At the Edge of the Sky - Chapter 1

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At the Edge of the Sky

by insomniac

Libraries: Adventure, Fantasy, General, Original Fiction, Sci-Fi, Series

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NaNoWriMo '09. Skypirate captain Asher Lee finally gets the notoriety he's been after all these years. This turns out to be less glamorous than he'd expected. (Please bear in mind that this story is basically unedited and unrevised. Any of that nonsense will have to wait till December.)

Chapter 1, Prologue

At the Edge of the Sky

"Do you know," Asher mused aloud, "how we've ended up in this mess?"

Jensen recognized the tone of the captain's voice. It might have sounded like a question, but there was already an answer. A less patient man might not have been so quick to indulge Asher's roundabout phrasing. But then, there was a gun to his back (and another to Asher's, for that matter). What was there to do in a situation like this but make a little conversation?

"Poor planning?" he guessed, biting back a sigh as the pair of them were led none-too-gently into the iron-barred brig before them.



"The Greeks knew all about this sort of thing," Asher confirmed, palpable dismay flickering over his face as one of the sailors clamped shut the heavy padlock on the door. "Wrote about it in all of their greatest tragedies. Which I suppose makes us heroes, of a sort."

"I don't feel particularly heroic," Jensen admitted, taking a seat on the slatted bench that was likely going to serve as his bed for as long as he was in custody. It was a considerable understatement. Even if there was something vaguely fantastic about the life they led - there certainly was in Asher's eyes - this was less than a shining moment for anyone involved. As was so often the case, his appraisal of the situation did nothing to slow down the captain's train of thought.

"No, no. Their conception of a hero - it's not as we'd think, as being simply the bloke who isn't a villain. Whether we're villains remains up for debate," he conceded - Jensen couldn't help a short, dry chuckle - "but at the very least we're certainly the stars of our own little epic. Consider it. You, and I, and indeed the whole crew, are all on great journeys." Asher paused then, reaching up to smooth his hair back and retie it into its usual neat ponytail. He wrinkled his nose, suddenly pensive, and glanced over to his first mate. "Why am I explaining tragic heroes, again?"

"Hubris," Jensen reminded him.

"Ah, yes." Asher was notoriously prone to distraction, and tended to like the sound of his own voice, but it was nothing Jensen hadn't developed a tolerance to. In a way, it was almost comforting - even in these rather dire straits, the man was unshakable in his mannerisms. Only if he were to suddenly go quiet or something would Jensen see real cause for worry.

"Hubris," he began again, "is what always took down those great heroes in the ancient tales. It's the mistake of thinking too highly of oneself. Fancying that you, being a hero and all, are some sort of invincible."

"This may be the first time I've ever heard you suggest otherwise."

Asher shot him a brief, almost pouting glance, then shook his head and moved along. Jensen's pragmatism was one of those things he'd never given up - even if, more often than not with this captain and his crew, it fell on deaf ears.

"When the hero develops this sort of arrogance, it always ends dreadfully. Look at Icarus. Fellow with the wings, have you read that one?"

"I think so."

"That is precisely where we find ourselves now."

To put a finer point on it, where they found themselves was aboard a ship, and the last sort of ship they'd like to end up in dealings with: an airship of Her Majesty's Royal Aeronautical Navy. Jensen hadn't recognized the name painted on her hull - some famous dead explorer, Asher had said, or something - but there was no questioning the colors she flew. Nor the uniforms of the two men who'd marched them aboard. It was a uniform Jensen knew all too well, but one he'd spent close to six years now making a career of avoiding. Asher's contemplative rambling came to a pause then, and Jensen found himself turning over the events of the night thus far, wondering if that 'hubris' theory might just have something to it.


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