"Honestly, I have no idea. I guess he just got tired. All our lives had just been was this constant chase scene with maybe a couple of years break in between. I guess it was getting to him, it was getting to everyone but he blamed himself."

"I always thought he'd out run them. He was like that when he was younger he never got tired. You could knock him down a hundred times and when you were too tired to knock him down again he'd stand up ready for more. Nothing could crush his spirits." Skipper said, a nostalgic look in his weary eyes.

Kat smiled. There was a twinge of sadness in her voice as she spoke.

"I remember that guy..."

Skipper nodded understandingly.

"He annoyed the life out of me but I kind of miss that now."

"What about Toby he seems pretty annoying."

Skipper laughed.

"Yes. Toby...yes you've gathered correctly the boy is annoying. But he redeems himself.” Skipper sighed. "He's all thumbs though. Spills ink every day."

Kat laughed softly, distractedly.

"Why...why does Stratagus want my father dead?" She asked after a pause.

Skipper sighed.

"I had a feeling you ask that...eventually."

"What did my dad do? Maybe...I was thinking I could just fix it. If he stole something maybe I could make it right and...and...hmm?"

Skipper shook his head.

"You can't return what he stole and you can't right any wrongs because there are none Adrian never did anything to Stratagus. It was your mother. It was always about your mother. Stratagus just couldn't bring himself to blame her so he blamed Adrian.  Stratagus was courting Evelyn and she let him, until she got so close to him she found out things...she didn't want to be near him anymore. She and your father were friends and when she went to stay with him Stratagus lost it. He got violent, he just went crazy.  Then your mother got involved with Adrian and Stratagus hired the cursed Firefly forcing your parents to flee for their lives."

"What? For that? For my mother?...But she not that...she's pretty but that's insane!" Kat stammered incredulously.

"That's Stratagus. This is Devil's Helmet. Kat men have been killed for less."

Kat shook her head in disbelief.

"Not much is known about Stratagus' origin. He just showed up one day,  he looked rough, mean you could tell he had a tough life. I always thought Evelyn was only the straw that broke the camel's back.  It is only that last straw that takes all the blame for the thousands of straws that came before it. "

"So what is this about then? if it was never really my parents."

Skipper shrugged.

"I only make the maps."

Kat nodded.

"I got that last night."

Skipper chuckled.

"I know I seem unhelpful but I don't get involved in these things, this is how I've survived so long and up until now I've not had too. I live in Fritter Alley no one comes here, we're practically forgotten, and up until now I was enjoying the relative peace."

Kat sighed.

"I get it."

"Kat when you've lived as long as I have you stop caring. People live, they fight, they die, they murder, they steal and I've tried to help, to care but I found it impossible and now I'm just happy putting that stuff as far from my home as possible. "

"Doesn't it bother you to know it’s still out there?"

"I never said it didn't. Kat after awhile you ask yourself why are you fighting? what do you hope to gain? Who is this for? and I came up with nothing..." He sighed miserably, punctuating his unhelpful response with a helpless shrug..

Kat's eyes trailed slowly to the floor as she bleakly examined her options based off of what information she had, only to find she had no options, inclinations or ideas. The cluttered room seemed to shrink around her as she was overwhelmed by the sheer impossibility of her mission. A small breath escaped her lips, no louder than the whisper of a ghost as she saw all she stood to lose if she failed.

Skipper gasped, his face lighting up. He waged his finger wordlessly at Kat as he seemed to calculate silently. 

"That was up until now...Kat I think I know how to fix  your problem. It may be dangerous." He said standing excitedly.

"Go on." Kat prompted not daring to hope.

"Your coming with me." Skipper said ushering Kat out of his study.

"Where? What? Where are we going?" Kat asked as Skipper pushes her out into the living room. He closed the door to his study and rushed across the room to grab his coat. Toby watched them curiously.

"The Hall of Promises." Skipper said. "Get ready."

"Oh." Toby gasped in pain.

"What was it this time?" Skipper asked exasperatedly, without even looking at Toby.

"The Hall of Promises, that place...it gives me the creeps."

Skipper shook his head.

"Don't listen to him Kat."


The End

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