Aether Shanties RP (PM if interested/Started)

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"Well, if there is one, I'll know them when I see them. You can count on that."
Hmm. May need to remember that. Isaac thought to himself. If there was a potential for another person on board the Mermaid to know of his past, he'd need to keep tight control if he didn't want the secret getting out. The more people that knew, the less secret it was. Zach continued;
"If that happens, then we'll need some way to draw them away from the crowd and get them alone."

Isaac nodded and watched the exchange between the Doctor and Zach. To his surprise the Imperial responded with playful interest, not the sort of thing you usually expected from the nobility. Not that this doctor seemed particularly high-class. From a wealthy background of course elsewise he'd not be a doctor, but far from a conventional upbringing.

Isaac leaned back a bit and frowned at the ongoing exchange between Eddie and what looked like some Skyfolk merc. Voices (well, a familiar voice) were being raised. Close by stood an Imperial woman dressed in officer's fineries.

"Oh dear." he muttered "it's not going to kick off is it?"

Garrett stood patiently with his arms crossed as Eddie rattled off a list of insults to both him and Adrianna in cold and angry voice, outraged at what Garrett was and what he had become. Whilst he didn't agree with all of them, Garrett had to admit that the man had a point. He knew that his relationship with Adriana; and by vague extension the Empire would draw unwanted attention from other Skyfolk, losing the respect of them in the process. Like his kin, Garrett despised the Empire for what they did, but he couldn't deny his love for Adriana, he respected her too much to simply sever the connection so he could be back in their favour.

After his rant was over, Eddie bent down to retrieve the apple, but after seeing it was covered in champagne, kicked it off into the crowd of dancers that were nearby, most of whom weren't paying attention of what was going on. Garrett noticed another woman he hadn't seen before approach them, Eddie himself sighed soon after. Deep down Garrett was angry about what had been said, but he didn't want to lash out, in case it bit him back in the arse.

"You can never keep something good like that, can you?" Garrett managed to crack a smile, and spoke in a more cheerful tone.

"No, I guess you can't Eddie, though I guess its a matter of perspective. Listen, Eddie, is this what we came here to do? To argue and squabble about honour and respect? No, we were invited here to celebrate the anniversary of this great city of Helium. To eat, drink, be merry, and bask in all that has been accomplished in fifty short years. Lets not ruin this evening anymore than we have." Garrett then took Adriana by the hand, and lead her away from the crowd that was forming, and into the sea of dancers.

"I'm not complaining, though, as there are certainly worse places to be. Like stuck on this wart that people habitate on, for instance."

"It's not that bad here or at least not really any worse than most other cities," Roy reasoned, "Besides, it could be worse. It certainly beats having to live in the Change Cage or a Skyloft s..." He was cut off when Drustan jumped for no apparent reason.

"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."

Looking around he spotted Eddie lying on the floor, laughing his head off, and two Imps that were looking quite offended. "Where's the harm in having a bit of fun?" Roy laughed. "Especially if it's on the expense of the upper class," he added, yawning. He felt as if he might fall asleep then and there nothing interesting happened soon.

"Sorry, lack of sleep," he muttered and yawned again.

Exeter

"Funny; last time I saw you, you were cradling your missing arm, ready to pass out from pain." he said, returning her insult. He had a hard time believing he could dislike the pirate bitch anymore than he already had, but then she was full of surprises. "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 asked, in the most unpleasant way possible; by burying her claws into his shoulder.

Exeter grinned through the pain; he'd felt far worse as a pirate. He brought his hand up, pulling the claw from his shoulder, widening the wounds and further tearing his coat. The blood was plainly visible as it stained his white undershirt. He pulled her claw up and out, into a proper dancing stance, than wrapped his other arm around her waist, pulling her in close. At the same time, be pushed forward, forcing her back to bend back slightly until she was in a slight dip. With his face not inches from hers, his dark, contempt grin now from ear to ear, his eyes alight with the kind of flames born under hatred and nurtured by torment, he answered "Sir Exeter St. John, First Officer of the H.M.S. Invincible, former pirate Captain (and slaughterer of) The Duskhunter and its crew, killer of pirate filth in all seven skies, and loyal servant of His Majesty, Emperor Victor II. Remember it when Lucifer asks who sent you." he said, before returning to his normal smirk. He then let the stance he'd been holding her in slip back into the distance waltz stance he'd been in seconds before, though he continued to hold her clawed hand in his own, it only to keep it a distance away from his shoulder.

Adrianna

Adrianna stared at the pair of sailors as Eddie began to insult the both of them. With each word, Adrianna's face grew redder. It took nearly all of her will power to stop herself from pulling off er glove, slapping him in the face with it, and challenging him to a duel on the spot - and damn the consequences and the diplomatic treaties. He'd insulted her honor, showing utter contempt for not only her, but Remmington's party and all it stood for. She heard a voice call Eddie from behind, complimenting his insults. It was getting out of hand quickly, and Adrianna's patience was waning.

Thank fate, the gods or god, or the universe for Garrett, who seemed to roll with the insults like they were nothing. She envied his calm demeanor. "No, I guess you can't Eddie, though I guess its a matter of perspective. Listen, Eddie, is this what we came here to do? To argue and squabble about honour and respect? No, we were invited here to celebrate the anniversary of this great city of Helium. To eat, drink, be merry, and bask in all that has been accomplished in fifty short years. Lets not ruin this evening anymore than we have." He said, apparently able to survive the onslaught well. She wasn;t sure when he'd become the calmer of the two, or if he'd always been the calmer of the two, but she was eternally thankful for it. Garrett offered his hand, which Adrianna took, and lead her away onto the dance floor.

Adrianna, not to be outdone, curtsied as was proper, and accepted the impromptu due to dance. She wasn't sure how he'd done it, but Garrett had managed to dismiss the belligerent clod, and turn his presence into a boon. It offered the perfect excuse for the two to finally do something enjoyable. After all, if anyone asked why they were dancing, they could argue it was to escape the argument without violence, thus preserving the Empire's peace with Helium City. It wasn't like they wanted to dance right? the whole charade screamed of posse and social graces she'd never seen before in Garrett. and she couldn't be happier about it. Adrianna chanced the thought "Maybe this night will actually turn out well after all". She stamped her foot lightly on the wooden floor; an old superstition to knock on wood, but it couldn't hurt.

"Well done Garrett." she said in a low voice such that others wouldn't hear. "How did you ever get to be so wise?" she asked, partly as a compliment and partly in genuine inquiry.

Ciel

Ciel stared dumbstruck at the scene on the dance floor. On the one side, her first officer had clearly made a daring move, pulling the pirate into such an... intimate dance. She wasn't sure what he'd said, but she suspected by the grin it was nothing good. Meanwhile, on the other side, Admiral Lanester and Mr. Corvus had been dragged into a dangerous conversation, only for the later of the two to pull them out and onto the dance floor. Ciel smiled at the act, thinking "Way to go" in her internal monologue.

"Ciel Kriebel."

Jason nodded in affirmation. "Jason Aurora - Chief Engineer of The Mermaid." He reached into his coat pocket and produced a cigarette, using one of the fancy electric lighters built into the bar to ignite it. "Not like it matters around here. I get the feeling most of the guests here only care for who you are if you can help them suck up to the Emperor." He gestured to the tensing scene before them. "Take that jackass. He wouldn't give two shits about Sheska if he couldn't use her to make himself look good in front of the Imperal brass." He drew in a deep puff of cigarette smoke, waiting a moment before exhaling. By the Skymother, he had no idea what he'd do without this vice.

He leveled a dark gaze Exeter's way, the disinterest in his eyes replaced with a cold glare. "I relish to see him get what a sycophant deserves."

He turned back to Ciel, no trace of his previous demeanor left and readopting an aloof air. "So, where do you serve? I'm gonna laugh if you say it's with him."

-Sheska-

"Funny; last time I saw you, you were cradling your missing arm, ready to pass out from pain.".

She merely quirked a brow and snorted. "That was after Capricorn had to save your ass, you didn't do a goddamned thing, weak bitch.", she said with a sneer.

When he fought to pull her claws out of his shoulder, though, she snickered darkly, only to end up being pulled against him and dipped back in a parody of a lovers dance. And as her eyes locked onto his, she could see a fire in his gaze. She could feel her blood skyrocket from simmer straight to boil, and she looked at his neck hungrily. Maybe she could pretend to kiss him there, and instead sink in her teeth to rip out his throat and get away with it...

Her train of thought was interrupted when he finally answered, his face a scant few inches from hers.

"Sir Exeter St. John, First Officer of the H.M.S. Invincible, former pirate Captain (and slaughterer of) The Duskhunter and its crew, killer of pirate filth in all seven skies, and loyal servant of His Majesty, Emperor Victor II. Remember it when Lucifer asks who sent you.".

Then he pulled them both back into the position they were in earlier, with that same slimy smirk he had before. So superior and untouchable. Even as a red haze started to cloud the corners of her vision, she stepped forward and bumped her forehead none-too-gently against his as she bared her teeth, her eyes burning like golden suns. She could feel her head throbbing like war drums, and when she answered, it was in a low, dangerous purr.

"Is that so? Well, if you think you can be the one to put me down, go ahead and try. You won't succeed. And if you think you have, mark my words: You'd best put me in the ground, and more than six foot down. Else I'll claw my way out of the grave you put me in and drag you back to put you there in my stead.", she told him.

Then she started to dig her nails into the back of his hand, enclosing it in an almost literally bone-crushing grip. Leaning forward, she tugged his hand down to force him to stoop down so she could tower over him.

"And trust me, Exeter, you won't pull it off. So take the time now to pray. Pray to whatever impotent gods you worship, because I will hunt you down. I will put you through sweet, unspeakable agony. And I will watch as the life drains from you. There is no power in heaven or on earth that will stop me, Exeter St. John, from killing you myself. Not even your limp-dick Emperor will save you.", she murmured, before pushing him back and turning to walk off.

She made it to two strides away before she stopped, and looked back at him. "Oh, and one more thing. When I kick your charred carcass from my airship, what do you think will make you fall faster? The lead I'll put in your ass, or the shit you already have for brains?", she asked.

But before Exeter could answer, she shook her head and shrugged. "Oh right, I forgot, It won't matter: You'll be dead, regardless. Until we meet again, stupid pussy.", she said with a wave.

With that, she strode off of the dance floor and made her way to where she saw Izzy and Zach sitting, speaking to a pale man who wore a suit that looked remarkably similar to Sam's. For some reason, that made her want to assume that he was a doctor too. When she finally reached them, she smiled and nodded to them both. "Izzy, Zach. Which one of you wants to dance first?", she asked as pleasantly as she could.

After all, she could still smell St. Johns stench on her, and her blood was still calling out for someone else to die.

Beth

She listened to the man answer Eddie, when they left she turned around and threw a new fruit to him. "The good thing about parties like this one, is that there's no end to the free food." Beth looked at the dance floor, and at the imperial couple. "and the man does have a point, we did come here to celebrate, but what better way could there possibly be than to provoke the empire a bit more for some laughs?" It was intended for Eddie's ears, and she hoped no one else had heard them.

Beth drank the last of her wine, and a grin wanted to spread across her face. "What do you say we try to celebrate some more with imperials?"

Remmington

Jaqui was keeping an eye on her guests, with Wilhelmena by her side. Her friend was good at striking up conversation, with both imperials and others. They reacted differently to her, but she did have the talent to keep them somewhat interested in talking with her.

She saw the imperials butt heads with the pirates that Wilhelmena had suggested they should invite. It served little purpose to invite criminals, but she wasn't sure which side was the worse either way. It was rare for pirates to be dumb enough to try and cause any larger problems in her city. The imperials were tougher to handle, as she almost expected them to do it. Though it could be paranoia.

"No, we were invited here to celebrate the anniversary of this great city of Helium. To eat, drink, be merry, and bask in all that has been accomplished in fifty short years. Lets not ruin this evening anymore than we have."

"Eh? That wasn't in the eninvinitation, was it? What's happened in fif'y years anyways? Just some ol' guy on a chair wit' a fancy name telling us whatta do,"He followed after the couple onto the dance floor a bit, talking as he went along,"Course he screwed up afta he found out his toys weren't good up here no more. Ah, to hell wit' all o'ya Groundlings! You too, Garrety-Tikki-Gravy!"

He walked back off the floor, walking through couples to stay on the straight line back to where he was. Unfortunately, he never saw the orange thrown at him, striking him in the head and causing another commotion as he attempted to catch it before hitting the ground, however not ever really seeming to be able to get a grip on it, tripping another servant walking past.

"What do you say we try to celebrate some more with imperials?"

"No, I'm good Cap'n. But promise me sommat. I ever start actin' like that clown ova' there,"He made a shooting motion at Garret,shit-eating grin plain as day on his face,accompanied by his other hand waving excitedly. He turned back to Beth,"Take my gun and shoot me, right in the head! Don' wanna remember ever thinkin' bout goin' over with 'em."

Spotting a tray of food leaving the table again, he didn't wait to hear Beth's answer, if there was one, before more or less sprinting through the dancing couples again, tapping Garret on the back as he went by, intent on the free food. Couldn't get any better than that, unless it was being served on a ship, land, clouds, and floating cities out of sight...That'd be a good day in Eddie's book.

Ciel

"So, where do you serve? I'm gonna laugh if you say it's with him." Jason said, rather aloofly

"Well laugh it up then, 'cause I'm the Chief Engineer of the H.M.S. Invincible; the same ship he's first officer of." she said, raising her glass of the bourbon up to knock it with his.

"And I wouldn't jump to that judgement so fast either. That "sycophant" had his life destroyed by pirates. He loves the empire I'm sure, but he's hunting Sheska there for the joy he gets for getting revenge on pirates. I'll admit, sycophant's a fair wood for him - he's not by any stretch of the word a "good" guy; he's a monster even to his own crew - but he's also not a pirate hunter to brown nose to the Emperor. Well, not too much anyway." she said, not buying the engineer's argument.

"Like I doubt you or your first officer are out there plundering, killing, raping, and pillaging just for the gold and the fun. Remember; if you ever meet a "simple" person; he's a liar 'cause their ain't no simple people." she finished, more or less having slipped into academic mode.

Exeter

Exeter watched, still smirking, as the pirate bitch walked off, having again threatened his life. It was such a shame too; there were far worse things to threaten then a person's life. Threatening what and who they cared about was far more effective. But then, that's life; it comes in all sorts of interesting - if violently bothersome - forms.

Exeter grabbed a glass of something form a nearby waiter, before making his way off the dance floor. He decided to clean his wound before the pirate's filth infected him with something. More practically, he didn't want blood staining one of his few good shirts.

-Annis-

"No, if he wished to 'brown-nose' our emperor he'd actually give a damn about dress regulations."
Annis had overheard the woman discussing the Invincible with what looked to be a very grubby Skyfolk engineer. Normally she'd have wrinkled her nose in disgust and left, but she felt this was the perfect opportunity to get to know one of the new officers a little better.

"So you are our new Head Engineer? Nice to finally meet you, I suppose. Should I introduce myself?"

Annis didn't know this girl from adam but you could be sure that her own name was at least a blip on the radar of most Imperials that were actually capable of leaving the cities. Not that she expected to recognised, her reputation had diminished somewhat after... she wasn't as well known these days.

Broken cripples rarely are.

-Parties Unknown-

Calvin shifted in the cold night breeze.
He was bored out of his skull, not unusual when the ship wasn't being attacked. But somebody had to stay behind to watch the place whilst the cap'n was out making pretty with the Helium Nobs. Not that the cap'n wasn't already pretty.
Calvin grinned to himself. He'd been given a task by her, maybe if he saw it through without trouble there'd be a reward... nah. Beth kept to herself and that was the way it had to be, he supposed. Honestly him and the lads weren't too sure if she was that into boys anyway. Not that they talked about it if they knew an officer was nearby of course. It didn't do to spread rumours about your cap'n if she had a way to hear 'em.

Though as far as captains went, she was a good'un. Harsh but fair, is what he'd told the others, harsh but fair. Calvin was glad he'd signed up to the Mermaid. The hauls weren't always amazing but they always came back in one piece and the company was pleasant. So he'd stay here and keep watch, for as long as he needed to. Until the part was over...

Was that a noise? He turned, raising his rifle.
"Anyone there?" he asked. A shuffling. Sounded like it was behind him, actually. Calvin started to turn before he felt a clawlike grip on his shoulder. He stumbled backwards and there was a searing pain across his throat. He was still staring confusedly at the blood running down his front when he was pitched off the side of the dock.

"That sod's out the way."
Pickman nodded to his accomplice and crept aboard the vessel, keeping his bowler hat steady. The winds up here were treacherous, even more so if you were purposely moving delicately.
Nobody ever thought of Pickman as a delicate chap, and that was probably why his work was so profitable. Nobody expects the rotten-toothed ex-Navy thug to be as soft as a cat.
"Come on in then, ye reprobates." he hissed at his crew and they fell into place on the deck. A handful more pirates were aboard, though most were out drinking and enjoying the night, one way or t'other. Honestly, the man at the gangplank was the only one they had to do in. The rest they could avoid.

They snuck gently through the vessel, carefully sidling past any late night walkers or assigned guardsmen until they were in the engine room. Pickman looked around and smiled a rotten-toothed smile.
"Jackpot, me beauties. Right, here's how it goes. Felchin and Webley, stick with me, keep a lookout. You see any engineerin' types, kill 'em. Aston, take this-"
He tossed the explosive.
"An' fix it to the propellers. Yes, back outside. Don't just stand there, hop to it you troglodytes!"

And they were away, working their business. Pickman for his part unloaded a small set of tools and worked at dismantling what he could of the engine, and pocketing bits and pieces that looked hard to replace. He'd not worked an engine in 20 years but he knew more than enough to wreck 'em. This one would be a tough job, the lad that worked on it clearly kept the thing in good nick. You'd have to spend a good long time rendering it in a state where repair was impossible.

He stood back and frowned.
What looked fragile?

"Boss!"
A hissed voice. He swivelled and saw Webley, looking at him worriedly. How long had he been standing here?
"What." no concern in Pickman's voice, if his boys had been doing their job right there wouldn't be a problem.
They had been doing their jobs right, surely?
"People comin'. A lot of people. Think one of the engies spotted Aston leavin'"
Shit. Pickman wondered if the lad had been dumb enough to allow himself to be spotted. No point in uncertainty.

"How many?"
"Six 'r seven? More? Din't count."
"You fuckwit, I need to know."
Webley shrugged. Pickman swore inwardly, you just couldn't get the help anymore.
"Alright, I'll finish up. You and Felchin sod off, preferably off of the side. Scram!"

The boy disappeared and Pickman turned to the engine. Was there anything else he could do...?
Damn, now he could hear bootsteps. Sod it, nothing for it. No amount of money was worth being gunned down by pirates. He took a pipewrench and slammed it into some pipes, making for a horrific screech. The bootsteps quickened. Pickman swung again and again until the cluster was completely severed and smashed the wrench into an intake valve, hoping that would do the trick. And then he darted away before the pirates could round the corner.

He was away and off the ship before anyone could find him, and there were his lads. All accounted for, thankfully.
"Soddit, we din't have nearly enough time. Aston, you did your bit right?"
Aston nodded, and looked towards the rear of the ship triumphantly.

An explosion lit the night and the four saboteurs watched, wincing a little.

"Aston you fuckin' twit, that wasn't a major propeller! What the hell have I taught you?"
"Only do the-"
"Only do the main thrusts! An' what did you fucking do?"
"Not do the main thrust."
"Not do the main thrust!"
Pickman slapped the boy open handed in the face.
"Shoddy work, my lad, shoddy work. I want to get paid fer this. And I won't get paid fer this if my help keeps fucking up!" he shouted the last bit and gave Aston a hefty kick, sending him stumbling backwards. Aston reached the lip of the tower, and tumbled off with a scream. The remaining lads looked after him, faces pale.

"The fuck are you still here for? Scarper!"
They looked at Pickman as if they were rabbits caught in a highbeam and took off. He ran his own path.

The job hadn't been done properly, Aston's little screw up had cost them the time they dearly needed. With any luck the engine would be screwed. But Pickman hadn't believe in luck since his old captain had taken a brand to his face and cut his toes off, one by one.

Still. Fingers crossed, eh?

"Well done Garrett." Adrianna said as they reached the dance floor and began to dance in time with the music. Garrett breathed a sigh of relief, as they could finally do something more enjoyable besides talking. "How did you ever get to be so wise?" Adrianna then asked, the question sounding like it was part compliment mixed with a curious inquiry, this caused the rugged mercenary to smile.

"Thank you for thinking me as wise. Though I have you to thank, guess spending as much time as we have had together, has meant that some of the knowledge and skills you possess have rubbed off on me. Still, that man was a right lout, he had no reason to insult you like that, except for the two of you being on opposite sides of the law. Believe me, if I hadn't kept myself in check, I would have punched the man right then and there." Garrett said in as quiet a tone as possible so that only Adrianna could hear, but the music seemed to have the effect of covering up his words. He then looked around the dance floor, seeing if there was any potential threats.

"Anyway, lets just forget about him for now, and concentrate on us instead." Garrett noticed the sight of a one armed woman walking away from Exeter, it looked as though the pair had been both insulting and dancing with each other at the same time by the way they moved. He then twirled Adrianna around himself, before pulling her in close.

"I don't want to alarm you my dear, but I just saw Exeter speak with a woman who had one arm, matching the woman he fought a few days ago. At least we now know that they are here as well. But's lets not worry about that, at least for tonight. For tonight, all I will care about is you." He then said in a calming tone, before smiling again.

Zach's challenge had made the Imperial nervous. He did well to not let his tone of voice change, and to plant a reasonable effort of a convincing smile on his face, but the faint draining of colour from his skin gave it away. In many ways this irked Zach more than the open hostility or smarmy condescension that he received from most Imperials. What right did this bottom-feeder have to feel uncomfortable about the revolting attitude the Empire showed towards the Neobedouin? He worked for them, and as such the blood of all the people, tribal or otherwise, that the Empire considered undesirable was on his hands, and no amount of perspiration or awkward shifting in his seat could forgive that. If he was going to be complicit by association in the horrific atrocities that counted for daily routine for Imperials, then he should at least have the common decency not to care, or to actively enjoy it. Any crisis of conscience was nothing more than a second insult.

"I wouldn't know. Please, do tell... I am sure it will be fascinating to hear about Neobedouin customs."

"In all honesty, any romantic Neobedouin customs you might be imagining are empty, pretentious bollocks if they even exist at all." Zach replied, his tone still light and jovial, concealing his dislike, and juxtaposing his harsh descriptions in a way that Zach knew would only serve to make the man more uncomfortable. "Let's just say I... differ, from the majority of tribal folk on this one, but it was a lesson I learned from the few with any sense some time ago. The true 'Song of my People' as it were, is nothing more than the rhythm of violence. Everything else is just window dressing. In the wild, you kill to eat, you kill for your family, and you kill anyone and anything that gets between you and what you want. If you're weak, cowardly, or stupid, you die, and I'm not dead yet. That's all I know of my people, Doctor. As for the rest, I'll let the clowns speak for themselves."

It was at this moment that Sheska, having broken away from the Officer, came to join them.

"Izzy, Zach. Which one of you wants to dance first?"

It took a brief moment for Zach to weigh up the options in his head. If he stayed at the bar, he'd have a batter view of the door in case anyone suspicious made an appearance. However, he'd also be in just as much danger of being watched himself. Going with Sheska put him in the middle of things, meaning he could act more quickly and subtly if needed, at the price of separating him from Issac, making it more difficult to communicate.

"It would be my pleasure." He said to Sheska, taking her hand. Before they moved out onto the dance floor he turned back to Issac. "You were right before. The atmosphere is here is far too close. Anytime you fancy some fresh air, let me know and I'll join you for a smoke."

Zach was confident that Issac was switched on enough to understand, and to inform Zach if he spotted any danger. Now he just had to hope that Issac's threat assessment skills were at least as good as his.

"Lover's tiff?" He quipped to Sheska as they went to take their places, nodding towards the retreating Officer. "I hope you kissed and made up."

-Sheska-

Sheska blinked when Zach was the first to answer, but she figured it was just as well. May as well get the dance with Zach over with, then take the time to talk to Izzy once they were done. When he took his hand, however, he turned and spoke to Isaac first.

"You were right before. The atmosphere is here is far too close. Anytime you fancy some fresh air, let me know and I'll join you for a smoke.".

Her face only registered mild interest, but internally she wondered what the fuck was going on. Still she smiled politely as they moved out to the dance floor, taking his hand firmly and nodding once.

"Lover's tiff? I hope you kissed and made up.".

Her face hardened and she glared at him with barely restrained fury. "Don't be a smartass, especially when I'm this fucking pissed, and when I happen to be your First goddamn Mate.", she snapped, only to close her eyes and bear down on her anger.

Once she managed to tone it down to a low simmer, she opened her eyes again and sighed. "That man's pet is the one that took my arm. A monster of a misbegotten named Capricorn, with eyes and horns like a goat, and almost larger than our cook, Morgan. It ripped my arm off with its bare hands, letting that officer get away.", she explained.

She kept her voice low as they danced, but it was clear that she was still tense, and still pissed beneath the surface.

"So, both St. John and Capricorn owe me an arm, as well as their lives for taking my arm, making me feel weak. And you had no goddamn right to interfere with that, Zach!", she started, only to relax.

"But thank you for the concern, and I appreciate the gesture. If it was anyone else, I wouldn't have cared, but that man...", Sheska trailed off, shrugging and sighing.

Then she looked up at him with a quirked brow. "Now, what the fuck was that about Izzy, earlier? You aren't causing him any trouble, are you?", she asked suspiciously.

"You were right before. The atmosphere is here is far too close. Anytime you fancy some fresh air, let me know and I'll join you for a smoke."

Isaac nodded pleasantly, but left enough meaning in his eyes to make it clear that he got the message. He should be alright, he had a good view of the hall and anything that set his alarm bells ringing would be a good few minutes from causing any trouble provided he paid attention.

Then Zach peeled away with Sheska. Isaac watched them dance idly for a while before returning his attention to the table and the rest of the room. He'd need to keep his wits about him and watching his crewmates have a good time wasn't going to help with that.

He turned to Dr Roque and gave him a smile.

"Bracing company isn't he? One of the things that always gets me about living out here, the people. A bit divorced from city-living hey?"

Ciel

"No, if he wished to 'brown-nose' our emperor he'd actually give a damn about dress regulations." a voice said behind from behind her, drawing Ciel's attention. "So you are our new Head Engineer? Nice to finally meet you, I suppose. Should I introduce myself?" the speaker said, as Ciel finally managed to turn around.

Cield blinked and shook her head a little, not expecting to see one of her fellow - and higher ranked - officers behind her. The good news was she at least knew all the officers names already, so she could manage to not look incompetent. "Anastacia Baker-Cromwell" Ciel said, holding forward her hand in greeting. She probably should have saluted, but they were off duty at a party; saluting seemed a touch excessive... gouache even. "Or should I call you Black Annis?" she asked, genuinely curious how she should address the quartermaster turned second mate. "In any event-" she added as a bit of an afterthought. "yes; I'm the new Engineer; Ciel Kriebel."

Adrianna

"...Believe me, if I hadn't kept myself in check, I would have punched the man right then and there." Garrett said, getting full agreement from her. She's been halfway to challenging him to a duel when Garrett had torn them away. "If you hadn't pulled me away, I suspect I would have lost my commission before the evening was up." she said, letting him know her thoughts. "About what he said though... he's wrong. I don't doubt your honor or loyalty for a minute." she said, in all honesty. She knew the pirate's words were probably eating at him; hell his words were eating at her, and wanted to make the idiot's words moot.

"I don't want to alarm you my dear, but I just saw Exeter speak with a woman who had one arm, matching the woman he fought a few days ago. At least we now know that they are here as well." Garrett said, informing her of the situation across the floor. Somehow, it didn't surprise her. Putting it together, the bastard they'd just spoken with was likely part of the same crew. She sighed to restore her calm and let it go; they would get theirs soon enough.

"But lets not worry about that, at least for tonight. For tonight, all I will care about is you." he added at the end, finally giving Adrianna an excuse to smile. Or smirk. "So business as usual then?" she replied playfully, before continuing into a more serious response. "We'll have to make it an evening to remember then-" she said, before taking the lead on the dance, eager to rematch their skills... this time with fewer pistols she hoped. "-so do try and keep up."

"Where's the harm in having a bit of fun? Especially if it's on the expense of the upper class."

Drustan sighed upwardly, attempting to vent most of his frustrations before he began. "Why do I seem like the only person in this damned city that doesn't immediately hate people because of their purchasing power and mannerisms?" He buried his face in an empty hand, permanently irritated at the hatred surrounding the entire socioeconomic dissonance that had taken up residence in this land. "Seriously, when the barbarian ginger with no discernible occupation is the only one who isn't participating in this endless spat, you know you've screwed up."

Prying his hand from his face, Drustan ended his diatribe to ask Roy a question. "I'm going to go inebriate myself. Is there anything you want to get drunk on?"

"...As for the rest, I'll let the clowns speak for themselves."

Vasco nodded as the Neobedouin went about his people and their close relationship of violence. Was this another attempt to make him uncomfortable? If so, it only reinforced his position. Outside of the Empire, everything was ruled by violence and only the strongest survived, it seemed. But before he could argue with this 'tribal', he was already gone. Gone to dance with a beast. Well, that was what Neobedouin did, didn't thing? The doctor smiled and leaned back to his original position.

"Bracing company isn't he? One of the things that always gets me about living out here, the people. A bit divorced from city-living hey?"

Now was Mr. Traynor's turn to talk and thoughts went back to the past. Living in Everglade was close to idyllic, apart from what he saw of the lower class districts and the whole workhouse business. Nevertheless, if this gentleman thought that he was just a city doctor, he was wrong. He had brought people back from the brink, he had created an air filtration system that help others to this day. Dr. Roque's eyes went cold as he looked up to Isaac.

"Quite." He responded, "It has been quite a while since I have been in city for some time... But I would imagine that would be the case."

Roy raised a curious eyebrow as Drustan started to rant, apparently frustrated by what Roy had said.

"Why do I seem like the only person in this damned city that doesn't immediately hate people because of their purchasing power and mannerisms?"

Roy missed the most of what the mercenary said after that when Drustan buried his face in his hand. Something about gingers and screwing up. Roy shrugged and smiled sheepishly when it seemed like Drustan had finished.

"I just find it amusing how easily some of them get upset, that's all," he replied, "I don't really give a rat's ass whether someone's a upper class neovictorian or a lowly neobeduin. Unless it's about business," he added, grinning.

"I'm going to go inebriate myself. Is there anything you want to get drunk on?"

"I don't really have any preferences," Roy admitted and headed over to the bar, nodding towards Jason as he walked past him and sat down nearby.

"And what will the Sir have?" the bartender asked him.

"Oh, anything's fine, really," Roy said, rummaging through his pockets until he found a crumpled old bill. The barkeep stared at the money for a moment before accepting it with a scowl and disappearing under the counter. He reappeared a few moments later with a large dusty old bottle that contained some sort of yellowish murky liquid.

"What's...that?" Roy asked rather bluntly as he stared at the suspicious looking bottle.

"Seagull wine. It's a northern speciality," the bartender replied with a mean smile as he wiped the bottle clean of dust, uncorked it and placed it in front of Roy. There definitely was something floating in the bottle. "Of course if the Sir would like something else?"

"Nah, that'll do," Roy said and waved the bartender away. Seagull wine? Surely he had 'misheard'. He poured himself a glass and took a closer look. At least the stuff didn't smell bad - like plain alcohol and something else Roy couldn't quite guess.

'Ah, what the hell...Bottoms up!' he thought and emptied the small glass in one go, regretting it an instant later. The stuff tasted as bad as oil from an old engine and went down even worse. Roy struggled with keeping the nasty brew down and a few moments later a warm heavy feeling spread in his gut, followed by a buzzing in his head that wasn't entirely unpleasant.

Roy took a deep breath, then exhaled slowly before pouring himself another glass.

"If you hadn't pulled me away, I suspect I would have lost my commission before the evening was up. About what he said though... he's wrong. I don't doubt your honor or loyalty for a minute." Adrianna sounded very sincere when she spoke, her words sounding believable. Garrett smiled in response as they continued to dance to the tranquil music. For the first time in their relationship, they were acting like a couple in public.

"Thank you Adrianna, for standing by my side, and for believing in me. It's just given all that we've done, sometimes it feels like I've turned my back on my people for working with the Empire. But no one would understand the reason as to why. I'll be glad when we get the chance to walk away, to start a new life." It was at this moment when Adrianna's expression changed to what looked like a mixture of a smile and a smirk.

"So business as usual then?" She said a rhetorically playful manner, before sounding more serious. "We'll have to make it an evening to remember then-" She then forcefully took the lead in the dancing. "-so do try and keep up." Garrett saw this as his cue to smirk.

"Oh I assure you, since last we danced, I have improved my capabilities some what." Garrett said, sounding brash and a little overconfident as they began to pick up in terms of tempo.

'No right perhaps,' Zach thought to himself 'but a good reason. You never get yourself into that kind of situation without someone to watch your back, especially when you've got a temper that blinkers your vision, and yet I'm supposed to be the rookie here.'

"Now, what the fuck was that about Izzy, earlier? You aren't causing him any trouble, are you?"

"Wouldn't dream of it." Zach answered, as they started to dance "Izzy and I were just getting acquainted."

Zach decided for now it would be better not to tell Sheska anything about his suspicions. As he saw it there were three possible outcomes to such an action. She could believe him, take the threat seriously, and follow his lead, which seemed the least likely result in her current state; or, she could believe him, and fly off the handle doing something foolish; or finally, she could just laugh in his face. Best to keep it between him and Issac for now, and to keep an eye on the rest of the crowd as he and Sheska danced.

-Sheska-

Sheska's eyes narrowed further until they were slits when he finally answered.

"Wouldn't dream of it. Izzy and I were just getting acquainted.".

She sighed, and relaxed just slightly, but her hackles were still raised, and she wasn't sure if that was due to St. John, or the moment of thought she could see Zach had before he answered. Or maybe she was just on edge due to the setting for all she knew.

"Well, good. You seem to be coming along well, Zach, I'll give you that. You have balls, you seem to have some brains, though for now I've yet to see you in a fight. Even with some of the posturing, you're not as bad as most new recruits. But I'll tell you now, Izzy is harmless, so don't trouble him. He's been through more hell than I, and that's thanks to the Empire as well. I won't tell you the specifics, and don't bother prying them out of him. If he wants you to know, he'll tell you.", she said quietly as they continued to dance.

"Sometimes, Zach, it's best to let others keep their pasts to themselves. They're memories that are best left buried.", she added as a soft warning, her eyes firmly locked on his in the hope that he would get the message.

"Don't worry." Zach replied sincerely "There isn't anything I want to know about Issac's past that I can't already tell without asking him. So long as I can trust him to watch my back, I'll watch his. It's as simple as that."

He paused a little before adding...

"People don't become pirates because they're content and emotionally balanced, and everybody's looking for something more than they have, in one way or another. Me, you, Issac... we've all got our own stories to tell, or not as the case may be. The specifics aren't that important, so long as we've all ended up at the same place in the end.

Still, it didn't take me very long to get the back story out of you, so it's only fair that you should know mine, if you care to that is. Between now and the end of this dance you can ask me anything about my past, and I will answer honestly and in full. Look, I've never really served on a ship like The Mermaid before, and I mean that not just in the sense that she's a pirate vessel. Everywhere else, most people were just there doing a job, and rarely stayed on one ship for more than one voyage. The Mermaid though, I can tell that a lot of you are as close as family, which is a dynamic I've never really had since the tribe, and that said, I don't have the happiest family history."

-Sheska-

"Don't worry. There isn't anything I want to know about Issac's past that I can't already tell without asking him. So long as I can trust him to watch my back, I'll watch his. It's as simple as that.".

She frowned at his reply. "That's what worries me.", she murmured under her breath before he continued.

As he told her that all pirates became that way to look for something more, she nodded in understanding. Then he offered her a chance to ask anything about him, with honest answers in return while they danced. He compared the Mermaid to a family, and she frowned thoughtfully at that.

"The Mermaid is like a family. The closest thing to a family I have. You know, before you came on board, hell, before we came to Helium, we had another Neobeduin on the crew, another Outrider. Her name was Jessie. We were friends, relatively close. I miss her, actually.", she added with a small shrug.

Then she looked up at him with a strangely thoughtful expression. "Since I never really had one, tell me about your family. What were they like?", she asked.

"Pretty limited to be frank." Zach responded "I only had my mother and my uncle growing up. Never knew my dad, and nobody was ever in any hurry to talk about him, no matter how many times I asked. It wasn't hard to figure out though that he wasn't one of 'us'. Not part of the tribe, probably not even another Neobedouin. That's pretty much where all the problems go back to. The tribe was very... insular. They had to be, I guess, to survive out there, and because of that most people were of the opinion that I didn't belong. They never came out and said it to my face of course, but their attitude said all it needed to. I had to work twice as hard as anybody else to prove I was even worth feeding, and even then it won me no respect.

In some ways, my mother was the worst of it. Looking back though, I don't blame her. In the eyes of the tribe I was a mistake, and she was the one who made it. She had to be tough on me, to make sure I'd toe the line, because if the elders had ever thought that she was planting a bad apple with me, they would have come down on her even more than the shit I got. She died when I was 10, and after that it was only my uncle who would take me. Him, and his friend Solomon, who sort of became the closest thing I had to parents after that. They were both Outriders, meaning that if I wanted a place in the tribe, I had to become one too, and fast. It's a dangerous job, and you can't afford to be dragging a kid around if he's only going to slow you down and get in your way, even if you are the only family he has left. Not that I'm complaining. It was definitely the best place for me. Outriders spend most of their time on the fringes of the tribe, hunting or scouting. Out there, I didn't have to swallow half as much shit as I would have done otherwise. The two of them taught me almost everything I know, and it wasn't long before I was the one setting the example. You would have thought being the best shot in the tribe as age 14 would have made the rest ease up on me a little, but nope. Apparently, me staying on the fringes was only more proof that I was trouble, never mind that I would have been left to starve otherwise.

Anyway, that's about it as far as family goes, except, well..." Zach sighed, he had promised full and honest answers, but this wasn't going to be easy. "I have a son. I say 'have', but he wasn't mine for more than a few hours."

-Sheska-

Zach was true to his word, and Sheska listened as he told her about his life in the tribe, his mother, and his eventual surrogate family in his uncle and his uncle's friend. As he spoke, her face was blank and her eyes were empty, but inside, she had to sympathize. Still, she bore down on that feeling as much as she could. Zach was new, and she barely knew him. The fact was, the life of a pirate was dangerous and unpredictable, meaning he could be dead due to one of a million things within a week. And as First Mate, she couldn't care too much about the crew, though few have managed to worm their way into her heart.

It was at the mention of a son that her eyes widened and she looked surprised. "Wait, you have a son? What happened?", she asked, genuinely confused.

She couldn't imagine simply giving up a child, not one that was hers, at any rate. Of course, she reminded herself bitterly, she couldn't have children. Yet another thing she owed to the Empire.

Although Zach was still making sure to keep watch for any potential threats, he didn't miss the implication of the look on Sheska's face.

"I didn't abandon him if that's what you're thinking. Well, not by choice anyway. To really understand takes some explaining.

When I was 15, I had this thing with a girl named Hannah. She was everything I was never allowed to be. She was respected, loved by everyone, and being the grand-daughter of one of the elders had its perks. I would have resented her, had she not deserved all of it. Unlike the others, she had time for everyone, and she judged people for who they were, not where they came from. I... I can't really say whether or not we were in love. We were still really just kids, neither of us knew what it really meant to be in love, and we never got the time to figure it out.

That was when my uncle was taken. You see, our little group was causing a political split in the tribe. Most just wanted to keep running from the Empire, while we wanted to fight them, and we were gaining ground. We'd seen enough to know that the empire isn't as strong as it likes it citizens to believe it is. No one force can overthrow them on their own, so we'd have to make alliances. Our tribe was one of the biggest and most influential. If we could get a dialogue going with the others, there was a chance that we could unite all the Neobedouin people against the Emperor. If that happened, the Skyfolk might take notice as well; and if that happened, there are hundreds of disaffected veterans out there, getting by serving as mercenaries and pirates, who'd jump at the chance to have another go at the Empire, especially if we could give them good odds. Finally, Most of the citizens of the Change-Cage cities would see the Empire struggling, and would be inspired to insurrection. Add all of these things together, and you had a force that even the full might of the Imperial fleet couldn't match. They would crumble, and nobody, no Neobedouin like me or Misbegotten like you, would have cause to fear them any more. That was our plan."

Zach still spoke calmly, but now a cold fury surrounded him like an aura, a power that was so tangible you could almost touch it.

"I don't know exactly how the Chuno Ggun found out about us. Even after everything, I refuse to believe our own tribe sold us out, not without proof. All I know is, we were ambushed on a scouting trip. The Imperials outnumbered us. Solomon and I got away, but my uncle was wounded and captured. You have to understand Sheska, that if I'd have known... if she had told me she was pregnant, I wouldn't have left! But for all I knew he was the only blood family I had left. I owed everything to him, so I couldn't just leave him to his fate.

Solomon and I went off on our own, to rescue him. I... we were too late. Their 'interrogation' hadn't left all that much of him behind to bury; and after seeing that, we couldn't just let it go and go back home. We would have our revenge, or die trying. So we tracked them down, every single agent and officer who'd been responsible. They all died, along with anyone who got in our way. For almost a whole year, seeing them all dead was all we lived for, and we did it."

He was finding it harder to stay in control now, and although he kept his volume low, his voice shook slightly.

"The tribe had given us up for dead, so it was quite the surprise for both me and Hannah when I turned up to find her ready to give birth any day soon. For that moment, that tiny moment, I thought I had a future. I thought I had something worth living for again.

She... didn't survive the labour, and I'd barely had the time to hold my own child before the Elders dealt their final blow to me. They accused me of endangering the whole tribe with my actions. Proof, they said, that my motives had always been to weaken the tribe from within. They even went as far as to accuse me of raping Hannah! Now, they could have killed me for the things they said I'd done, or exiled me out into the wastes to starve alone... but no. They really wanted me to suffer at this point. They didn't want to take my life, they wanted to destroy it.

My punishment was to have my own child taken away from me, and for me to be forbidden from even giving him a name. I was forced to 'gift' him away to someone else, someone more suitable. From then on, I would have to watch my son grow up. Watch him call another man his Father. Watch him be taught to hate me like all the others, never knowing the truth. Tell me Sheska, if someone had done that to you, and you were powerless to stop them, could you have stayed? Could you have lived that life?

Before I left, Solomon promised me he'd do what he could to watch over the boy. I'd been on ships before, guarding trade missions, and I knew I could make myself useful. I got on the first one that could take me as far away from them as possible. It had to be a ship, because even standing on the same dirt as them made me feel unclean! So yeah, I ran. I'm still running, and that's as far as my story goes right now."

-Sheska-

Zach's tale was one of young love, and a plan to overthrow the Empire. Or at least, it started off that way. He told her of their plans, to form alliances with the other tribes, and hopefully the Skyfolk, possibly setting off the Neovictorian lower classes to revolt. Only for the Empire's Chuno Ggun to attack, and capture his uncle. The story turned into one of rescue, then revenge.

As he told it, her face alternated between hardening and softening, depending on what parts he essentially relived. Anger for the Imperials. Sympathy for him. Disgust for his tribe. Sorrow for his losses. Even someone as reluctant to open up to people as her had to feel for him when he told her about his uncle's death, and their mission of revenge.

When he went on about Hannah and their child, she had to close her eyes and take a breath. Sheska's eyes stayed closed as he finished, telling about her death in childbirth, and his tribes punishment: Taking away his son. The last thing he said was about how he was still running from them, with Airships being his escape of choice.

He had asked her a few moments earlier what she would have done in his position, if she would have stayed, if she was powerless to stop them. When she opened her eyes, they burned angrily, though deep down there was sadness.

"As I am now, no, I wouldn't have stayed. I would have killed anyone who would try to take away my child. But, a few years ago... I would've done what you did. I can't blame you, Zach, for what you did, because I can understand it, at least part of it. Even though I've never felt that kind of loss, and likely will never know what it's like to have a child of my own.", she told him softly, before shaking her head.

"But remember this, Zach: You can't run from everything, and you can't run forever. It's better to face whatever is after you head on, be it your enemies... Or your past. So if you can find the chance, you should find your son, whenever the time comes. I'm not saying you should kidnap him, or break into your tribes camp with guns blazing. But he deserves to know his father, regardless. He should know that his real father cares, even if he isn't perfect, and thinks he has balls bigger than he really does.", she added with a small smirk, before letting go and stepping back.

"Anyway, I'm going to go check on Izzy. You ought to find something strong to drink, someone fun to talk to. Take your mind off of things and laugh for a little while, or just listen to the music. That kind of pain has a tendency to linger if you let it, so don't. That's an order.", she told him firmly, patting his shoulder before striding towards where Isaac still sat.

-Annis-
"Anastacia Baker-Cromwell" Ciel said, holding forward her hand in greeting. "Or should I call you Black Annis? In any event yes; I'm the new Engineer; Ciel Kriebel."

Annis took the hand and shook it firmly, if curiously. It had been a while since somebody on the crew had been willing to make physical contact with her.

"Annis will suffice in informal occasions, Ms Kriebel. I hope you are finding our ship hospitable?" This was probably more than a little obviously untrue. It wasn't that Annis wanted things to be unpleasant, but it didn't matter to her either way what the crew thought of the ship provided that they did their job and did it efficiently.
"I understand we have some repairs and improvements to undergo, would you be overseeing that?"

-Isaac-

"Quite." the doctor responded a little coldly, "It has been quite a while since I have been in city for some time... But I would imagine that would be the case."

Isaac shrugged. "Same here. Haven't seen an Imperial city in a good few years now. I didn't mean to cause offence by the way."
He wasn't sure of this man. Isaac wasn't the sort to openly assume that every Imperial was an uptight self-important aristocrat with an open loathing of outsiders, but he'd not encountered a man that seemed to take offence at even the slightest implication of this stereotype. It was interesting.

He looked to the left and saw Sheska approaching. He nodded to her, and continued to scan the room around them. He wasn't sure of the point Zach was making though. If Ggun were here, and they were undercover, you'd not spot them. He may have the advantage of knowing their usual tricks, but things could change in the spy business and change fast. It was the only protection they had against defectors after all.
Not that they could hide everything. Isaac understood how they worked. If there was a Ggun agent at the party, the odds were pretty good that Isaac would know it.

-Sheska-

As she made her way back to where her best friend was lounging, she had to take a moment to calm down. After her verbal sparring match with St. John, and then Zach's story of his son, made her feel unsteady all around. She wasn't even sure why what he told her put her in such emotional turmoil, but she shrugged it off. In all honesty, she had been off-stride the entire time she had been at this goddamned gala.

Still, it not only managed to be a good sucker punch to the gut after her encounter with her enemy, but also managed to soften her defenses enough to try and be reassuring. She'd need to be careful about that. Not only was he new, unproven, and for the most part unknown, she had a reputation to uphold as a hard-ass, bloodthirsty bitch.

Sheska felt a little steadier by the time she reached them, seeing Isaac nod at her before scanning the room itself. "I hope I'm not interrupting anything. Its your turn, Izzy.", she said, holding out her hand to help Isaac up.

Adrianna

"Oh I assure you, since last we danced, I have improved my capabilities some what." Garrett said, full of bravado. Still, Adrianna was hardly the sort to back down from a challenge. She kept pace with the beat, changing with the tempo as needed. She would have been happy to dance the night away if the world saw fit to allow.

As the dance moved forward, Adrianna found Garrett's ability to dance had improved significantly since their previous encounter. Still, Adrianna was still more experienced than he, giving her an advantage. They remained in a stalemate of sorts for a long time, until Adrianna tried to turn the dance to her advantage. She shifted her weight in an attempt to draw their movements in a direction he couldn't see, allowing her to gain control over their dance. Unfortunately, her attempt to gain control was met with the unexpected arrival of another couple, moving into the same area. Adrianna lightly collided with the unknown dancers midstep, throwing off her balance, causing her to slide forward and toward the ground.

Ciel

"Annis will suffice in informal occasions, Ms Kriebel. I hope you are finding our ship hospitable?" Annis said, a touch stiffly. "I haven't reason to complain if that's what you mean." Ciel said, not sure what else to add that didn't dive off the deep end into technical details about how the ship's engines needed a serious tune up before the heating system would be working at optimal and such, but then it would be unkind to speak ill of the previous Engineer.

"I understand we have some repairs and improvements to undergo, would you be overseeing that?" Annis said, inquiring. Ciel responded in kind, seeing no reason not to. "Yes, though I've needed a hand from some of the crew as well as some outside help - a shipwright Mr. Corvus and Dr. Roque found. Fortuitously, I still have my assistant from my last commission to help me." she said, indicating James across the room as she mentioned her assistant.

The dancing between the couple that was Adrianna and Garrett was intense, each showing no signs of slowing down or falling behind. Garrett was certainly showing how much he had improved since the three years ago when they last danced; but despite all this, Adrianna still showed signs of an advantage. However calamity soon struck.

In her haste to take control, Adrianna had inadvertently collided slightly with another pair of dancers, causing her to lose her footing, and began to sliding forwards as she was facing Garrett. Seizing his chance to take the advantage, Garrett swooped in, embracing Adrianna as she rose from the floor like a phoenix from the ashes, elegant and majestic. He held her body close to his in a passionate hold, refusing to let go as they moved.

With the ball firmly in his court he hoped, Garrett gave Adrianna a captivating display of what he had learned over the years; using momentum to deliver twists and turns that would send her into a graceful spin. He was trying to be gentle, not wanting to hurt Adrianna or tire her out too much. Garrett then pulled her back in so they were together once more, and began to dance more slowly so Adrianna could catch up.

The music began to slow down a bit, giving the couples time to take it easy. Garrett noticed Adrianna's hat laying on the floor, realizing that it must of fallen off in the commotion. He picked it up, and placed it securely on the rear admiral's head, showing a smile afterwards.

"So then, what did you think to that? In fact, I had saved that dance especially for you."

Drustan eventually made his way back to the section of the hall where alcohol was being dispensed, but deviated along the way to look out for tipsy dancers and to see those sandwiches Roy was talking about. While Drustan again had no luck with the former endeavor, Roy was in fact right about the food and Drustan tucked in the back of his kind the notion that he should finally try and enjoy fish in a meal. Sidetracks aside, Drustan maneuvered himself to where he could see he attendant and requested the same beverage he had the last time he visited. He retrieved his elder whiskey and found some of his shipmates after giving yet another generous tip.

Meeting with other Invincible crewfolk, Drustan gave brief greetings to those he recognized. "Hello Ciel, James, Anastacia." Drustan followed up with a curt nod to Annis, as he struggled with the quartermaster's name a bit. He had only met the quartermaster the previous night, and was terrible with learning names anyway, but he would be damned before he stopped trying to learn new ones.

As Sheska went away to dance with Issac, Zach thought about what she'd said.

He probably wouldn't have made a very good father. It was the one thing the Elders had said about him that day that had been true. Killing things was easy, compared to keeping them alive, and he had only been 16. He would have had absolutely no idea how to raise his son on his own.

But he would have tried dammit! He would have done his best, and he wouldn't have walked away no matter how hard it got. He deserved that chance.

He knew he'd never be able to undo the situation now. It was something to do with the name, which was why the Elders had chosen to take him away so soon, before he had time to think about it. Because Zach had never given the boy a name, he wasn't really a father. He'd never had that connection, he hadn't given the child anything that was his. When he was a kid, the Father had just been a concept to Zach, an idea of something that he would never have, and now he was on the other side of that coin. If he went to see his son tomorrow, they wouldn't even recognise each-other, and they'd in all likelihood have nothing in common. It was Zach who spawned the child, but was that really enough to make him a father, or did it take something more than that, something that Zach could never get back now.

Zach took up a place at the bar and continued to keep watch. Better to stay in the here and now. These thoughts were just a distraction.

Roy had just downed his fourth or fifth glass when he noticed neobeduin nearby.

"Why the long face? Girl refused to dance with you?" Roy gibed but in a friendly manner, his words starting to slur and flow together as the alcohol worked its magic and he spent less effort on speaking clearly. "There's not much point in being at such a fine party as this if you're not having any fun. Or if you don't feel like doing that then..."

Roy reached over the bar for an empty glass, earning another scowl from the barkeep, poured some seagull wine into it and slid it towards Zach.

"...at least have a drink."

Adrianna

As she slipped, Garrett grabbed her. At first it was just a hand to keep her up, but quickly it turned into more. As he pulled her up, he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her tightly into his chest. It had been a while since he'd held her like that - in no small part due to the dangers of being discovered - but surprisingly, it felt more like a familiar comfort than anything strange. A pang of sadness ran through her as she realized that the warm feel of her lover's strong arms wasn't something she would feel very often over the next few weeks, even as she relished in it. She managed to avoid blushing through an effort of will.

Even as she enjoyed the moment though, it came to an end; with an unexpected twirling. Garrett, seizing the opportunity, embraced his Skyfolk heritage, sending her into a dizzying series of turns and spins. Around her, the room seemed to be spinning, with only Garrett still in her clear view. She could feel her heart racing at the strange dance, only enhanced by her recent thoughts conjured by his embrace.

Just as she was beginning to lose her ability to keep up with the flurry of steps, he pulled her in once more, wrapping his arms around her again, and slowing to a more natural speed; giving Adrianna a chance to finally catch her breath. Of course, her ability to take that breath was severely handicapped by the tight embrace. It wasn't so tight she couldn't breath; it was the care-filled look upon Garrett's face and the rock hard muscles holding her in. She could feel his quickened heartbeat, beating in tandem with her own. Adrianna, despite her best efforts, blushed wildly; her only saving grace the small amount of makeup.

"So then, what did you think to that? In fact, I had saved that dance especially for you." Garrett said after a dazzling display of dancing prowess. "I get the feeling I'm repeating myself, but well played Garrett." she replied, trying to reorient herself after the dizzying affair - both physically and emotionally.

Ciel

"Hello Ciel, James, Anastacia." Drustan said, arriving at the bar and drawing Ciel from her thoughts. She'd been distracted for the last few minutes and hadn't seen him approach. "Hey Drustan." she replied in kind before holding up the bottle of bourbon. "Any of you want some?" she asked, offering it as she stood up. After pouring out the precious booze to any who wanted it, she poured the last into her own shot glass. She downed the magic beverage in one go, turned the glass over, and placed it on the bar.

Looking at the three, she smirked and asked, "so anyone care to dance?" - it was a party and she wasn't going to waste a minute of it.

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