Aether Shanties RP (PM if interested/Started)

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"I doubt I'd have found it at all enjoyable if you weren't here." Adrianna said, smiling lightly as they let go of each other.

"Well, that is very kind of you to say that Adrianna." The smile soon changed from one filled with happiness to one tinged with sorrow.

"I know. There have been so many times I've wanted to just hold you and be held by you... So many times I've wanted to spend with you and just watch the world float by." Adrianna then took a hold of Garrett's hand, and gently began to massage at the knuckles, all the while blushing again. "Like this morning. I wanted to just sit there with you for hours watching the sun rise while kissing your lips. And each sun rise we don't do that feels like a waste." She then sighed as she removed her hand, and then finished speaking. "Just a few more weeks though; then it's just the two of us. No more silent judgments, no more persecution, no more hiding. If only the minutes could flow faster, calling forth that day."

"Indeed. A new dawn will rise that day, which will summon the end of all of this secrecy, where we can simply scream out to the world what we truly think about each other. That day, is a day I wouldn't want to end if I had the power to do so." Garrett said with a smile.

"Well, I don't know about fireworks-" Adrianna remarked, who by now was standing by the ledge on the balcony. "-but I'm sure we can find a way to make some more memories tonight." She then reached out and grabbed Garrett, which caused him to blush, as well as her wine glass; then gestured to the staircase that lead towards the flower garden. He could already see what Adrianna was planning, a romantic stroll through the flowers.

"Of course, a romantic stroll through the flower garden, sounds just perfect." Garrett said as he put an arm around Adrianna, it being obscured by her coat.

"Shall we?" Garrett asked rhetorically with a wine glass in his free hand, before planting a kiss on Adrianna's cheek.

"I hope you'll like it on the Mermaid. We can always use competent people, especially those with more unique skills. Many new recruits end up as nothing more than cannon fodder, but if you're good at your profession, then you might want to stay back during battle."

Roy was relieved when he heard that he wouldn't have to fight in the front lines. It was the one thing he had been most concerned with when deciding to join a pirate ship. Besides, he'd probably be the most useful staying back and sniping at the enemy anyway.

"I've been working on guns since I was five or six so I dare say I'm more than just competent," Roy said, boasting a little.

"Have you worked on a pirate ship before?"

"No, I haven't really been on any sort of airship all that much. Just a few times to travel from one city to the next," he admitted. "But a gun's still a gun whether you're a pirate sailing through the clouds or a neobeduin guarding a trade caravan. I'm sure I'll get the hang of everything else soon enough," Roy said optimistically.

"It's simply a matter of common sense. We like the classism. Puts people in their place so to speak. The nobles get to have a good time and the workers don't bother them with trifling things like disease and social interaction."

Drustan gave a snort signifying blatant amusement as Annis justified the swirling maelstrom of repressed prejudice and subtle abhorring. "I guess that would fit the literal meaning of 'common sense', I guess, but I still just don't get it. I mean...." the big man paused, at a loss for words. "When you're planting disparity and classicism, with it you're sowing hatred and contempt among the oppressed. Now, unlike our grand old frigate, we are not invincible. Eventually the oppressed will overthrow the oppressors, and the cycle will renew itself. The intentional putting of people in places is merely the next step in an endless cycle. Instead, let others define themselves, that way there is less work for you in managing them and it's less likely you'll be killed in the next uprising."

"Shall we?" Garrett said, wrapping his arm around her and kissing her cheek. Not to be outdone, she wrapped her own, real arm around him and lay her head on his shoulder; saying "Lets."

They walked down the steps at a slow pace and into the magnificent garden, illuminated solely by the lights of the city. While it was no Empire, she had to admit she thought the scene was beautiful. Even at night, she could envision what the daytime garden would look like. Flowers of a thousand colors and shades would line the twisting, gravel walking paths; paths broken only by fields of greenery, bubbling brooks, and tall statues of long forgotten Greek demigods and goddesses.

At night however , the greenery was coated in a thin blanket of dew and the statues were obscured by night, making them appear almost human save their unmoving, silent forms. More importantly, all the flowers were retracted into their buds to protect from the cold; a fact who's irony didn't escape Adrianna - the flowers were beauty, hidden for protection. She sympathized.

Bending down, she picked one of the small flowers - a yellow tulip - and gave it to Garrett. She then returned to his side, saying "I love you Garrett Corvus."

Garrett could feel an arm around him as well, and judging from the way she was standing, it was Adrianna's real one. He smiled again as Adrianna rested her head on his shoulder. "Lets." They soon headed down the steps and into the heart of the flower garden. He could feel the warmth from Adrianna as they became physically closer.

Everything was simply beautiful, and Adrianna was the center of it, she added to the scene. A starry night. The twinkling lights of the city. A field full of flowers, shame that the weather caused many of them to hide within the leafy buds. Statues of deities from times long since past. And finally, a beautiful maiden in the middle. Put it all together, and was like Garrett had stepped into a painting. They stood together, their bodies as one as they looked out over the city, it was perfect, and another one of those moments that Garrett wished it could never end.

Adrianna soon bent down to pick at one of the small flowers, a a yellow colored Tulip if his limited knowledge of botany was correct. She soon passed the delicate flower over to Garrett, and soon returned to his side.

"I love you Garrett Corvus." Was all she said. Garrett took a moment to examine the flower, then looked at his coat and noticed it was lacking a certain something, a certain je n'ais sais quois. Perhaps the flower would serve as decoration? He carefully placed the flower into a buttonhole, adjusting it soon after to make sure it was straight. Garrett then looked at the flowers were nearby, and spotted a violet colored rose. He gently picked it, making sure not to damage the petals, then placed it in a similar button hold to his own on Adrianna's greatcoat.

"And I love you as well Adrianna. May the good times never end. May we always be together." Garrett said as he embraced Adrianna with both arms, and kissed her deeply on the lips.

"Have something in mind?"

"Hm? Oh, sorry, just an odd thought occured." James looked down, slightly embarrassed, realizing he had no idea how this dance went.

"It seems the master of dancing is having a.. Um, 'technical difficulty?' I don't know how to waltz..." James looked down again, slightly more embarrassed than last time, cheeks flushed.

"You should probably lead, and to answer your question, I believe friends for now?" James smiled weakly. Seems his new boss would have to wear the pants here...

Adrianna

"And I love you as well Adrianna. May the good times never end. May we always be together." Garrett said just before he kissed her. She held the kiss as long as her breath would allow, losing herself in the warm caress of his arms and the taste of his lips. Adrianna wrapped her arms around Garrett's neck, running her real fingers through his hair with reckless abandon. She wasn't sure how long the kiss lasted - it couldn't have been longer then a minute, but felt like several, blessed hours.

When the kiss finally broke, she was left breathless - a state that seemed all too common when she was with her Skyfolk lover. She kept her hands wrapped around him, not really willing to let go - it was too good. She breathed heavily for a few moments until she her lungs were satiated. When they were, Adrianna turned her eyes up to Garrett's, smiled lightly and said "I think I shall have another." and drew her lips up to meet his again.

The city light's shadowy cover of the garden and the fields and the steams and the statues was a sight to behold, but she didn't care. Garrett was better.

Ciel

"...I don't know how to waltz..." James said, as he stumbled to keep up. Ciel tried not to sigh; it was a lot less fun when the other couldn't dance? "Do you know any other dances? The Waltz is hardly my best dance either." The statement was true enough. She knew how to Waltz, and was fairly good at it all things said and done, but she was much better at the dances Imperial parties frowned upon and Imperial soldiers relished in.

"...and to answer your question, I believe friends for now?" James said in answer to her question... sort of. She hadn't meant the question that way; she'd been trying to probe for what he had in mind for conversation. Why were men so thick headed? "Friends then. So tell me friend, what do you really like to do? If today was any evidence, it surely isn't ship maintenance." she said in a friendly jab. She'd been fairly sure the man wasn't any good at mechanical work when she'd met him, but other then his name and his inability to waltz, she had no knowledge of what he could do, what he liked to do, or who he was.

And Really; there's never a better time or place to get to know someone than while dancing.

The embrace was one of the most intense Garrett had ever had with Adrianna. He blushed when he could feel her fingers running through his hair, it felt nice despite how reckless she was being, Garrett didn't care at this point, he was simply enjoying the moment. Eventually though, Adrianna's lips broke free from his as she began to breathe heavily for a few moments, obviously needing the air. The two of them were still holding on to each other in a passionate embrace, neither wanting to let go of the other. Soon however, Adrianna turned her eyes up to Garrett and smiled. "I think I shall have another." She then drew her lips up to meet his again.

"As you wish my love." Garrett said quietly before they carried on. As they kissed for the second time, it gave him the chance to explore Adrianna's body, his hands moving over every smooth curve he could find, wanting her to enjoy the physical side to this love. To her, it would feel like she was receiving a massage all over her back. A few minutes later, they soon parted lips, and broke free from one another, although they probably both didn't want to. Garrett noticed a trickle of saliva escaping Adrianna's lips, and smiled as he gently wiped it off with his handkerchief.

"That was, that was the most enjoyable moment of my life to date. Now I know what I'm looking forward to when that day arrives."

-Isaac-
"Anyway, if he gives you trouble, come to me, and I'll keep him off of your back. You don't have to tell him anything about your past that you don't want to."

Isaac smiled.
"He won't give me any trouble. Don't worry. If I couldn't handle a little stress now and then, what kind of pirate would I be right?"
They continued dancing for a while longer. Isaac didn't mind it, but he felt he ought to make contact with Zach pretty soon, if only to inform him that all seemed clear. He felt he had to ask something first.

"I'm kinda guessing you've done for Neos before. But did you ever... work undercover for the Empire? Just been wondering recently."

-Annis-
"When you're planting disparity and classicism, with it you're sowing hatred and contempt among the oppressed. Now, unlike our grand old frigate, we are not invincible. Eventually the oppressed will overthrow the oppressors, and the cycle will renew itself. The intentional putting of people in places is merely the next step in an endless cycle. Instead, let others define themselves, that way there is less work for you in managing them and it's less likely you'll be killed in the next uprising."

Annis smiled cynically. Honestly, these people.

"Have you ever been to the common areas of an Imperial city, Mr Cynwrig? The people there don't feel hatred. They barely even feel contempt. All they feel is tired. Tired and sad. And those that don't? They love the empire as much as the nobility do, if not more. They know no other life and the world outside is strange and dangerous, filled with things they don't understand. It's not that the Empire is foolish enough to think rebellion is impossible. It's that the Emperor was intelligent enough to ensure it. Even most of the nobility don't know what it's like beyond the walls of the cities."
She snapped her fingers at a passing servant and plucked food from his tray, lifting a release on the mask to eat it with a pneumatic hiss.
"Tyrannous? I'd disagree. Necessary? Probably not. Invincible? Frankly, damned close."

-Sheska-

She smiled back when Isaac replied.

"He won't give me any trouble. Don't worry. If I couldn't handle a little stress now and then, what kind of pirate would I be right?".

Sheska nodded and relaxed a little more. "Good to know. But, like I said, you need my help, you only need to let me know.", she pointed out.

But his next question made her pause.

"I'm kinda guessing you've done for Neos before. But did you ever... work undercover for the Empire? Just been wondering recently.".

Quite frankly it seemed out of nowhere, and the implications of the question itself made her uncomfortable. But, since it came from Izzy, she knew that any implications of her still being part of the Ggun were completely unintentional. Still, the fact he asked made her curious. "Why do you ask? What brought this up all of a sudden?", she asked.

Then she shrugged. "No, I was always one of their hunters, remember? I wasn't valuable enough to be one of their spies or plants. I was pretty much just some dog they let loose to hunt someone down and kill them, particularly if they didn't care how someone died, so long as it was thorough.", she told him with a small grimace.

Adrianna

As she was enjoying the second of her evening's indulgences, Adrianna noticed an odd sensation. Garrett, apparently unsatisfied with just another kiss, moved his hands across her body - softly pressing her where his fingers landed. Wherever his fingers touched, the tension there drained away, leaving a warm, fuzzy feeling. The pseudo-massage was borderline addictive for the pleasure it created. As his hands reached lower than was entirely appropriate, Adrianna yelped into their conjoined mouth and redoubled her fiddling with his hair, enjoying the feel of it in her fingers. She wasn't sure if it was just Garrett's skill or if it was augmented by the copious amounts of wine she'd partaken in, but Adrianna knew that she'd likely not forget this feeling for weeks.

Eventually - and excruciatingly - this kiss came to its conclusion and their lips parted. A line of saliva connected the two yet longer, perhaps clinging to their desire for more, but it quickly snapped under Adrianna's desperate gasps of air. Garrett gently wiped away the remnants of the liquid line with his handkerchief, then spoke. "That was, that was the most enjoyable moment of my life to date. Now I know what I'm looking forward to when that day arrives." he said between breaths, clearly having likewise enjoyed their time.

Adrianna couldn't agree more, and that wasn't the wine speaking. There were so many things she wanted to do with him yet, but they would have to wait. No doubt their escape from the party wouldn't remain unnoticed much longer and they could hardly risk questions of their absence so close to their goal; they would have to wait a few more horrendously long weeks. In there stead, she brought her hand up to his cheek and - feeling the sudden warmth of the touch - added "And until that long awaited and short to arrive day, know I love you with all I am or will be, and the only day's I've been happier were they days I first met you and the day you saved me." With that, she pushed up on her toes and brought her face up to his - almost as though she were going to kiss him a third time, but changed orientation at the last moment to press her forehead to his. "I've said it before Garrett, but I love you: now and forever."

With that, she pulled away from his warm embrace, back into the coldness of reality, and took a step back toward the party. "Now we'd best be going before we're missed."

Beth

She finished her fourth glass of wine, which she had picked up while talking with Roy. "I'm sure you'll get the hang of it eventually, or end up dead. I've seen too many new recruits die. Even if you're not on the frontline you can still get your body blown in two by a cannonball." She blurted out without thinking. It was the wine talking, but it was true nonetheless.

Beth put the glass down, got up on her feet and patted Roy on the back. "If you'll excuse me, Roy, I think I need a breath of fresh air."

Walking outside on wobbly legs, she almost bumped into a woman when she got outside. She was about to apologize, when she recognized the woman from before and the dog that didn't leave her side. "Oh, you didn't see me there. I hope you were paying more attention during the quickie with your dog."

Beth muttered the words close to the woman's ear, but the wine might have impaired her ability to notice how loud she spoke. She stepped past her, and went for the railing of the balcony. "I guess it is a dangerous world when a woman can't face an adversary alone. There's still room for cowards, I suppose."

She kept talking, past the point of common sense, while laughing on the inside.

"And until that long awaited and short to arrive day, know I love you with all I am or will be, and the only day's I've been happier were they days I first met you and the day you saved me." Adrianna said as she brought her real hand up to Garrett's cheek, which made the blush come back for a moment. She then pushed herself up, bringing her face up to his, Garrett assumed Adrianna was going in for another kiss, but instead she pressed her fore head to his. "I've said it before Garrett, but I love you: now and forever."

With that the couple broke away from each other, and began to walk back towards the party. "Now we'd best be going before we're missed." Adrianna remarked as they were reaching the entrance back to the main hall, as they saw a another woman walking towards them with a slight stumble in her step.

"Indeed, we wouldn't want them to think we were getting up to anything suspicious now would we?" Garrett asked rhetorically with a slight smirk on his face. He thought he could hear the drunk sounding woman say something, but to him it sounded as if she was just mumbling to herself. Seeing how his plate was still there on the table with a bit of food on it, he took the opportunity to retrieve it.

"I'm going to head back inside boss, think another drink might warm me up a bit. Evening ladies." Garrett said, mainly to Adrianna, but tipped his hat towards both of the women before he disappeared back into the crowd that was occupying the hall.

Adrianna

As she turned a corner to reenter the party, Adrianna nearly crashed into another guest - one so drunk she couldn't walk straight. Adrianna recognized her as the woman who'd been behind her when she and Garrett had been speaking with Eddie, so Adrianna didn't have much reason to care about her - if she was a companion of the bastard, then as far as she was concerned the woman could go to hell.

The encounter would have ended there, with undoubted mutual dislike for each other floating in the air, were it not for the drunken woman leaning in close to her ear and saying "Oh, you didn't see me there. I hope you were paying more attention during the quickie with your dog. I guess it is a dangerous world when a woman can't face an adversary alone. There's still room for cowards, I suppose.".

Adrianna was hardly shocked by the woman's words - she clearly knew the belligerent, half-witted Eddie and therefore lacked anything resembling manners. What more, the amount of alcohol on her breath was enough to cause intoxication with others, suggesting her normally diminished mental state would be flying on even less steam. Adrianna bit her lip, holding back her silvered tongue more out of a combination of pity for the woman and a feeling that replying to such vitriolic rabble in such an inappropriate manner wasn't worth the time or effort for its cost. After all, what challenge was there in a war of words with fruit hanging so low it was touching the ground.

Instead, as Garrett dismissed himself, she walked over to the woman saying "I believe you forget yourself madam. Whatever problems you might have with me should have been left at the door; this is a party to celebrate the peaceful coexistence of both the Empire and your city of Helium."

"This ain't my city." She answered. "and that's not something to celebrate either. I'll celebrate with you when your precious Empire lies burning."

Beth wondered if the woman was stupid. Maybe she was toying with her, and pretending to not recognize her, but really, how many people walked around with large blue angel wings clearly visible on their back? She wasn't trying to hide them, and by now she had hoped that she had become at least a little infamous to the emperor's slaves. The wine kept her from sulking.

"However, perhaps you are right. I might have spoken out of turn. You could be his dog, of course." Beth made one swooping motion with her wings, which sent nearby leaves flying, then took a deep breath. "Lovely night, isn't it."

Adrianna

"This ain't my city and that's not something to celebrate either. I'll celebrate with you when your precious Empire lies burning." the winged woman said in response. Bitch Adrianna thought to herself, getting move annoyed by the argumentative woman by the minute. "Excuse me then; I'd assumed you being here meant you had some connection to the city." she said instead. It was more or less true, though Adrianna had her suspicions of otherwise before - there weren't many people in Helium willing to insult the Empire so readily to imperial faces.

"However, perhaps you are right. I might have spoken out of turn. You could be his dog, of course." she continued, before turning and sending the leaves flying - thanks in no small part to her wings. A pang of remembrance cut through Adrianna's alcohol addled mind - "Wasn't there someone with wings in Helium?" Adrianna dismissed it for the moment - it it was important, she'd figure it out. "Lovely night, isn't it." she added as the turn came to an end.

"I suppose" Adrianna replied, looking at the storm clouds around them. "Might not be the best sailing weather tomorrow though - particularly for eastern travels." she finished, drinking another sip of her to-be-regretted wine. She didn't look forward to convincing the crew to take their jobs seriously as they tried to take flight tomorrow. "Ah, but excuse my poor manners - Adrianna Lanester" she said, holding out her hand. She might not like the woman, but Adrianna always tried to be the better woman - at least when Pirates weren't involved.

"No, I was always one of their hunters, remember? I wasn't valuable enough to be one of their spies or plants. I was pretty much just some dog they let loose to hunt someone down and kill them, particularly if they didn't care how someone died, so long as it was thorough."

Isaac smiled cynically.
"Suppose that depends on what they valued."
He looked away.
"It wasn't an easy job, you know? I didn't think about it at the time of course. But ever since I went rogue... I dunno. Actions dwell on you, don't they? Things that seemed the right thing to do... I'm responsible for a lot of deaths, Shes. A lot. And I don't get how I seem fine living with that."

"Might not be the best sailing weather tomorrow though - particularly for eastern travels."

Beth was surprised that the woman had remained calm so far, and it made her believe that she was toying with her, but it also made her wonder, why? Two could play at that game though. She turned to look her in the eyes. "Oh, do you fear that the rain might make you wet?"

"Ah, but excuse my poor manners - Adrianna Lanester" The woman held out her hand to her.

Beth thought about laughing it off or ignoring it, but then she had a better idea. She took the hand, and kissed it, just like a male might greet a female, but then she let her tongue trail over it, slighty too long for what should be considered appropriate. Come to think of it, they probably didn't use any tongue at all.

"Maybe you've never truly been wet." She looked her in the eyes again, then let go off her hand. "My name is Beth, and my crew will also by travelling east. But no storm or heavy weather will rock our ship, you'll see."

-Sheska-

"Suppose that depends on what they valued.".

Sheska merely snorted softly at that, but she continued to frown in concern. It was what he said next that made her realize why he asked.

"It wasn't an easy job, you know? I didn't think about it at the time of course. But ever since I went rogue... I dunno. Actions dwell on you, don't they? Things that seemed the right thing to do... I'm responsible for a lot of deaths, Shes. A lot. And I don't get how I seem fine living with that.".

Taking her hand off of his shoulder, she stopped him and put a hand on his cheek, forcing him to look at her. She locked her eyes onto his in a hard stare.

"Izzy, you weren't yourself, don't you realize that? You weren't responsible for what you did. The Empire, they took away more from you than they ever did from me. Sure, they took what little freedom I had, my home, my family... But with you, they took away all of that, and your sense of self. They made you into a slave, Izzy, and you couldn't control what you did.", she told him firmly, before she sighed and looked at him more softly.

"What they made you do, wasn't on you. You aren't responsible.", she repeated, before putting her arm around his shoulders and leading him away from the dance floor.

"Come on. Lets get you something to drink, even if it doesn't have alcohol.", Sheska told him quietly.

As she lead him to the bar, she inwardly wished there was some way she could show him how different he was to the Ggun and those in it. But short of having an actual member there to directly compare the two, she couldn't. And she didn't know what else to do to help ease Isaac's misplaced guilt. He didn't deserve it.

George spend his time sitting in the corner of the hall, though that quickly became boring. People were talking all over the place, he decided to get another drink. He walked over the bar, avoiding anyone who outranked him on the ship. Once he arrived at the bar, he spotted a rather sad looking, plan clothes wearing young man drinking a strange drink. "What are you drinking?" He asked the man.

After waiting for a few seconds he concluded that he wouldn't get a response. He was a bit surprised, so he decided to walk around the man. He now looked him straight in the eyes, "Are you okay? You look a bit troubled." He asked him looking a bit worried. He couldn't help but wonder who this person was, he looked quite bored.

"I'm sure you'll get the hang of it eventually, or end up dead. I've seen too many new recruits die. Even if you're not on the frontline you can still get your body blown in two by a cannonball. If you'll excuse me, Roy, I think I need a breath of fresh air. "

Roy was taken aback by the captain's bluntness. "Sure, don't let me keep you," he muttered after a few moments had passed, even though Beth was already out of earshot by then.

Roy had been well aware of all the dangers he might face when he decided to join a pirate crew. Still, Beth's words had been disconcerting. 'And so what? We'll all bite the dust sooner or later, why worry about it NOW?' he thought, frowning, and continued to drink the horrid wine and sulk.

"...okay? You look a bit troubled."

Roy jumped from surprise and very nearly fell off his chair when someone suddenly stuck their face in front of his.

"The hell? Ever heard of personal space?" he grumbled, his words slurring together quite noticeably by now. Roy looked the man over, trying to decide what they might want or who they may be. The man seemed to be a few years older than him, which didn't say much, and he was quite well dressed, but then again almost everyone at the party was.

"Something you need?" Roy asked when he finally concluded that he'd be unable to conclude anything about the man in front of him, at least not while as drunk as he was.

Vaso soon grew bored of eavesdropping alone at the table.

After the two made their exit, he just sat there, leaning on his elbows with both hands underneath his chin. But now, he got up and began to wander around the room, inspecting the other patrons of the party with a beady eye. Soon he spotted another gentleman with the same suit as him. In response, Dr. Roque casually buttoned the jacket up, hiding the waistcoat. The gentleman seemed to be eating some of the food available and looked like he was one of the Neo-Victorians here. The encounter with the Neobedouin taught him why other Neo-Victorians avoided the tribal bunch. And beneath the sound of the hub-bub, it looked like this was more a culture-clash that an actual celebration. Hopefully this gentlman would be more hospitable. Vasco tapped him on the shoulder and greeted him despite his lack of social grace when to came to matters outside of the operating table.

"Good evening. Enjoying what this celebration has to offer?" He asked.

Garrett could hear the fleeting remnants of the conversation between Adrianna and the rather drunk sounding woman as he moved about the other patrons of the party. Those wings of the other woman looked familiar, he had heard of an infamous Misbegotten with wings, but he couldn't remember her name. Was it Bridgette? Bethany? Bailey?. He cared not for the moment, but he would make a note to keep an eye out for her in the future.

As he pondered the woman's identity, Garrett had finished off the remainder of his food, and handed the plate over to a passing servant. Thinking that a drink would help warm him up after heading outside, he sauntered up to the bar, whilst gently humming in time to the music that was playing.

Upon his arrival, Garrett noticed an array of people had taken up spots along the bar, most of them engaging in conversation with another. Drustan and Annis were busy having an argument amongst themselves regarding the class system and social order of Imperial society; whilst George looked as though he was trying to strike up a conversation with a man drinking something that looked rather peculiar, but wasn't having much luck. Garrett also happened to notice a man wearing a finely tailored black suit with blood red colored piping, along with a black waistcoat and white neckerchief and shirt. The man certainly looked like a Neo-Victorian, but something about him didn't feel right, but perhaps that was the drink getting to him. He soon found a spot at the bar in amongst the assembled group.

"Ah, evening everyone. I trust your all enjoying the party so far?" Garrett asked in a friendly sort of manner, before turning to the barman that came to meet him.

"Listen, I know this may seem like an odd request, but could you do a mix of bourbon, spiced rum, and ginger beer please; on the rocks as well." The barman gave him an odd look, before reaching down to grab several bottles from underneath the counter, and began mixing them into a cocktail of sorts. After adding in a couple of ice cubes into a tumbler, he poured the finished drink on top, which had a rather appealing golden color.

"Here you go, sir."

"Thanks." Garrett said as he took the glass and had a sip from it, breathing a sigh of relief at the cool taste of his drink.

Adrianna

"Oh, do you fear that the rain might make you wet?" the troublesome woman said; everything she said seemed as if it were designed to irk her. None-the-less, she let it slid. She was going to respond, saying something along the lines of "Hardly" when the woman took her outstretched hand and kissed it, running her tongue across it in the most disgusting of manners; thus killing the response in her throat.

"My name is Beth, and my crew will also by travelling east. But no storm or heavy weather will rock our ship, you'll see." she said, a level of arrogance in her voice far beyond that of most drunkards. Adrianna retracted her hand, her eyes narrowed, and wiped it off with a handkerchief. It was as she was doing this - and wondering if the woman had some disease she should be concerned about - that the woman's last sentence rang a bell.

"...Beth..." she'd said. She wasn't from Helium City, she was a Misbegotten with wings, and her name was Beth. there could be little doubt - the woman was Winged Beth, Captain of the Mermaid, and killer of 26 of her crew. Adrianna's blood began to boil at the thought of the woman. It was only because they were at the Helium City gathering that she restrained her desire to challenge the woman to a duel for her unholy crimes. That a pirate was even welcome at the party was a disgusting turn of events.

Adrianna kept her loose smile, doing her best not to reveal her knowledge. Then she began to speak in a slow, measured pace. "You shouldn't underestimate the weather... Beth. No matter how strong a ship is, how well trained her crew, or how powerful her tools, the power nature can bring to bear cannot be so easily fought. You can push back mother nature, you can ride it out, fight back, and perhaps even win once in a while, but nature will always destroy you in the end if you aren't vigilant, careful, and damned lucky all the time." she said, her smile turning to a slight smirk. It wasn't hard to see that Adrianna, despite her words, wasn't talking about the weather.

"In any event; what takes you east Beth? I can't imagine you'll find many things worthy of your time to the east - aside from Everglade or some of the Skycities anyway." she asked, more in an attempt to change the conversation before her wine overcame her better judgement.

Samuel looked at the man as he spoke to him after holding up a finger to silently request the time needed to swallow the last bite of his meal.

"I have partaken in much of the festivities. Though admittedly it has been a long time since I have had Neo-Victorian food. Also it is nice to meet a man of good fashion sense." Samuel said jokingly as he extended a hand to the man.

"Samuel Garland. Please, feel free to join me. I wouldn't mind a bit of conversation actually."

Beth grinned as Adrianna wiped her hand off with a handkerchief. At best she would have considered sleeping with her once or twice, before putting a leash around her neck and passing her off as a slave. Surely, some would pay handsomely for an imperial prostitute, and someone had to break it in.

"You shouldn't underestimate the weather... Beth. No matter how strong a ship is, how well trained her crew, or how powerful her tools, the power nature can bring to bear cannot be so easily fought. You can push back mother nature, you can ride it out, fight back, and perhaps even win once in a while, but nature will always destroy you in the end if you aren't vigilant, careful, and damned lucky all the time."

She just continued grinning. "Luck. Ha! I bet that is how you managed to get this far without crashing a ship, certainly can't be skill, now can it? Nah, they ain't got that among imperials in the first place, so they can hardly teach it to others." Beth placed her hand across her own mouth, and wiped away the grin. "Mother Nature is just another starved slut, and I'll ride her like the rest of 'em."

Just like Roberts had taught her, but he had described it more eloquently than her.

"In any event; what takes you east Beth? I can't imagine you'll find many things worthy of your time to the east - aside from Everglade or some of the Skycities anyway."

"Ah well, it's more northeast, really. I am not that interested in returning home. I just told myself one night, "Beth, you have to fly north and brave the skies there. There will be something worth it waiting for you at the end of the journey," then I passed out on the floor of a tavern."

She managed to keep herself from laughing, because it made her sound insane, and yet, that was pretty much exactly what had happened.

"I suppose you won't tell me why you'll be flying east, even if I asked." Piece of shit imperial She thought to herself, and frowned, before continuing. "Though I might need to lift some of the rules, if we ever meet again. Some of us have powerful friends, which they'd rather not anger by assaulting... those of lesser importance."

The man responded to his question, by almost falling out of his chair and grumbling "The hell? Ever heard of personal space?" Now that George was quite close to the man, it was obvious that he was a bit drunk. "Something you need?" the man asked suddenly, making George return to reality.

"Not really. You just looked bored, and I am bored as well. So I just figured I would try to strike up a conversation." He then looked at the barkeeper and ordered a beer. He turned back to the man and put out his hand. "My name is George Maelstrom, what is your name?" He asked as he was handed his beer by the barkeeper.

"Ah, evening everyone. I trust your all enjoying the party so far?"

It was the same Skyfolk who had been on the receiving end of Eddie's tirade earlier; and who had been partaking in the rather intimate dance with the Imperial Admiral. While Zach despised any and all collaborators with the Empire (especially those of Neobedouin and Skyfolk descent) and could have happily picked up where Eddie left off, he also saw an opportunity that he would be a fool to miss.

This man may have been with the Imperials, but he certainly wasn't one of them. If the general attitude of Imperials towards Skyfolk wasn't enough for Zach to make an educated guess at that, then the uncomfortable, slightly guilty way he had responded to Eddie was. It was clear that there was only one Imperial to whom this man gave allegiance, an Imperial who was clearly not cut from the same cloth as the rest if she was harboring a forbidden love or lust (it made no matter which) for a Skyfolk. This Skyfolk could be privy to all sorts of information, even if he didn't fully know it, not least whether the Imperial crew had turned up to this Gala with a Chuno Ggun agent in tow; and his status within that crew, most of the brass of which likely resented his presence among them, made him far more likely to spill what Zach wanted.

This was a rare opportunity, and Zach wasn't going to pass it up.

"It's a little muted for my taste, but it will serve." Zach replied cheerfully, as the Skyfolk had finished ordering his drink, and took up a place next to him at the bar. "I'll have the same." he said to the barman.

"It's Garrett, right?" he asked the Skyfolk politely as he waited for his drink "I heard you talking with Eddie earlier. You'll have to forgive him by the way. He's pleasant enough, once you get to know him. Unfortunately, like so many others, he's got his head wrapped up in old hatreds."

While taking care not to overdo it, Zach had altered his speech and gestures to appear ever so slightly tipsy. The less reason Garrett had to see him as a threat, the better. Making his affiliation to Eddie known was inconsequential. Garrett had a keen and watchful eye not unlike Zach himself, smart enough to know that behind the pleasantries, they were in a pit of snakes. Any attempt by Zach to pass himself off as a neutral would paradoxically create more suspicion. Besides, this was Helium City, where (supposedly) people could speak freely.

Zach drink arrived, and he tried the taste. He took care to take in less of the alcohol than it might look from watching him. He might act the fool, but Zach vowed to be the sober one during this exchange.

"An inspired choice." he said, nodding his approval to Garrett. "I love this city, it's so... refreshing. I say we make a toast, to neutral ground!" he continued, raising his glass in Garrett's direction.

"Not really. You just looked bored, and I am bored as well. So I just figured I would try to strike up a conversation." the new arrival said and then turned to the barkeeper to order something, giving Roy enough time to figure out what had just been said. Damn but it was getting bothersome to lip read. He should probably stop drinking but a few more glasses wouldn't hurt, right?

"My name is George Maelstrom, what is your name?" George asked and held out his hand.

"Well in that case we can be bored together," Roy said merrily and vigorously shook the other's hand, "I'm Roy, pleased to meet ya."

He poured himself another glass, sloshing a tiny bit onto the bar, flicked a feather out of the glass and then quickly drank it in one go. There was no getting used to that drink so the quicker it went down the better.

"Cooking accident?" Roy asked jokingly, pointing at George's missing finger.

"It's Garrett, right?" The man in the black suit asked as he ordered the same drink that Garrett had. "I heard you talking with Eddie earlier. You'll have to forgive him by the way. He's pleasant enough, once you get to know him. Unfortunately, like so many others, he's got his head wrapped up in old hatreds."

"Indeed, the name is Garrett. Well, given my conversation earlier with him, I don't think I shall be making a friend out of Eddie anytime soon." Garrett said bluntly as he took another sip of his drink.

"I love this city, it's so... refreshing. I say we make a toast, to neutral ground!" The man said as he raised his glass in Garrett's direction. Thinking that he might make a new friend from this party, Garrett raised his glass as well.

"To neutral ground, and all the pleasures it may bring." Garrett said politely as the brought their glasses together before taking another sip. He definitely felt good now, maybe the positive effects of alcohol were finally kicking in.

"As I was trying to say to Eddie earlier, I came here tonight to enjoy myself, to bask in the spirit of the occasion; not to get bogged down in the arguments regarding the fragile relationship between the Empire, and pretty much everyone else. But I guess if someone has such a deep rooted grudge, it can be hard to simply let it go. Sure, me working for an Admiral, and by extension the Empire has probably painted me as the enemy, and I don't deny that; but when the opportunity arises, sometimes you may have to take the fall." Garrett said, sounding a little melancholy as he took another sip; before his smile soon returned.

"But enough about that for now, since that it is not why we are here tonight. So, why don't you tell me a little bit about yourself?"

'Well, if the fruits of Empire could be found between your Admiral's legs, I'd have half a mind to turn my coat along with yours, although I take it that the troops don't all get their fair share.' Zach thought to himself behind his smile.

"Call me Zach." he replied to Garrett's inquiry "I'm a novelist, of sorts, only my stories are just for me, and I don't make them by putting pen to paper. You see, why should I spend my time scratching away in a dark room about the wonders of life, when I could be out there in the middle of it?" Zach swept his arm across the landscape to accompany 'out there'. "Everything you need for a good story is already made for you. Adventure, romance, glory, danger, deceit, betrayal, war, redemption and reconciliation. It's all there, just waiting for you to tie the pieces together, provided you're made of the right stuff."

It was the sort of embellishment that took all of Zach's easy, poetic confidence to pull off without sounding ridiculous, but he knew a romantic when he saw one, and Garrett couldn't be any more the 'hero' if he was followed around by a bard playing the lute, telling tales of his humble beginnings, his daring deeds, and the star-crossed love that could never be. Had Zach not needed to take advantage of his increasingly inebriated state with flattery, he would have laughed in his face.

"Indeed, you said it yourself. 'Opportunity', and all the masks it wears, is what's important. The pursuit of it, the way we throw ourselves head first into it, and the struggle against obstacles that hold us back from it. These are the things that make the world turn. I've been in a lot of fights Garrett, for a lot of reasons, and sometimes it seems that everywhere I turn I find people who try to turn their opportunity into your 'duty'." He gave a short laugh, in open mockery of that last word. "They try to make you fodder, the background of their story, one more rung in the ladder they'll climb to reach their ends. From one side to another, the dialogue might be different, but the motifs remain the same. What these people don't understand though, is that it takes more than just making those around you small to be a giant.

There are some though... people like us, if I may be so bold, that choose their own path, and write their own rules. We may pay lip service to their formalities, but our true loyalties are personal, beyond their reach. We play their games for as long as it suits us, but in the end we take what we want; and the more impossible, the more outrageous, and the more forbidden our want's are, then in the end it's all the sweeter."

Zach had learned long ago that good liars are a myth. It's the masters of the half-truth you need to watch out for.

Adrianna

"I suppose you won't tell me why you'll be flying east, even if I asked. Though I might need to lift some of the rules, if we ever meet again. Some of us have powerful friends, which they'd rather not anger by assaulting... those of lesser importance." the woman said, giving up some information in the process.

"They're headed Northeast - not unlike us" Adrianna thought to herself, now a bit more worried then she had been. If they were headed in the same direction, the two ships would invariably cross paths again - giving them ample opportunity to kill each other. And, if they were even headed for the same, vague destination then... it was a troublesome problem without many solutions.

It did however have a response - leaving Helium as soon as possible. If this was going to be a race, then they would need to capitalize on their situation as quickly as possible. They were set to sail in the morning, but leaving tonight seemed a better option.

"I'm afraid you're right; I can't tell you - Imperial orders you understand. But I can tell you this; I won't be lifting any rules - ones you like or otherwise. I wish you luck on your journey." Adrianna replied stiffly. She was done with the conversation and though she didn't truly wish the pirate Captain a good trip, Adrianna wasn't going to sink to her level of uncivilized, vitriolic venom.

She was however, slightly petty. As Adrianna put down her glass of wine to find the rest of the crew, she added "Oh, and long live The Empire."

Now where in the hell was Exeter?

Exeter

"Are you ready?" Exeter asked the cloaked Ggun officer on the roof of the building across from the party. The man - Lt. Com. Ring - held a rifle in his hands and was crouched on the ground and out of sight. He checked and rechecked his gun, ensuring it would fire when needed and would hit his target the moment she appeared.

"She'll be exiting soon enough, just keep an eye out for the missing arm." he said, giving the Lt. Com. the last of the details regarding his target. Soon, their would be one less problem to deal with. [b]"Don't worry; soon she'll be dead and our problems will be over." the man said coldly as he laid the gun to his side to warm his hands for a moment. He turned around to check his escape route. A ladder was tied to the back of the building and a horse stood tied to the back. Whether the shot was a success or not, the escape route was clear and ready.

Nothing would go wrong.

Exeter smiled as he made his way down the ladder and back to the party, content that everything was going according to plan.

"Have you ever been to the common areas of an Imperial city, Mr Cynwrig? The people there don't feel hatred. They barely even feel contempt. All they feel is tired. Tired and sad. And those that don't? They love the empire as much as the nobility do, if not more. They know no other life and the world outside is strange and dangerous, filled with things they don't understand. It's not that the Empire is foolish enough to think rebellion is impossible. It's that the Emperor was intelligent enough to ensure it. Even most of the nobility don't know what it's like beyond the walls of the cities."

*pneumatic hiss*

"Tyrannous? I'd disagree. Necessary? Probably not. Invincible? Frankly, damned close."

Drustan pulled at the collar of his shirt, as he was fairly certain the temperature was rising somewhere. "Well, that's where you're wrong first, as you either are invincible or you aren't; there's no middle ground to be had there. Secondly, in regards to your previous point, I'd say that you're cherry-picking examples there. Sure, there are more than a handful of poor folk swearing up and down with the Empire, but the greatest threats are often external. Callous disregard of outsiders and blatantly xenophobic arrogance are some of the quickest ways to earn oneself a knife in the back, and all your size and power changes is the size of the knife needed to stab you with."

Drustan, very much feeling a heat now, picked up something chill and iced off the bar, taking short sips rather than downing the entire thing. "I apologize if I'm being too 'unpatriotic' or whatnot. I'm happy to camp with the Navy and all; the missteps of Imperial foreign policy just irk me severely.

Say, have you been feeling a kind of heat recently? I ask because I'm not sure if somebody's burning down the building or if I just had a really bad drink this evening."

"Call me Zach." The man replied, finally giving a name. "I'm a novelist, of sorts, only my stories are just for me, and I don't make them by putting pen to paper. You see, why should I spend my time scratching away in a dark room about the wonders of life, when I could be out there in the middle of it?" Zach then outstretched his arms to symbolize what he meant. "Everything you need for a good story is already made for you... It's all there, just waiting for you to tie the pieces together, provided you're made of the right stuff."

"Indeed, you said it yourself. 'Opportunity', and all the masks it wears, is what's important... I've been in a lot of fights Garrett, for a lot of reasons, and sometimes it seems that everywhere I turn I find people who try to turn their opportunity into your 'duty'." Zach then gave a short laugh after saying that last word, as though he was mocking it.

"They try to make you fodder, the background of their story, one more rung in the ladder they'll climb to reach their ends. From one side to another, the dialogue might be different, but the motifs remain the same... There are some though... people like us, if I may be so bold, that choose their own path, and write their own rules... and the more forbidden our want's are, then in the end it's all the sweeter."

"I guess your right Zach, there are always those who want you to follow their story, to bask in their artistic vision, and to force you into making a choice that deep down you don't want to make. And when the storyteller sees that your standing up to them, that your fighting back against the choices that are laid out before you, the ones that don't make sense or fit with the continuity, they'll try anything to appease you. For some, this will be enough, but for others, they'll continue to fight back.

I believe someone once said that 'nothing is true, everything is permitted'. To say that is to say that the foundations of society are fragile, and we must be the shepherds of our civilization; it is also to understand that we are the architects of our actions, and we must live with the consequences, whether glorious or tragic. The path I chose Zach, I believe it to be the best one for me; in fact I think my little chat with Eddie earlier is an example of one of the more tragic consequences of my choice." Garrett said with a short burst of laughter as he took another slow sip of his drink, wanting to savor the taste.

"I can sympathize with the forbidden being the most sweetest, its always the most succulent of fruits to taste. One that you can always see, but its just out of your reach."

Beth

She picked up the glass the woman left behind, and drank what little was left in it. Long live the Empire. She thought to herself, and pocketed the glass. I will make you choke on those words, and mix them with some broken glass.

However, if they did meet again, Beth would prefer if the woman was kept alive for a while. It would be a pleasure to crush the spirit of a stuck up imperial bitch. She stayed put, and did not wish the woman luck, even if she was the one who could not fly a ship without it. She wondered why he had asked her to come here, and wished he had been there to tell her the reason.

Wilhelmena

They watched the admiral return inside after talking with Beth. She supposed that it had gone better than expected, as the admiral returned without any noticeable scars or wounds. While she might want to leave the party as soon as possible, it was hardly necessary to rush.

Wilhelmena handed Remmington an envelope beneath the table. "Just give it to her when she leaves." She said, and thought that she would miss Helium City. "I suppose it will be difficult to contact the others when I get back in the air."

"Well, take the automaton with you at least, then you won't be in this alone." Remmington answered her. "He could come in handy, if something were to happen."

Wilhelmena smiled and nodded, then the president got up and left her, to talk with some of her other guests instead.

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