About Me

Friday, October 4, 2013

CAMIKA PT 1

(I feel like I need to preface that the entire idea for this came out of a joke about a bromance between my friend Cameron and I) 

"I'm well aware that you're captain of this airship. But what I asked you was what exactly this ship does, not who you are. Those are two very different questions, you see. I want to know if there's any precious cargo here or if you're a war ship. And I would prefer if you put down your pistol, it's not very polite to point that at someone unless you intend to shoot."
Up high in the sky through the nimbus clouds sailed the Airship IDA, led by the fearless adventurer Captain Cameron who, at that very moment, was having quite a queer yet strangely thrilling start of a conversation with a mysterious man in his Captain's Quarters. Naturally he had pulled out his third favorite pistol (it was the quickest and easiest to handle on the fly) he so sweetly named Persephone in case this were a simple crook, but he could now tell this man was anything but. He oozed mystery and intrigue even though so far Captain Cameron had only seen his backside. Even from behind this man captured Cameron’s curiosity. He uncocked the pistol and placed it in the gun holster on his thigh.
"Alright, you got me. I don't intend to shoot." Cameron's voice was childish, light, happy. He sounded nonchalant, and his face had the brightness of a youth in a store full of sweets. His appearance easily supported his boyish spirit. He was a sinewy gentleman who wore a crisp white collared shirt, a ruby cravat he tucked into his golden paisley vest, and his dark blue trousers with various belts slung around that had his three favorite pistols attached via holsters strung through the belts. His hair, wavy and black, was kept short and he came across not like any other captain with his boyish grin and overall energetic demeanor. His clothing was loud, he looked much too young to be in charge of anything. And yet those who knew of the Airship IDA, as few as those people might be, knew not to cross the crew’s path.
"Do you feel like answering my question?” The mysterious man nagged, keeping his back to the Captain. “Because that would be pretty nice."
"I'll think about really hard. Promise."
"I'll hold you to that."
"Oh I'm sure you will."
"I do hope you don't plan on taking a tea break before you answer, I'm afraid I couldn't stay for that."
"Wouldn't dream of it. Tea time's so dull, always with the old people talking about back in their day."
"Well when you put it that way."
"What way? I'm quite blind to the powers of my persuasion so I'd like to know what works. Maybe if you’d turn around, that would help. Not to say your backside isn't attractive—because it is—but I'd much prefer to meet you face to face."
The mysterious figure slowly turned around but not because he was taking his time. It was more like Cameron was watching a dream where time flowed differently. Like this moment was important. Behind the mysterious man the lion-maned sun blazed brightly through the windows that made up an entire wall of the quarters, illuminating his figure, giving him a rare celestial presence one could only glimpse by staring at a painting of an angel or from an encounter with a supernatural being. He had a strong figure, a bit larger than Captain Cameron’s, and his clothes were very dark, black trousers with a collared double-breasted vest and a collared shirt that had a peculiar white floral print. A downy soft gray scarf was loosely wrapped around his neck and shoulders. He moved forward allowing Captain Cameron to view his face. His hair was messy and black, his eyelashes long, and simply put he was a beautiful man. Captain Cameron recognized the mysterious man from wanted posters. It was the Phantom Thief, Mika.
"Phantom Thief, the Mysterious Mika." Cameron nodded towards the darkly clad thief. "I'm Captain Cameron of the Airship IDA, Conquistadores of the Sky."
            Mika ran a hand through his thick hair, taking a moment to look over Cameron. He let out a soft laugh. "Conquistadores of the Sky. An adventurer's airship?"
"Yes."
"Perfect."
"Perfect?" Cameron was curious. Before he could question Mika, his first mate barged through his door.
"Captain!" First Mate Tiffy sternly exclaimed. She always seemed rather stern to the Captain, which made her the perfect First Mate. "There's another airship heading towards us."
Tiffy stood right at six foot one inch, slightly taller than either man, and her boots gave her at least an extra inch of height. It made her a little intimidating when combined with her strawberry hair and no-nonsense expression. She wore a light green dress that fell to the back of her knees in the back and a few inches higher up in the front, a leather bodice over it and black leggings underneath. On either wrist she had leather bracelets and a pastel blue tattoo ran from her left hand all the way up to her neck, where a compass on a chain hung loosely. A staff in a holster was slung around her back.
"Tiffy," the Captain started, "that's fine and good but I have a special guest."
Tiffy looked over at Mika and rolled her eyes, apparently unimpressed. "Captain, I don't care what goes on in your personal life. What matters is the ship."
"Well that’s rude, Tiffy."
"The ship," She repeated.
"I think you should apologize."
"Ship," She said once more with more emphasis.
"Apologize," Cameron chided.
“To you or him?” Tiffy asked.
“To him,” Cameron said.
“No thanks, more important things to do. Like get you to listen about the ship.”
"Sky Pirate Edweird," Mika interjected, his head snapping around to the window wall. The next thing Cameron knew Mika was in the air flying towards him, landing on top of the Captain with an oomph, Captain Cameron's face burying deep in Mika's chest as he held him down.
Cameron’s first thought was "he sure does smell good," and his second was "wait, what's going on?" which was followed up with the question of whether or not Cameron smelt good, as he could not recall a single occasion where he had ever confirmed what his smell was. Then came the crash, and Tiffy's worried shouting thinly veiled as frustration, wondering if the Captain was okay. Cameron could feel the gusts of air in his quarters and feared the worst. He stared at the gaping hole that was once his favorite wall over Mika’s shoulder.
"What in the world?" Cameron's face fell in a cocktail of frustration, disgust, contempt and shock. That would be a pain and a half to fix and he didn't want to have to use the money he had been saving up for a chocolate strawberry bush. The ship wouldn't appreciate the damage much, either. In fact she would be downright pissed.
Mika grabbed the Captain's face with his hands and forced it close to his own. "Get your crew to attack," he hoarsely instructed the Captain over the rushing air. The captain stared into Mika's eyes. They were like two black holes, voids that would lead him to obliteration if he were to fall in. Yet he was okay with it. He welcomed it. It was thrilling, and it made his pulse jump.
The Captain's silly grin spread across his face. "Tiffy!" He shouted. "I’m fine! Fetch me my trench coat. We have Sky Pirates to fight."
Tiffy, as stoic and solid as when she had come in, curtly nodded, shouting “Got it!” as loudly as she could. She swiftly exited the room to instruct the crew members to prepare for the retaliation.
Mika returned the Captain's smile. "Captain Cameron," he teased, "you're adorable when you get excited. I appreciate that quality in person. Things like this must be met head on."
Captain Cameron blushed. "No time for that now, Phantom Thief Mika. First we fight. Then I get an explanation. After that… well, who knows how I'll be feeling by that point."
"I should probably get off of you then." Mika stood up and extended an arm to Cameron. "I hope you enjoy adventure, Captain. This might be a doozy."
Captain Cameron accepted Mika's hand and was hoisted up. A quick glance behind him revealed Tiffy standing in the door frame holding his favorite purpureus colored trench coat.
"I am adventure incarnate," Cameron boldly stated. He held up his arm behind him and caught the trench coat as Tiffy tossed it to him, slipping it on. "Now let's see what we can do about those Sky Pirates."
"I assume your ship has magic if you're adventurers."
"Of course we use magic on this ship. The ship is magic," Cameron scoffed as Mika followed him outside into the battlefield of the ship's deck. On the starboard side, hovering beside them was the ship of the dreaded Sky Pirate Edweird. It was a massive thing, covered in magical sigils and large propellers, crimson sails with gears shaped together like skulls and an angel with horns on the bow of the ship. The cannons lining the side of Edweird’s were aimed right at the Airship IDA threateningly. Cameron knew what was coming. A boom shook the skies, a cannonball ripping through the air right for the Airship IDA.
Mika pointed at the sigils covering Edweird’s ship. "Do you have protection spells like that? I didn’t get a good look at your ship before I boarded." Mika pulled out a pair of gloves, slipping them on.
"About that,” Cameron laughed nervously. “We'd have to talk to the ship first."
"Hold that thought." Mika flagged down Tiffy and shouted “Toss me in the air!”
With a run and a jump he landed in Tiffy's cupped hands. She shot him into the air, right at the cannonball which he met with an open palm. Together they froze midair, again to Cameron like a dream, followed shortly thereafter with the cannonball exploding, but no shockwave hitting the Airship IDA. Mika landed back on the deck with a tiny frog in his palm. Cameron was mesmerized.
"Bravo! That was fantastic! Wasn't that fantastic, Tiffy?" Cameron turned to his First Mate expecting the same excitement and awe. He was met with apathy.
"Simple magic," she responded, pulling out the pole from the case on her back. It shined with the brightness of the sun and when the light died down it was a halberd with a crescent-shaped blade. "Meet with IDA, we can handle this."
"She won't be too happy," the Captain responded. "She hates being bothered and she's already been damaged."
"Which is why you'll deal with her and not me."
Mika ran by Tiffy and tossed her the frog. "A present," he said, and grabbed Cameron by the hand. "Defense spells, lead the way."
"Farewell, Tiffy! Do me proud!"
They headed for the ship leaving behind a bewildered Tiffy with a frog. She stuck it on her shoulder and looked up at Edweird's pirate air ship, another cannonball headed their way, and then another and another. Tiffy took a fighting stance with her blade pointed at Edweird’s ship.
"I am First Mate Tiffalufigous Gardenia de La Fraises of the Conquistadores of the Sky," she shouted up at the pirate ship. "Codename: Impaler of the Moon!"
Her halberd sprouted up into the sky, through a cannonball, forcing it to erupt in a shower of sparks and catching many of the other cannonballs fired in the explosion.

Further and further they went into the heart of the Airship IDA, Captain Cameron leading the way down candle lit hallways. It became harder to breath the further they went. Between that and the running Cameron could tell Mika was having a difficult time, but Cameron was used to surviving with little oxygen up in the sky.
“What were you saying about asking the ship?” Mika inquired through heavy breathing.
“Oh, that. IDA’s sentient and uses an avatar to speak to us.”
“You don’t say.”
“I do say.”
Mika shook his head. “I still don’t understand why you wouldn’t paint magic circles on the ship itself, to at least give it some basic protection.”
Cameron sighed. “IDA’s a little vain. She doesn’t want things painted on her. I suppose she expects us to stay out of trouble.”
“But you’re adventurers.”
“It’s really inconvenient, I know.”
Mika stopped Cameron. "This is taking too long. Where is it exactly we’re headed?"
"It's hard to tell. Sometimes IDA likes to move around the passages," Cameron responded.
Mika leaned against a wooden wall, taking deep breaths. Cameron wasn’t sure if his Phantom Thief could continue on or not. The adrenaline in Cameron’s veins was quickly dying down. He wished he knew how much longer it would take but knowing IDA she had probably sensed Cameron coming and made the route all the longer. He peered down the low-lit hallway, then at Mika.
“It’s curving, that’s all I know. She’s probably at the center. At least it isn’t a maze this time.” Cameron peered back at the path forward. For some reason there was a mountain goat looking back at him. Cameron cocked his head. “Hello.”
“Hello?” Mika responded, confused at first. “Oh, hello!” he then exclaimed. He ran past Cameron to the goat. The goat darted through a wall, leaving no trace.
“What was that?” Cameron asked, scratching his head.
“One of many guides. It’s okay, it’s fine. It’s a thing of mine. Just need to follow it.” Mika pulled out a small white jar of paint from a pouch on his belt, drawing a magic circle on the wall, a matching one on his hand. "Hold on to me," he instructed. Cameron cheerfully obeyed, grabbing Mika's other hand. Together they walked through the wall, found the goat and followed it through another wall, and then another one and another until they found themselves in a circular room covered in carefully raked sand. In the center was an enormous tree, too enormous to possibly fit into and survive on an airship. Yet there it was.
"She doesn't look happy," Cameron groaned.
The Phantom Thief squeezed Cameron's hand. "The tree? How can you tell?"
"The fruit isn't glowing. See, it's all... normal looking."
"Oh, yes, because it's not mystical enough without the glowing fruit." Mika let go of Cameron's hand, examining the room. "Where is it you activate the protection magic?"
"Right over here," came a woman's voice in response, echoing with something otherworldly. Mika's attention was drawn back to the base of the tree. There before the two men was an Amazonian woman in red robes with golden necklaces adorning her neck. Her hair was shoulder-length and auburn, her eyes a piercing emerald color surpassing the beauty of her gold jewelry.
"Greetings, IDA. Hope you're well." Cameron tried to express as much sincerity as he could in his voice, however IDA scared the living daylights out of him and so his voice more shaky and boisterous than he meant it to be. Knowing her his whole life only made his fear of her worse.
Mika inhaled. sharply "Your ship really is sentient. That's beautiful."
IDA shot a dirty look to Mika. "Egad," she spat, "I know what you are, thief. Of course they’re after you." She shot a slightly less dirty but much more frightening look at Cameron. "Where is Erika? I would much prefer to speak with her."
"Well when someone dies twice you tend to feel obliged to give them time off," Captain Cameron explained, making large gestures with his hands due to nerves.
"Who's Erika?" Mika asked in a hoarse whisper.
"Our letter carrier slash doctor," he whispered back. 
"You don’t just let your ship’s doctor leave. That was a bad idea. I hope you realize this."
"Oh hush." He focused on IDA once again. "I do believe she's flying on the paper birds off the coast of the Kingdom of Dandel."
"No, no," interjected Mika, shaking his head. "The Kingdom of Dandel was wiped out months ago by a bad land fertilization spell. The whole sub-continent of Ion was basically destroyed. Tragic, really. There were some jewels there I wanted."
"You don't say?" Cameron had switched his attention back to Mika now, genuinely curious as to the events that led to the downfall of the kingdom. Dandel had been his second favorite continent after all and he was genuinely disappointed at its fall. 
"I do say. Word has it Edweird's behind it."
"Well perhaps Erika's gone to see the Fist of Michelangelo."
Mika lit up. "Let me give you a detailed description, it's the most beautiful piece of weaponry made for war. I stole it for the museum, actually."
With a great groan that reverberated through the sand-filled room, IDA reeled the focus of the conversation back to her. "You two are useless, I'll check on things myself." She furiously shook her head, grabbing at the cloth of her robes, removing them. Beneath her robes was a cage—in fact, the majority of her body was a cage with little butterflies flying around. She reached inside herself and removed one of these butterflies, bringing it up to her face so she could gaze at it whilst it rested gently on her fingertip. She furrowed her brow.
"She's divining, isn't she?" Mika asked. He stared intently at IDA now, so focused, like he was etching the scene into his brain. "Curious. I wonder what she sees."
IDA placed the butterfly back inside the cage and draped her robes back over herself. She gave a frustrated sigh—sighs and groans were her favorite. "You've let my ship get damaged, Cameron. And now pirates have boarded. Fix this."
"Can't you at least assist?" Cameron pleaded. "I beseech you!"
"Do you even know what that words means?" IDA shot back. Cameron didn't respond, and she laughed. "Get rid of the pirates. Give them the thief! If I have to I will steer the ship into the great ocean of rocks and kill you all out of spite, just to rid myself of this infestation. Then I’ll find a new crew."
“If you activate your protection spells the entire thing will be quicker,” Cameron hurriedly explained. IDA simply waved him off.
“Deal with it yourself. Send Erika next time, I much prefer her company over yours.” IDA vanished back into the confines of her tree.
Cameron pouted; that had most definitely not gone the way he was hoping. Feeling a little defeated he turned to talk to Mika, but he wasn't where he had left him. After a frantic search Cameron found him crouching on the ground drawing a magic circle. Alarmed, Cameron dragged him up.
"Don't do that!" He huffed as he pulled the thief up.
"It'll help if we're in a pinch." He held up his hand with the white magic circle on it. "Let's go topside again. Do any of your guns—"
"Yes, they utilize magic."
“How much damage can they cause?”
“Fair amount.” Cameron thought about the sigils on Edweird’s ship. Now, Cameron was no expert on magic—a mysterious tall man named Alan had made Cameron’s guns for him and carved the magic symbols on them—but he figured the sigils on Edweird’s ship most likely protected it from anything petty like basic cannon fire and simple long-range magic. “Hold on now, I don’t think they’re strong enough to take down a ship! I’m confident, but not that confident.”
"Don’t worry about it. Let's go."
"Wait," Cameron said grabbing Mika's shoulder. "Why are they after you?"
Slowly Mika came to look at Cameron, and once again Cameron noticed Mika's eyes. They looked drowsy, large and half-closed and they retained that mysterious void that Cameron knew would suck him in. Well maybe it already had, Cameron thought, judging by the current state of affairs. Mika remained silent, tilting his head, staring into Cameron's very soul. Cameron shivered.
"Alright," Cameron said. "Let's go."

Up on the Deck the battle had gotten more intense. There were men in strange suits that covered their bodies, gears and tubes attached here and there. Every time they moved steam billowed and hissed from their joints. Cameron assumed they must have been the pirates.
Tiffy, with her halberd, had managed to hold most of them at bay, cutting open the suits to reveal their emptiness. A shudder ran through Cameron’s spine. Were ghosts inhabiting the suits? Was it magic? Cameron looked around the deck. There were maybe thirty pirates on board, and Cameron had only a half as many men on the ship. How many were still living he wasn’t entirely sure, though, the bodies of a dozen of his men sprawled on the deck. Cameron could feel his hands tremble out of fear, anger, hatred. His shaking hand reached for his third favorite pistol, Persephone. He would make them all pay.
Mika's hand grabbed Cameron’s. Instantly the shaking stopped as he felt a calm rush through him. Mika let go of his hand. Cameron knew he had at least five manning the ship’s cannons, firing back at Edweird, including Tiffy’s husband. They were safe at least.
"Kill them all. Be swift, don't hesitate," came Mika’s words of advice.
Cameron nodded, pulled out Persephone and took aim. Lines of light crawled up his arm and little wings formed behind him. "Be swift, Persephone." He pulled the trigger and from the barrel shot seven bullets made of light, each one hitting the semi-mechanical, magical pirates. Four of them burned up in the light, the remaining three were only pierced. They changed targets, focusing on the Captain. Steam bellowed from where they had been shot, creating a sort of eerie howling like the wind would make on a particularly terrible night. Tiffy took that time to decapitate them all while they weren't paying attention to her. They fell, unable to get back up. Mika waved at her.
"You see, she has the gist of things without needing an explanation." Mika sounded terribly impressed with her. He moved his fingers like he was trying to solve a problem in his head.
"How many of the men are down?" Cameron asked, losing more and more of his grin. He bent down to examine one of the fallen men. He was dead, his neck snapped. If he had been a different man, a weaker one, he would have vomited.
"More than I'd care to admit, Captain." Tiffy replied. She gave the deck a quick once-over to make sure there weren't any more living pirates. There were, and the frog on Tiffy's shoulder croaked out the exact number of pirates remaining; Fifteen. Fewer than Cameron had thought. They made up for the fewer numbers with speed.
They were surrounded. Cameron wasn't sure how it had happened so quickly, but the fifteen semi-mechanical magic pirates had encircled them and each brandished a pistol he assumed was just as magical as each semi-mechanical pirate. Persephone was only good for those seven shots either fired individually or together and the spare bullets were in his cabin. Ophelia, his second favorite pistol, wasn't meant for this kind of combat and his absolute favorite gun, Desdemona, was for very rare circumstances and had a ten percent chance of killing Cameron. Cameron wasn't feeling especially lucky. He reached for her anyway. A pirate shot at Cameron, grazing his left arm. He hissed in pain, clutching the wound. It was icy to the touch, the cold slowly traveling through his limb.
"No sudden moves. Stupid of me to forget."
"What are we to do, Captain Cameron?" Tiffy asked, holding tightly to her halberd.
"We'll be fine," Mika answered for Cameron. "I can tell."
"How?" Tiffy responded, concern seeping through her voice. "How can you be so sure? Can you even fight?"
"A paper bird told me," Mika said. For a brief moment Cameron was sure he saw a little butterfly like the one IDA had in her cage.
With a whistle and a call of "Geronimo!" tiny paper birds ripped through the backs of several of the Pirates, tearing them in half, leaving the others distracted long enough for Tiffy to mow down four with her halberd.
“Suckers,” Tiffy muttered, her usual strength returning to her voice.
Mika vanished from Cameron's side, reappearing behind another pirate, knife brandished, stabbing it swiftly in the back and ripping it open. The pirate collapsed. Amidst the chaos, shots were fired and another bullet hit Cameron. He wasn't sure where, the adrenaline pumping through his veins once again, the heat of his body masking the icy effects of the magic bullet. He would deal with it later. If he had the time.
From out of the smoke popped Erika wearing her goggles and riding on the back of an enormous paper bird. She was an angelic sight, that one, in her green blouse with poufy sleeves and blue stripes, her brown corset, a gear pinned proudly to it, and her aviation pants. Slung around her shoulder
"Captain, what have you gone and done without me? I adore fighting pirates, you know that! I'm an amazing fighter!" Erika shouted over the winds, landing on deck as Tiffy impaled the final pirate. "And who's the guy in black? He seems mysterious. I already like him."
“He has his moments,” Tiffy grunted in response to Erika, stabbing a pirate on the ground several times.
"Not now Erika," Cameron said. From behind he felt Mika place a hand on his side, right where his latest bullet wound was. Cameron could barely feel the hand there his side was so numb, but as a bonus he could also barely feel the icy cold make its way into his body from the wound.
"Pish posh. There's always time," Mika said airily, removing his hand and looking at the blood. "Tiffy, I noticed you have a few wounds, too. Don't try to hide them from me."
Tiffy scoffed, lightly tracing a graze on her leg.
“Erika, I fear it must be up to us to take down Edweird,” Mika informed the doctor-slash-letter carrier.
"So fearless. Almost as fearless as me." Erika smoothed out her pants due to habit, something Cameron had noticed her do often when she was excited. 
"He's kidding. You're kidding." Cameron inhaled sharply. "You can't take down his ship."
"We just need to agitate him enough to use a bigger cannon on us. So my spell can activate," Mika replied.
Cameron felt himself getting lightheaded and was glad Mika was holding him in place. His last comment was a little confusing, though, and he wasn't sure if he had heard Mika correctly. Surely he had to be jesting; IDA was angry enough with the current damage. They had to escape now to avoid more.
"Pardon?" Cameron stuttered out. "More damage? You want us to take more?"
"I didn’t say that," Mika explained calmly. "Your pistol, Ophelia. I touched it, I know what it does. If Erika takes you up on her paper bird, will you be strong enough to shoot at Edweird's Airship?"
"Yes," Cameron lied. "How did you…?"
"I'm a thief. I can do things." Mika smiled. "Your shot will force him to retaliate with something stronger. It'll activate my spell."
Mika was so smart, so mysterious, Cameron thought. There was always something going on in his mind that Cameron just couldn't perceive. He liked that. He hobbled out of Mika's grasp and to Erika and the paper bird she had been riding. He grabbed on to the bird; it felt so thin, a little brittle. Not at all like it could support his weight.
"Captain," Tiffy started, trailing off. Cameron could see it in her eyes, that she was afraid Cameron was too seriously injured. She was right. The wound was a lot deeper than he had first thought. Her frog croaked, as if trying to help her find the right words. "You ridiculous frog. You're too cute." She let out a soft laugh. Those were rare, coming from her. "Remember, Captain Cameron Greenfield of the Airship IDA, leader of the Conquistadores of the Sky. You are a conqueror. Don’t come back unless you win."
Mika stepped up to Cameron, holding his soft gray scarf from around his neck. He tied it around Cameron's waist, putting pressure on the wound. "And don't die. I like this scarf and want it back. If you die, well, I don't want the scent of death on my nice things. I might cry."
Captain Cameron gave a hearty, youthful laugh, the movement of which shot pain through his side. "Come, Doctor Erika Flywright. Edweird's firing more cannons."
"What my husband and his men don’t get, I’ll take care of," Tiffy vowed, taking her stance.
Cameron grinned wickedly. He and Erika got on the paper bird and took off, the rush, combined with the pain of his wounds, churning Cameron’s insides. They avoided cannonballs left and right, all the while Tiffy's trusty Impaler of the Sky, the men commanding IDA’s cannons and Mika's hand-blocking magic techniques exploded them before they could reach the ship, lighting up the sky with flowers made of smoke and sparks. Erika got the paper bird to stop once they were close enough to the airship.
"Look to me for strength, Captain!" Erika said emphatically, lifting up the goggles from her eyes so she could get a good luck at her Captain. "Do us proud!"
Cameron stood on the back of the paper bird; He clenched his teeth, his side hurt so badly. He pulled out the long-handled pistol Ophelia. Lines etched in the gun shone brightly, crawling onto his arm. Two little angel wings formed on his back.
"Ophelia, punish the Sky Pirate Edweird!" Cameron sang out. He pulled the trigger. All went quiet, calm; and then a barrel of amber-colored light shot out. Several propellers on the right side of Edweird’s airship were encased in solid amber. In moments the amber cracked and shattered, taking the propellers with it. The large double-barreled cannon mounted on the center of Edweird's airship began emitting an eerie light. Cameron collapsed on the back of the paper bird. "Take us home, Erika," he coughed out.
The next thing Cameron remembered he was back on IDA being held up by Mika. He looked at his face, searching for some sort of answer as to what was going to happen now.
"You brilliant man," Mika said excitedly. "Mister Adventure Incarnate, Mister My-Guns-Can’t-Damage-That-Ship. Those sigils couldn’t defend against something like that. I think I may love you."
"He's just happy you rescued him without any questions asked. Highly irresponsible, Captain," Tiffy chimed in.
"She's caught me. I love you for all of the wrong reasons, of course."
"I'll accept that love anyway," Cameron chuckled. "But only if we make it out of this alive."
"You need to have more faith," Erika said. "I believe in Mika."
"Let's watch what happens." Mika pointed to the glowing barrels of the main cannon on Edweird's airship. There was a rumble in the sky, a warning, a reddening of the world, before a large blast shot forth towards IDA. In Cameron's mind time slowed down, an occurrence that had been happening with more and more frequency that day. In a matter of seconds the blast would hit the ship, but those seconds were hours to the Captain. The light from the blast got brighter, hotter, deadlier. If he were to die right there, he would die happy knowing he had had a great adventure.
And then it was gone. All of it. The clouds of smoke and ash, the blast, Edweird's ship, no longer in front of them. Cameron looked around, confused.
"What in the world?" Cameron nearly fell down, but Mika kept him up. The girls shouted and danced around, relieved and excited that Mika's plan had actually worked. "What did you do?"
"Magic spell: Scapegoat." Mika's answer came with a light little laugh. "Edweird just blew up a very large inflatable goat, and now we're too far away for him to be able to catch up with us. It's quite fantastic, really. It'll only work when certain kinds of deadly attacks are coming near, so we had to egg on Edweird. I've never tried the spell before, I'm so glad it worked."
Mika gently put Cameron down on the ground and he sat down with him. Cameron laughed between deep gasps of breath. He was impressed that he hadn't died. Good on himself. He did well, jolly well. But there was still something he needed answered.
"I can be stupid and jump into these things impulsively," Cameron began. "I never had a reason to help—other than your pretty face, of course." He let out a painful laugh. "But this mission cost the lives of several of my men. You owe me a great deal. Why was Edweird after you?"
Mika looked on at the injured crew members who had survived the fight as they moved the bodies of the dead, watched as Doctor Erika patched up Tiffany's injured leg. It looked like several bullets had grazed it, and there were scratches on her back as well.
"I stole one of his powers," Mika finally said. "I can do that, you know. Steal and borrow them. I borrowed IDA's butterfly. Don't worry, it didn't affect her,” Mika assured Cameron. “I’d have had to touch her to steal it. You deserve to know how I do it, after all. Edweird, though. I managed to get close.”
"How did you even get on his ship?"
"He's a pirate. He stole me. I'm quite rare, you know. I'm a descendant of... well, I’m sorry but I don’t owe you that much." Mika looked Cameron in the eyes now and Cameron noticed that Mika's left eye was now a soft white. "The idiot took me on his ship. He's really full of himself, you see. He really thought he could contain me. I took his special eye and escaped on a little floating island attached to his ship, found yours, he followed. You know the rest."
"I hope the eye was worth all the trouble," Cameron said with a raise of his brows.
"How so?"
"I don't care if you're wanted or not. We're short staffed now. You confessed your love. I accepted it. You're obliged to stay here. You’re mine."
“You can’t own someone.”
“You own me now as well. Our fates are intertwined, I’m sure of it.”
Mika ran a hand through his thick hair. He looked like he was thinking deeply. "I'll be the death of you."
"I'm still alive, aren't I?"
"You make a strong case. I'll think about it." Mika's eye returned to their normal blackness and he gave the captain a once over. It sent a tingle through Cameron's spine. "I knew you were the right person to help. The aura of IDA drew me in."
"Yeah, she does that to some people." Cameron tapped the deck of the Airship. "What does that eye do exactly?"
"It's useful."
"Uh-huh." Cameron patted Mika's shoulder. "Had enough time to think?"
"Yes," Mika replied. He stared out at the sunset turning the sky hues of reds and purples. "I think I'll stay for a bit. I don’t like to let my possessions out of my sight."
"Funny, I feel the same."
The two stared at the sunset, for there is nothing quite as beautiful as a sunset while on an airship. Cameron lightly pushed Mika and they laughed, basking in the fading sun, soaking up the moment of peace. Cameron felt something well up inside of him, some sort of completeness. A lot of work needed to be done to the Airship IDA, but he felt fresh. This was the start of something grand. This was the start of a new life. This was the life of a conquistador.