Ten years later...
Alone and in chains, a young woman sat in a dark room on an airship named The Sky-Bender. She had lost all hope completely when a grubby band of pirates had swung aboard and took control of her father’s ship, locking her in an old, dust covered storage cabin with only a loaf of stale, moldy bread to eat. I haven’t seen food like this in years, she thought to herself, but after days of no food, I’m almost tempted to eat it. A noise from up above grabbed her attention, fueling her anxiety and hopes of a rescuer in shining armor that would come free her from her prison. Getting up, she slams her body against the door and screams out, hoping to alert whoever it might be of her dreadful whereabouts.
On the top deck, a battle raged. Swords clanged against each other, bullets fired, and fists flew in every direction. Only moments ago, exactly three days after the girl's captors had conquered The Sky-Bender, another airship, bestowing a winged skull and cross-bones, soared out of the clouds and more men leaped aboard. Like liquid, these new pirates were extremely flexible with their fighting skills, so they easily overpowered the first batch, who fought with menacing weapons but were not nearly as adept. One pirate in particular fought fearlessly against ten men by himself. He was tall with long, silver hair, an oddly attractive unshaven chin, toned muscles, and was obviously the most talented, battle-ready man on the deck. The iris of his one good eye ─ the other eye covered with an old, black eye-patch ─ was an abnormal yellow, almost golden tint, lit up with the thrill of a challenge. The strangest thing about this man, however, was not his eye, his hair, or even his wicked fighting skills. No, the thing about this man that made his enemies shudder, was his claw. Five sharp, metal blades replaced the fingers of his missing right hand. With it, he could slash through opponents' flesh, brake bones, and much worse ─ if he so chose to. Of course, he wasn't here to kill, he had a different mission, so he used the sword in his left hand, equally dangerous but slightly less lethal, to fend off the enemy pirates.
Once the second band of pirates had almost completely annihilated the first, a small group, led by the clawed man who appeared to be in charge, broke away from the battle, to charge through doorways and corridors, up and down staircases, and and to take out any other pirates who tried to stop them. A right here, a left there, the man lead them down a twisted, complicated path that only weeks of memorization could have pulled off. As they raced down a long hallway, the silver-haired man heard a rhythmic pounding sound along with a faint human cry emanating from behind a closed door, which peeked his curiosity.
Wanting to stop and investigate, he said to an older man running beside him, “Firious, I want you to take the men the rest of the way. You know the path as well as I do. Don’t worry, I’ll catch up. There’s something I need to check first.”
“What? What do you mean you have ‘something to check first?’ This was not part of the plan! I ─ ”
“Oh, stop complaining, Firious. You’re always saying that you’d make a better captain, anyways.”
“You owe me!” Firious whispered before he directed the men onward.
"No I don't!" he called back once the man was just close enough to hear but too far to reply. Smiling to himself, he watched his friend and first mate storm off with his men following behind. Then he directed his attention to the small, wooden door from which the clamor was coming. With his metal hand, he sliced through the lock as if it were made of butter and swung the door open wide. THUD! The next thing he knew, he was on the ground with a girl in chains on top of him. He looked up into her eyes and saw her mixed emotions: surprise, hatred, hope, and anger. She looked down and saw a mixture of wonder, awe, and mystery. Without a word, the pirate jumped up, grabbed her hand, and pulled her along behind him, laughing playfully on the inside. Disquieted, the girl continuously tried to resist, which quickly became a burden, so he stopped abruptly and severed apart her chains with his claws, aiming to gain her trust. Dumbfounded, she took a step back, and he flashed her his trademark mischievous smile, full of life and energy.
Bowing low, he introduced himself, “Captain Levi Spry at your service. Please, my fair lady, allow me to assist you in escaping from your prison. And, may I ask your name?”
She stared at him, her face blank, her mind momentarily shut down from shock. Finally, she burst back to life. “Oh! Yes. My name is Pri... I mean, Hataru. My name is Hataru,” she stated with caution. Wanting him to know that his trick with the chains had not yet won her confidence, she gave him a suspecting glare. This Captain Levi was not the rescuer she had been wishing for, but she would rather be anywhere than in that little dusty room. She had no choice other than to stay with him. He took no notice of her glower and grabbed her hand again, whisking her onward. A memory of a small boy and a bag of gold flashed through her mind as they sprinted down the hall, but she quickly dismissed it.
Running, running, the twosome made their way to the treasury and met up with Levi’s men. Of course, they were all shocked to see their captain with a girl in broken chains by his side, but they had learned to expect the unexpected with him. Soon, they quickly went back to business. They were right outside the treasury room, but the vault door was almost six feet thick. Cracking the combination was their only option to gain access. As they set to work, everyone doing his job in perfect sync, Levi overviewed the entire project and kept an eye on Hataru, who stood silently off to the side, watching the men with distaste.
“I can’t believe you!” Firious hissed in the young pirate’s ear. “Where did the lass come from? I do not recall her being part of the plan at all! We don’t even know who she is! How do we know we can trust her? What if she ─ ”
“Firious, try to be reasonable. I couldn’t have just ─ ”
“Oh, no! Not you and your heroics again! Every damsel in distress, every god-forsaken sailor, you have to endanger the mission to save them, don’t you? You truly are your father’s son! He drove me crazy doing the same thing when I served under him. (May he rest in peace.) Why I agreed to serve under you too, I have no idea.” Firious stomped off muttering complaints about teary-eyed dames and the multiple chests of gold he never got to open because of the captain.
Less than twenty minutes later, they were inside the treasury, pocketing as many riches as they could carry. Abhorred, Hataru watched begrudgingly silent as they hid away every last coin, necklace, and jeweled crown within record time. She wanted to scream at the dirty thieves for pickpocketing her beloved father's ship, yet her thoughts of escaping her original captors kept her mouth shut.
Sneaking back to the main deck was uneventfully boring, until they reached the dark mahogany door that opened up onto the main deck. Out in the open, the rest of Levi’s men were still locked in battle against Hataru’s captors. As if on cue, all of Levi Spry's men charged across the deck to the starboard side. A plank was lowered from their ship, Jupiter’s Revenge, onto the deck and they rushed aboard with their plundered goods. Captain Levi stood watch at the base of the makeshift ramp, making sure that all his crew was accounted for. Before he ran up, however, he extended his hand out to Hataru.
“Aren’t you coming?” he asked generously, tilting his head. “I can’t believe that you’d want to stay on a ship with those thugs who locked you up for another minute.”
Hesitant as ever, she slipped the chains from her wrists, trying to choose. Should she go, or should she stay? When she looked out on the deck of her father’s ship, she saw her captors’ unconscious bodies strewn in disarray. At some point they would wake up, and then where would she be? Back in the dusty closet with moldy food not even fit for rats. Her decision was made. Slowly reached out, accepting his offer, and allowed him to guide her up the plank. “Okay,” she said, her voice soft and unsure, still very skeptical. Hataru hadn’t asked for an adventure, but that is certainly what she had received.