The airship lurched. There was a loud, screeching noise. One akin to pressure seeping out of a tank. The difference was that sounds that resembled chimes accompanied the whistling noise.
Knight Vigilant Rexza turned around to look at the human. “What’s going on?”
The human didn’t answer. His eyes went wide as he turned and ran up the stairs to the captain’s room. Rexza cursed, turning and following after him. With her large gait, she cleared four steps of stairs with one stride.
As the human burst into the captain’s room, Rexza followed in. The captain’s room had a table in the middle, upon which a navigational skychart floated around in holographic images. The captain himself, wearing a four cornered hat and showing off a braided hair and beard combination, turned to the human as he hurtled in.
“It seems we’ve got a case of parasites,” said the captain, his voice so low and growl-ish that Rexza was surprised it came from a human.
The captain noticed her, and then the mantle she wore. “Vigilant. I am Captain Hamoya.”
“Knight Vigilant Rexza,” Rexza replied, with a curt nod. “Problem?”
“Pirates,” said the Captain, crossing his arms in front of his chest. “One small ship — a skyjunk, it seems from the visual feed.” And as he said that, a holographic screen popped out from the tabletop. The tabletop itself seemed to be composed of various crystalline glass nodes that have wires connected to somewhere within the inner workings of the ship.
Rexza watched as a junk powered by what seems to be more classical means of achieving shipflight attacked the large, protected engine of the ship. On the far back side is the circular transmogrifier, wherein a large sphere of Tass is stored. The pirates have launched harpoons that have punctured the glass sphere of Tass.
The pirates were readying for another shot. Rexza watched as crewmates of her own ship came across the starboard and pulled out slugslinger rifles, aiming at the junk’s sails. Rexza frowned — that wouldn’t do a thing.
“If the pirates managed to puncture the Transmogrifier Engine, we’ll be easy pickings.”
Rexza turned and walked out before he finished saying that sentence.
She followed the path down the large ship, until she saw the throngs of men firing their rifles and using the side of the ship as a barrier. Rexza ran. She ran on all fours, the belgar might strengthening her.
“Where are they?” she growled. The human she was speaking to jumped at her voice, but otherwise turned and pointed.
Right beneath them, firing at the ship and readying the harpoon once again, was the pirate’s junk. Rexza saw a crewmember get hit by a flying slug. She cursed as he fell backwards, blood spreading.
Humans have always been so fragile.
She breathed, inhaling as deep as possible, and with her large lungs that was very deep. Rexza clenched her fists, and as she exhaled, as she unclenched every muscle in her body, she launched straight up into the air.
She spun around in the sky, falling down, down, and straight past the passenger ship and toward the skyjunk. She released her claws, making a harsh, wicked sound as they burst out from the tips of her fingers. She used the sails of the junk to ease her fall down, slicing the sails clean into ten parts. There were shouts of horror and surprise, and Rexza didn’t let them get the better of her.
She leapt off the sail midway down, dropping onto the quarter deck where she clawed down the pirate manning the steering ship. Three others in the quarter deck with her. She reached for one with her leg, kicking him, and she used the momentum of that quick to lift herself to the air, spun, and brought a claw down onto another. The third one raised a slugshot and fired, and it rang hollow against Rexza’s lune-iron armor.
The Knight Vigilant cursed in irritation as she turned. She went down on one hand and spun in a move that resembled a breakdance maneuver, and her lune-iron shoe slammed the pirate off of the junk ship and sent him plunging to the endless blue below.
She turned to the rest of the crew. Judging from the slight bristling of her hairs, there were Kifetic Dwarfoturgists causing this ship to stay afloat. It wasn’t powered by Transmogrifiers. Her gaze swept the entire deck. She saw thirty crew members, two harpoon launchers, a dozen swords, axes, and slugslingers, and a man with white hair brandishing a thin rapier. They were all humans.
But no Dwarfoturgists. Or so she thought.
Rexza stepped up to the deck, and she bellowed, “Allow safe passage for this passenger ship!” Her gravelly voice echoed throughout their spirits.
The man with the white hair and the rapier shook his head. “Or what?”
“Or I will be forced to show you the promise of a Knight Vigilant’s Protection.”
The white-haired man shook his head. He raised a hand, which was formed into an intricate hand gesture. He shouted out a snarling word, and then moved the hand in a star-like motion, as if creating a polgyon in the air in front of him.
There was a silent slash of stagnancy, before a huge gout of electricity exploded from the air in front of him and slammed straight into Rexza’s chest. She heard sizzling as the lune-iron kept the electricity from shocking her, and kept the static to itself. It was lune-iron, not normal steel. It didn’t conduct electricity.
But the pain and the force of the impact were all there. She was sent hurtling backwards, smashing against the gunwale of the ship. Rexza cursed, forcing herself up. She saw the white haired man perform another hand gesture in front of him, and he launched into mid-air, as if bending the dwarfic force underneath him.
He then landed on the ship’s quarter deck in front of Rexza. “Severi Cerva,” he said, grinning. His moustache was black, as were his eyebrows. “And I am the Captain of the Silverwing Fish. Please, say hello to Kirahl for me when you reach Hell.”
Rexza grinned. “Don’t let your guard down, Captain.”
Severi raised an eyebrow.
Rexza snorted again. “You’ve never met a Knight Vigilant before, have you?” And then she followed that up with a quick muttering. “Seven-Headed Dragon Style: Head 5 — Most Excellent Alacrity.”
She was gone.
Severi stepped back, and bumped onto the steering wheel. He raised his rapier, and another hand he raised a hand gesture — a Mudra. He performed another sign in the air, and a ball of flame erupted around his hand.
He turned around when he heard the sound of one of his men gasp.
Rexza reappeared in the middle of the ship, amidst the thirty men that were foolish enough not to leave at the first mention of a Knight Vigilant. When she reappeared, she reappeared with the force of a hurricane. The wooden floor splintered about her, wind billowed like a bursting bubble.
Rexza didn’t waste time. Methodically, she flickered to the nearest man and punched, turned to the next and kicked, flickered again and ten of them were down. The most foolish of the twenty had the brilliant idea to fire a slug at Rexza.
The shot hit the gunwale of the ship. The man who fired the shot fell to the ground.
Rexza examined her pointer finger’s claw, which was soaked in blood.
The nineteen men that were left all turned to each other.
“What are you doing!” Severi shouted. “Kill her!”
“Seven-Headed Dragon Style: Head 2 — Breath of the Beast.” She turned in midair, and then opened her palm. A gout of flame burst from it, a multicolored incandescence of destruction. It washed over half of the remaining men, and the other half started running.
“Bitch!” shouted Severi. He jumped down to the deck as it cleared of men.
Rexza cocked her head to the side. She didn’t have any pups yet.
Severi threw the ball of fire he had been holding in his right hand, and Rexza stepped backward. “Seven-Headed Dragon Style: Head 7 — Perfect Manipulation of Secrets.” She invoked another form of the Martial Art, and she caught the ball of fire that hurtled toward her. She performed an intricate redirection kata that ended up with her throwing the ball of fire away from the junk and the passenger ship and it exploding far off.
She turned, and Severi stepped forward, grinning widely as he lunged with his blade. “Die!”
Calmly, Rexza stepped back. A deliberate, full-footed step that grounded her. With one paw she turned away the incoming rapier, and then with another planted a palm firmly into the chest of the human.
Severi opened his mouth to shout something, but Rexza pushed with the paw she had laid on his chest. He stumbled backward, and Rexza continued. A punch, two punches to the solar plexus, a quick cracking elbow to the chin, liquidly turning into a low kick.
And in the breath of time between his launching into the air and his falling to the ground. In the split second in midair, Rexza muttered, “Draconic Fury Assault.” And she launched a final punch.
Diwa burst out in multicolored strokes of light from her fist as Severi crashed to the cabin underneath the quarterdeck. A hole in his chest indicated that he was very much not alive anymore.
She turned around, and saw that most of the crew had jumped off on hang gliders. The skyjunk lurched as it slowly capsized in the air and fell out of the sky. Rexza, on all fours, ran up across the starboard, up to its gunwale, and she jumped into the sky.
She spread her hands out like wings, and said, “Seven-Headed Dragon Style: Form 4 — Exalted Wings of the Drake.”
The winds obeyed her command, rushing up her and sending her up across the sky. The winds let her ride their current, and she rose up, and up, and up to the deck of the passenger ship.
She sighed in relief as she touched the steel deck. “Is everyone alright?”
The human crewmembers all nodded. In the periphery of the belgar knight, she saw tall spires and neon lights piercing away the night sky, like a watercolor painting slowly being drawn to life. She turned, and her eyes widened. Throne City.