Time passed both quickly and slowly when I was spending it aboard the Star Collector. I was not entirely sure how much time I spent learning the ropes. At first, I could do nothing without messing up, and oftentimes others had to fix my mistakes. More often than not it was Captain Deagen, appearing from seemingly nowhere to take the rope from my hands and demonstrate how the knot was supposed to be done. I often found myself irritated at how easily he did things and the way he never seemed to get frustrated with anyone or anything. He would see the irritated look on my face and give an easy smile. Then, he would ruffle my hair and be gone.

It took me a while, but I came to the realization that my thoughts and emotions were childish. Patience was a virtue that I had not understood at first. I had thought that things were going to be chaotic, wild, and without rule. Pirates were supposed to be ruthless, cutting people down without a second thought. They stole and attacked the innocent civilians. I was wrong. Captain Deagen had made himself my mentor in a way, and taught me exactly how things worked.

"I'm not in complete and total control unlike some people think. As long as I respect my crew and they respect me, I'll stay in charge. If they decide I'm not doing my job right, well, they can do away with me however they please. I'm expected to lead them in battle, whenever that might happen, but other than that I don't have much power. I'm pretty much like a normal crew member, plus one or two privileges."

I learned many things from not only him, but other members of the crew as well. It had taken a while for them to trust me, but eventually they came around and helped along the way. Jamisson was in charge of the weapons such as the cannons and guns. He knew where they kept everything and anything that could be used as a weapon on the ship. He taught me how to fire the guns, showing me the difference between each.

"This one here," Jamisson picked up a smaller gun spinning it around or his finger before handing it to me. "is a pistol. They have good aim but a shorter range. The core is used up every fifteen shots, so it takes a lot of reloading. Captain Deagen is a master with the pistols and fires one from each hand. The sword on his belt isn't just for decoration either, but his specialty is that gun."

I looked at it closely, examining the details. The handle was simple metal, of which type I couldn't say, with intricate golden tendrils swirling along the dark metal until they connected at a point called the hammer. The barrel, where the shots were fired from, was short but well crafted. The color was slightly lighter than the dark grey of the handle. It was a pretty gun, though the weight of it in my hand made me feel wrong, like I was holding something far more powerful than most people gave it credit for. I handed the pistol back to Jamisson, who set it atop a crate and picked up a different type.

"This one is called a shotgun. The shot is powerful, especially at close range, but the recoil is just as strong. However, its powerful shots come at the price of accuracy. It's a lot heavier than the pistol as well. Personally this is what I like to use. The core fires off six shots before needing to be replaced, so loading time is often what kills the people who use them."

The shotgun was certainly heavier than the pistol, and the weight of what it meant was just as heavy. By holding that gun I was taking someone else's life into my hands, I could harm someone, or worse, easily kill them. It wouldn't take much, not with these weapons, and it was not a burden I was eager to take. The shotgun was not as intricately detailed as the pistol, but it was still very well designed. The handle was a dark ebony wood, carved with characters I did not recognize. The rest of the gun was a reflective white metal, and the barrel was longer than the pistol. I guessed it to be about a foot, maybe a little bit more.

"I have a feeling that you might like this one the best. It seems more your style, although we haven't really found an owner for this one yet. This gun is a sniper rifle. It has a long barrel and excellent accuracy, but it is used from afar, usually a high vantage point. It's really meant for one shot one kill, like an assassin. You aim through the scope until you have your target secure, and then you fire. It has the highest core usage, firing around twenty shots before you need to replace the core."

Jamisson placed the sniper rifle in my hands and stepped back. I looked at the gun, noticing very little embellishment or decoration. For some reason, this made me pleased. I thought it was pointless to make something that killed so beautiful. The entire gun was a black metal, and the barrel was the longest of the three types. It was longer than my arm, though it fit comfortably in my hands. I didn't like that, but it seemed the best choice so far. Jamisson crossed his arms and nodded.

"That's the gun for you. There's a strap on the gun that you can use to secure it to your back. Now let's find you a sword."

Jamisson explained to me how a sword needed to be balanced for the user. The handle had to be light enough to allow quick movement, but not so light as to made the blade unbalanced. He had me hold a number of swords, more often than not shaking his head before I had moved more than three inches. It took some time, but he eventually handed me one that felt just as comfortable in my hands as the gun had. I was not really excited to have two objects capable of causing injury and death, and the only reason I agreed to holding weapons was for my safety. As soon as I had my sword attached to my belt and the gun to my back Jamisson gave me two cores and sent me out, asking if I had duties to finish.

I had finished my duties before Jamisson had called me, but I knew when I was being dismissed. I went up the stairs and to the main deck, my breath catching at the sight of the stars. No matter how much time passed, I never grew tired of it, and I was slowly beginning to understand why Captain Deagen chose the life he had. If I had not known my home before, I would have chosen to live among the stars as well. Perhaps, in all the time I had spent aboard the Star Collector, however much time it really was, that was what I had been doing. I was choosing to live among the stars, to continue with the crew. I was sure that the moment I asked the Captain to return me to my home he would comply. No, they were not the ones keeping me aboard. I was staying of my own free will. I did not forget about home. One cannot so easily forget about their home, and I oft thought of it with small pangs of homesickness. Yet there were more times than not my mind was not on home, but on what was right in front of me.

I surmised a few months at least had passed since I had first boarded the ship. It was nearly impossible to tell time in space, simply because the concept didn't exist. Time was meaningless in places like space. The galaxy had no need to keep time, and as long as you were in its grasp you had no need to keep time either, no desire to do such a thing. It was hard for me to catalogue my adventures because of this, but I did the best I could. I still did not know what my niche was on the ship, but the crew did not seem to mind my presence terribly. I got along with most of them, if not all, actually. For some reason the cabin boy, Ericks, was not fond of me, so I tended to stay away from him as much as possible. We had a mutual agreement on that part.

I was doing chores here and there for different members of the crew, nothing much different from a normal day before Captain Deagen came out of his cabin, a look on his face that I could not recall seeing before. He swept past the crew members, all who turned to look at him expectantly, me included. He did not stop until he reached the upper deck of the ship, where he grabbed a rope. There was a grin on his face, nothing like his normal grins. It split his face, almost maniacal and twisted. Another light had entered his eyes, and the crew was beginning to murmur amongst themselves. I had never seen the ship like this, had never seen the building excitement before. It scared me slightly, and I was afraid of what was to come. When the crew had all gathered onto the lower deck, with the exception of the Captain, the air became silent. Never before had I felt such pressing silence. It was as if the blackness of space was trying to suffocate us, to drown us. Then, the Captain spoke.

"My dear crew! We have not had much excitement recently, something I am terribly sorry for, but that ends very soon. It seems that the perfect target is heading this way. My friends, it seems we must get ready for a raid!" The crew cheered and my eardrums felt as if they were bleeding. "I understand your excitement, but please! Hold your cheers a moment longer. There is more good news on the way. Our target has starlites with them."

Captain Deagen allowed the crew to cheer and talk excitedly to one another. I stood in the back, utterly confused as to what was going on and a little bit afraid of the Captain at that moment. I did not like the look in his eyes, the way the wild light that had always been there had taken over nearly all of his eyes. The grin was almost feral. I could not find it in myself to ask to leave, or ask to sit out. No, I was too curious. I wanted to know what starlites were. Why the crew was in an uproar over them. I allowed the burning curiosity in me to take over, and I made the decision to fight with them, whoever it was against, and win. For the first time the gun on my back and the blade at my hip did not feel like a burden, but tools to help me further along. It was the first time I had actually let my emotions take over, rather than rational thinking. It was freeing, exciting, but dangerous. Reckless. Most of what occurred after was a mess of adrenaline and emotions, but I do my best to try and remember.

Everyone bustled about, the excitement palpable in the air. I could taste on my tongue, could feel it in my muscles, could see it around me and everyone, and I let myself get swept away by it. People yelled orders across the ship, preparing for a raid, I was assuming, and I found myself eagerly helping anyone who needed it. We started turning the power on the ship off. The lights were first, then the engines and the sails. The field that prevented us from suffocating was lowered to minimum, and the air became harder the breathe, Captain Deagen flittered back and forth, the grin never leaving his face the entire time. He found me at one point and pulled me aside. The manic light in his eyes dimmed and he clapped me on the shoulder, face set serious once again.

"I do not force anyone to take part in raids. I will not force you to take part in this either. It's dangerous. People die sometimes. What we're doing is, by definition of it, against the law, and if you take part in this willingly it throws away your escape as a 'prisoner' of our ship. There would be no going back who you were. You'll be known as one of our lot, and I know that reputation isn't the best." His lips twisted into a mock of a smile, as if making a joke that not even he found funny. "If you want something from this raid, on the other hand, you have to do your part. I don't simply allow people to take what they want without consequence. The choice it up to you, Anders. I will not, nor will anyone else, make it for you."

He stared me in the eyes, switching between the two of them, as if he could pull my answer out from my soul. It sobered me a bit, enough for me to realize what participating in the raid willingly actually meant. I would not be there against my will. I would be going against the government on purpose, fully aware of what I was doing. I would be breaking laws that I would have previously have hyperventilated at the mere thought of breaking them. Even then, my breathing increased. I stared at him back, and I was sure he could see the awareness in my eyes, probably the fear I was trying hard to conceal as well. He scrutinized me a moment longer before he jerked up straight, grin back on his face and manic look in his eye. He swung an arm around my shoulder and winked at me before he flittered off to do something else. I ran my fingers over the cool metal of the sword at my side, wondering if I would have to use it.