Aether Shanties RP (PM if interested/Started)

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-Sheska-

Sheska had to step back as a drunken Jason explained what his firebombs were made out of, and demonstrated just how they worked by flailing his arms wildly around him. He nearly fell out of his seat, and she had to suppress a smirk. "Jason, you're already close to piss-faced drunk. You may want to slow down, or eat something.", she said, stepping back one more time so that he wouldn't think to use her as support.

"Besides, I'm not dragging your drunken ass back to the ship once this is over. You'll have to rely on Roy for that.", she pointed out, before shrugging and starting to swagger off.

"Don't puke on any of the guests.", she said in farewell, waving as she strode off to where most of the guests seemed to be gathering.

Wilhelmena

She stepped out of the carriage, careful not to trip on her dress. The admiral wasted no time, as she headed for the mansion to meet with Remmington. Wilhelmena picked up her dress to walk easier, then rushed after Adrianna. She catched up to the admiral and took her arm, so that they walked arm in arm. "Let me introduce you to Mrs. Remmington. She already knows me, and it would be proper."

Remmington

The president had been talking with an older gentleman, who she had known for a few years, when another friend of hers arrived with someone who looked important. She assumed it was an imperial, the clothing pretty much gave it away.

"Mrs. Remmington, this is Rear-admiral Adrianna." Her friend said, as they stopped in front of her. "Ms. Adrianna, this is president Remmington."

Remmington curtsied, as she well should. Even if she wasn't going to show the imperials any special privilegies, which they most likely expected. She reached her hand out to Adrianna. "It's a pleasure to meet you, and I see you brought good company with you."

Wilhelmena stayed quiet, but looked around the room, then DT entered behind her and Remmington almost appeared surprised. Though considering that she knew Wilhelmena a bit, it wasn't that surprising.

Beth

The captain wanted to ask Remmington about their shared acquaintance, and if he was attending the party, when an imperial entered, lead by the person she had met yesterday.

Beth retreated to the bar, where most of her crew were sitting and getting drunk. She couldn't see them from there, but at least they couldn't see her either. The bartender asked if she wanted to order something, and she thought about it, but declined the offer, to not dull her mind too much right now.

Samuel got up from his spot at the table and spoke to the rest of the group that had gathered around the bar.

"If you should need me, I will be either pretending to be interested in stuffed shirts or dancing." With that he walked over to the dance floor and found a partner. At a high class party the dances were far more formal and organized than the more impromptu times on the mermaid. In a sense he was rather lucky to have had a life of training how to at least seem good at the art of these particular dances. The woman he was dancing with was rather attractive had Samuel been particularly interested in finding a romantic interest.

"Well dressed yet behind the latest fashions. You aren't from here are you sir?" The woman asked him.

"I am not, just docked this week in fact. I was invited and I figured why not take advantage of the lovely evening." He replied to the young woman.

"Then you must be a navy man?" She continued.

"I was once, now I tend to travel on the smaller ships. More cozy than the larger ships with so many people on them. You get to know everyone so much better." From there they continued to dance and make small talk as they danced.

Samuel found the woman to at least be nice to talk to. She was well educated and it made for some lively discussion and allowed him to catch up on some current events. It also afforded him some opportunity to scan the room and keep an eye out for potential problems.

Zach had wasted no time in getting well acquainted with some of the female contingent at the gala. In part because there were only so many well dressed women in one room that he could resist, but also because it was the best way to spot any potential trouble. This wasn't like the wilderness, where you hide and stalk your prey. At a party, the man who stands alone in a shady alcove or at the bar sticks out like a sore thumb. As he turned and whiled with a pretty and vivacious Skyfolk girl that he had resolved to get thoroughly drunk, Zach was able to relieve several nearby guests of gold from their purses without them noticing. A little fundraising never went amiss, although Zach was careful to only take a few pieces from any individual. Too few for them to notice going missing after being as plied with drink as they were. He didn't want to alert anyone, much less spoil their evening.

A group of Imperials had just entered, and Zach noticed that the Captain seemed keen to avoid their gaze. Most likely that neither side would be willing to cause trouble in such a public space. However, if it came to blood, Zach was ready.

Samuel appeared to have much the same idea as Zach, who noticed that as him and his partner turned and chatted, Samuel's eyes would wander at every given opportunity. Still, it was good for him, being sociable as well as being one of the few of their group on the look out for danger as most of the rest just sulked or got piss drunk. Zach stole a wink at Samuel as he and his Skyfolk partner circled behind the woman Samuel was talking to.

Adrianna

"I'll go on in Admiral, procure some drinks, help us enjoy the festivities more." Garrett said, before heading into the gala - a smile on his face. "Go ahead Mr. Corvus-" she said, adding "-I'll meet you in a few minutes."

Thereafter, she went back to scanning the crowd for the President. It proved a somewhat more difficult problem then expected given she had never met President Remmington before and hadn't the faintest idea what she looked like. Fortunately, it was the new quartermaster - Wilhelmena - to the rescue. "Let me introduce you to Mrs. Remmington. She already knows me, and it would be proper." Adrianna raised an eyebrow at the statement, wondering how on earth she knew the woman.

Wilhelmena led her by the arm to another woman; dressed finely in what Adrianna could only assume was the fashion of the time. "Mrs. Remmington, this is Rear-admiral Adrianna." Her friend said, as they stopped in front of her. "Ms. Adrianna, this is president Remmington." Wilhelmena said in introduction. Remmington - as expected of a politician - was quick to act when it came to the pleasantries as she curtsied and said "It's a pleasure to meet you, and I see you brought good company with you."

Adrianna bowed in turn, per Imperial expectations. "Likewise Madam-President. On behalf of the Empire, I thank you for your long years of commitment to the pact." she said, a bit to formally if she had a guess. The embassy had insisted on those being the first words said at the party - no doubt trying to stay on the President's best side. She then took the President's hand and added, much more truthfully, "and on behalf of myself and my crew, I thank you for your most gracious invitation."

Ciel

Ciel made her way into the party, having grown somewhat more accustom to the borderline insane design of her dress. She glanced around the room to gain her bearings before making her way toward the nearest bar for she certainly had no wish to dance in the unforgiving dress. She sat at the watering hole, a few feet from where a pair of apparent pirates were discussing the better parts of alcohol. She heard one of them mention Engineering, so she eavesdropped in to see if she had a way into an actual conversation with someone mildly intelligent - a conversation she was sorely in need of.

Exeter

A few seconds after Ciel, Exeter entered the building and likewise took his bearings. He could make out a number of people dancing to music, a number eating and speaking with their companions, and a not-insignificant number of people drowning themselves in alcohol. How droll he thought sarcastically to himself, all but consigning himself to a night of boring conversation with uninteresting people.

That was, until he saw her. She was at the bar getting drunk with a number of others - surely pirates. While it irked him to see she had lived through the experience of losing an arm, it at least meant the night would be eventful. Besides, given that both were armed and likely forbidden from killing each other, it was a perfect chance to bother the woman. Well, at least until Lt. Com. Ring arrived; then she'd be dead before she realized she was in danger. But even then, at least it wouldn't be boring.

With all the confidence and self-worth of an Imperial Marine, he made his way into the crowd, staying out of her sight until the last possible moment, slowly working his way closer and closer, like the predator his pirate life had taught him to be, until he was but feet from her. "Well well; if it isn't the lovely first officer of the Mermaid." he said with a smirk that betrayed his sense of power. "do you perhaps need a hand madam? he said, his smirk growing larger at the dig.

Ciel - Redux

Ciel watched as the First Officer approached one of the pirates, mentioning her missing hand. Great.. and here I thought the night would be quiet she thought to herself, before turning to watch the sure to be disaster.

Zach spied the Imperial Marine move through the crowd towards the bar. Tracking him, Zach was close enough to hear his remarks.

'Oh shit. We're going to have trouble.'

Sheska was surely smart enough to know that openly starting a fight at the bar was a bad move, which was probably why the Marine had dared approach her. However, she'd been drinking, and if this Imp had something to do with her losing her arm, then there was a good chance her rage would override her better judgement. Zach had to act fast.

Gliding like silk across still water, he came up on the other side of the Marine, so he was boxed in by Zach and Sheska. Leaning with his back to the bar imitated a casual pose, and also gave him an angle so that no one could see one of his blades protrude from his sleeve with a flick of his wrist. The Marine felt it though, as Zach lightly poked him with the tip just below his ribs.

"Now now, we wouldn't want to spoil this lovely evening with a ruckus would we?" he remarked to the Imperial. Zach's sly smile was in evidence, but above it his usually warm chestnut eyes spoke death. The crew might have been told no violence, but as Sheska had so kindly informed him yesterday, Zach wasn't part of the crew, not yet, and if the Marine so much as sneezed out of turn Zach could puncture his heart and walk away before anyone else in the room knew something was even wrong.

After wrangling with his loose shoelaces for about two minutes, Drustan Cynwrig made his grand entrance at long last. And by "grand", I mean nobody noticed him, because the crowd of Imperials had already arrived en masse and he was but a single man. A massive, ripped, ginger mercenary man with a nice axe, but one man nonetheless.

Anyways, upon his fabulous arrival, Drustan stepped aside the doors and surveyed the crowd. His eyes washed over the ballroom, where couples twirled round and round in grand patterns (some of which he recognized from the book he bought), dressed in nothing but the most exquisitly crafted suits and gowns. The musicians as well were nothing short of dapper, crafting a lovely symphony that Drustan was sure stemmed from a drinking song somewhere. He started moving now, being sure to get a good look at where the food was on display. Drustan didn't even know that many of the colors delicately splattered over the table were edible until now. Lastly (but not least based on the size of the damn crowd there) was the place where the alcoholic beverages were being administered.

While it was true that Drustan first headed to the bar, he also wanted to get away from it as soon as possible. Tensions were already high due to the large concentration of irritable ruffians, and the liberal application of alcohol was doing anything but helping. Drustan dove in, giving small, polite greetings to his crewmates there, before catching the tender's attention as soon as possible. The large mercenary quickly received what he requested, a shot of quality whiskey in a morbidly ornate shot glass, and Drustan tipped the man semi-generously before downing it and backing away, eager to get away from a group of staring Neobeduins who were all wearing eerily similar masks.

On his exodus out of the alcohol-infused gathering, Drustan strode over closer to where the food was being served. Sufficiently loosened up by the whiskey, Drustan began to scan the room again, this time looking for someone of the fairer sex (preferably of Neovictorian descent) imbibed enough to politely agree to dance with him. His chances were slim, though, as the large congregation of ruffians surrounding the watering hole had driven many other non-ruffians away, and no rational and sober person would willingly accept Drustan's invitation to dance.

While some...well most, of the Mermaid's crew had cornered the liquor market at the party, Eddie was content with the food. The table, although it had appeared to be close to the breaking point, it was now easily holding the food piled atop it, with no small help coming from Eddie himself.

He'd had to give up his arms at the door, but thanks to his huge coat, he'd only had to give up his sword and dirk, allowing him to keep the gun beneath and basically hanging on his back by a leather thong that was now how his holster was situated.

As he walked nonchalantly through the dance floor, - much to the chagrin of many a dancer - pulling the last of the meat off a turkey leg and the other holding half a loaf of still steaming bread, he noticed Sheska and some Imp talking near the bar. Paying no heed to that he looked around the room again, and spotted a curious sight indeed. A Skyfolk, nothing strange there, they were up in the sky, after all. But then a Groundling came in, Imperial Navy prominent in every step. And the two met up soon after, whilst Eddie still stood on the edge of the dance floor. Finishing the last of the meat down to the bone, he threw it behind him and continued on, bread still in hand as he ripped a large chunk out of it and wandered to the two, more or less oblivious to her ranking beyond being an Imp. Seeing as he'd been below-decks during the fight with the Invincible, he didn't recognize either of them, and even if he hadn't, he'd probably forgotten about it by now.

"So,"He said to Garret around a mouthful of bread,"Wha's a good Skyfolk like you hanging around an Imp like this one?" He pointed at Adrianna,"Come on now, how much i'she paying you to guard her that when you're surrounded by all of these people where akidents-accidents are bound to happen? You're just a Navy person? Not like one less makes much difference, eh?"

He went back to Garret,"And why're you here when you could be out on a ship?"

He stuffed the last of the bread into his mouth after balling it up, giving him the most obvious appearance of a chipmunk.

-Sheska-

As she started to walk to the dance floor, she sniffed the air twice and stopped in her tracks when she caught the whiff of an infuriatingly familiar scent. Of dirt, filth, and piracy slicked over with Imperial regulations.

"Well well; if it isn't the lovely first officer of the Mermaid. Do you perhaps need a hand madam?".

She turned slowly and grinned wickedly as her remaining hand flashed out and grabbed one of his in a crushing grip. "Yes, I do, actually. You owe me one of yours, swine, and I plan to take it as the beginning of your payment. As well as one of your pets arms.", she said, before her voice went to a low hiss, "As a start.".

Her eyes were locked on her enemies the entire time, and they only darted away to glare at Zach as she heard him approach.

"Now now, we wouldn't want to spoil this lovely evening with a ruckus would we?".

"Zach, fuck off, now. This swine is mine, and if you kill him, I'll kill you for denying me my prey. And if you don't back off now, I'll start by kicking your balls into your throat, then reaching down that throat and ripping them out.", she snapped.

She let go of the mans hand and reached around him to grab the wrist of the hand that held the knife, and twisted it away. "You don't want to be my enemy, Zach. So don't deny me this.", she hissed, just loud enough for Zach to hear.

Then she let go and turned back to her nemesis, smiling once again. "Alright, swine, lets go someplace a little more secluded, so I can tell you just what I'm going to do to your mangled corpse once I'm through with you.", she told him.

Roy ignored the glances some of the guests were casting his way and helped himself to another sandwich. He tried to stay to the side and out of the way but that only made him stand out more in some ways. Oh well, there was nothing he could do about that.

'At least the food's good,' he thought as he watched the gentlemen and ladies swirl around on the dance floor in their expensive suits and colourful dresses. It was sort of eerie, Roy had to admit, seeing them all step and turn in unison in complete silence but that was just him not being able to hear the music. He tried to guess what the musicians were playing, some sort of waltz perhaps, judging by the way the dancers moved, though Roy's knowledge in that field was pitiful to say the least.

He chuckled when on of the Mermaid's crew - Eddie he guessed - cut straight through the dance floor without a care. He looked around to see what the rest of the crew were up to. Most seemed to have gathered near the bar and were busy drinking. More guests had also meanwhile arrived - at least a few of them seemed to be imperials. He also spotted a giant of a man standing nearby and looking mildly bored.

"You should try the sandwiches, they're pretty good though I'm not quite sure what's in them. Some sort of fish I'm guessing," he said casually, trying to start up a conversation with Drustan.

Zach sighed in frustration.

"There really is no winning with you is there? Fine, he's yours. Just, whatever you want to do to him, do it somewhere quiet and out of the way. I'll keep a lookout, the Imps might notice one of their officers going missing."

After he had grabbed a couple of wine glasses from a passing servant, Garrett had been spending his time over by the food table; at the moment he was more interested in watching the world go by then actively participating in it, though a part of him could help but smile at the possibility of dancing with Adriana later, how delightful that would be. His little daydream came to an end, when a man came up to him clutching half a loaf of bread with an obvious looking chunk taken out of it.

"So." The man said to Garrett in-between taking mouthfuls of bread. "Wha's a good Skyfolk like you hanging around an Imp like this one?" He asked, pointing at Adriana. "Come on now, how much i'she paying you to guard her that when you're surrounded by all of these people where akidents-accidents are bound to happen? You're just a Navy person? Not like one less makes much difference, eh?" The gentleman's gaze soon shifted back to Garrett after speaking what Garrett presumed was rhetoric.

"And why're you here when you could be out on a ship?"

After taking a moment to think things through, Garrett took an apple from a nearby fruit basket, tossing it in his hand a few times and taking a bite out of it before he spoke.

"The question of how much she is paying me, is none of your concern; suffice to say, there is more to it as far as money is concerned. She hired my services due to us being former acquaintances, having duelled one another countless times in the past, and that she knew I was rather handy with a sword, with our encounters often ending in stalemates." Garrett remarked, taking a moment to look back on all the times both he and Adriana fought over the five years, all the way back to the Conquest. He then took another bite of the apple in his hand.

"Whilst she may not appear different to many, she is special. As to why I am here instead of on a ship; to make a long story short, I go where the winds tell me to fly, its just so happens that they pointed me in this direction."

"So, what about you then. Why are you here?"

Vasco stepped tentatively in the hall. All were suits and dresses and one was the same as his. It was just another gentleman at the bar in the crowd of others who were insistent on enjoying this occasion by getting themselves drunk. But a faux pas was a faux pas. Dr. Roque quickly buttoned up his suit in haste, almost hyperventilating as he did so. He needed air, he needed his mask, he needed to get out of here. However, doing so would disappoint both his superiors and the host of this grand event. With a sigh, he sat down at a table and began to survey the crowd.

Garrett was busy being accosted by a drunkard, Exeter was his usual self - the very thing and all the others hated about the Neovictorians, Annis was just there looking quite fetching despite the mask, which only made him think of his own. Various misbegotten were around, though the fancy dress only served more in bringing out their... malformites than anything else. With naught to do, he began to fiddle around with the wine glass next to him, his finger circling the edge, creating a small sound, though it couldn't be heard over the bizarre music. He sighed again, it was too loud here.

"You should try the sandwiches, they're pretty good though I'm not quite sure what's in them. Some sort of fish I'm guessing,"

Yanked out of his semi-drunk, disillusioned sulking, Drustan whirled around to locate his new conversational partner. Wobbling a bit from the sudden rotation, Drustan addressed the small man with strange hair and began to reply in kind. "I'll be sure to remember that. I've never been much of a fish person myself, but who knows?" Drustan accentuated his point by shrugging. "Today could be the day. In any case, I've yet to begin indulging myself in any of the luxuries here, but when I do I'll be sure to take your advice."

Finishing his response, Drustan turned back to his previous position and continued scanning for people with impaired judgement potential dance partners. Then, remembering his manners, Drustan turned around again to face the young man. "My apologies for the rudeness, I'm Drustan Cynwrig, associate mercenary and wanderer."

"I'll be sure to remember that. I've never been much of a fish person myself, but who knows? Today could be the day. In any case, I've yet to begin indulging myself in any of the luxuries here, but when I do I'll be sure to take your advice," the giant said and turned back to scanning the crowd.

Seemed like he wasn't interested in chatting Roy thought, a bit disappointed - this party had been quite dull so far. He was just about to head to the bar to join the rest of the crew in getting drunk when the giant turned towards him again.

"My apologies for the rudeness, I'm Drustan Cynwrig, associate mercenary and wanderer."

"No worries," Roy replied, pleased that he would have someone to talk to after all, "I'm Roy...er...just Roy, gunsmith and occasional engineer," he fumbled. He hadn't used his last name for a long long time and didn't really even remember it. All right, he could remember if he tried but he didn't want to try. Best to leave the past buried.

"A wanderer? What brought you to Helium City and this lovely gathering then?" he asked, trying to make the 'lovely' part sound sarcastic.

Exeter

"As a start." she said, trying to be intimidating. Exeter merely feigned a yawn - his time as a pirate captain had hardly been without death threats, so the mere emphasis on a specific word or phrase wasn't nearly enough to rustle his jimmies. Still, it did beg a more profound response of nothing else.

"As much as I would like to make appropriate recompense with a... privateer such as yourself, I hardly think this is the best time or place for such an endeavor. However, were these not so, I should like to see you try." he said, putting up his trademarked smile to show his utter disdain for the woman. He'd hoped she'd be a somewhat more witty enemy, but then that was his error; what could he suspect from a scurvy-ridden pirate dog hungry only for blood, booze, and booty.

"Alright, swine, lets go someplace a little more secluded, so I can tell you just what I'm going to do to your mangled corpse once I'm through with you." she replied after some delay - yelling at one of her underlings no doubt. Apparently she was as good a first officer as she was with her left arm - pathetic.

"Now now, there's no reason to be uncivil; we are in good company after all. but, if you insist m'lady-" he said in a very uncivilized tone before taking her still-attached hand and pulling her toward a more secluded location - the dance floor. Nothing like waltzing with the enemy, one hand in the others hand while the other gripped the gun.

Especially when said enemy didn't have a gun or a hand to hold it with.

Ciel

Ciel watched the exchange between the first officers wide eyed. On the one hand, she knew she should be worried about them, but then she knew there wasn't much to worry about. Neither could escalate the conflict without drawing the ire of ther respective captains (she hoped) and even if they could, not without the ire of the president whose mansion they were currently enjoying. Instead she reached over the bar, pulled out a bottle of what she hoped was bourbon and a glass and poured it - ready for a show. A moment later, she threw some Helios on the bar, expecting some bartender to take the hint.

Turning to the man closest to her - the one who'd been speaking with Exeter's new companion about Engineering and said offered him a glass, saying "ready for a show?"

Adrianna

Once the pleasantries with the president were fulfilled, Adrianna made her way over to Garrett, waiting to see f he'd found something with enough alcohol to dull the music. She managed to catch the tail end of a conversation he'd apparently struck up with a passing man. "Whilst she may not appear different to many, she is special. As to why I am here instead of on a ship; to make a long story short, I go where the winds tell me to fly, its just so happens that they pointed me in this direction. So, what about you then. Why are you here?"

Adrianna didn't have anything to add, though she found herself happy at the use of the word special. He was special as well, for much the same reason she knew. She did however release him of his spare wine glass, saying "Thank you Garrett." at the gesture. Since none of the other Imperial soldiers within earshot, she had no trouble reffering to him by first name - she preferred that name anyway.

-Sheska-

She relaxed, but only slightly, when Zach backed off.

"There really is no winning with you is there? Fine, he's yours. Just, whatever you want to do to him, do it somewhere quiet and out of the way. I'll keep a lookout, the Imps might notice one of their officers going missing.".

"Thank you, Zach.", she said, again, only loud enough for Zach to hear, and her voice rang with sincerity.

Then she huffed and spoke at a normal volume. "Besides, this piece of shit can't kill me here even if he wanted to.", she said, before she was tugged towards the dance floor.

"Now now, there's no reason to be uncivil; we are in good company after all. but, if you insist 'lady-".

Her eyes narrowed to dangerous slits, but she followed, though not before stopping to stomp on his instep with a surprising amount of force. "Don't you dare think to lead me around, you stupid son-of-a-whore. And if you try anything with me, I'll be wearing whats left of your balls in a pouch around my neck.", she said.

Then she smirked and snickered. "It's not like you're using them much anyway, right?", she asked in a low purr.

As they started to slowly and awkwardly dance, she kept her hand gripped firmly on his shoulder, and her eyes were locked onto his. She sniffed once and sneered in disgust. "So, tell me this, Imp. Why do you stink like a pirate? Not only that, but one who doesn't understand the purpose of a bath. I'm surprised the Empire even allowed your soggy ass into the Officer Corps, at least the pirates I know are clean.", Sheska added.

'Woa. WOA. Time to slow down a bit...' Righting his balance, he took in a short breath. This was nothing. He was a pirate, for fuck's sake! He wasn't about to let a few shots of whiskey take his cognizance. He managed to gather himself enough to regain some sobriety - or at least a facsimile of it - in time to see Sheska snicker and wave goodbye.

"Don't puke on any of the guests."

"Now, you're just no fun at all, are you?" Sheska walked off, heading down the bar to check on the others...

...Before being accosted by a familiar Imp. Even with his senses impaired, he could smell the man's rank stench from where he sat - the smell of a lifelong pirate. A twofold traitor, in other words. He managed to restrain himself - his usual sneer subdued to an angry glare - before turning from the scene. Sheska insisted on handling this herself - no words from him would change that.

He was broken from his stupor by a woman sitting to his right. An Imp, he guessed, so likely the crew on one of the IAN ships currently docked. She didn't have the build or demeanor of a soldier, and she'd be decked out in her colors if she were an officer, so it was just as likely she was part of the technical crew. 'I might have some intelligent conversation after all. Shame it's from a freaking Imp.'

"Ready for a show?"

Jason laughed and jerked his thumb back towards Sheska. "What, that? Depends on what you mean by 'show'. Though, to be fair, I'd consider Sheska Skulkhound feeding that coward his balls to be right good entertainment." Against his better judgement, he knocked back another shot. He'd had worse than a few over his normal limit - what's the worst that could happen? Taking another look at the Imp woman, he noticed something unusual - she was being tended to by an automata spider the size of a cat. His curiosity piqued, he took a closer look - something that small couldn't have been easy to design, let alone build. The inner workings were largely exposed, though, giving him a very good idea of the basic structure. His eyes darted back and forth over the device, the dull sheen in his eyes replaced by flashes of quick, frenzied thought.

"So, powered by a Heller gear, I take it?" He leaned back against the bar, partly to keep his balance and partly to ensure he was facing Sheska. If she did anything rash, he'd be ready to follow suit. "A workable solution, but something I always found to be more trouble than it's worth when it comes to maintenance."

James enjoyed tried to enjoy the ride to the mansion as well as he could, but, he felt the need to use the bathroom before they were even halfway there. Being the gentleman he was, he remained stoic and quiet, though upon landing, he pushed his way out of the cab and tried to find the bathroom as quickly as possible. It required the help of a patient maid to show him where to go, and he made sure to do his business as fast as he could.

Upon exiting, he decided to mingle with the crowd, but was unsure who to start with. He saw someone who looked important debating with someone who looked dirty, a disfigured abomination yelling at people, and several people at the bar (where he wouldn't be going, at least not right away)

'You know how you get around alcohol there, buddy.' James nodded grimly, and decided his time would best be spent dancing, like what his career was supposed to be, but with less broken bear skulls (hopefully). James nearly strolled onto the dance floor, and realized he had no partner. Ciel was at the bar, watching the debate intently, and drinking till she was comfortable. James sighed, now was not his moment, and so he went to check up on his favorite engineer/ accomplice.

"ready for a show?"

'Nope.' James swiftly heel turned, perhaps he could find a dance partner. Until then, he simply sat next to the food, away from others, looking for anybody that seemed willing...

'10 minutes, then I go for the booze.'

"The question of how much she is paying me, is none of your concern; suffice to say, there is more to it as far as money is concerned.

"Riiiight,"Eddie said,"So what is she paying you in? If it's not coin, then it's gotta be something else,"He looked off at the table of food, but was mildly interested in these two, so instead he grabbed another turkey leg off of a passing Imperial brat's plate,but he looked like he could use the loss.

"So, what about you then. Why are you here?"

Eddie smirked,"You stuck too? And do ya really hafta ask why I'm here,"He waved the meat in front of Garret's face,"I'm here for the free food of course, not like I've got some Neovictorian bitch leading me around by the nose. Don' be givin' me that wind crap either, there hasn' been more 'an a light breeze in two days..."He muttered something about "Captains and groundling windless asses", but nothing more specific

The unpredictable young man ripped the last of the meat from the bone and tossed it behind him, onto the dancing floor, where he heard the quickening of steps as someone began to lose their balance, and smiled, he decided right now that he loved Imperial parties. Ripping the apple from Garret's grasp, seeing as he didn't look as if he'd be finishing eating it anytime within the next millennium, and bit into it after a quick polishing on his dirtied coat.

"So,"he said between chews, spewing small bits into both their faces,"You a man-whore then Garetteky-Tikki-Gravy? Heard of 'em, but I've never spen' enough time n' port ta see one o' ya in real li'e..."

"A wanderer? What brought you to Helium City and this lovely gathering then?"

"More wandering, mostly." Drustan shrugged, oblivious to the sarcasm. "An arsehole of a pirate captain left me stranded on this Skyforsaken blight because I beat him at cards and kissed his sweetheart. I told him she wanted to, but noooooo, she'd never be unfaithful. She was loving, loyal, and pure, so I must have forced myself upon her, otherwise she wouldn't dare think of kissing another." Drustan's voice stopped resonating mock affection as he moved on to the next part. "I probably shouldn't have said what I did next, but I then informed the man that his 'sweetheart' had slept with at least half of his crew and that I was reasonably certain she was in some sort of sexual relationship with his favorite hound. Poor bastard picked me up and threw me overboard the ship. Thank the Skies he embellished a lot of money on docking locations, though." Drustan, remembering the fall, shuddered like a dog drying it's pelt.

"Anyways, one thing led to another, I was stranded here for three months, and I recently picked up a nice job on a beautiful frigate. I'm here because the Admiral of the vessel,who is quite a looker by the way, asked me to attend and keep fellows at this shindig from tearing each other apart."

Keenly watching the events around them, Drustan noticed a peculiarity and pointed it out to his conversational partner. "See that man there, Roy? He's an officer on the ship I'm on, and last I checked, he wasn't into crippled misbegottens of the fairer sex. These fancy balls always bring out the strange side of people.

Exeter

"So, tell me this, Imp. Why do you stink like a pirate? Not only that, but one who doesn't understand the purpose of a bath. I'm surprised the Empire even allowed your soggy ass into the Officer Corps, at least the pirates I know are clean." Sheska said, after several insults while they danced.

"Once you've killed enough pirate scum, it just becomes impossible to get the stench off." he said, unable to resist the dig at her chosen profession. "Though, I suspect my years as a privateer have left some mark upon me, despite my best efforts. I'm sure you can understand, being former Chuno Ggun." he said, letting slip the knowledge he's gained, still smirking. It wasn't hard to figure out after his conversation with Lt. Com. Ring.

"And incidentally; I don't intend to try anything; you're not worth the effort." he finished, twisting his smirk up into a contempt smile briefly before replacing his mask of civility.

Ciel

b"So, powered by a Heller gear, I take it? A workable solution, but something I always found to be more trouble than it's worth when it comes to maintenance." the man said, while keeping an eye on what could only be described as the most tense waltz she'd ever seen.

And she'd seen a lot of tense waltzes.

Ciel took a moment to look at her spider drone; just to jog her memory as to which one she'd brought. "That's right, though I don't consider the maintenance trouble; it's more like play time." she said, truthfully enough. "Good eye though; was it the conical spring that gave it away?" she asked, more to make conversation then out of a real desire to know the answer. Remembering her manners, she held out her hand and offered her name. "Ciel Kriebel" she said, a genuine smile on her face, thinking "Finally, a decently intelligent conversation."

Adrianna

Adrianna stared at the strange man, dumbfounded. In the course of a few seconds, he'd insulted the both of them - without provocation - and acted generally unfitting for a civil affair. Were they in the Empire, those alone would be grounds for honorable combat. Fortunately for the strange man, they weren't in the Empire and killing a foreign dignitary was just the sort of diplomatic incident she was trying to avoid.

Instead, she turned to Garrett, the flabbergasted look still clear upon her face, looking to see if he was in the same mind set. She then returned to the strange man, eating an Apple, and replied. "I believe you're misunderstanding the matter. Garrett is my-" she said, trying to find the right words. She could have used bodyguard, but that would have left the matter of non-monetary payments unresolved. Lover, of course was true as well, though that would have left the distinction of "man-whore" unchallenged in its own right. In the end, no better words came to mind that maintained the secrecy of their relationship, so she did the next best thing. She gave a half truth

"-bodyguard yes, but one retained by both money and honor." It wasn't entirely a lie; she believed that Garrett honored her, though the use of the word implied a very different meaning than the truth.

"Sounds like quite the adventure," Roy said after Drustan had finished telling his tale.

"See that man there, Roy? He's an officer on the ship I'm on, and last I checked, he wasn't into crippled misbegottens of the fairer sex. These fancy balls always bring out the strange side of people."

"Just so you know, that crippled misbegotten of the fairer sex," Roy explained, grinning, "Is the first mate of the ship I'm on and possibly the toughest bitch you'll find in this city or the next." Possibly. He barely knew any of the crew.

"And not one to dance with Imps. Maybe they've had too much to drink," he guessed. "So you're an Imp too?" he asked nonchalantly, stifling a yawn. He wouldn't really mind a drink himself now. The walk to the gala had helped wake him up but now the warm room and lack of anything interesting happening was making him feel sleepy again. Nothing a few shots of something stronger couldn't fix though.

-Sheska-

"Once you've killed enough pirate scum, it just becomes impossible to get the stench off. Though, I suspect my years as a privateer have left some mark upon me, despite my best efforts. I'm sure you can understand, being former Chuno Ggun.".

She snorted softly in derision at his reply. She didn't even care if he knew that she was Chuno Ggun. It wasn't like she hid it. If anything, she dared the Ggun to try and take her back. She'd cut them down like everyone else.

"Bullshit. You don't stink of death, not like I do. You reek of filth and slime, so you weren't a privateer, but a full pirate, and a bad one at that if I had to judge. If you remember correctly, last I saw you, you were on your back beneath my boot, with my revolver pointed at your face. You would've died there if your pet Capricorn didn't catch me off guard. I won't make the same mistake again.", she said, before she bared her teeth in a sadistic grin.

"By the way, I know your pet's name, but not yours. Not that I really care, but I'll have to carve something into your charred husk so that your crew will recognize you after what I've done.", she said as her claws dug into his shoulder, piercing his suit and starting to bury themselves in his flesh.

"Thank you Garrett." A voice said to him as Adrianna arrived soon after Garrett finished talking, and relieved him of the second goblet of wine he was holding onto. Garrett felt a bit more relaxed now, knowing that she was here. Speaking of wine, Garrett took a swig from the goblet he had taken for himself. He then listened to the gentleman's response to his own question.

"You stuck too? And do ya really hafta ask why I'm here." The man remarked, waving a piece of meat in front of Garrett's face. "I'm here for the free food of course... leading me around by the nose. Don' be givin' me that wind crap either, there hasn' been more 'an a light breeze in two days..." Garrett temper instantly rose after the man had called Adriana a 'bitch'. He wanted to punch the man right then and there, how dare he call her that. But he knew that would only cause trouble, and it was probably what the gentleman wanted. Garrett was about to take a bite from the apple he was eating, but it was ripped from his hands before he could.

"So." The gentleman said between mouthfuls of food, spitting out small bits into Garrett and Adriana's face their faces. "You a man-whore then Garetteky-Tikki-Gravy? Heard of 'em, but I've never spen' enough time n' port ta see one o' ya in real li'e..." This made Garrett even madder. Before he could respond however, Adriana stepped in, which gave him a moment to calm down. She looked completely dumbstruck by what was being said about both of them.

"I believe you're misunderstanding the matter. Garrett is my-" She said, stopping for a moment to choose her words carefully, as a misplaced word could spell trouble. "-bodyguard yes, but one retained by both money and honor." This made Garrett smile a bit

"You know I was in the process of eating that." Garrett remarked, pointing at the apple.

"Unlike some people however, I prefer to take my time, enjoy things to their fullest. As for that 'wind crap'; I meant it in a more metaphorical manner rather than being literal. The young woman is indeed right, I serve as her bodyguard via a mixture of monetary means, and also as payment for a debt or two. Keeping her safe is not all that I do. I provide the Rear Admiral here with an insider's knowledge of the pirate mind, being one myself." Garrett stopped for a moment, enjoying a nice, long swig of wine before he continued.

"Just because I appear tame, does not mean that I am declawed, there is still a trick or two up my sleeves. Isn't that right boss?" Garrett then asked, his head looking at Adriana.

-Isaac-

Found himself with not much to do and nobody to talk to. He'd come along out of an obligation (and more than a little morbid curiosity) but now he was actually here it felt like he'd have had a better time back at the ship. There was a time where he lived for this, but these days he just didn't have it in him. Nor did he look the part anymore, in spite of his well cut suit he couldn't help but walk with a hunch.

He'd spotted the swaggering naval officer a mile off and his hackles had risen, but once he'd approached and spoken to Sheska Isaac realised there was nothing he could really do. A fight couldn't work out here and if it did he'd only make things worse.

He moved away from the dance-floor and slumped into a chair at a table next to a pale-looking young man in a suit.

"It's too bloody loud in here." he muttered.

-Annis-

Watched Exeter's barbed dance with scorn. The man was an idiot for bringing the grudges they held to the gala. There was no point in hostility here, even veiled hostility.
Her thoughts returned to her endeavours the previous night... no time for that now. She would mingle if it was required, she would walk the floor, and she would watch the dancers. The evening didn't have to be unpleasant. If only there was a quieter room with more intellectual entertainment... ah well.

"You know I was in the process of eating that."

"Not by my knolowedge, you weren't,"He said as he ripped into the flesh of the apple again,"You've been with the Imps too long, eating's not sommat you sit around and talk in between, you waste time that wa'."

"I believe you're misunderstanding the matter. Garrett is my-"-bodyguard yes, but one retained by both money and honor."

Eddie nodded and shrugged his shoulders, his face accepting,if still a bit derisive of the idea,"Alright, if you say so Imp."

Keeping her safe is not all that I do. I provide the Rear Admiral here with an insider's knowledge of the pirate mind, being one myself."

Eddie, who had picked up a glass of champagne from a passing servant, and thinking it was juice, took a mouthful of it, which was then projected outward as a fit of uproarious laughter and his own disgust at the taste took over. He dropped the glass and tumbled to the floor, his gales of laughter echoing all throughout the hall, the now shattered glass in pieces around him as he held his sides.

"HAHAHAAAA! YOU?! A PIRATE!?!?!"Another bout of laughter escaped into the ball, to the detriment of some of the dancers as the music was overpowered,"Lemme catch a breath!"

Eddie stumbled to his feet, still chuckling, some of the guests, particularly the obvious Imperials, looking at him dubiously. He paid them no heed, seeing as he barely noticed them to begin with.

"Al'ight then,"He said, adjusting the coat and wiping a bit of dust and floor grime from it, the laughter subsided, before he saw Garett's face again, which prompted yet another gale of laughter,"If'n yur a pirate, I'm a Neobedwetter Bestman!"

Looking up into Garret's eyes again however, and his voice went cold, all trace of accent, brightness in his eyes, and spring in his step gone, no longer was this "Eddie", this was the man that had grown up a pirate, with no care in the world beyond the "organization" and Imp hunting.

"You are no pirate. If you were, you would have killed this Imp Bitch long ago. You talk about honor, bullshit. You do not have any, nor do you know the meaning of the word loyalty. You switched sides, meaning you are less than the most deaf,blind,lame, and mute Imperial beggar in the world. You are a cur, a bastard who would sooner trade his Captain than face up to what he himself did. A man who would rather screw an Imperial than actually do what he once did. How long before you switch sides again, eh? You getting tired o' this woman yet? What will you do when you do, huh? Doesn't look anywhere near young to me..."

His eyes never loosing contact with Garret's own, Eddie spoke directly to Adrianna, somehow his voice seeking her ear alone,"Not much to say to you, is there? Already covered the traitor parts with this hulk after all..."

And just as suddenly as Eddie had changed, he changed back to his normal self. Although still a bit cold towards these two, he asked, just as warm and nonchalant as he'd been earlier,"So, what's your names? Gave you mine already didn't I? It's Eddie if'n I forgot." He bent down to retrieve the apple, but after seeing it was covered in champagne, he kicked it off into the ball proper this time, instead of the dance floor.

He sighed,"You can never keep something good like that, can you?"

Beth

She had been keeping an eye on the guests, and her own crew. It seemed they were getting along well with the imperials. Sheska was dancing with someone, and Eddie was talking with another couple of imps. She was aware that they were antagonizing the imperials, but enjoyed watching them. Eventually she decided to order a glass of wine, and made her way over to stand behind the couple Eddie was talking with. She was just listening to them, while chatting with some higher ups which she assumed were from Helium City.

They left after a while, and she was alone, listening in on the conversation behind her back. When Eddie insulted the man who claimed to be a pirate, Beth burst out laughing, which caused some to look at her.

"I should bring you to more of these parties." She said with a loud voice to a girl next to her, which she had never seen before. It was meant for Eddie though, and she hoped he heard her.

Remmington

Jaqui remained with Wilhelmena for a while, and greeted more of the guests. When there were no more guests coming, she turned to speak with her friend. "I wish you would wear something more suiting of you."

"Do you not like my dress?" Wilhelmena answered with a sly smile.

"I can't help but worry." She put the cigar to her mouth, and inhaled some more smoke. "I suppose that's on you though. Oh, and I found your friend. She might not recognize you, if you're dressed like that."

Wilhelmena shook her head, and coughed when Remmington let out the smoke in her face. "I don't want her too." She took Remmington by the arm, and lead her towards the food.

Zach was growing increasingly uncomfortable as he watched Sheska dance with her Imp adversary, over the shoulder of his own partner. This was all wrong. Sheska might like to talk like a hunter, using words like 'prey', but a hunter doesn't waste time with muttered threats, arm in arm with their target. If Sheska wanted to play with her food before she ate it, then Zach wasn't about to deny her that right, but someone had to stay watchful, and the more Zach watched the more he felt like the crew of The Mermaid was growing increasingly more vulnerable by the minute. What exactly was the purpose of this party anyway? Zach couldn't buy that it was mere coincidence that a band of pirates and a band of Imp's, having clashed with each-other recently, were now getting drunk under the same roof under the watchful eye of the esteemed Mrs Remmington. It was something he'd love to investigate further, were his attentions not already occupied.

Zach noticed Issac move towards the bar, looking at Sheska's dance partner with the same expression of anger and concern that Zach felt. It made him warm a little to the man, although only a little. He still didn't know how far he was willing to trust Issac, and people Zach wasn't sure about always put him far more on edge that those he knew were bad news. Nevertheless, he was just about the best Zach could hope for right now.

Conveniently, Eddie had chosen this moment to make a scene. It wasn't hard to catch what he was saying, and what Zach heard made him smile inwardly.

'I knew there was more to him than he was letting on! Still crazy as fuck though, carrying on like that.'

The confrontation allowed Zach to once again subtly excuse himself from his partner and move over to the bar, where he joined Issac. He spoke quietly, close to Issac's ear.

"Why do you think that officer is looking so smug?" he asked "I'd bet you anything that even with one arm Sheska would take him down like he was nothing if she wanted, and she does. Now, he might be just enough of an idiot to think that this little show makes him untouchable in this room, but I don't think so. Everyone has their limit after all, and he hasn't pushed Sheska over her's yet. I reckon he's trying to make her just angry enough that she'll take her eye of the ball. Why? Maybe, it's because he has backup, beyond his usual Imp friends..."

Zach had no idea how willing Issac would be to follow the new guy's hunch. However, in the event that Zach was right, forewarning Issac could be invaluable, and if he was wrong, at least voicing his concerns out loud, with someone who knew this game at least as well as he did himself, might help curb his paranoia.

"Look, I know it's not much to go on, but I've got a seriously bad feeling about this. If I'm right, and there's a Ggun here somewhere, or at least going to be hear very soon, then I could use your help."

"And not one to dance with Imps. Maybe they've had too much to drink," Roy guessed. "So you're an Imp too?"

"Alcohol does to amazing things to a person sometimes." replied Drustan, slightly shrugging his skull in acknowledgement of the point. "And as mentioned before, I am an associate mercenary and wanderer. I don't really have loyalty to a higher cause, it was just a concoction of the right times and places that led me here. I'm not complaining, though, as there are certainly worse places to be. Like stuck on this wart that people habitate on, for instance." Finished with his comment, Drustan continued to gaze off towards the distance, still keeping his open for tipsy dancers, but this time it was towards the back of his mind. At least, until

"HAHAHAAAA! YOU?! A PIRATE!?!?!"

Drustan leapt a few inches off of the polished floor, crouching low upon landing in a desperate attempt to keep his balance. It didn't work. Propping himself back into a standing position, he spoke his mind to Roy.

"What in the bloodiest Oblivion is that buffoon doing? I know jokes can be funny, but by the Skies, he could at least have some common fucking courtesy."

"It's too bloody loud in here." Isaac muttered.

Vasco was torn from the almost hypnotic action of tracing the edge of the wine glass with his finger and looked up at the hunched man. He gave a slight chuckle. The blind seek out the blind and the hunched seek out the hunched. Even though the man could only see a pale-looking gentleman in a suit leaning on a table. With the commotion, Dr. Roque hardly caught the words of this gentlemen and before he could respond, another one appeared. A Neobedouin by the looks of things. He was whispering words in the other gentleman's ear, with a concerned look on his face. No doubt about the clash between Exeter and that Misbegotten, and more. Listening to that loud man's insults of Garrett had made him regret coming to this ball more. What was the purpose of it anyway?

Brushing those thoughts away and with a pained sigh, he replied, "Indeed... May I know the name of you and your companion, then?"

"Indeed... May I know the name of you and your companion, then?"

Isaac blinked. He'd sort of forgotten that imperial sense of entitlement. To be honest, this was polite as far as they went. We're talking, I'm supposed to know your name now right? as if the speaker was unused to socialising. More likely a ranking officer or some other important role aboard a vessel than one of the aristocrats that spent their time here then.

Isaac assented and replied.

"Traynor. Isaac Traynor, a pleasure. My companion goes by Zach. And you are...?"

"Look, I know it's not much to go on, but I've got a seriously bad feeling about this. If I'm right, and there's a Ggun here somewhere, or at least going to be hear very soon, then I could use your help."

Zach's muttering became more intense and Isaac's heart leapt into his throat. He kept his composure and didn't immediately respond to the whisper, but shot Zach a look. I heard you. We can talk about this when there's less Imps around.

"Zach, have a seat why don't you? The drinks are quite good." he hadn't touched his wine glass of course, but he could probably make a fair judgement of the master of Helium's wine quality. As Zach sat Isaac leaned back so he could see both Zach and the gentleman they were talking to, whispering out the corner of his mouth.
"He's provoking her. If there's a fight then we're for it. Don't know about any Ggun so far."
You could never be too sure of passing on messages in such intimate circumstances and there was always a chance somebody would eavesdrop. But Isaac was a master of veiled conversation. He had spent his best years using it and it was a skill you never really forgot. Provided this guest they were talking to wasn't a gun himself, the chances of him suspecting another dialogue would be close to none.

"Traynor. Isaac Traynor, a pleasure. My companion goes by Zach. And you are...?"

"Doctor Vasco Roque," He said, almost automatically extending his hand, though beneath the blank veil, Vasco was puzzled. What was going on between these two gentlemen? That was the problem with events like this, so much going on beneath a veil of noise and fury. No wonder Vasco kept alcohol as far away from his mouth as possible if it made people act like this. He slid his half-full glass away from him in disgust. It was only there because a waiter had placed it there, perhaps in the hope that the sour doctor would liven up after a few glasses of the stuff. Then thoughts turned to conversation subjects, and then he sighed again. He hated small talk, but at least it some time would be wasted in a more meaningful manner this way. That was at least one hope of his...

"This celebration seems to be going well... Except for that little commotion there. But then again, parties are always wild things, yes?"

"Well, if there is one, I'll know them when I see them. You can count on that." Zach replied, following Issac's lead and whispering out of the corner of his mouth. He wondered how Issac would take that statement, as he obviously went to much greater lengths to conceal his own past than Sheska did. "If that happens, then we'll need some way to draw them away from the crowd and get them alone."

"This celebration seems to be going well... Except for that little commotion there. But then again, parties are always wild things, yes?"

"You should ride with us tribal folk sometime." Zach answered, his tone not unkind, but at the same time with an undercurrent of challenge to it, daring the Imperial to make some kind of passively disparaging comment about 'savages' such as Zach. "I reckon we could show you a thing or two about wild parties."

"You should ride with us tribal folk sometime." Zach answered. "I reckon we could show you a thing or two about wild parties."

The tone of the man confirmed it. This was bait, and no doubt the Neobedouin wanted Vasco to take it. He would be disappointed. If he wanted some Neovictorian to rant on about savages that roll around the land in mud stinking of petrol and animal blood, the man should have walked up to Mr. St. John. He disliked this, to say the least. Being put on the ground in social situations was probably one of the worst things he had experienced. The sickly feeling that came with this feeling of being watched, studied even, made his stomach turn. If it was even possible, Vasco turned even more pale. But with a quick brush of the hair, he recovered. The doctor knew what to say to this Neobedouin. He leaned in closer to Zach, with a sheepish grin.

"I wouldn't know," Vasco said with the same tone, "Please, do tell... I am sure it will be fascinating to hear about Neobedouin customs."

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