Have you ever been out in a ship, on the sea, when it's storming? It's not fun. If the constant panic that something is going to break doesn't kill your nerves, or the constant rocking of the floor under you, or the spray from crashing breakers... the pelting cold rain will probably
do the trick. Why were we out here, again?
Oh, yeah. Someone's poor little baby was lost at sea in a fishing boat. Well, 'baby' may be overdoing it. To hear the lady tell the story when we'd gone by to check on the emergency bounty posting, her son was 17 and usually pulled his weight in his father's fishing business. The problem was that the father was away, and the son was trying to make up the difference in the bring-home by doing double hours. For whatever reason, though, the father had missed teaching the capable young lad that going out on a boat in a storm is ABSOLUTELY STUPID! Surely there are easier bounties in the world than this. But then again, someone's life was on the line. BUT THIS IS STUPID!
At length, Tiara spotted a ship further to the west and we went after it. When we got closer, though, we found it wasn't just the small fishing vessel that we had come after — which should have been a lot closer inland than this — there was another sailing vessel tethered to it with people shouting to cut the fishing ship loose and let it sink.
"We can't get too close or we'll damage the Scarlet Skye," Twest shouted from up at the helm with Jace.
"Just get us close enough. Once we get the kid, we can get out of here," Crim called back.
Now, granted, I didn't know a lot about sailing yet
, buuuuut... Choppy water, plus bad weather, plus ships pumping all over the place made this NOT seem like the wisest thing in the world for us to be coming up alongside these other ships. Jace maneuvered us up on the far side; opposite the little sailing boat. A fight seemed to have broken out on the other ship's deck.
"Everyone remember the description of the kid in question?" Crim called.
We all shouted back affirmative responses.
"Get the kid, and get back home. We don't need any pointless injuries or damage!"
Lines were fixed aloft and those of us who were assigned to the retrieval team all jumped. I have never been so petrified in my life as I was while swinging on a rope across that angry sea, which seemed way too ready to drown us all. (Alright, well, maybe I had, but... AT THAT MOMENT, y'know...)
We'd been told to carry swords because of the fight that was visible from here. It was convenient, then, that I knew how to use one from my work prior to the Scarlet Skye, otherwise I'd have been out of luck.
When I landed on the opposite vessel, I accidentally collided with two guys who were mid-fight. One had on gray pants, a white shirt, and a navy-blue jacket — which looked very uniform and very much like a sky pirate we'd tangled with on my first day out with the SS group. The other looked to be about my age, had messy hair, and was in a normal looking tunic and pants, albeit they were very beaten up, torn, and soaked.
"Sorry! My fault!" I apologized, getting up. "As you were."
"How DARE you interrupt!" the uniformed one shouted. "Who do you-" he stopped short. "Who are- Wait, you're a girl
!" he said.
Having just gotten my sword drawn, I said, "Yeah? So?"
"But... You're dressed like Crimson Skye!"
"Minus the hat," I nodded. "And you're dressed like Cirrus. Well," I made a half shrug, "A younger, in-need-of-a-haircut, uptight, poor-fighter, who's dressed like Cirrus, but still." (Truly enough, now that I got a good look at him, this guy could have looked my age, too.)
"I am NOT a poor-fighter!" he shouted, swinging his sword.
With an easy counter, I said, "Poor bluffer, too."
"WENCH!" he shouted.
A few minutes of fighting followed. Well... Fighting might have been an over-exaggeration. I'd sparred with kids three years my minors who were better than this guy, back where I used to live.
"Maybe you're just worn down from picking on that fishing-guy's kid," I said. "I know playing with kids can tire an old man out so," I teased.
"Where do you get off thinking you can speak to me that way?! Do you have any idea who I am?!"
"Don't know, don't care," I grinned.
He stepped back and made a face of disgust. "You act
like Crimson Skye, too," he said with a scoff.
"Then can we agree that I'm awesome, you're a loser, and call it a day?" I asked, amusedly emulating one of Crim's smug stances.
The dude growled and came at me again. In those few steps it took to close the distance between us, he built up a lot of momentum. When I caught his incoming swipe, I pulled a Crim maneuver on him and spun him over beyond me. He tripped, tumbled, and wound up on his back.
"I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name," I said, leaning over him. "Was it Cirrus Junior?"
"Stratus," he said, reaching up, snagging my lapel and pulling me down. "And for the record, I'm his younger brother."
He tried to slug me in the face, but I did him one better. I leaned further forward in a sort of unintentional fall-flip-tumble thing. Probably
, it was because the ship happened to lurch in the storm at that moment, but I tried to land the tumble to make it look as on-purpose as possible.
"Ha-HA!" I laughed, partially in amusement at my own antics, partially to cover any nerves I might have had just then. Stratus was already getting back to his feet.
"Mageling, let's move!" Crim shouted, from somewhere behind me.
With a glance over my shoulder, I saw him struggling with keeping a hold on the kid who was fighting Stratus when I had arrived.
"Sorry to call this short; it's been fun," I said, tipping an imaginary hat to my newfound foe.
"Don't think you're getting away that easily!" Stratus shouted, coming at me again. But once again, he was easy enough to side step.
"Seriously, guy, do you practice at all?" I asked, snagging a hold of a loose rope. "Shape up a little by the time we cross paths again, okay? It'll be fun. We'll make it a party."
He shouted in rage and swung his sword wildly in my direction as I left.
Back on our own ship, Jace was already turning us away from Stratus and that crew's ship. He didn't have a fancy hat, so I dunno if he was the captain or not. I tend to think not. All of the captains I've come across so far seem to wear hats like badges of honor or something.
"Mission successful?" Twest called, checking our bearings.
"MY BOAT IS SINKING!" the belligerent fishing kid shouted.
"That's a 'yes'," Crim called back.
"That was my father's fastest boat!" the boy shouted. "You can't just leave it there for them!"
"Oh, I'm sure they'll cut it loose, kid," Crim said. "Let's go get you dried up."
"No! Let me go!"
The kid wouldn't shut up the entire rest of the night and trip back to shore. Even when we dragged him kicking and screaming back to his mother's house, he still carried on about that stupid boat. His mother was all apologies. She shushed him and tried to calm him down, even as she paid us our reward money for saving him from being stuck out in that storm.
We stayed in town for the next day or so until the weather cleared up some. The rain was a pain in the neck with its constant switch from heavy to not-quite-as-heavy to heavy again.
I made the mistake of sharing my encounter with Stratus at the dinner table and got scolded for being brassy. By Crim, no less. Of all people! The nerve! You would think he would have been flattered and amused with my tale! He said I wasn't allowed to tangle with that guy on my own again. Pft! Jerk.
Whilest we were loading some resupply stuff on the ship, on what we figured would be our last day in town, I spied something down the end of the wharf. It looked like the wrecked up remains of that kid's fishing boat. After a word to the others, we decided it wouldn't cost us too
much time to take a look at it; see if it was repairable. Angelis had some extra supplies lying around, and it wasn't that
beat up. If you ignored the holes, and splintered bits of wood, and the disgusting deposits of slimy sea creatures, that is.
When we turned up at the kid's house with word of a surprise, he and his mother came along with us down to the docks. They were both so thrilled with the return of their prized speed ship that they sent us off with a week's worth of extra food and a bunch of home-cooked pastries as thanks. So it kind of evened out. Good deed and all.
And once the kid was no longer mad at us for letting his dad's fishing ship sink, he explained what happened while he was at sea. Turns out he was on his way back before the storm got too bad when Captain Nimbus had attacked him. The others explained to me that Nimbus and Stratus are Captain Cirrus' brothers, who run a sailing-ship while Cirrus runs an air-ship. Nimbus had intended to hold the kid hostage until his father returned, and then offer an exchange for a lot more money than our bounty had cost the poor mother. Kidnapping at its finest, eh?
I think we made out better than Nimbus and Stratus would have, all things considered, though. We got cakes and they didn't. And I got to walk all over that doofus, Stratus. That totally made it worth it.