Garrett found it strange that he was doing this. In all his life, he had never thought of the possibility of romantic relationship. But here he was standing outside a jewellers with the intent on getting a ring for Adrianna. It would be a mixture of a birthday present for her, and as a symbol for something greater. The sign for the shop read: Harrap's Artisans and Jewellers - Exquisite Pieces At Fair Prices. On the outside, it looked like a respectable place, a little higher class than the places where Garrett would normally go to, but perhaps spending time on an Imperial ship like the Invincible got him slightly used to places like this.
He could feel his heart pounding slightly inside of him, nervous about what he was about to do. Garrett found it a little funny, enough to make him laugh out loud; that throughout all the things he had done, this was the one thing that had him even the remotest chance of being scared. Still, he had to do it all the same. With a few deep breathes, he went pushed the door open and went inside.
The inside of the shop looked rather neat and tidy, a few other people, mostly women were busy looking around. There was another woman who was at the counter, currently serving another customer. She had long black hair that part of it was tied into a ponytail at the back, whilst the rest hanged loose which helped with framing her pointed face alongside a pair of rectangular glasses. The lady wore an elaborate black dress. Garrett went up to the counter, and began looking at the items on display underneath. It was after a few minutes that the shop keeper turned her attention to Garrett.
"Anything I can help you with, sir?" The question caused Garrett to look up at the lady. He had to admit, she was pretty as well.
"Yes, yes of course there is something you can help me with." Garrett replied sounding desperate. He stopped for moment before continuing.
"Sorry, its my first time going into a place like this, you could say I'm a little nervous."
"It's understandable sir. Besides we don't often get many gentlemen of your style in here. So, what can I help you with then?" The shop keeper asked as she rested an arm on the counter, sounding intrigued. Garrett smirked at the comment made, inclined to agree with her.
"I guess you wouldn't see many pirates in a Jewellers. You see, I'm looking for a special ring, for a special lady close to my heart."
"Ah, romance then. Well you certainly have found the right place to purchase such an item. We here make some of the finest items around. I'm sure I can help find something that your lady will simply adore. Anything specific?" Garrett stood there for a few moments, his arms crossed as he thought. Suddenly he snapped his finger.
"Something that has a reddish pink colour to it, you see its her favourite colour. Actually, something like this." Garrett said, pointing out to one ring in particular that looked perfect.
"Sir, you have fine taste for a novice jewellery shopper like yourself. Sorry, just my little joke." The shop keeper remarked with an elegant smile as she knelt down to retrieve the ring in question, and presented it to Garrett.
"This here is a 9ct White Gold ring with a Pink Sapphire gemstone. It is a ring that is suitable for any occasions, and your lady will certainly love it."
"Really, you think so? I guess you should know better, being the person who runs the shop. How much is it?" Garrett asked, taking out his money as he spoke.
"Hmm, let me see." The shop keeper said, bringing out a catalogue from under the counter, and began looking through the pages to find the one detailing the ring. "400 Helios. 25 extra if you'd like it gift wrapped." She then added as a finger rested on the correct page. Garrett was somewhat shocked at the price, but after examining the ring more closely, could where the expensive side of it was, the gemstone. He began counting out the money, it piling up onto the table.
After making sure it was the correct amount, the shop keeper took the ring from its display case, and went out back, returning a few minutes later with a small box about the size of the ring itself.
"Here you are sir. Hope your lady friend enjoys it." The lady said as she presented the ring box to Garrett.
"Thank you very much m'lady, you've done me a great service. I shall bid you good day." Garrett remarked with a smile as he took the ring, and placed it in the front pocket of his coat. He then made his way out of the shop to continue with his other purchases.
"It will be over before you know it. Now please, roll up those sleeves of yours."
James took off his jacket, throwing it onto the nearest thing, which happened to be a table. It was a tad bit chilly, but he would endure damnit! He didn't bother to look around, he was more worried with the suspicious glances the Doctor kept giving him. He might've already seen through the cunning ruse! Better not to draw attention to it, just continue with the examination, then start blending into the crew.
"So, doctor. Might as well get started."
Zach considered the offer made over the intercom. He wondered what sort of occasion it would be. Zach wasn't normally one for formality, and yet mingling with folk of higher status than himself (and there were plenty) held a mischievous allure for him. When cleaned up and dressed up Zach could pass for a proper gentleman even under the nose of the stuffiest host. A natural progression from watching people down to every last detail, was learning how to mimic perfectly. However, Zach couldn't shake the feeling something was off about this whole thing. Perhaps he was just superstitious. He'd only just got on board so going ashore again so soon seemed somehow wrong. That wasn't it though, his instincts were telling him there was more to it than that, and he trusted them more than any other thing in this world.
So, a night of entertainment, and a mystery to solve. How could Zach resist?
"What do you think Issac, in the mood for the party atmosphere?"
Samuel heard the offer over the intercom and seriously thought it over.
'Well I have never been to a skyfolk party, perhaps it won't be as boring as a Neo-Victorian party. Lord knows I never want to go to another one of those things. It also does give me the excuse to see how this crew acts in a situation requiring some amount of tact and etiquette, should be a laugh a minute.' He chuckled to himself, thinking of all the moments he'd seen this crew celebrate anything. It all too often ended in drinking and a brawl set to raucous music.
He decided to grab his bottle of whiskey and a shot glass and walked up topside to once again get some air along with a decent view to go with his drink. Being a sailor had some advantages when it came to some of the views you got on a regular basis.
Jason strode into the mess hall, the smell of traditional Skyfolk cooking filling his nose. On the other side of the room, the ship cook, a burly man by the name of Morgan, was scooping ladlefuls of seagull soup into the waiting bowls of hungry crewmen. Jason felt a growl rise from the pit of his stomach, reminding him that he hadn't yet eaten today. He grabbed one of the bowls piled to his right and walked up to Morgan's station, offering it expectantly.
Morgan gave a brief nod of recognition before dipping his ladle into the pot. "Good afternoon, Mr. Aurora." He poured the contents into Jason's bowl before locking his gaze with Jason's with a small frown. "I can't help but notice you weren't here for first mess call."
Jason responded with a shrug. He wasn't sure when first call came - he was either asleep or working on replacing the shattered starboard propeller axle, he wasn't sure which. In the weeks since they departed High Tortuga, his days seemed to bleed together into a blur of stress, toil, and increasingly sparse sleep. Not that he was a stranger to any of those things, of course. "So? I'm a busy man, Morgan. Somebody needs to keep this thing afloat."
Morgan's eyes narrowed, giving his normally gentle, reserved posture an unsettlingly intimidating air. "...For the tenth time in two weeks."
Jason returned Morgan's expression. "Are you accusing me of something, Morgan? Because if working hard is a crime, then I'll show myself to the brig."
Morgan gave an exasperated sigh. Why were all of the Mermaid's officers so bent on self-destruction? "Jason, this isn't healthy, and you know it. How many meals have you eaten in the past week? Hell, how much time have you spent doing something other than working in that engine room?"
Jason scoffed. Since when was it anybody's place - least of all the sodding ship cook - to tell him how to do his job? "What are you, my mother? I know my limits, Morgan. I'm tougher than I look."
"Working yourself to death doesn't make you tough, Jason."
"Morgan, this conversation is OVER." His lips curled back to a snarl, his patience having reached its limit. Who the hell did he think he was, trying to order him around like tha-
"'Ello, boys and gals. I have been invited to a party tomorrow, by an old friend. Since I don't want to go alone, anyone who wants too is free to come along. I'm sure we'll have a swell time. There'll be booze and music. I don't know about other pirate crews, but some skyfolk, neobeduin and Helium City folk are to be expected."
His train of thought was interrupted by Beth announcing over the ship intercom. He rolled his eyes. He was never one for the pointless pageantry and inane gossip that comprised such gatherings - a colossal waste of time, as far as he was concerned. He had better things to do - namely, just about anything else.
Jason leveled his attention back to his bowl, frowning when he saw it was still half-full. He offered it back to Morgan expectantly...
...Only to be greeted by his mischevious grin.
'Oh, this can't be good.'
"You're going to that party, Jason. And to incentivize you..." Morgan grabbed a lid to his right and placed it over the soup pot. "You're not getting any more from me until I have a promise you'll go. And don't bother lying to me - if I don't hear from the Captain herself that you went, you're not getting any from me for a week."
A shatter could be heard throughout the mess hall. Jason, struck dumb, had lost his grip on his bowl. But he didn't notice, nor did he care. He was rendered utterly speechless.
'Of all the... who the hell does he think he is!?'
A moment ticked by, the smug look never leaving Morgan's face. Jason eventually managed to regain enough of his composure to sputter a response. "Wha...what!? This had better be one sick fucking joke, Morgan."
"Is it? Your move, Mr. Aurora."
Jason rose to protest, but another growl from his stomach was accompanied by a sudden loss of feeling in his legs. It seemed his body was indeed reaching its limit, doing too much work on too little fuel.
"Fine. I'll go." Jason swallowed his pride, trying to ignore the look of triumph on Morgan's face as he went to collect another bowl. At least Morgan's seagull soup was decent...
Whether the engine room had a intercom or not, Roy completely missed the captain's announcement.
He leaned back in his chair and stretched his back and sore shoulders. He now had a basic idea of how the mechanical arm worked and what measurements he would need to take before he could continue working. Stifling a yawn, he rolled up his papers - a good third of them were of a gun design - and placed them in the chest along with the arm. He then dug out a small notebook, pencil and the measuring tape from his numerous pockets, wrote down the measurements he needed and headed back up to the deck.
Roy sighed when he reached the deck and saw Sheska talking to the captain. He hated having to wait while working on something but there was nothing he cold do. He sat down on the deck with his back against the railing, turned to a new page on the notebook and started to scribble down more firearm ideas.
Hmmm...how best to store the ammo...Not really enough space for a magazine. Maybe a ammunition belt?
Isaac shrugged in response.
"Chances are if I don't want to go someone'll make me so what the hell, why not."
He knew attending the party wouldn't be safe. There'd be all sorts of people there and if his suspicions from earlier hadn't just been paranoia, there was a good chance that he'd run into some old acquaintances he'd rather not encounter. But... he didn't have much of a choice. Those old acquaintances would have just as much chance of recognising Sheska who would definitely be going, and he didn't like the idea of his one real friend being picked up by vengeful Ggun agents.
Not to mention the idea that if they did capture her (an unlikely but plausible undertaking), his own capture would not be far behind.
Attending was perhaps the most sensible, and most stupid thing he could do.
"So, doctor. Might as well get started."
The monkey threw off the jacket. Well that was one way of doing it. He strapped the inflatable cuff around the gentleman's left arm, making sure that it was at the right size for the subject and fitted snugly. He began to inflate the cuff, increasing the pressure on James's arm. Soon, it was at about the maximum that was bearable. Dr. Roque leaned in and listened with a stethoscope to the brachial artery at the elbow as he slowly released the pressure in the cuff. As usual, after a few minutes a pounding sound was heard through the stethoscope and Vasco grabbed the bulb tightly, ending the decrease of the the pressure. While he looked the dial, calibrated by himself nonetheless, he turned to James.
"So, engineer's assistant. May I know how you came to that position?" Vasco asked in an attempt to make some friendly banter.
The upper deck of the HMS Invincible was as lovely as the breeze sweeping over it, as if the Skies were cleaning the ship as one might clean a dirty floor. The breath of the wind drifted by all on deck, murmuring sweet and gentle truths as the quiet clamor of deckhands and dockworkers weaved into a perfect harmony, forming a symphonic duet in which there was not a single dissonant chord.
Drustan Cynwrig emerged onto this marvelous moment and stopped, breathing it in. Drustan did not merely breathe the air, though, for it was not just the air that was perfect. No, Drustan breathed in every minute detail of the scene, for times like these were his air. Without these times and places, Drustan would stop living, reduced to a dead man walking.
At the time, though, Drustan was still walking, as he used that invaluable skill to exit the shipyard and emerge reluctantly among the bustling crowd that was Helium City. Peering over the shifting mass of human thanks to his abnormal height, Drustan waded through the living river off to a side street and began chatting with vendors. Despite his extended stay in the city, Drustan still relied on more permanent residents for directions and advice. He stood in an alleyway, sheltered from the thunderous population, having a nice chat with a rather charming used book seller at his stand. As their discussion meandered over recent trends in the fashion of wealthy men, Drustan browsed the merchant's library in case there was any stack of paper that would be nice to have while loitering up in the crow's nest of the Invincible. As his eyes danced along the lines of colors and letters, they were rewarded with something interesting: a faded light blue paperback titled in black letters, A Commoner's Guide to Upper-Class Etiquette and Mannerisms. Part IV: Ballroom Dancing.
"Huh." Drustan retrieved the book, flipping through its pages to make sure it was legitimate. The book was truly a miraculous machination; it had detailed summaries of both classic and contemporary dances, as well as diagrams and random tips. "There is a god." Picking up the other two volumes (I: Hats for those with Money, and III: Properly Conversing with the Opposite Sex) as well as some pulp adventure novels, Drustan wished the bookseller a good day and continued on his way.
"So, engineer's assistant. May I know how you came to that position?"
James had more or less tuned himself out until he heard the good doctor trying to make conversation.
"Uh, I guess I just met the right people? I try not too think about that too much..." James gave a weak grin. Conversation was not his strong suit, but he didn't want there to be doubt. As soon as James could blend in with the crowd the better, but until then, his story had to hold up.
"Everything is... Correct, I assume?"
She shook her head, and breathed in the air of the city below. It smelled better up here. "Nah, I don't want to go alone. The more the merrier."
When Sheska asked if something was wrong, she shrugged, there was nothing wrong at the moment. Something was bothering her, but she wouldn't bother someone else with problems, which could be the imaginings of a drunk mind. "I'm fine. You don't need to worry about me."
She was worrying about someone else, and it had nothing to do with her duties. She shouldn't let it affect her too much.
Sheska slowly relaxed as Beth shook her head and told her that she didn't want to go alone. Smirking a little, she leaned against the railing and jabbed a finger in the Captains direction.
"Good. Because I had to go through the indignity of getting fitted for a dress. I'd rather not have wasted my gold.", she said jokingly, before she heard what Beth said next.
"I'm fine. You don't need to worry about me.".
She snorted and shook her head. "Too late for that, Cap'n. Romantically or not, I care about you, and you're still a close friend of mine. So that means I'm going to worry about you, just like I'll worry about Izzy when he's bugged by something. So just remember, if you need to talk, I'll be here.", she said, reaching over and putting a supporting hand on Beth's shoulder.
She nodded once, then turned to walk away, only to spot Roy standing a little ways away, writing down something in a journal. She quirked an eyebrow before putting a hand on his shoulder, turning him to face her.
"Now, what are you doing here? Shouldn't Jason be working you to exhaustion in the engine room?", she asked firmly.
Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored. For a pirate ship there certainly wasn't much to do, he had more excitement in town then on this dreary old rust bucket. He got one of his books out from one of the man pockets in his coat, so much for promises of adventure, as of yet all he had done was mope around on deck while everyone else was busy socialising. He flicked through the old, dog eared pages until he found the place where he had last read. In all honesty he could practically recite the pulp from memory, but where was the fun on that.
"'Ello, boys and gals. I have been invited to a party tomorrow, by an old friend. Since I don't want to go alone, anyone who wants too is free to come along. I'm sure we'll have a swell time. There'll be booze and music. I don't know about other pirate crews, but some skyfolk, neobeduin and Helium City folk are to be expected." Blazed the Captains vioce over the intercom. Finnaly something more suited to him.
Hector leaped up and went in search of the Captian, if he was going anywhere like that, he would need some new clothes; perhaps a suit he hadn't sewn himself.
"Captain, I'd love to go to this party. The thing is my...usual attire might not be appropriate," He said, "Maybe you could lend me some funds to get something...nicer?"
Roy hadn't noticed Sheska walk over to him and jumped a bit when she put her hand on his shoulder.
"Now, what are you doing here? Shouldn't Jason be working you to exhaustion in the engine room?"
"Oh he is, don't you worry about that," Roy said, smirking. "He put me to work on your new arm, to make a plan for all the necessary adjustments and such but I need to take a few measurements before I can continue," he explained and flipped back to the previous page where he'd written down the measurements he'd need to take.
"So, if you have a moment?"
As she watched him jump, she had to suppress a chuckle, and she saw as he flipped his journal to a different page and replied.
"Oh he is, don't you worry about that. He put me to work on your new arm, to make a plan for all the necessary adjustments and such but I need to take a few measurements before I can continue. So, if you have a moment?".
"Hmmm. I suppose. May as well see Sam about that too, he may have a few suggestions, seeing as he's going to be performing the surgery.", she said with a small grimace, motioning for Roy to follow.
She turned only to spot Hector running up to the Captain, and asking for funds for clothes. "Hector, what the fuck are you doing asking the Captain for a free handout?", she asked irritably.
She shook her head and sighed. "Well, you're a pickpocket, aren't you? Ply your damn trade on the locals! Neither the Captain or myself happen to be your mother, and you need to earn most of the coin you'll get, one way or another.", Sheska barked out, before adding, "And when you're getting those new clothes, go to Simmyns Outfitters. They'll sort you out.".
She strode away without another word, once again jerking her head to make sure Roy followed. As soon as they left the helm, she spotted Sam himself coming up from below with a glass in his hand, looking mildly amused with himself.
A moment they reached him, she impatiently introduced the two. "Sam, this is Roy, Roy, this is Samuel, the doctor on the Mermaid. So look, Roy here is on a job from Jason to get measurements for my new arm, and I figured you ought to have at least some say in it. You two have your talk, I'll be sittin right here.", she told them quickly, before making her way to a nearby barrel and plopping down onto it.
"Hmmm. I suppose. May as well see Sam about that too, he may have a few suggestions, seeing as he's going to be performing the surgery."
"I don't think that's really necessary but if it's what you wish," Roy said, shrugging. He figured it was best not to argues and who knew, maybe the doctor would be able to point out some details he'd missed?
He watched as Hector asked the captain for something for a...part?, only to be barked at by Sheska. Apparently the misbegotten was a pickpocket. Roy couldn't help but laugh when he imagined someone pickpocket him. The fellow would be very disappointed when he ended up with nothing but screws, bolts or pieces of metal.
Party? What party? he wondered but Sheska was already striding away before he could ask anything and he had to hurry after her.
"Sam, this is Roy, Roy, this is Samuel, the doctor on the Mermaid. So look, Roy here is on a job from Jason to get measurements for my new arm, and I figured you ought to have at least some say in it. You two have your talk, I'll be sittin right here," Sheska said introducing him to a Neo-Victorian looking man.
"Pleased to meet you," Roy said, holding out his hand.
She was taken offguard, when Hector came up to her and asked for money to buy a new suit. Who did he think she was? A charity? Beth didn't get a chance to speak her mind before Sheska butted in. Apparently she knew that he was a pickpocket. It could come in handy later on.
"It's coming out of your next salary, though you may have earned it after spending a day in the company of Sheska" She whispered, produced some coins and handed them to him. "It's probably not enough to get a custom outfit, like Sheska suggested, but it should be enough to get something better."
"A pleasure to meet you as well. As Sheska already introduced me I'm Samuel, resident doctor." Samuel said as he shook the man's hand with his own that wasn't holding the glass.
"So you are the one working on Sheska's arm now? Well the technical side of things isn't my specialty obviously but if you have questions on the anatomy of it all I'm sure I can provide a decent answer for you." He said to Roy.
"So you are the one working on Sheska's arm now? Well the technical side of things isn't my specialty obviously but if you have questions on the anatomy of it all I'm sure I can provide a decent answer for you."
"It's Jason's little test to see what I'm capable of," Roy explained. "Anyway, these are the measurements I'll need to take," he said, showing Samuel his notebook and after a moment of thought added, "If it isn't too much trouble I wouldn't mind some help with taking the measurements. Since you're a doctor you probably have more experience in it than me and getting even one measurement wrong could be quite bad."
"...Everything is... Correct, I assume?"
Curious, the reading was slightly higher than normal. Even higher than the reading he took from the other arm and surely it wasn't a sign of coarctation of the aorta but of stress. Dr. Roque put the aneroid gauge down and took note of the measurement. Some thought that recording the higher of the measurements from the arms would be enough, but Vasco liked to keep a record of everything. Afterwards, he began to listen to the monkey's heart beat. It was a steady lub dub, almost like the beat of a drum. Then from the depths of his pockets, he got out a pocket watch and began to count the number of heartbeats for a minute. Some thought that thirty seconds was enough, and all you had to do was double the number you counted. But Vasco liked to be precise in this matter. He noted down the figure, it seems that James was healthy in this respect. Nevertheless, he began to take a second reading, for nothing but reliability. With this, he replied to James's query.
"So far, yes." Vasco replied, "Tell me; who exactly did you meet. Apologies, but I need to know your history. For medical purposes."
1 Day later
The sun was beginning its descent from the heavens, the very bottom of the glowing orb laying tangent to the distant, flat horizon to the west. The sun was a bright vermilion that blasted the clouds around the city in a cacophony of colors and shades. Great gusts of wind blew through the city, taking any unbolted items lighter than wood. To the east, darker clouds lay illuminated only by the barest reaches of the solar light and the occasional crack of lightning; a sign of the brewing storm that awaited them not far away. Helium City rose higher than these clouds however, giving some protection from the storm's wrath. Adrianna stared at it through a still open window, taking note on it's size and shape and power - she would need to if they were to set sail tomorrow with any haste. It was unfortunate timing, but such was the nature of... well nature.
Having gained a scope of the storm, Adrianna closed her window and pulled tight the shades. She then returned her spyglass to the top of her book shelf and straightened her dress and coat; it would show poor manners to dress in anything but formal attire. Similarly, she could hardly chose to wear anything without the Imperial colors, hence the presence of a greatcoat; one more formal than her standard affair. She quickly rewound her arm and pocket watch, slipping the latter of the two into her aforementioned pocket. Finally, she grabbed her Admiral's hat - a device that served the great function of high fashion while ignoring the more important application of keeping ones head warm - and made her way out the door to top deck; awaiting the arrival of the others.
Adrianna knew she would be among the first to arrive top deck, but she'd had more than enough of waiting in her cabin, surrounded by Imperial forms and applications. Anything was better than the paper mountains; even a Gala.
Garrett could see the sky slowly descending into a shade of burnt orange as the day began to give way to the night. Far towards the eastern horizon, the clouds grew darker with each passing moment, he thought he could even make out strikes of lightning. As he gazed upon the late afternoon sun, Garrett was busy preparing for the Gala that was but a few short hours away. He made sure to look the part, his long hair being brushed and tied tied back into ponytail, and his beard having a much needed trim just to tidy it up.
In terms of actual clothing, Garrett decided his usual attire wouldn't do, and went for something that whilst it was rather formal looking, still showed hints of his independence and pirate nature despite being on board an Imperial ship. Garrett topped off his attire with a dark blue greatcoat he "acquired" some time ago, and had been looking for a fitting occasion to wear it, and it appears that tonight was that night. During his shopping trip, Garrett also got a dark blue tri-corn hat with a golden trim for formal occasions. Now was as good time as any to try it out.
Despite there going to be a strong security presence at the Gala, Garrett didn't want to leave things to chance; so he decided to bring along his sword and a revolver he kept for emergencies, with it being kept in a holster on the inside of his coat. After making sure everything looked suitable, he made his way up on deck. On his way, he bumped into Leigh who was carrying some supplies in a box with him.
"Hey watch it, stuff I'm carrying here is very..." Leigh said sounding annoyed, but not before he stopped to look at who it was.
"Oh, sorry Garrett, didn't realise it was you under that smart looking get up. Must say sir, looks good on you."
"Cheers Leigh, lets just hope it meets the Rear Admiral's inspection." Garrett remarked with a smile.
"Sure it will Garrett, if not, you can always charm her; seeing as though you've got a good rapport with her."
"Oh yes, you could say I can have the right effect on her when the situation calls for it. Anyway, must dash Leigh."
"Alright then, have fun at the Gala Garrett. Myself and the other crew will make sure this place stays safe." Leigh said triumphantly as the two parted ways, with Garrett soon arriving up on deck. Upon his entry, he could immediately see Adriana on deck, and her appearance was astoundingly beautiful, even more so then usual. He took a minute to take the sight in before giving out a whistle to signify his presence.
"Wow, I must say Adriana, you certainly have outdone yourself. You look more beautiful than ever." Garrett remarked with a smirk.
"What do you think?" He asked. "Personally, I think I've done rather well." He then added before giving a twirl to show off.
She had gone to bed, and slept without being interrupted. It was nice to be able to do that, even if it was rare when they weren't in port. However, today she would have skipped a good night's sleep, if she could have been in the air instead of at a dance.
Beth got dressed in the clothes she had bought yesterday. She'd end up wearing them several days in a row anyway, but she did change the clothes she wore underneath the maroon dress and the gray coat. When she put the shoulder cape on, she realized that it was long enough to smuggle a weapon into the gala, should she want too. It would likely be discovered as soon as she raised her arm though, and it didn't seem like such a great idea after that.
She wished she had something more discreet to wear, but it wasn't her clothing that was the problem. It was the large blue wings on her back. They'd always be a problem, and make her recognizable. She'd never give them up either, even if given the option. They were a part of her, and useful from time to time. She'd have been someone else if she hadn't been born with them.
Taking a swig of last night's bottle, she looked in the mirror one last time, then left her cabin. As she stepped up onto deck, the wind hit her and threatened to carry her hat away with it. She grabbed a hold of it before that happened though. "This ones for the mighty sea. Mischief, gold and piracy." Beth whispered to herself, with a smirk. There were times when she wondered, if the pirates of old had been anything like them, and what it was like sailing instead of flying through the clouds. They'd not go to fancy parties with their enemies, or maybe they would have, if they got a chance to cut their throats. It was tempting. However, there'd be guards and she didn't want to cause trouble for the free people.
She had put on an extravagant dress for the occasion, one of those any neovictorian lady would be proud to wear. It was purple with frills. Even though she was fond of it, she was glad she didn't have to wear it every day. It was problematic to move in.
"Come on, DT." She said to the automaton, which name she had been told yesterday evening.
Wilhelmena had had trouble sleeping, and ended up talking with the bodyguard which she had borrowed. She had learnt a fair bit about him, though nothing out of the ordinary. Some automatons developed a deeper understanding of themselves, which resulted in them gaining personalities. DT was a new model, and he hadn't been alive long enough to do that yet. He would serve his masters without objection.
Talking wasn't the only thing she had done to him. She had told herself that any neovictorian like Wilhelmena, would take to dressing up their servants for a gala, but he wasn't her servant. Perhaps it was just an excuse to dress up an automaton. Either way, it had been a success. He looked proper with his tophat, monocle and cane. Maybe Remmington wouldn't mind selling it to her. Well, she could take offence at what she had done to her machine too, and want to get rid off it for that reason.
They left her cabin and got up on deck, where she could see the admiral and Garret. She walked over to them, and saluted Adrianna. "Ah, a splendid day for a dance. The weather's awful, so you'd rather be inside." Wilhelmena smiled, and she thought she heard a distinctive robotic laughter. When she looked at DT though, he didn't seem any different. Could he laugh now?
Maybe interacting with real people were bad for the automaton, and he wasn't meant for keeping a lady company when she was alone anyway.
The Day of the Gala
The following day was marked by waking up from another night terror, and the exhaustion immediately after. The night before both Roy and Sam took their time in getting measurements for her automata arm, and she had had the great idea of trying to sleep again, and paid the price.
As soon as she awoke, she decided to take another quick trip to Simmyns for a few last items, leaving their store with a lighter coin purse and a slip of paper that told her that her commissions should be finished in the next few days. By the time she got back to the Mermaid, the time came to prepare for the Gala in Sam's quarters.
The next hour was excruciating and felt like it was the rest of the day in and of itself. She struggled into her dress with Sam's help, and it managed to be more troublesome and frustrating than the fitting the day before, only to be followed by her ears being pierced. Then makeup. By the time she stepped out and made her way up from below, however, she felt that she looked... Presentable.
As she stepped onto the deck, she once again wore the blood red dress from the previous day, along with a pair of surprisingly elegant black sandals that showed off the wicked looking claws on her feet, which were painted to match the dress itself. Her fingernails were similarly painted, and on her singular arm she wore a long, fingerless lace glove, also black.
Her dreadlocks were, instead of tied back as usual, were pulled back into a somehow elegant mass, and held in place by a pair of gold hair needles, while a set of gold hoops hung from her ears. As she scanned the deck with piercing eyes, it was clear that her face was touched up since it didn't look quite as pale as when she woke up, while her thin lips were covered in the gold lipstick, and her eyes were accented with gold eyeshadow.
Said painted lips twisted into a grimace when she saw the oncoming storm, and she reached to her left shoulder and rubbed her now aching wound. "Well shit, this is fine weather.", she murmured to no one in particular before looking for where the hell the others were.
Seeing the Captain, she relaxed a little and strode over. "Well, I'm ready. Hopefully I look like I might actually fit in, barring the grey skin, claws, and teeth.", she said with a small smirk.
Then she motioned to Beth herself vaguely and added, "You definitely look like you'll fit with a high-class crowd. But I mean that in a good way.".
Eddie was impatient at the best of times. And being in port for a day and a half was not the best times. Back and forth he paced on the highest point of the ship, paying no heed to the three score drop to the deck below, he was frantic, desperate for some kind of breeze other than the smell of Helium City and the docks. This wasn't right, he-The Mermaid should be out of here already. The crew could be left behind, couldn't it? No, not now, everyone was leaving for some party in the City, but Eddie was staying right where he was, he belonged on the ship, not in there, at some gathering, much less an Imperial gathering.
"Dammit,"He muttered to himself,"Can't get off the ship, and can't leave port. What's Beth thinking? We got food on the ship, ain't that enough? Besides, Imps gonna be there, in some form. And what's gotten into Shessa? Dessin' up like that and all? Am I the only sane one left on this ship? We're pirates, not some Imp busybodies..."
Waking up the next day Hector attempted to comb his hair into something that didn't look a birds nest, succeeding in only mild frustration and what could possibly resemble neatness and proceeded to get dressed in his new suit, popping the new top hat onto his head, without realising Hector had chosen head wear that for once matched his hair. He then a spent a good twenty minutes polishing his new shoes to a shine before strutting onto deck.
Clutching onto his new hat, lest the wind carry it away, he spotted the Captain with who he presumed to be Sheska and made his over to them.
"So when are we leaving for this party." He asked.
"Come now Eddie," Zach teased, emerging at the top to join him, having made his way up with his usual effortless agility, despite the rather heavier attire than he was used to "surely the finest and boldest gunner to ever ply the open skies isn't afraid of a little R&R!"
Zach was dressed in an exquisitely tailored black suit, the tails of which billowed behind him in the wind. He wore this new attire with such easy disdain it could be easily believed that he dressed as such every day, and it made him look older somehow. Such an outfit would had cost a fortune, if he had paid for it. Only a fool buys what he cannot steal.
Zach had debated if he should dispense with the jacket and tails and stick with just the waistcoat, which would allow him to move more freely. However, it wouldn't be that much of a hindrance, and the coat offered the advantage of being able to conceal several throwing knives. Not that Zach had any intention of starting trouble, but he'd be a idiot to rub shoulders with God knows who completely unarmed.
"You sure I can't persuade you to tag along?" he asked, whilst lazily flipping a coin and catching it again and again, judging the breeze perfectly, so it never escaped him. "I still owe you that drink after all, and I'm not a man to turn his back on honour so easily."
'I should have pawned these things for cigarette money a long time ago...'
Jason stared at the dress clothes in his hands. It was an unremarkable set of traditional Skyfolk dress clothing - a white overcoat and a simple undershirt, with a set of dress trousers. It wasn't fancy, by any stretch of the imagination - close inspection would reveal that, while clean and properly fitting, it was clearly an older set of hand-me-downs.
Jason's face twisted into a scowl, the mirror in his cabin giving him a clear look of his darkening expression. He had last worn these clothes six years ago. Back before he became a pirate. Back when his life had a real meaning. A real purpose.
He wore them on the day that purpose was stolen.
A familiar feeling of rage welled up from some deep, dark shadow of his mind. He took in a deep breath, trying to steady his nerves. He didn't want to go to this sodding party. He didn't want to be reminded of that horrible day. He just wanted to crawl back into his bunk and forget it ever happened.
'I thought I had put that behind me...' He looked down to his arm, seeing his right hand dig into his left with such force that it left a small welt. He released it, shaking his hand gently to soothe the stinging pain. 'Guess not.'
Averting his gaze from the mirror, he donned the dress suit. No point in dwelling on the past. What's done was done - there was nothing he could do about it now. Satisfied with the fit, he strode out to the deck, shooting a glance at Beth and Sheska as we went. "Captain. Sheska."
"Come now Eddie,"
Eddie spun around, pulling his gun as he did so and aiming it at Zach's chest before lowering and replacing it in the holster.
"Who the 'ell needs R n' R when you've got the sky to look at everyday? An' I already tol' ya, I don' drink. You wanna keep this debt thing'a'yors goin', go ahead."
He looked down at the deck below,"Besides, sommones gotta look after the ship while you groundlings sit around with Imps."
Adrianna was staring into the city and at the storm beyond when a whistle drew her from her thoughts and attracted her attention. "Wow, I must say Adriana, you certainly have outdone yourself. You look more beautiful than ever." Garrett remarked as he approached; his face was blanketed by his thin smirk. A light blush graced her cheeks at the comment; thankfully hidden by some basic makeup. She liked it when Garrett caught her by surprise with such comments; not that she would admit it.
"What do you think?" He asked as he arrived, cloaked by his greatcoat. poorly hidden beneath it lay a black three-piece and a violet ascot. "Personally, I think I've done rather well." he said, brandishing his smirk once more. Adrianna, having turned to meet him, reached up and straightened the piece of purple fabric until it sat just right. "You clean up as well as always Garrett. I dare say you will have the pick of the ladies this evening." she said, her own face adorned by a playful smirk. She wasn't sure how it was going to happen or how she would justify it, but she looked forward to the one part of the evening that was sure to be a pleasure: dancing with the rugged rogue.
She might have kept up the banter for a while longer, save for the arrival of another officer: Wilhelmena. She saluted - to which Adrianna replied in kind - and said "Ah, a splendid day for a dance. The weather's awful, so you'd rather be inside." Adrianna was about to reply before an automaton in finery laughed. It was rare to see automatons laugh; though not unheard of. Too people built automatons in an attempt to replicate humans; especially in the sky-cities.
After the laughter had finished, and the awkward silence that followed had sunk in, Adrianna replied. "Ah... yes; I must admit I'm in agreement. A better day to dance, we will not find."
Ciel stuffed a wrench up her sleeve - she never left home without one than squeezed into the constrictions of her formal-wear. Formal clothing - particularly for women - always proved a hassle to put on. It constrained her to the point that breathing became more difficult. Given her usual attire as an engineer was far better fitting, the effects of her formal dress were only amplified. She was forced to make use of her spider drones just to tie the corset off.
This was why she hated parties: she could deal with the people, but the outfits. She knew that there was no reason she couldn't just put on a slightly more forgiving outfit, save her own raising. She doubted her mother would have approved of her alternative outfits - she'd been a stickler about such things her entire life.
With one final tug, the spider drones finished tying off the dress, allowing Ciel to walk free - as free as the dress out allow anyway. She made her way from the cabin and down toward where she knew she would find James; she wasn't about to let him spill the beans on their arrangement anytime before they made it to sea. There, she knew, even if the officers discovered the truth, Admiral Lanester wouldn't toss him from the ship. "Just one more night."
Exeter crawled free from the confines of his bed and quickly dressed in his formal wear. It was hardly perfect - not torn, but faded in several spots from heavy use - but it was passable. When it came to such stupidity as formal events, Exeter never could bring himself to care. He was here to kill pirates, defend the empire, and most importantly, kill more pirates. At a party, the best he could possibly do was not ruin some political deal or uncover some fiasco. It was a waste of time and effort.
Lacking a better idea, he lay back on his bunk for a few minutes, thinking about the Mermaid and the pirate who'd escaped. "Well, 3/4's escaped" he thought with a little glee at the memory of taking the woman's arm. It was better then she deserved. He wondered if, should he see the woman again, he would seek to take her life or just another limb for the pleasure of watching her scream.
Pulling himself back up, Exeter slowly made his way top deck. It wasn't pirate hunting; but maybe something at the Gala would prove entertaining.
It had been a long time since Samuel had last worn his formal ensemble. He had kept it in perfect condition though since one never knew when they would need to look nice again. He had to admit, a part of him actually liked being in what had been the height of fashion from back when he was a part of the empire. Surely times and fashions had changed as they always did back in the gilded cages, but for a Skyfolk formal party it would would be much more than enough. He made sure to accurately angle everything in the mirror so as not to make an accidental faux paux. He was representing not the Neo-Victorians but The Mermaid tonight, and he would not dishonor the ship by looking in any way non-presentable.
'Having been a Neo-Victorian noble and INS officer does have certain...advantages. But not enough.' He thought with a smirk before checking the pocket watch attached to the coat by a gold chain. He walked using the cane a bit but only enough as was necessary. He walked out onto the deck and saw the Captain with Sheska and a few others.
"Well captain, do you feel I am presentable enough for this event?" He said with a very subdued laugh. He was slipping back into the role of so long ago. A polite, upper class, Neo-Victorian. Sociable, but not raucous, willing but not over-eager. Everything his family had taught him about formal manners so long ago was coming back to him as if he had never even left his family. It had been an act then and it was an act now, but it had proven itself useful enough in the past that it was natural for him to do so now.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
The resounding breaths of Drustan's newly-acquired wristwatch subtly echoed around him, keeping his mind on the time while not tearing it away from the dance sequences he was memorizing. Upon a particularly resonant series of clicks, Drustan looked up from his diagrams and social tips in order to assess the time. Ignore the pun, but his timing was perfect. He arose from his cot, already dressed and prepped to go. He slid the book he was reading in his trunk beneath his bed while slipping his freshly acquired jacket in the same slick motion. He had gotten back from a successful clothes-hunting outing late in the afternoon of the previous day and spent the rest of it making his name known to the crews and officers and vice-versa. That day had been largely spent preparing for the upcoming ball, with copious facial hair trimmings, takes on tying his hair proper, and the first full bathing he remembered since his arrival at the city.
All in all, Drustan considered the job he pulled on himself to be well executed. His large collection of hair was wrangled under control, with his beard no longer being a bushy monstrosity of red and tangles, but finally a well-groomed covering of hair that managed to be under control while simultaneously not under oppression from the razor. He had visited a barber that morning, and his mane had been shortened to lengths an inch or two above his shoulders. Then, it had been properly (read: harshly) cleaned and tied back, stretching his velvet locks across his scalp and emerging through a knot into a small ponytail. Earlier, before he had started reading, he had donned his formal wear, which consisted of a three-piece suit colored in a dark grey, as if sewn from pouting rainclouds not dissimilar to the ones currently hovering overhead. The waistcoat was more grey than dark compared to the jacket and trousers, but it made no effect. Tying off Drustan's new outfit was a lightly grey cravat, both tucked into and blending nicely with Drustan's waistcoat.
Arising from his cot, Drustan buckled D'teth to its hanging position below his waist. He was advised by Adriana to be armed during the ball, both as intimidation and to assist in being protective muscle for her crew. Soon after that came the jacket, which fit Drustan's large form nicely when buttoned 2/3's of the way.
Heading to the upper deck, where most of the group was waiting, Drustan greeted many of the crew members, having learned their identities the previous day. As he wandered his way towards the windswept deck where the Admiral & Co. waited, Drustan spotted an unknown face stumbling through the belowdecks, clearly on a mission. Drustan made his way closer and offered a hand to assist the woman. She was fairly short, even before comparing her to Drustan, and she burned (if that was the right word) with a stable concoction of agency and activity. Her head was crested with a short crown of dark, yet vibrant hair, and she was wearing a simply elegant white dress paired with a leather corset. If Drustan had pointed out any suspects as to why this woman was having trouble moving, her attire was certainly the culprit.
"Excuse me ma'am, but I don't seem to recognize you. My name is Drustan Cynwrig, and I've been trying to get everybody's name since I was only just hired by the Admiral. Do you need any assistance, and would you mind please giving me your name?"
Roy woke up when his head hit the table with a soft thud! He had been working on Sheska's arm non-stop since Sam had helped him take the measurements he needed.
Yawning and peeling a sheet of paper from his forehead he looked around, trying to guess what time it was. The light in the engine room was as dim as ever and with no windows it could have easily been either night or day. Roy probably had a timepiece somewhere in his pockets but it was highly unlikely that it still worked or showed the correct time.
After he pushed his papers into a somewhat more neater pile he got up and headed to the deck to get some fresh air and clear his head a bit. He was surprised when he saw some of the crew dressed up as if they were going somewhere important.
"Something happening?" he asked, yawning, as he walked over.
"You clean up as well as always Garrett. I dare say you will have the pick of the ladies this evening." Adriana remarked with a playful smirk after she straightened up the violet fabric that made up his ascot. This caused Garrett to smile at the compliment.
"Why thank you, and whilst that may be true, I always have a special spot in my heart saved just for you." Garrett said softly, hoping only Adriana would hear. He was about to lean in and kiss her, but was interupted at the last moment by the arrival of Wilhelmena and a smartly dressed automaton who soon laughed when the lady said something; which Garrett hadn't seen occur often.
"Ah... yes; I must admit I'm in agreement. A better day to dance, we will not find." Adriana said in response to the Quartermaster's comment.
"Indeed, with fair weather... and good company with us, it shall be a memorable night."
Her train of thought was promptly derailed as she saw Hector walk up in one of the most outlandish suits she had ever seen. The fact that he stood out already simply being a tall, spindly misbegotten with six arms, made the suit itself redundant, but it would make him the easiest person to spot in a crowd, and the easiest to keep an eye on, all things considered.
"So when are we leaving for this party.".
"Should be shortly. That suit is...", she started, but stopped as she was about to say 'The most bizarre thing I've ever seen.', feeling that she ought to work on being polite and tactful then and there.
Besides, who was she to begrudge someone else their sense of style?
"... Just like you.", she finished easily after a moment, smiling just slightly.
She turned when they were joined by both Jason, then Sam, and she nodded approvingly to them both. "Sam, Jason. You both ready?", she asked.
But once again, she was interrupted by another member of the crew, this time Jason's charge, Roy.
"Yes, the party that the Captain announced. What are you, deaf? Or are you not coming?", she asked flatly, her expression bland.