Skybound - Jaxon Throttlescape's Escapades
Jaxon charged onto the deck of the Dolorous Rogue, quickly surveying the state of the battle which unfolded before him. His crew were furiously locked in battle with members of the Imperial Pirate Regulation Order, or IPRO, a recent bill which had been passed by the Emperor to regulate the sea and sky pirates' relentless plundering of Aethasia, which was starting to impede on his own personal assets, and eliminate any outstanding threats who refused to be "reasonable"
Unfortunately, Jaxon and his fleet fell under the category of "unreasonable", as they plundered from only the richest Imperial or Imperial-supporting families, then, after selling the booty and pocketing a beggarly fee of thirty percent, gave the rest of the money to non-Imperial sanctioned charities, most of which were Resistance-founded, but some were third-party founded, likely started by one of the ragtag groups of rebels who sprung up and died away within a year, leaving only the tales of their feats and their charities as their legacy.
The Imperials had been breathing down Jaxon's neck even before the IPRO bill was passed, and after the bill was passed, they had even more of a reason to eliminate him and his fleet, as he exclusively robbed the Emperor and his supporters' assets, and as such, pulled out all the stops to find him.
So far, through many clever decoys, false leads, and distracting maneuvers, Jaxon had been able to escape Imperial eyes and still plunder wherever he chose, but apparently, that had changed, as the Empire had been lucky enough to find not only one of Jaxon's dozen ships, but Jaxon's favorite ship, the Dolorous Rogue, where he commanded his fleet through means of a transistor radio, leaving almost nobody to know what he looked like, except for his most trusted crewmates, thus securing his anomnity as the Empire's thorn in their side, and as Aethasia's most beloved "Robin Hood" of sorts, stealing from the rich, giving to the poor.
All of these thoughts passed through Jaxon's head in mere moments, and he returned to the present just in time to see a dagger flying towards his head, which he quickly dodged with a snap of his neck, pinning one of the exotic feathers which made up the plumage of his fine captain's hat to the wall behind him.
Jaxon's gaze darkened as he saw the feather, and slowly turned his head to the unlucky Imperial who had thrown the dagger, who blanched as he saw Jaxon's black look. Jaxon rolled his neck, snarled, then rushed at the Imperial, who feebly attempted to defend himself with his curved sword, but was no match for Jaxons' double cutlass mastery, who deftly disarmed the pale Imperial, then picked him up by the strap of his right epaulet, glaring into his fearful eyes with an expression of rage.
"That... was custom tailored." Jaxon said slowly, then, with a flick of his sword and an outstrech of his leg, purposefully caused the Imperial to lose his balance, trip on Jaxon's leg, stumble backwards over the ornate, yellow-painted posts and rich brown railing behind him, and fall overboard with a comical scream, going down, down, down, screaming all seventy feet from the ship to the Great Ocean's surface below, before crashing into the water with a large splash, surfacing a few moments later sputtering water and cursing the foul vermin that were sky pirates.
Meanwhile, Jaxon had already moved onto his next target, carefully sneaking up to an Imperial who was busy fighting with one of his crewmates, looping a low-hanging rope, which ran from the tied sails above to the floor, around the man's foot, before smirking and yanking another rope, causing the sails to unfurl and yank the man off his feet, pulling him into the air as he dropped his sword, swearing as he hung from his leg ten feet above the deck of the ship, unable to free himself.
As Jaxon repeated this process a couple more times on more IPRO Officers, a crafty Imperial watched from behind a barrel, waiting for Jaxon to get close enough, before leaping out from the barrel and holding the pistol to Jaxon's face, ready to pull the trigger.
With a speed and dextersity that astounded the Imperial, Jaxon reached out, snatched the gun, and turned it around, holding it at the Imperial's dumbfounded face, who shrank back in fear, looking for escape, feigned to the left, then ran to the right, seeking cover behind barrels before leaping overboard, joining the growing number of Imperials who were falling from the ship with shrieks of surprise, fear, and anger at being outsmarted by such low creatures as sky pirates.
Suddenly, there was a jolt large enough to shake the entire ship, followed by several more in quick succession. Turning to the left, Jaxon noticed with gritted teeth that the far-flying Imperial Pirate Regulation Order airship which had earlier released a few small gliders with a half-dozen Imperials each onto his ship to distract him, had slowly flew closer to his ship until they were within range to fire their grappling cannons, piercing the sides of Jaxon's favorite ship, causing one unfortunate man below to spit out his drink as a large, metal grappling hook burst through the wall and buried itself in a large wooden post to his right, narrowly missing his nose by inches.
The ship tilted precariously for a second, then righted itself, still slightly off-center as the IPRO airship slowly reeled in their grappling cannons, pulling Jaxon and the rest of his crew closer and closer to the large, foreboding flagship, no doubt where several dozen men waited for the Dolorous Rogue to come close enough so they could jump onboard and turn the tide of the fight they were slowly losing.
Some of the more impatient Imperials didn't wait for their grappling hooks to draw in the Rogue close enough to simply jump onboard, and instead pulled out metal, coat-hangar looking apparatuses, which they rested on top of the grappling hook rope, before jumping off their ship, sliding along the ropes and onto Jaxon's ship, where, with the rest of their fellow IPRO Officers, they slowly started to turn the tide of the battle, eventually forcing most of the crew further and further backwards, until they were nearly all below deck, where the Imperials locked the doors and turned their attention to whoever else was on deck.
After a few minutes of this, Jaxon released that the tide was turned, and that he was the only man left of deck, his royal blue pirate captain's outfit glaring in contrast to the sea of IPRO Officers clothed in dark green uniforms beneath him.
Thinking fast, Jaxon knocked over a large stack of barrels from the landing where he stood, buying himself some time to hurry up the steps to the steering wheel, before being forced to freeze in his tracks. "Halt!" A commanding voice said, and Jaxon turned to see a sea of Imperials holding their pistols in their hands, all aiming at him, ready to fire at any given moments.
"Surrender the ship, or we will shoot!" The same voice said, coming from the crowd of Imperials below, sounding vaguely familiar to Jaxon, before he quickly dismissed the absurd notion. He'd been among none but his crew for years, how could he recgonize the voice of an Imperial?
Jaxon took a moment to appreciate the impossible situation he found himself in, before casually leaning against the wooden banister before him, tapping his fingers absentmindedly. "A thousand to one. I like those odds..." Jaxon muttered, still tapping his fingers, before an idea occurred to him, and a mischevious smile played onto his red lips.
"Alright, you guys win." Jaxon said, raising his hands in surrender as the crowd of Imperials muttered in surprise. Clearly, they hadn't expected such an easy surrender. "Very well. Step down from the podium, and we'll-" The same voice from before started, before Jaxon interrupted him. "Although, I'd say that it depends on how you look at it, right?" Jaxon said, more as a statement than a question. "What do you mean?" The voice from earlier said, turning from a commanding voice to an impatient and annoyed one, making Jaxon feel he really did know the owner of the voice, but just couldn't place it.
"I mean, if I was down there with a thousand guns, and you were up here, all of you, with two swords, it would seem as if I had won, wouldn't it?" Jaxon asked in a tone more ponderous than anything, before turning his eyes to the sea of men clothed in green below, all who had the same baffled expression on their faces.
"You don't get it?" Jaxon said, smirking in amusement as he distinguished where the commanding voice had come from, a man at the almost exact middle of the crowd, who wore a large, broad-brimmed black hat, common for keeping the sun out of one's eyes, but in this case, for concealing the familiar man's identity, Jaxon suspected, before speaking one last time.
"Let me show you." Jaxon Throttlescape calmly said, before darting to his left and violently spinning the steering wheel to the right, grabbing onto a coil of roap attached to a banister nearby as he did so, causing the entire ship to shudder, then slowly tilt to the side, causing the sea of Imperials below to temporarily lose their footing, stumble, then lose their footing entirely as the deck turned more and more to the right, going from a highly-polished, dark-oaken floor, to a wall.
"You fools! GET HIM!" The familiar man screamed as his small army of Imperials rushed around him, dissapearing from Jaxon's sight as the Imperials attempted to shoot their pistols at him, always missing at the last second due to the slow, haphazard turning of the deck, and climb up the deck at Jaxon with their swords in hand, but unable to go the full way, as the wall, formerly the floor, slowly turned into the ceiling, causing the Imperials who had no handhold to scream and fall into the ocean below by the dozens, while the few who did have handholds were not able to keep their hold on the banisters and masts then held onto, and eventually slipped into the ocean below with shrieks of frustration at being outsmarted when they outnumbered the sky pirate one hundred to one.
Jaxon, meanwhile, had been kept safe by the coil of rope he held onto, using the toutness of it to his advantage as he pushed off the then-vertical deck, swinging like a swashbuckling, modern Tarzan around the ship, using his cutlasses to slash at any ropes which the few remaining Imperials held, cutting them free and letting them plunge into the ocean below, while his crew, who were all below deck, cheered as they saw and heard dozens of Imperials fall of their ship and into the Great Ocean, cursing at being outsmarted in such an unlikely fashion.
After Jaxon had cut loose the last Imperial, he kept his momentum going as he swung back around the ship, spinning the steering wheel in the opposite direction, as his ship slowly started to right itself once more. Jaxon surveyed the Imperial flagship to his left which, after Jaxon had quite literally flipped the tables on them, had been forced to frantically release their grappling hooks, but not before Jaxon had managed to turn their ship entirely upside-down, sending it's primitive fog-powered engines into catastrophic confusion, forcing them to work overtime in an attempt to keep the large airship in the air, before finally sputterring and failing, sending the Imperial ship slowly sinking through the air into the water below, with all the crew members aboard abandoning the deck long before the airship plunged into the sea with a massive splash, then turned to the many, many water-soaked Imperials who cursed his name from the ocean below, and noticed a wide-brimmed, black hat floating on the surface of the water. Clearly, the hat had fallen, but had the man who's owner it had been fallen as well? It was a possibility, but as Jaxon had not seen the familiar man fall himself, he could not be sure.
After the ship righted itself once more, unfazed by the sudden, literal turn of events, seeing as everything was either roped or bolted down, and that the ship was left floating by it's wood-encased balloon-like underbelly, and few steering propellers on the rear of the ship, acting as mechanical rudders, Jaxon's crew burst out of the below-deck rooms, cheering for their captain and his quick-think and ingenuity, clapping him on the back and hollering with unchecked exhultation.
"It was a good plan, Captain." Jaxon Throttlescape's second-in-command, his first mate, Aaron Flintlocke said, his large muscles rippling through his tan skin as he folded his arms, not in offense, but in satisfied appraisal at his boss's quick work of the Imperials at a moment when all seemed lost.
"Would've been quicker to just run them through." Jaxon's third-in-command, his second mate, Montgomery Darkwraith, grudgingly said, flipping his sword in the air once then thrusting it forwards, as if stabbing someone in the abdomen, before retracting his sword and sighing deeply, still leaning against the wall of the staircase to Jaxon's left, looking up at Jaxon with a far-off expression peculiar only to him. "One thrust, and... shish-kebab." Montgomery continued with a dreamy tone, as if he was in another place entirely.
"Now, now, Montgomery, you know how the Captain feels about violence-" Aaron Flintlocke chided before Jaxon held up a hand for silence. "It's fine, Aaron. As you were." Jaxon said as Aaron immediately obeyed with a bowed head, but not before casting a glance at Montgomery, who had sheathed his cutlass and was absentmindedly toying with a large black dagger. "Montgomery, how would you feel if, upon boarding someone's ship, they ran you through?" Jaxon asked in a patient tone as Montgomery continued playing with the tagger, spinning it on one finger before answering. "I wouldn't let that happen." Montgomery simply stated, tossing his dagger in the air and catching it, before feigning a slash at the air in front of him.
"That's the point, Montgomery." Jaxon Throttlescape calmly said, walking up to Montgomery Darkwraith and patiently waited for his presence to draw his second mate's attention, before speaking one last time.
"It would be within our rights to stab and kill anyone who boards our ship, but we won't let that happen, will we?" Jaxon finished, brushing his royal blue pirate captain's outfit off before looking into Montgomery's deep, gray eyes, nodded once, then turned to his study's door, which he opened, walked inside, then turned once more and softly closed the door without a sound, as his crewmates marinated on the words spoken by Jaxon Throttlescape, Captain of the Dolorous Rogue, Commander of the Dolorous Fleet, Thorn of the Emperor, Beloved of Aethasia, and the richest and most widely-renowned pirate in Aethasia, both in the sky and air, who had gotten to where he was now not by needless violence... but without hurting a single soul.
Five hours after Jaxon Throttlescape had emerged triumphant in the face of Imperial Pirate Regulation Order onslaught, he was back in his study, finishing up his account of the victorious battle he and his crewmates had waged against the Empire, when he became aware of many loud thuds, some shouts, and the breaking of glass.
Jaxon sighed, finished his entry, then, after closing his Captain's Log and placing inside the secret drawer in his desk, walked out his study, past the towering masts with the sails hanging from them billowing majestically, past the many crates bolted or ropes to the deck, past the magnificent, purple, orange, yellow and red mixed sunset to his right, until he reached the large, metal-reinforced oaken door, which he pushed through with a bang.
Downstairs, the clatter ceased, not even the few mice on the ship squeaking as all was silent for a few moments, until there was a creaking of wood, then a loud footstep. A few moments, there was another, then another, and yet another, until the Captain of the Dolorous Rogue stepped down from the staircase and silently surveyed the situation.
The large mess hall was a mess, with tables overturned, mugs of strong tea, apple juice, and plates of high-calorie food smashed and trampled all over the floor, with many of the crewmates frozen in the middle of battle, stunned by the appearance of their captain, unable to move, caught in the unsightly situation.
"Aaron." Jaxon Throttlescape, regal Captain of the Dolorous Rogue, Commander of the Dolorous Fleet, calmly said, as a slightly sheepish man in a green vest with baggy, gray pants, patched with holes, walked up to Jaxon with a nod. "Captain." Aaron Flintlocke said, acknowledging Jaxon's call, awaiting his orders. "I order you to tell me what is the cause of this- mess." Jaxon continued, taking in with a cold eye the ramshackle appearance of the room, with some of his crew brandishing wooden sticks, broken bottles, chicken legs, pies, and their own fists, with more than one person frozen with their large fist around their fellow pirate's neck, their other fist reared back, as if about to punch, before they had been interrupted.
"Well, Captain, the- uh- boys and I were just- discussing- what the best part of being a pirate is." Aaron replied, looking back at his fellow crewmates for support. "I suggested it was the pillaging, sir." A crew member dressed in a red striped white shirt with blue trousers offerred in his light British accent. "And ah said it was the cutlasses." A man wearing a dark orange and green shirt with gray slacks said in a thick Scottish brogue, glaring at the British-accented man through his thick gray beard, an action which didn't escape the man, who turned to his Scottish crewmate with a retort.
"Listen, you bag of pipes, I know it's hard for someone as undistinguished as you to realize that stealing from the rich and giving to the poor is better than a bit of curved metal that you never get to use, but-" The British man started. "Bag of pipes! Are ye insulting mah beautiful sack-o-reed, yah- yah- yah no-good, tea-guzzling Cockney?!" The Scottish pirate asked, his face getting red with rage, as the British crewmate gasped and burst out in anger. "Cockney! How dare you! I am a thorough Londoneer, you big, fat, buffoon-" The Brit started to retort, about to go at it again with the large Scot, who drew in a deep breath and was about to let it all out in a tirade of rage, when Jaxon calmly removed his right glove, put his hand to his mouth, and whistled a piercing shriek, halting any potential arguments, before calmly putting his black glove back on, and stalking through the long dining hall, carefully stepping over plates, food, and all other matter of debri, as the crowd of his crewmates parted to make way for their Captain, with their second mate, Aaron, following close behind.
"Well... you're all wrong." Jaxon calmly said, still walking down the hallway. "The best part of being a pirate is not the pillaging, nor is it the cutlasses." Jaxon continued, about to continue his speech when a short man with a nasally voice piped up. "I said it was ham night!" The short man with the nasally voice suggested, his waving hand barely able to be seen over the crowd of pirates. "Neither is it ham night, though that may be a close second for most of you." Jaxon said, stopping momentarily to study the faces of the crewmates to his left and his right, their love for the weekly shipment of honey-glazed, smoked ham showing obviously on their wistful looks.
"The best part... of being a pirate... is..." Jaxon started slowly, drawing out the suspense as he reached the end of the dining hall, stepping onto the large wooden podium, surveying the many musical instruments on the stage before him, before turning around, a benevolently satisfied smile on his face, then speaking one word which made the room erupt into cheers.
"Shanties." Jaxon calmly stated, as his crewmates forgot their quarrel and cheered for their Captain, waving their mugs and weapons in the air as a few other crewmembers, including Aaron Flintlocke and Montgomery Darkwraith, who had been standing in the shadows to the left of the stage the entire time, ran onto the stage and took their places, with Jaxon taking a microphone into his hand as his misfit band started their song.
Montgomery started plucking boredly at his large base guitar, with one of the other crewmates clacking two sticks together to provide a steady backbeat, and Aaron using two sticks of his own on a metal pipe to supplement the backbeat, before Jaxon Throttlescape, Captain of the Dolorous Rogue and Commander of the Dolorous Fleet, started singing in a deeply thoughtful, almost melancholic tone.
You come 'round like a pirate ship
You're just business
You got a fish for a lower lip
You're just business
You're the parentless, nightmare kid
You're just business
You don't answer for any of this
You're just business
Jaxon sang, his crewmates swaying to the tune, silently listening to their Captain's unique way of singing, before Montgomery altered his playing, slapping his large guitar and striking the strings almost tunelessly as the other crewmate on stage swapped out his sticks for a small violin nearby, with Jaxon singing the chorus in a slightly more hopeful tone.
I need you to be wrong
I need you to be wrong
I need you
Jaxon temporarily paused singing, with the entire song pausing as Montgomery, Aaron, and the rest of the band went back to their former way of playing, before Jaxon sang the next verse.
I got a body, but I lost my mind
I'm just business
Placeholder with a bottom line
I'm just business
Please don't take this personally
It's just business
At the end of this verse, Montgomery and the band went back to their other way of playing yet again, as the entire crew sang along with Jaxon and the chorus.
You need me to be wrong (All along we both were wrong)
You need me to be wrong (All along we both were wrong)
You need me
Jaxon drew at the last word sweetly, as the band changed to a more calming way of playing their instruments, eliciting more than a few longing tears from some of the more tender-hearted of the pirate crew, as Jaxon and the band harmonized together.
Ah, ah, ah
Ah, ah, ah
After singing this last part together, Jaxon paused as the band switched their new, calming way of playing for the original, more melancholic tone, with the bass guitar, clacking of the sticks on the metal pipe, and the new shaking of a tambourine, before Jaxon and his hearty crew sang the last verse with gusto.
I need you to be wrong (All along we both were wrong)
I need you to be wrong (All along we both were wrong)
All along we both were wrong
I need you
As the song ended, Jaxon's crew burst into applause, with Jaxon bowing low in acknowledgement of the praise for his almost other-worldly singing voice, along with a few cheers for "another round!", to which Jaxon gladly obliged, with all of the occupants of the Dolorous Rogue singing the song several times over, well into the night, before Jaxon decided to retire, with many of his crewmates already asleep around him, with the exception of the band around him.
Finally, the few still-lively crewmates staggered to their hammocks, humming snatches of the song underneath their breath, before collapsing into a deep, relaxing sleep.
Jaxon bid a goodnight to Aaron, who wished one to his Captain as well, before making his way down the stage to an oaken door with a golden knob, ready to turn in for the night, when a shadowy figure spoke from a secluded corner of the stage.
"You're wrong, you know." Montgomery Darkwraith said as he stepped into the light just enough for Jaxon to see the cold look in his eyes. "The best part of being a pirate is the stabbing. That's what I became a pirate for, but, according to my standards, this is hardly a pirate ship, and you're hardly a Captain." Montgomery said in an icy, angry tone, before glaring at Jaxon in silence for a few moments, then retreating to his own private quarters, a privilege reserved to the Captain and his first and second mates, leaving Jaxon Throttlescape alone in the hall to ponder these potential words of mutiny.