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Kalla


"Let's see... smoked meat... leftover grain... some cheese, perfect!" Sev clapped cheerfully as he inspected the kitchen. He'd been hoping for some eggs but, if the inn ever had any, they were likely delivered daily by whatever farmer managed to keep chickens alive out in this desert hell. Or maybe the old innkeep went to purchase them before serving breakfast. Whatever the case it wouldn't be happening after the events of last night, much less the battle that had taken place just outside the inn this morning.

With his spear Sev started a fire in the stone oven with his magic, stocking it well with firewood laid out nearby, before pulling out a hand grain mill. Rapidly grinding down several handfuls of grain to flour he whistled tunelessly to himself as he began to make bread. When he was a kid, before his power over light manifested, he was always stuck at home while his parents worked. This lead to him making food for them once he was old enough to be trusted with the oven. They weren't well off, even after Sev became able to hide his eyes with an illusion and was able to start working, so they were always forced to make their own bread.

"I'll leave some bread for you!" Sev half sung as he first heard, then saw Maeve walk through the tavern towards her room, unsure if she even heard him. She needed her beauty sleep, not that she was bad looking as she was but the exhausted expression she struggled to hide did steal some of her beauty.

As the bread began to rise he sliced up some of the smoked meat, pork if he had to guess, laying out thick slices in a pan he also placed in the oven. He considered summoning some ice to cool the water he poured into a jar but the chill of night lingered, and the desert was quite cold at night. Besides his control over ice still wasn't to the point where he trusted himself not to shatter he jar.

Two rolls, the thick slabs of bacon and a hunk of cheese went on a wooden plate with the other two rolls going on another he left near the oven to stay warm, a small illusion floating above the plate stating it was "For Maeve" in letters that seemed to be carved from ice.

Placing his breakfast on the tavern bar and sitting down he dug in, his mind returning to the aftermath of the fight earlier. This man, whoever he was, wanted to speak to Grusk. More over he knew Sev was one. He was clearly a leader of some kind, probably a king, or at least a self proclaimed king. Kings meant politics, politics were bad.

The warrior mage thought about his initial decision to speak with the man later on in disguise, arguing back and forth in his mind while he outwardly seemed to be happily enjoying his meal. Sev didn't want to be involved in politics, they never ended well, he just wanted to explore the world, meet pretty ladies, get in exciting fights and have fun. He had no higher goal or motivation, only freedom. Nobles had goals they pushed onto others. Did Sev really want to speak with a man who clearly had some goal simply because he was able to see through Sev's illusions, both magical and mundane?

He might as well hear the man out, it would likely be several hours before the pretty lady woke and with little else of interest to pursue it might be worth the risk. On the other hand, if the man demanded that Sev be involved in whatever goals had crowded his kingly skull would he be able to escape? Perhaps it was safer to grab what water, food and money he can now and flee town. He wasn't a master of navigation but he could head east till he got out of the desert.

As he finished up his meal he leaned back in the bar stool, resting his back against the bar itself.

If the man came to a town this far out of the way it was likely he would follow Sev anywhere he went, the warrior mage eventually decided. Therefore the best option was to confront him now and see if he can be reasoned with. If he couldn't this would also be the best opportunity Sev had to win any fight, the warrior mage was almost full on mana, having used very little in the previous battle that had regenerated as he ate. The king-man, on the other hand, had to have used a substantial amount simply healing that man with the wind spirit, Sahale? Whatever the case now was the best time.

Returning his plates to the kitchen, retrieving his spear he grabbed a cloth from a closet in the back of the tavern, likely a spare sheet for the rooms upstairs, hid it under an arm and made his way outside. The man said he had business at the temple to Sev walked off the other way, giving Sylph and her boy toy plenty of room. Once out of sight he quickly fashioned a crude cloak out of the sheet using a length of rope from his pack. A quick illusion turned his spear into a gnarled old staff, throwing the cloak over his pack and covering his face he doubled back the other way, avoiding the town square so he wouldn't be spotted by anyone there and taking on the appearance of a twisted hunchback, his face cloaked in darkness seemingly from the cloak but actually from another illusion. A simple air spell distorted his voice so likely only the man who was there to find Grusk would recognize him, anyone else would see a hunched old hermit with a magic staff, the picture of a Grusk no one knew about.

If there was one thing he learned from the fight with Bardus it was to not rely on magic overmuch. People knew he was an illusionist, and why would an illusionist use a cloak to disguise himself when he could simply use magic? He learned that when he was younger to hide his powers, and he was both relearning it now and grateful for having 'borrowed' some alchemical items to supplement the disguise.

Now there was simply the matter of finding this man. Sev moved at a slow but steady limp towards the town temple. He'd prefer to stay away from people, the cloak did a good job hiding him but it wasn't perfect. Perhaps the man could be summoned, so to speak.

Coming to a stop in the plaza, if it could be called that, before the temple. Playing the role of an old man his wrinkled hand lifted the gnarled staff and tapped it on the ground. Light and power poured forth, a grand illusion of fire, ice, wind, rock and a dozen other elements rippled skyward. Surely none but a Grusk could summon such a display of magical proficiency. The mana was directed skyward to make it difficult to pick out particulars and a gust of wind sweeping through the buildings drowning out everything with wind mana.

As soon as it started the display vanished, fire, ice, stone, everything vanished as fast as it had been summoned leaving the in disguise Sev waiting for a response. After the battles of the past few days no villager would approach someone seemingly so powerful, only the man looking for him would dare.
Kalla


Sev grinned as he heard Badrus's screams, he hadn't honestly been expecting to do much damage. The 'spell' was mostly to throw Bardus off balance, make him question his own abilities, make him desperate. And judging by how he began to laugh it was successful. Sev palmed a flash bomb from a sleeve pocket, pressing it against his spear and covering it with his hand to hide it. While flash bombs were meant to be thrown at the ground to create a large flash and loud crack they worked just as well when crushed by hand. Of course, doing so tends to burn his hands. If there was magic he'd be able to shield himself to some extent but he still couldn't access it as Bardus charged madly towards Sev. He was just going to have to take the pain while hoping his gloves took most of the damage.

Externally he seemed to struggle to follow the headlong charge of the mad man, his spear point whipping around as if unable to decide on where to go. Sev had to suppress a grimace as Sahale was impaled by Bardus's weapon, hopefully the town's healers could save him but, even through squinted eyes, Sev knew it was a mortal wound. Now was the moment the act came together, despite his panicked and confused appearance Sev's heart was calm, he was in his element. He just had to keep the act of blindness up for a few more seconds, at the last moment when Bardus committed to an attack he'd shout some magical sounding nonsense and crush the flashbomb against his spear. The resulting distraction would disorient Bardus enough for the warrior mage to avoid the madman's blow while sticking him in the heart with the end of Sev's bladed spear. Even though this enemy was almost mythical in his strength no man could survive having his heart bisected, or at least, Sev hoped.

Before Bardus could commit to an attack there was a loud screech and the madman was tackled by a flying blur of claws and teeth. Even in his focused state Sev wasn't prepared for the wind spirit to launch a full out attack like this, surely getting so close to the madman was a death sentence if you didn't have a plan. Yet it seemed to work, Bardus suffering injuries grave enough that whatever he was doing to prevent Sev and Maeve from accessing mana stopped. Not one to waste the opportunity Sev quickly chanted some meaningless phrases under his breath to cover his casting of a number of light spells.

With his illusions once again covering his eyes, and his 'spell of sight' cast he was able to fully open his eyes once more. Divorcing himself from his image he took a few steps back and to the side, leaving his image standing with spear ready. Several illusions were prepared for the case that Bardus once again began to attack. With this new found strength flowing through him he even precast a number of ice spells, covering their triggers with more illusions.

But it was all unneeded as a new figure seemed to appear out of the air and grip Bardus by the neck. Sev could only watch in surprise as this new man, apparently named Jeevak, cowed Bardus. He allowed both himself and his image to relax visibly as Bardus was sent scurrying, and managed to contain his surprise as this Jeevak healed what should have been a mortally wounded Sahale. Whoever this was he was dangerous, more so than the madman, cheap tricks were less likely to work on him.

Sev stiffened slightly at the mention of two Grusk in the village, he knew of one in town but he was the only other. Before he could continue that line of thought Jeevak met his eyes, not those of his image, but Sev's own. The warrior mage's blood ran cold, while the removal of mana was surprising Sev could work with it, even turning it to his advantage in a way. But this, he instantly saw through not only Sev's illusions but the lie he'd spent his entire life covering up. The secret that had kept him locked away at home till he managed to learn to cover his eyes with an illusion.

Even as Sev's image turned to follow Jeevak's gaze, which to anyone else was fixed on something in the distance, Sev himself was frozen in terror the likes of which not even Bardus inflicted. His precast ice spells failed as he his mind struggled to work, the illusions covering them vanishing moments later. He only managed to keep his image and eyes going as such illusions were second nature to him. The seemingly unending moment finally released it's hold on Sev as Jeevak turned to walk towards the temple. He was silent for a long moment as the strange man walked off, the warrior mage's mind racing.

"Well, I haven't broken my fast yet, wonder if the innkeep would mind if I raided his kitchen," Sev's image said idly as the mage got himself under control. Joining back up with his image he did his best to hide the fear still running through his mind.

By the time he pushed open the blood stained doors to the inn he'd decided he had to speak with this Jeevak, if only to determine how much of a threat the man was to him. Bardus was a mad dog that had apparently slipped his leash, that didn't mean Jeevak was malicious, but it also didn't mean he was benevolent. If anything the company he kept meant he was a danger.

Sev would have to find a moment to slip away from others to meet secretly with the strange man, likely Maeve would be going to bed leaving him alone in the inn. That would be his best chance.
Kalla


Somehow Sev managed to block a couple of the stone shards sent their way when Bardus attacked, more through luck than judgement based on how many hits he actually took. A particularly large chuck of rock struck him in the stomach causing him to stumble forward, likely out of the path of Bardus's follow up attack were it not for the timely intervention of Sahale.

"All have you know," Sev replied indignantly as he turned to look for Bardus, "I managed to sleep all night without being attacked."

Through squinted eyes Sev was clearly unable to follow the barrage of blows that followed, though he was clearly shocked by the sudden winds. It took him a long second to process the appearance of the wind spirit, but once he did he had to repress a feral smile. Steadying himself he once more took a combat stance with his spear pointed in the general direction of Bardus, mostly.

"I won't get far if I try to run," the warrior mage told Maeve, "not in this state. But I'm not one to give up so easily. Besides, I think I have this worked out now."

Taking a deep breath Sev began to chant a spell under his breath, with no ability to sense mana it was impossible to tell if he was accomplishing anything, but it was unlikely. That didn't stop him as he moved the tip of his spear in practiced motions.

"Sigsus fir pyras!" Sev shouted extending his forward hand towards Bardus, the line a common finishing line to fire magic practiced around the Scar. With his other hand he thrust his spear forward and, quite unexpectedly, there was a wild burst of fire that exploded outwards from the spear tip. The flames wouldn't have reached very far on their own, while the spell apparently worked, it didn't work properly. The winds racing out from the group caught the flames, the fire spell seeming to grow into a torrent of heat as they washed across the ground towards Bardus, and everything else in that general direction wherever the winds carried them.

"Of course," Sev said happily, apparently having seen his own spell, "you have to counter act the aetheric resonance in the local lay field which makes mana unusable. Not an easy task but possible!"

With a mad smile he once more took his stance with both hands on his spear.

"Wonder how long till I'm back at my full power."

Kalla


"I can hope," Sev half whispered to Maeve as the strange man struck the statue with his hoe. Watching the destruction of the statue was awe inspiring, even through the turbulent barrier he'd put up. In his mind he was debating with his escape plan but didn't know if the man was just showing off or about to attack. The shockwave released tore through his barrier as though it didn't exist, and in that instant Sev decided to grab the girl and flee.

His heart almost stopped when he was unable to grab the images of himself and Maeve to displace them with his gift and his gift of air failed to activate the quickening. In an act of desperation he thrust his spear forward, calling forth the most powerful fire magic he knew, only for nothing to happen.

In a moment of panic he felt for the illusion covering his eyes and was unable to feel it. He slowly lifted a hand to his face and spotted the slight gold of his eyes in the reflection of the metal studs that protected his fists. Despite all that happened the warrior mage's mind came to a screeching halt, raw panic threatening to set in due to his secret being exposed along with the appearance of this frighteningly powerful foe. Against a foe this powerful he couldn't run, and without his magic he didn't have a chance in combat. Maeve seemed to think combat was inevitable, but Sev's mind raced for another answer.

This man called him a simple performer of tricks? It sounded like it was meant to be something of an insult, but Sev took it as a compliment. In a moment of desperation Sev drew upon his 'performance' skills, this man wanted a performance, he'd give one. He'd show this man that he didn't need mana to use magic.

"What happened?" Sev asked, squinting his eyes as though trying to see his hand and, as an added bonus, obscuring their new color. He glanced up, squinting hard back and forth as though unable to make out anything, "one moment."

With a quick flick of his hand and muttered meaningless phrases he pretended to try and cast a spell on his eyes only for nothing to happen.

"Oh, I see," the Sylve said softly retaking a combat stance with his spear pointed noticeably to one side from where Bardus stood, facing one of the pieces of the destroyed sculpture that was silhouette on the horizon by the rising sun.

"Clever of you to recognize I'm hard of sight," the magician spoke, trying to control the panic in his voice to moderate success. Thankfully, with this ploy and the situation a little panicked wavering of the voice was expected and could only add to his believably, "I learned light magic to allow me to see and without it I am all but blind. I suppose I should feel honored that one such as you felt the need to take away my very ability to see before fighting me."

"Lady Maeve?" Sev said, turning his head enough so he could glance around towards where the Isoli was, struggling to find her, "don't worry about me, I may be nearly blind without my magic but I can still fight."

He turned to look back at the lump of stone tightening his grip on his spear staff.

"Though it might be prudent for you to run," he admitted in a softer voice, "I'm uncertain how much of a distraction I can be in this state but I know I can't flee."
Kalla
Allard's Inn

Sev woke far earlier than he intended, or wanted, to a crackling snap. In an instant his staff was in his hand with the head pointed at the source, which was oddly the door. When his air ward breaks it's supposed to make a single loud snap, this sounded more like the the ward was being torn apart. Through tired eyes Sev eyed the door confused as to what was happening. The first time the illusion of a staff that covered his spear shimmered he wasn't sure if it was real or not, rubbing the sleep from his eyes he confirmed it as the image wavered again, momentarily revealing parts of the staff. As he came around he could also feel the illusion covering his eyes shimmering slightly, which was distinctly not good. Both spells had enough mana to last for the night so they weren't on the verge of failing, yet something was messing with them.

While he was in the army Sev was trained in practical magic, throwing fire and ice, using his gift of air to boost his abilities and attack enemies, that kind of thing. Theoretical Thaumaturgy was beyond him, all he could tell is that there was something odd in the air that was messing with his spells. He closed his eyes to try and sense other magics in the area, but only felt a chaotic mess of mana blowing around the town. He did feel a familiar aura, somewhat drained but tense as though about to fight. While Sev wasn't skilled enough to pinpoint Maeve's aura, he could tell something was wrong.

Quickly strapping his armor on and throwing his tunic over it Sev made for the door of his inn room, dismissing what remained of the ward. Seeing his staff shimmer again he thought for a moment before dismissing the illusion, it was clear the illusion would be difficult to maintain, likely not work and be hard to explain. The spell around his eyes, however, he shored up with more mana and focus, hopefully he could keep any shimmering in his eyes to a minimum.

Half running through the doors of the inn Sev immediately found Maeve, rapier in hand looking up at where an odd man squatted.

"Who are you?" Maeve asked, having not seen Sev yet.

The warrior mage followed her gaze and felt his hands tighten on his spear as he took in the sight of the hoe wielding, pipe smoking man with a dried hand hanging from his belt. Any remnants of sleep were banished from his system as his mind raced, a dozen possibilities coming to mind. Taking a deep breath he came up with a plan, acutely aware his illusions would be unreliable.

"He's either a bandit with poor taste in costumes, or the boogyman my mother threatened me with as a kid," Sev said as calmly as he could, walking to Maeve's side, "possibly both."

With one hand he quickly drew a line in the air in front of him summoning a thin but turbulent barrier of air between the two of them and the strange man. If that man was who he dressed as the barrier wouldn't stop him, however it had a second, more important purpose, in that it could cover up his illusions if needed. The barrier wavered chaotically against whatever was disturbing the mana in the air, distorting images seen through it.

Letting the barrier stand he focused on the images of himself and Maeve, ready to divorce the two of them from their apparent location, grab her and run if needed. The dislocation would likely only last a moment but with the Quickening that was enough for him to get down the block and around a corner, even carrying a confused, and likely upset, woman.

Outwardly he did his best to look calm, intellectually he knew this man was likely a fake, one of the dozens of bandits who copied that look to strike fear in others. But the way his spells were being distorted and mana was blowing about had Sev on edge, his mind hyper-focused on the other man, ready to enact his plan to run at the first sign this man was able to back up the threat the costume he wore implied.
Kalla


"You got a horse? I had to walk along side the caravan most of the ways, even though I paid for a seat. Something about 'the wheels sinking into the sand," Sev shrugged, laying his staff across his shoulders with a quick spin before draping his arms over the staff.

"And I was certain a woman as capable as you would be fine, as you said, these combatants lacked in skill" the warrior mage continued, "besides, I was never out of ear or spellshot should you have needed assistance. But if you truly need my capable self to keep you safe from some rude men with swords, then I shall be more than willing to provide such assistance."

Before he could continue a yawn broke his rhythm, one he struggled to cover with his arms resting on his staff. Looking slightly embarrassed Sev turned to walk out of the church.

"Regardless, I think I shall retire for the night," he said over a shoulder as he made his way outside, angling back towards the inn.

Despite his apparently relaxed exterior Sev was on edge, not from the bodies scattered about, though that didn't help. Nor from how Maeve had called him out, indeed he enjoyed friendly banter and a woman with a some fire... or ice as the case may be. No, it was the apparent Grusk blood he'd seen in that other man that caused Sev to, almost unconsciously, summon a thin barrier of air around his person. It would only stop a single strike, but that was enough to stay an otherwise deadly ambush. Not that such a barrier saw use as he strode back to the inn through the blood covered sands of the town.

He was always wary of seeing another Grusk, for the same reason he never liked to pull the same trick twice with his magic. The first time you perform the trick the audience, or victims, are caught off guard. But the second time they are watching for the trick, expecting it. That was how magicians were caught and exposed, or, in combat, killed.

With only him around he could hide his tainted blood relatively easily and no one would ask questions. But when they see another Grusk hiding his nature they would become suspicious of those around them, looking more closely for signs that they might also be tainted. Sev had managed to go his, admittedly short, life thus far undetected through a combination of illusions, lies, and running away. Hopefully he wouldn't have to resort to the last one, it only raised suspicion and made enemies. Considering the number of powerful people in the town, from a barkeep able to cut down a small army, another from the Scar with an air gift surpassing Sev's, an attractive Isoli princess-mage and who knows what else, being found out likely wouldn't be good for his health.

If there wasn't any reason to stay here he'd have left, but between the common folk in trouble, the promise of room and board as long as he helps, and the previously mentioned attractive Isoli mage, he didn't want to simply up and leave. Not yet at least.

Placing another simple air ward over the door to his inn room, and doing his best to ignore the smell of smoke and blood, Sev collapsed in the bed barely out of his clothing.
Kalla


"I don't pay much attention to politics," Sev explained with a shrug as he followed them into the church. Upon seeing the Isoli woman begin healing the barkeep Sev was suddenly disappointed he wasn't injured, as much as the pain would hurt any excuse to get a good looking woman to touch him. He briefly considered using his illusions to fake an injury but that could be easily disproved and considering the condition Allard was in he probably shouldn't take attention away just for his own amusement.

"I've been to Portea, it's alright," the warrior-mage said to himself while thinking back to if he'd heard anything about these four families. He remembered some offhand comments about the 'four rulers' or 'four houses' but he had been paying more attention to the barmaid who was wearing a delightfully low-cut top instead of the conversation.

Next morning her father didn't find his excuse that 'he's a good tipper' a good enough excuse for finding Sev in his house and the mage was forced to use his magic to escape. Needless to say it was a good day.

"I second the soft, cool bed comment," Sev spoke up, pushing aside those thoughts as the conversation continued around him, "I only just got into town and fighting after a day of travel is not my favorite. Much less the multiple days it took to get out here."

"As for helping out, I'm free and this seems interesting enough for now. I'm no fan of rulers of any stripe, especially those like this Emperor of Greed. Hell, I'll help out for room and board," Sev added with a charming, if tired smile, before adding with a wink at Maeve, "and perhaps some good company."
Aboard the Tiresias, briefing room


"Hey honey," Vance said as Liz took a seat, sliding over to lean against her table, "don't think I've seen you around here before, what do you say we-."

Before he could finish a massive hand closed around the back of his neck, dragging him away and half throwing him back into his chair.

"Mission now, women later," Grant said warning as he retook his own seat, glaring at the younger man. Any complaints vance may have had were silenced as the last two members of his team along with the ship's vice captain and a senior engineer walked in. Eric and Jim were brothers, at least, that's what they told everyone, and tended to be troublemakers in their free time, really only their skill at and willingness to go on scavenging missions allowed them to be tolerated.

The vice-captain, Huxley Winters, was a stern but fair man and son of the previous captain. While the position wasn't supposed to be hereditary it didn't stop the Winters family from controlling many upper leadership positions. As Huxley entered he directed the engineer with him, known simply as Scott, to put a large, cloth wrapped and apparently very heavy package onto one of the tables, which groaned under the weight.

"Everyone here?" Huxley asked needlessly as he scanned the two teams, "good, let's get this started.

"The details of this mission shouldn't leave this room, hopefully the troubles we are experiencing will be dealt with before the general crew notices anything. In short, one of our primary boilers isn't working."

"The boiler itself is fine, technically," Scott corrected.

"I'm getting there," Huxley paused to glare before motioning to the package which Scott unwrapped. It resembled a block of steel as long as someone's forearm, nearly as wide and a bit more than a hand span thick. Oil seeped from several smaller holes drilled in the face while salt encrusted larger openings lined the sides.

"This is the steam distribution manifold from boiler A2," Scott explained, "it stopped working about two days ago, it's supposed to manage steam pressure through various systems but was causing several lines to over-pressure while neglecting others. We've rigged up a stopgap measure, pushing the output from A2 through A1's manifold, but that won't hold long."

"In short, in a few days things will start getting cold," Huxley took over, "we'll have to direct power away from unnecessary systems, heating, lighting, support craft, that kind of thing. Your mission is to find a replacement. We've located three possible places," Huxley paused to pull out a map and lay it out on the table, "the first two are in this town, the ruins of Yonkers. It had two main boiler plants, one located near the port and the other inland to service housing. The city has doubtless been scavenged before, and the steam plants are a primary target of anyone's missions, but we're hoping the manifolds were too heavy and difficult to extract when compared to other parts.

"The other location," Huxley paused to pull a black and white photograph from a pocket and put it next to the map. It showed a distant and slightly blurry photo of another airship, "is this, the Hephaestus, a ship reported lost last spring according to messages we received. Our scout pilots found it drifting near by, frankly I'm surprised it's still afloat but it'll have several manifolds we can use. But it's likely crawling with Touched and who knows what else."

"Have you tried, I dunno, fixing that thing?" Vance asked, one foot up on the table and nodding to the manifold.

"It's a precision tooled piece of kit," Scott answered, "none of the machine shops on board are capable of the accuracy needed, we plan to try anyways, but the chance of it working is low."

"Do you really think anyone here is stupid enough to go to a ghost ship?" Grant spoke up.

"That's why there's only two teams here, Old Man says we're not desperate enough to force you try that. If it drifts over land we might try to force it down by punching holes in the balloons but it's over sea right now and we don't know where it'll end up," Huxley replied, "Grant, your team is senior so you get first pick."

"The port plant," the large man grunted after a moment's thought.

"I've written details for how to identify the manifold here," Scott said, handing out slips of paper, "in short make sure you find the part number on the side and match it to one of the numbers here."

"Finally while the manifold is the most important, keep your eye out for other things, Merc tanks, good food, you know the like," Huxley finished, glancing at Jarrad, "which location do you prefer?"
Aboard the Tiresias, briefing room


"Any idea what this meeting is about?" Vance asked to the mostly empty room.

"Probably a scavenging run, like always," groaned his teammate, Grant.

"With only two teams?" Vance replied incredulously, Grant simply shrugging in reply.

For most of the ship it was a normal day, kids ran up and down the narrow steel corridors, their laughter echoing throughout the ship. Dozens of hands tended to the makeshift greenhouses that had been built atop what was once two cargo ships. Each ship consisted of a large, mostly empty, hull between two massive sausage shaped helium balloons. Steam driven propellers covered the outer hull at regular intervals while a nest of brass pipes where the two ships had been joined connected the four total boilers to one another. The giant propellers spun lazily as the sun rose, simply working to keep the ship stable.

As workers, engineers, medics, teachers and hundreds of others woke to go about their various jobs the Scavenger corp was also gathering. Or, at least, a portion of them. While there were six total teams, all of which would typically be deployed whenever the ship neared the mainland only two of the groups had been called. The most senior team, lead by Grant, a man as big as he was ill mannered, but none the less always brought his team back alive and with supplies, was already gathering with two of their four members present in the small meeting room. The other group was an odd pick, and relatively new, all of them relatively recent additions to the ship. Jarred and his niece were survivors of a lost ship, doing them no favors in trying to make friends with the more superstitious of the crew. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, Jarred had become a scavenger.

Keket was more of a mystery, picked up at the last stop she didn't talk about her past, and few asked. Everyone had dark pasts in this world, best to just ignore it, but there was still a need for strong fighters to protect scavenging teams and, lacking other skills had found her way there.

Finally Eliza had more the air of a child of wanderlust, her unique combination of engineering knowledge and physical ability making her ideal for recovering parts for the airship. Perhaps she was why that group, despite being untested, was asked to come to this meeting. Everything on the ship was at least decades old and always needed replacing, and engineers were generally too valuable to risk on missions.

Regardless the ship chugged through the air, several smaller ships launching from the makeshift top deck carrying fishermen with massive nets and crab pots. Distant singing could be heard from an early morning workshift tending to the ship's engines, more religious crew bowed their heads in morning prayers, chefs in the ship's galley began preparing meals for those working and mothers walked children to classrooms. Most unaware the scavengers were preparing for another dangerous mission even as they went about their day.
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