bustle of the crowd. Once she reached a safe corner behind a stack of crates, she opened her hand to gaze over her treasure. The man's purse! It was quite heavy, full of silvers, coppers, and even gold! It was the most money she'd ever seen before in her young life. Her blue eyes were as large as the coins, excitement racing through her. She jumped up after stashing them back into the purse and drawing the string tight and secure. Right as she came out from behind her hiding spot, a hand caught her arm and tugged her into a damp, smelly alley. The girl was pushed to the wall, the stolen person taken. She found herself looking up into a face she'd never forget. It was the face of an older man with a tangled, grisly beard whose true color was covered by grease and foul smelling liquor stains. His face was creased with lines and as brown as good leather, with eyebrows the same color as his beard while his head was completely bald. But his eyes were the most bizarre she'd ever seen. As gray as a storm cloud, with just a hint of green around the pupils. Like the sea, almost. His face was so close, she imagined that if she were to stare long enough she'd be able to see his eyes shift and whirl like waves.
"That money's mine," she said, glaring at him. "I stoled it by myself and you ain't gonna take it from me!" The man glared for a moment, then his eyes crinkled up at the corners and he let out a surprisingly loud, full laugh. It hadn't occurred to the girl that someone like him wouldn't have a voice as croaky as a toad's, nevertheless the laugh of someone much younger. "Yer almost right! Though, I do believe that I's already taken it from ye," he pointed out, stepping away from her. In his right hand was the purse, and he was tossing it and catching it leisurely. Taunting her, it seemed. "Well, give it back!" she demanded, then swiped at it. He was too quick, however, and pulled back out of the alley. "Wait! It's mine!" she yelled after him, then found herself chasing after him. No matter how fast she weaved between the crowd, he was always just barely within sight. It did not help that she was smaller than most of the crowd.
He seemed, however, to want the chase. Whenever she thought she'd lost him for good, she'd catch a glimpse of his beard or his dirty clothes. The chase went on then, and lasted until she reached the sea docks. She glanced around wildly, then found him on one of the magnificent ships. It was huge, but not as exotic looking as some of the other ones. Not like the fancy ones that soldiers and wealthy rode in, but something other than a merchant's ride. The gangplank was still down, so up she raced without a thought of what might happen after she got her treasure back.
Once on board, she charged at the old man. With a gap-toothed smile, he tossed the purse at her. Surprised, she skid to a halt on the wooden deck and just managed to catch it. The wood was rough beneath her bare, dirty feet, and felt gritty. "Tell me girl," the man started, voice deep and scratchy, like she had imagined it should be. "Would ye rather live yer peasant life in this dull city, stealin' from the unsuspectin' and scrapin' fer survival...or would ye like a life of adventure with the chance of scorin' more gold than this entire city's people have?" Confused, she frowned and looked down at the purse. More gold than this? The city was all she knew, the people like a loud, crazy family. She knew the merchants, how to haggle, and who to steal from and how to pull it off. How could she leave that when that was all she knew? But...the idea of leaving was also enticing. The future was never something she dwelled on. "What kinda adventures?" she asked at last, looking up at the man and meeting his sea-eyes with her blue ones. "Good ones, profitable ones. Ones with treasure and a life of freedom. Adventures tha' will make history," he explained grandly, voice cracking with passion as he gestured at the ship in general. She hadn't thought about how it was that there was no crew on board for she had not really noticed, but lurking in the shadows were the eyes and ears of the curious.
His promise was great. Fantastic, even. With a deep breath, she stepped towards him and tossed the purse to him. Amused, he caught it and met her half way, gazing at her with an arched, scraggly eyebrow. "What's yer name, girl?" he asked, holding out his hand to her.
With a devious smile, she shook his hand. "Callisto," she answered, head tilted back slightly so she could remain looking him in the eye, what with him being a few feet taller than her and all. "Well Callisto, welcome to the Defiance," he answered, then lowered himself so he was eye-level with her. "Yer gonna make an excellent pirate."
In all honesty, it was the new man's fault. He was a captured merchant who had agreed to sign on with the Defiance when his ship was taken and blown to pieces. Better than dying, surely. Had he known, however, that insulting one of his new crew-mates would get his nose broken, wrist snapped, and discarded on the docks of the capital, he probably would've chosen death.
With his hopes of making it home safely dashed, he drank heartily every night, much to his fellow mates' disgruntlement. Then he made the mistake of trying to take the girl Alyanne to his bed, a fifteen year old young woman with a very good, very protective friend. This friend was called Callisto.
Blood was still streaming from his nose when they tipped the unconscious drunk over board. It was alright, though, since they were docked and he plummeted to the hard wooden boards below instead of the sea. After the resounding thunk and splayed limbs were heard, looked and examined from the deck above, they cast off quite cheerfully.
It was not the first time someone had tried to befriend Alyanne with unclean intentions. She was rather pretty, her dark skin like coffee beans. She had long black hair that was bound in dreadlocks and pulled back with a bandanna across her forehead, some dreads had feathers and beads woven in. Alyanne's high cheekbones and large, dark brown eyes spelled beauty, but there was a fierceness there, too. A spark that could send men racing off out of fear of her spirit. Despite that, however, she was surprisingly gentle when she spoke, her voice high. She was kind but confident, and walked with grace unfit for her pirate's garb of trousers, knee-high brown boots, and a loose shirt that was once white but now torn and yellowed by the sea air.
Then, there was Callisto.
Unlike her friend, Callisto did not come across as some exotic maiden. In fact, it was not uncommon for her to be mistaken for a young man. Her skin was tanned from years of being in the sun, and she was around sixteen or seventeen but taller than other lads and ladies of her age. Her blue eyes sparkled with fearlessness. Her black hair fell past her shoulders, though it was coarse and had small braided strands in it, some of them woven with lucky coins and beads that had been found with other treasures upon previous raids. Her body had none of the elegant grace of Alyanne's, but was more masculine in the fact she was more muscled and thicker. She too wore scuffed brown boots, trousers, and a slightly-yellowed long shirt. However, she also wore a thick belt and sheath containing her prized sword and pistol.
Their personalities were also starkly contrasting. Whereas Alyanne was naturally kind and gentle, Callisto was more brutal and rough, preferring fights and her sword to solve problems, or if that failed then her quick, sarcastic wit. How the two were best friends was a mind scratcher, but there wasn't a stronger friendship in the world.
Needless to say, the newcomer had no chance.
Once those nasty affairs had been dealt with and the glorious Defiance was once again skimming across the waves, the captain stood on the top deck and surveyed his crew. It was a mesh and blend of colors. There was a variety of skin tones along with a variety of colored clothes. Some wore vibrant tones of red and blue, lush greens and indigo. It was like looking at a bright flock of parrots straight from some dense jungle. Others were simpler attire of modest whites, grays, browns and beige. Some wore hats, others bandanas, and then there was the occasional bald head. The crew numbered twenty-seven, the perfect amount for the smaller ship. Still, they could easily take on much larger vessels with the unmatched cunning of the man in charge, Captain Agrotaun.
Captain Agrotaun was a tall, lean man of six foot two and a weathered face. His exact age was impossible to make out and he never said it, but guesses went around of him being in his late fourties. His hair was an unkempt, mousy gray that fell jumbled and tangles around his shoulders. A rather magnificent beard graced his lined face, surprisingly lush and reaching his sternum. It, too, was a mousy gray though it was also streaked with lighter grays and what could possibly be a dark brown, perhaps the color he had as a younger man. His right eye was covered with a leather eye patch sown with a classic skull and crossbones, though it had a worn appearance identical to its owner with grease stains and frayed stitching, the dark leather strap disappearing into his tangled hair. He enjoyed wearing a large hat with several exotic feathers on it, one of them a vivid peacock feather. His clothing was a dark red coat made of a very fine, lush material and bright silks around his waist, covering his rather plain gray shirt. Perhaps he dressed a bit luxuriously, preferring his sash to be made of silk and his belt made of the finest leather available. At his right hip he wore a decorated sheath containing his prized sword and had his pistol tucked into the belt in front of the sheath. Rumor had it that he had many other pistols on his person at all times, but none were visible.
The captain, or Captain Agh as his crew preferred when he was out of earshot, was feeling rather good that day. The skies were clear and the wind was in their favor. From within the pocket of his coat he extracted an old, brass, handheld telescope. He extended it and gazed out at the sea with it, his keen gray eyes looking for anything that could cause trouble. Nothing but the waves and the clear sky were to be seen. With a grunt, he collapsed the telescope and put it back into his pocket. They should make it to the island of Sorvino within a day and a half with this fine weather, assuming as well that they passed no fine prize. Then again, they had just sunk a rather fine merchant ship weeks ago, the loot from that paying for their food and drink still. The captain saw no reason to attack again unless they were provoked, or at the very least there was a ship of the navy. The king of Illionara had put a bounty on every head that swore piracy. Apparently, his waters were becoming too dangerous for trading. Word had it that several well-known pirate ships had already been captured and sunk, the crew hung. A strong price for freedom, but well worth the risk.
On the main deck, the crew were taking advantage of the fine winds and slacking off. Callisto and Alyanne had their swords drawn, the sound of metal against metal ringing through the air as they practiced. The smaller woman wasn't much when it came to brute strength, but she was quick and light on her feet, whereas Callisto had to rely more on her larger stature and muscle. They balanced each other out in advantages and disadvantages, and made fantastic sparring partners. Their crewmates lazed in a circle around them, whooping jokingly. There were a few attempts at gambling, the money mostly on the larger pirate.
Her blue eyes narrowed, a well-known smirk pulled at Callisto's lips as she parried a swift blow from her friend. She twisted her wrist, twirling the other blade and forcing it out of Alyanne's hand. Her own sword tip hovered by the woman's throat for a brief moment before she sheathed it. "What is that now, twenty to one?" she asked with a laugh as the defeated woman reclaimed her sword. "Twenty to two, actually," she retorted, though she was also smirking. "Ah, well my apologies, Lady Alyanne," Callisto said, sweeping into a low, mocking bow. She straightened in time to catch her friend roll her eyes, then turned and bowed to the crowd as the winners cheered and the losers forfeited their coins. "We really should not provoke them, y'know. Don't want another fight like tha' last one," Alyanne remarked as she sheathed her sword, her attention focused on the gamblers. "Oh let 'em be, let 'em be. Ain't our fault they're a bunch of scoundrels," Callisto replied with a dismissive wave. Already the crowd was breaking up, no squabbles to be had. "Once in a while they learn to not bet money they ain't got."
"That be some fancy swordplay there," the captain remarked from his view point above them, his large hands on the wooden railing. "Thank ye, cap'n," the girls remarked simultaneously. "Fancy a match?" the taller girl asked boldly, her hands on her hips as she looked up at the older man. He would not fight, she knew. One who did not know better might think he wore that sword at his side merely for decoration, though the crew knew better. He was perhaps the deadliest pirate on the seas with that rapier in hand, but he did not use it unless strictly necessary. Skill in the mind, he said, would overcome skill in the body and weapons. "I would, my dear, but we do not need to cast yet another body off this here vessel, especially one as young as you," he replied with good humor, his voice loud yet charming. It did not seem to match his appearance, really, for one might expect a more gravelly voice underneath all of that beard hair. There was an abundance of catcalling at his comment, but Callisto, either bold or stupid, was unfazed. "It may not be my body that is dumped!" she replied, but the captain did not give in.
His attention turned to his first mate, a neat young man who liked to dress in all blues, and the two female pirates turned and headed away from their dueling spot. There was usually always something to do on a ship, but after a successful loot and with fair winds, the two friends found themselves suddenly lacking on entertainment. Callisto suggested a drinking game, but Alyanne denied it as usual. She was not much of a drinker, but she was always asked anyways. Not really that the others forget so much as that they hoped that one day she would give in.
Suddenly, a new sound added itself to the symphony of the sea and the voices of the crew. A buzzing sort of noise that was growing louder and louder. "Airship off the starboard bow!" the helmsman called, pointing to the source. He was pointing up, and the crew immediately followed with their gazes to that which he spotted.
It was massive, this airship. Supported by a huge blimp-like balloon above and various weights hanging below, it did not seem to notice the lowly, water-only ship below. "Grab the hooks!" the captain immediately bellowed, and the crew raced to obey. Each person armed the above deck cannons with the grapple-hook-like devices and aimed. They waited with bated breath, hearts racing as with every pillage. They'd taken precious few airships in the years of the ship's life, and each one was more dangerous than the last. Everyone watched as the airship got closer and closer, then the call went up. "Fire!" the captain commanded, his orders echoed by the first mate. Each shot fired was of momentous noise and smoke, but they were rewarded by a sudden lurch in the sky ship above. It careened, unsuspecting of the attack as the engines and propellers and other various mechanical things strained against the attackers. By the time the crew finally found the source, the pirates were already half-way up the rope ladders that had been attached to the hooks. Unluckily enough for the poor air crew, the hooks were nearly impossible to get off without a few minutes hard work by a skilled mechanic. So it was by the unfortunate fate of good workmanship that they were surrounded quickly by the pirates. The captain stood by his men and the others were being pushed outside as various pirates raided below decks. With narrowed eyes, Captain Agrotaun turned to the air ship crew as they were rounded up, "'Ello, boys. We'll be taking this ship now."