In our lowest and darkest times we look up to the stars, and wonder why life didn't turn out the way we wanted. Feeling lost and helpless, we plead that a star may fall, and from its ultimate misfortune, we could make a wish and relive that precious dream onto which we still so desperately cling. But the stars only watch in a soft, cold light, and our last semblance of hope extinguishes. The endless night goes on and the light of our soul dims, taking with it the magic we once shared with the world. But the skies do provide answers- thunderous words of response. We're just too far away to hear, too far away to see, but the voice is there. A voice of thunder, and color, and flame, and fate--
Colorful bombs exploded in the darkness of the night, deep in the sky, far above the slumbering people below, unable to reach them. The firework-like magical ruptures softly outlined the gray clouds and escaped in vibrant sparks, brilliantly burning, sizzling, and extinguishing. Smoke mixed with cloud, obscuring the storm within it. And within that storm of explosions, briefly defined by undulating flashes, was the source.
A great airship flew through the clouds and darkness. It's a large vessel, reminiscent of those that sail in the seas, but equipped with wings and engines and propellers. It's imposing, but far from the largest and more dangerous threats in the skies. From its main mast, a saffron sail rippled confidently, met with a second taut sail that connected from the forward bow of the airship and curved at its middle, also attaching at both sides- a canopy buffeted with air from the interior. Metal plating lined the outside hull of the airship, strengthening the wood underneath from impact, but a gaping hole in the ship's starboard quarter proved that not all strength is impenetrable. It smoldered from a prior cannonball impact and explosion, with smoke and steam leaking profusely, streaming behind the quickly sailing vessel. A slower, much more massive airship with an enormously inflated sangria and gold balloon pursued the ship's vapor entrails, with a palpable ferocity fueled by revenge.
The muffled explosions of the bombs reverberated through the wood interior of the leading ship with bass vibrations that hummed deep in the chests of the crew. The feeling could not be avoided, instilling an increasing sensation of anticipation and excitement.
In the upper recesses of this ship, a man rifled through his dark cabin. His burly figure steadily, but hurriedly marched from one cluttered bureau to the next messy desk, looking for something. He forcefully pulled open a drawer that resisted with a thud as it fully revealed its shifted contents. He took out a long, pistol-like gun with his left hand, quickly inspected it, and clicked a button on its side with his finger. The pistol energized and glowed a shiny blue, and the man quickly turned, still focused on his search. He reached a large, wooden desk table, littered with detailed maps and shuffled papers with odd intersecting shapes and squiggles. He found a second gun on the desk and grabbed it with his right hand, watching it with scrutiny as he similarly energized it. He shoved the two weighty, glowing pistols into the leather holsters attached to his hips. The soft light illuminated the dark man as he hunched over the desk. He wore a long, crimson leather coat that floated down to his calves. On the back, overlapping both shoulder blades, a worn "evil eye" peered widely from the coat, layered with colors of light and dark blue, white, and black. The man grabbed one more item from the desk with his gloved hand. His open hand protectively held a small, silver necklace in the shape of an albatross, which he immediately adorned with a feeling of necessity.
"Captain!" An agitated voice called from above deck. The man's head quickly snapped to the left in attention, gaze holding to the dim golden light gently spilling down the stairs leading to the voice above. His preparations have been made for the upcoming battle.
Havoc continued to ensue outside with a multi-colored barrage of cannon bombs bursting brilliantly, thunderously shaking the skies. The immense ballooned ship, classified as a Great Frigate, smoothly reached the injured airship ahead, wading confidently in the clouds, taking its place of power beside it. Despite the unending rounds of cannon fire, none of the bursts reached the smaller ship, barred by an invisible barrier surrounding it. The cannon rounds shattered against the invisible shield, causing it to briefly shimmer an iridescent silver with contact. The glimmering, fiery shrapnel expanded and reached around the shield, attempting to engulf it, but instead dissipating. Two crew members of the first ship watched the exchange of bombs safely from the deck, enjoying the explosive light show. To the left, a platinum blonde woman with dual sabres at her hips stood with arms crossed. The two swords glowed a dim purple, emanating from etchings on the flat sides of the blades. To the right, a man leaned against the ship's bridge, with a small rod hooked to the small of his back, glowing green from similar etchings. They eagerly awaited the upcoming battle.
In the bridge, the sentiments were not that of excitement, but concern. A pervasive red light stirred a feeling of urgency, felt most strongly by the man manning the helm. The light glinted off his glasses and tinted his blond hair. His hands frantically gliding across the control panel, all the while keeping the ship's wheel steady. His focus momentarily broke as he heard loud, thudding footsteps behind him. It's the first man- the captain- emerging from his cabin, armed for battle.
"The field won't hold much longer. They're going to break it!" The captain didn't say a word as he continued walking away from the blond man and toward the deck. "Did you hear me?!" He called, but with no response. "Captain?!" Nothing. "Crowe!"
Crowe walked out onto the deck, turning forward to the bow. The continued volleys lit up the right side of his face with colorful bursts, but he ignored them as he walked up to his two crewmates keeping watch on deck. They noticed his arrival with confident smirks and excited smiles.
"Crowe," The man greeted him.
The woman spoke, "On your command, Captain." Crowe took his place standing between the two of them and turned his attention to the Great Frigate.
"For freedom and Paradise." With these words, Crowe raised his arm and waved his hand. Watching from the bridge, the man with glasses muttered to himself from the signal.
"Here we go." His hand hovered across the panel and stopped above an orange button. He pressed down and held it, giving his command, "Jas, shields down."
On the other side of the button and microphone, connected by copper wires and electricity, a lone, small and skinny man operated deep below deck, surrounded by clanking metal, grinding gears, and hot steam. He wore large cargo pants and an engineer's belt, with orange goggles to protect his eyes. He smiled at the announcement from the intercom and lifted his hand.
"Let the fun begin."
The invisible magical shield surrounding the airship briefly materialized a shimmering silver hue, before immediately disintegrating. Within seconds, the small ship lost its impenetrable defense. Now it's time to truly go on the offensive. Crowe quickly scanned the beastly Great Frigate in front of him. His eyes moved from the rushed activity of the sailors to the blazing lights of the lanterns to an almost imperceptible sheen of the air before it all. Crowe smiled.
(continued in Prologue II)