Brenna R. Singman
Kli waited beside her partner as the descending airship fought for control among the clouds. Goosebumps riddled her flushed skin through two layers of tunics and a tight bandana. Getty had that same smirk he always wore that told of his unbridled confidence. That was the look she strove to mimic for the last four months. As the newest member of this band of pirates, she had a lot to prove-and that was without them knowing she was a woman!
The belly of the ship displaced the lowest blanket of clouds, and the alarm went off. Getty turned to Kli and nodded. Kli nodded back and pulled a pistol from the sheath clasped around her pants. Clenching it between her slender, tattooed fingers made her feel strong, in control, able to accomplish anything. While pirating wasn't a morally upstanding career path, it was better than achieving nothing at all except a horde of babies as her parents would will her. She wanted accomplishments. The riches were a bonus.
Getty unraveled the top of their rope and let it drop along the port side of the tiny vessel. It flapped loosely against the wind. He punched her arm, a common encouragement among the men of this family, and then shimmied his way down the rope. Kli watched him go just as the expected handful of guards on the airship swarmed the deck. What they weren't prepared for, skilled and accredited as these brave men may have been, was for what Captain Bartholomew had up his sleeve.
As those aboard the tiny but proud Skydancer fired down at the guards, the crew inside cranked the wheels that pulled aside the planks of the Skydancer's belly. It revealed a mechanical arm latched to the inner workings of the ship and metal plates and trappings that Captain Bartholomew arranged himself. He was as crafty as he was clever, and that was why Kli needed to make herself impressive in his eyes.
Bullets struck the bottom of the ship. This didn't deter the Hand of God as the Captain called it. The machine unfurled at the elbow joint. The guards halted their fire momentarily as if debating where to direct their attention. They opened fire on the arm just as the pirates began to drop onto the deck of the ship and fend off any nearby guards.
The moment Getty touched down and took out two guards swiftly, Kli grabbed the rope and slid, thankful for the leather gloves protecting her hands that hadn't grown the manly callouses like the others. In under a minute, Kli dropped onto the deck of the larger vessel just as the mechanical hand grabbed hold. The ship lurched as it lost control of its own propulsion and followed the whim of the Skydancer.
Kli slugged Getty in the back and made her way below deck.
The shipment vessel was only carrying treasures and guards. Each room she sneaked past towards the bottom level was empty or being emptied as more guards made their way above.
Never been this easy, she thought as she found the last stairs to the bottom level-two long hallways crossing like an 'x' on a treasure map..
The lock on the first door was nothing against the vice grip tool she plucked from her sack. She kicked the crushed metal bits aside and shoveled every item of jewelry she could into her free case. Her arm ached under her bounty. She exited the room and saw more of her own crew entering and exiting other rooms, swiping everything from gold coins and nuggets to priceless gems and ancient ceramics from long lost dynasties.
"Damn," she muttered as she neared one of the last unexplored room. Kli crushed the final lock with her grip tool, ignoring the bright sign reading: DO NOT ENTER. A memory struck her as she crossed the threshold, searching for her siblings, her father, running from the dark. She shook the thoughts loose.
The room was so plain that Kli almost left, but sitting dead center on a marble pedestal was an egg shaped stone lined with deep set carvings. She didn't know if one of the portholes let in light to make it shimmer or if it was some strange type of quartz. Regardless, if it was on the ship, it was valuable.
A three-foot long blade pierced its side. The metal looked rusted, and the hilt desperately needed polishing. Kli reached up to the sword and suddenly felt her arm go numb. A haze clouded her mind. The jewels meant nothing so she dropped the bag to the floor. None of the other treasures were important so she unhooked her bag of tools. It dropped to the ground with a heavy thud.
Somewhere in the distance was a peeling bell warning the Skydancer's crew to return, but her place was there. The stone and the sword. She had never heard of it before, but somehow it was everything. Kli's arm began to tingle as she gripped the hilt. A shock coursed through her body, lifting her from her feet. All she had to do was pull. But what would happen?
Seek your answer, whispered the soothing voice in her head. So Kli pulled. She thought the blade would resist, but it slid out as if she pulled it through air. She held it high, and the carvings, sharp runes she now recognized as blessings of natural power, lit up along the stone and along her skin.
Now seek out the good, the voice said again. Kli thought back to wretched days of a mortal girl and the life she once lived. A life of a missing father and too many roles to fill. A life of pitiful yearnings versus true needs. No one else needed such suffering in the face of all powerful good.
Kli stepped back and heeded the voice. First, the pirates...