Black-Heart: Heading Home

Shaking off the sinking feeling of frustration and annoyance at Van, Aaron turned from him and went to work on the rest of the mooring ropes.  Letting them loose, he moved about the ship, grabbing the lines to the sails and heading for the helm of the ship.  Tugging on the lines as he went, he let the sail unfurl completely.

Reaching the helm he lashed the lines and took the wheel, spinning it one handed.  He now had a new passenger that he didn’t want, but that was something he couldn’t focus on right now.  What he needed to focus on was catching up with the Flying City.  That was the whole reason he was out here and he was not going to let the one thing he was looking forward to slip from his fingers.

The ship listed to the side as the wind caught in the sails and it floated away from the docks, out into the mists that blanketed the morning sky.

Van kept his balance as the ship started to move, watching Aaron for a moment, before he turned and ducked under the sail, heading for the bow of the airship.

Aaron caught sight of Mai tense up, but she didn’t move from her position in the center of the deck below the helm.

Shifting his gaze to the skies, Aaron ignored both of them.  Reaching over, he touched the controls from the FTL drive in the belly of the ship, increasing it’s charge.  The ship started to rise through the clouds.

Grabbing the lines for the sail with one, hand, Aaron reigned them in as the upper winds buffeted them about.

The Flying City had a good head start already, and if he wanted to catch up, he was going to have to find a strong air stream.  But that would mean heading up through the clouds, one of which was swollen with rainwater.

Bracing himself, Aaron pulled on the lines, angling the sails to catch a gust of wind that would take them up.  The biting cold of the wind nipped at his face and as the cloud rushed up to meet the ship, he blinked as the wet slap of water hit him and suddenly the ship was in the cloud.  The mists obscured the sun, plunging the deck into a foggy grey darkness.

The sudden clash and gunshot hit Aaron’s ears like the sound of thunder within the cloud.  Instantly he knew what had happened.  Releasing the lines he was holding, he let the sails flap free, and heaved on the wheel of the ship.

The deck listed and he heard the scraping of claws on wood as Katha went skidding.  Thought the grey mist, he saw the two other figures go sliding as well across the slick decking.

There was another clash and a gunshot.  This time he was watching for it though and the muzzle flash lit up the silhouettes of Van and Mai their weapons locked together, van having deflected Mai’s shot with his sword, forcing her aim up.

Goddamnit!

Spinning the wheel in the opposite direction, the let the wind have the ship, rocking the ship about .  Then as suddenly as they had entered the cloud, the airship emerged into the clear blue sky above, leaving a trail of water vapor in it’s wake.  He’d found the airstream that he’d wanted, but at the same time, he’d found trouble as well.

Aaron knew anything he would shout at them would be lost to the wind, leaving him only one way to break up the fight.  Locking the wheel on course, he grabbed for the lines to the sail, pulling in one line and letting loose the next.

The wind took the sail and the boom swung, sweeping across the deck at shoulder height.  It took the two combatants by surprise just enough to break them up.   Mai ducked in time, letting the mast swing over her, while Van, leapt back, moving to the center of the deck beneath the helm before he was caught by it.

Aaron reigned in the sails, getting them secured and angled just right to catch the wind needed to drive them forward.  Lashing the lines around their respective pins, he stormed from he helm, putting himself between Van and Mai, who was back on her feet.

“Below deck!  NOW!” he bellowed at her, throwing an arm out to point toward the opening leading below.

Her gaze fixed on Van, Mai silently complied with his demand, moving carefully for the stairs leading down.  Katha slunk after her, the cat’s fur wet with the mist from the cloud.

The minute she vanished from view, Aaron shook his head and pressed his hand to his temples.  He could feel the presence of the curse roiling the back of his mind from his sudden outburst.  It wanted to take over and was sending out it’s call of bloodlust and rage to him, trying to get him to lower his guard.

He heard the soft clink of Van’s sword returning to it’s sheath and he rounded on the man grabbing his forearm in vise-like grip.  The swordsman resisted, but Aaron held on, keeping his stance firm and his grip strong.  “Keep that damn thing sheathed on my boat!” he shouted over the roar of the wind.

“I will draw my sword in defense of myself!  She did not make a wise move!” called back Van.

“I don’t give a damn!  My ship!  My rules!  I didn’t ask you to come along and I sure as hell don’t like that you invited yourself onto my ship!”

“That’s a choice you made when you left that courtyard!”

“Like hell it is!  I told you before that I am not going to fight you!”

“Then who are you going to fight?  Where are you headed so fast?”

“I’m going to the only home I’ve ever had a reason to go back to!” he shouted at Van, surprising himself with his own words.  He’d never said it to himself before, but he did consider the Flying City to be his main berthing point for the ship, maybe he did even consider it home just a little.  He’d just never thought about it too hard.

Van smiled and inclined his head.  “I was wondering why you would take off so fast!  I take it then we are heading to the Flying City of Azure?”

Aaron nodded, his gaze hard, his face passive.  “The City’s only hours ahead of this ship!  The scuffle you two just had put us twice that behind it!  That City is the one focus I have keeping my head together at the moment!  I am not going to let anything keep me from it!”

Van looked Aaron in the eye.  “Alright, I will keep my sword sheathed, only as long as she keeps her pistol in it’s holster!” called Van over the wind.

“She will!” assured Aaron releasing Van’s arm.

Shrugging his pack farther up his shoulder, Van brushed past Aaron headed for the bow again.  Aaron watched him go, then turned his gaze toward the opening leading below deck.  If she wanted to stay on the ship all, Mai would keep her pistol in it’s holster and would listen to him.  Otherwise…

Aaron put his hand to his head again.  He didn’t want to go there.  With as much of past as they had, he’d cut ties, but there was always something that came up.

Please don’t let anymore of my past catch up with me, he pleaded to the winds before turning and heading back to the helm.

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