Chapter 30Mature

Simon tightened the valve once more just to be safe.

He had been at this for hours. Somehow, the starting of the engine had caused most of the pipes to rattle too hard and loosen themselves. They had had to be replaced and secured with metal straps just for extra measure. Luckily, Simon was just about finished. The strange runes alone the ship didn't seem to need repairing, but Simon wouldn't know about the odd things even if they did. Runes were too unreliable to have ever learned to use.

"Now to check the pressure on the engine and make some adjustments..." Simon muttered, pulling off his work gloves and laying them on a bench behind him that held his repair gear. He had told Arcebus that he needed to rebuild the engines, but in truth they would run for a while longer. It was one thing that didn't mess up on this blasted airship when he repaired it. The problem was the time it spend sitting here...

Simon sighed and pushed back his flaming hair with his naked hand. The small tattoos - two circular ones with black bulls in them - peeked out from his palms. He remembered killing the Bull Brothers when they came after his head. They had given him a challenge with their guns, but he had taken them down using Hellgate. Oh, how he missed that blade.

"Whatcha doing?"

Simon pulled his hand down and shoved it in his pocket before turning.

Sparrow stood in the hallway, watching him curiously. Loket's honor, how did she sneak up on him? Only the women on board the Asterius seemed to be able to do that with ease now. But, from the look on her face, she hadn't seen his tattoos...

"How may I help you, Miss Sparrow?" Simon asked politely.

Sparrow gave him an odd look then shrugged. "I saw some men outside. Rayna isn't here, so I looked for you."

Well, that was never good. If they found this place then the guards would launch a full investigation in the name of the VPF. The Asterius would be taken, then replicated, and maybe even scrapped. Democratic policing forces were never truly just. And SImon didn't want this ship in their hands...

"I'll deal with it, Sparrow, you stay here."

Sparrow giggled and pulled out two wallets. "I already got what I wanted." Then she was gone. She was one that Simon should be the most wary of. He didn't have much in the way of money...

Simon shook his head and headed quickly to his room. It was a small little area that doubled as an armory and storage, though the only weapons were the three Simon had put in there. Highbane and Freed he ignored and instead grabbed the newest blade he had made.

It looked like a regular greatsword to the untrained eye, but the small vents and rough patches along the blade made it unique. Simon hadn't had time to fix the engine inside the blade, but he needed to get used to the weight. This would be a good chance.

Simon put the blade on his back and put on his nice gloves before heading out. He had his semi-formal suit on today for the repair work, but it would do for battle as well. The Asterius' deck opened up before him when he exited the interior. It was as large and ornate as always.

The only thing out of place was the voices echoing inside the cave..

'That's not good.'

Simon made his way off the ship and up through the catacombs. Just as he was about to approach the exit, he spotted two men standing in the light. It was better to listen first when approaching an unknown enemy. Especially guards. Simon's latest tattoo still hadn't healed and he wasn't wanting a new one.

" you think it leads?" A voice said.

"Probably some old mine shaft or something, Bal," a deeper voice said. "There were mines back in the day. I know your dad remembers those times."

"You're right, Malek. Just seems odd for one to be here instead of near the others."

Malek grunted, or at least Simon thought it was 'Malek.'

"Let's check it out just to be sure."

Harmen's Flame, this wasn't good. Simon ran out of the shadows and confronted the two men in the manor of a butler at a front door. It wasn't the best plan, but it would do. He really didn't want another sin...

"Greeting's gentlemen!"

Both guards - who looked oddly similar with their helmets and mechanical wristguards - pulled their blades up and put their other arm on guns. They were well trained from the looks of it and seemed to be not unfamilar with combat. It would be a refreshing fight, to be hon- No! No more sins!

"I am Simon, the caretaker of the humble cave. How may I help you?"

"What are you doing here?" Malek - Simon knew him from his voice - said.

Simon bowed deeper. "Simply watching the home while the master is away."

"What's down there?" Bal asked sharply.

Don't ask that... "Just a humble abode, I assure you." Simon couldn't think of anything better to say.

"Then let us have a look, why don't you?" Malek seemed unwilling to negotiate with his statement. This wasn't looking good.

"Please, sir, it would be inappropriate for me to invite you in without the master present."

Malek spit on the ground. "You have a large sword and an equally large body. I don't buy this butler business, Glenman."

Loket's honor, nothing was going right. Well, Simon had tried. "I tried to assure you, gentlemen," Simon said, pulling his new sword. Malek and Bal attacked instantly, closing the gap like true swordsmen. Simon was quicker. "You just wouldn't listen."

The two men fell to the ground, their bodies cut clean in half. Simon cleaned the blade of his new blade and decided it would be named Striker. He then decided to head back to the airship. He had to prepare Arcebus for the escape they would have to make. The VPF would notice two men gone. They would also know where to look. Valhalla was no longer safe.

Simon found Arcebus where he had been the day before - on the deck.

"I saw you leave in a hurry," the man said, "Is everything all right?"

Simon shook his head. "Do you have the controls of the ship down?"

Arcebus nodded. "I've had them down."

"Good. We leave as soon as the others return. Otherwise-"

Talking, followed by Simon's own name being shouted, came down the catacombs. Well, that would be the captain and Davrou, plus a new recruit. What perfect timing. The bad luck of killing those men must have influenced the good luck of the captain and others returning. Whether that truly made a balance or not was beyond Simon.

Rayna appeared from the darkness with a very serious scowl. Behind her was an alert Davrou and another man who looked to be questioning his choices. Simon didn't bother with the men, though.

"Captain, the men were-"

She cut him off with the wave of a hand. Usually Simon would ignore such a gesture, but the debt he had held him. "I'll deal with you later. Right now we must leave."

"Everything is ready to go," Arcebus said from his position. He sounded eager.
"But how do we get the ship out of here."

Rayna pulled her mask on and walked onto the deck of the Asterius. "Leave that to me."

The End

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