Authors: Percival Constantine
Tags: #fantasy, #science fiction, #sci-fi, #epic fantasy, #steampunk
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 Percival Constantine
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
Published by PulpWork Press
A Novel By
The Myth Hunter
The airship Persephone departed from the city of Mercury early that morning, commencing the twelve-hour flight to Serenity. Air travel was the quickest means of transport across the globe, but also a privilege reserved for the wealthy. Dignitaries, captains of industry, and high-ranking military officers were usually the only ones who could afford to travel in such luxury and extravagance.
Jameson Pierce was one such dignitary, a man fortunate enough to be born into a family of exceptional wealth. The young, blond man stood on the ship’s deck with a drink in hand. The ice clinked in his glass as he leaned over the railing, watching as land and sea rapidly passed beneath the ship in a blur of green and blue. While one hand cradled the drink, the fingers of the other wrapped about the globe-like handle of his cane.
“There you are!” The voice belonged to Katherine, a woman of nineteen, and like Jameson, born into privilege. She was also shallow as a puddle and continually tried his patience. “My dear Jameson, one might think you were trying to avoid me.”
“Nothing could be further from the truth, my dear,” said Jameson. “I just thought a bit of fresh air would be nice.”
Katherine came close to him and turned, pushing her back against his chest. She took hold of the arm which held the cane and wrapped it around her waist. “Why would you want fresh air when there is such a magnificent party occurring inside?” She pouted. “You’re becoming a dreadful bore in your old age, Lord Pierce.”
“Perhaps you’d be better suited with a younger man.”
“I’d prefer one who can keep up with me,” said Katherine. The tips of her fingers lightly danced up the frilled collar of his shirt. “Do you think you could?”
Jameson found the words die in his throat. He gently pushed Katherine away and went to the rail. His eyes spotted something in the distance, something closing in rapidly. Katherine, however, failed to notice.
Katherine was not pleased to find that her paramour’s attentions were no longer on her. “Jameson Pierce, how dare you—!”
“Quiet!” His jaw slackened as the object in the distance grew closer. Not to mention larger. “It’s a ship.”
The solar sails curved in the wind as the small ship came closer and closer to the deck of the Persephone. As it drew nearer, Jameson saw two figures standing on its deck: one man wearing a dark green cloak, and the other a woman in a tight shirt, loose pants, and a small-rimmed hat atop her head. The man rested his foot on the rail of his ship and when it came within a close enough range, he pushed off on that bent leg.
The cloaked man flipped in the air and landed soundlessly on the deck of the Persephone. He rose from a crouch and as he did, drew the sword sheathed at his side, pointing the tip of it in the direction of Jameson and Katherine. Katherine opened up her lips to scream, and that was when the woman from the other ship landed behind her and clasped a hand over her mouth.
“Ah-ah, don’t want to announce our presence too soon,” said the woman.
“Let her go,” said Jameson.
The woman smiled at him. Her hand went to her belt holster and drew out a boomerang. “It looks like we’ve got a strapping hero, Zarim.”
“Zarim,” said Jameson, taking in the young man. “Famed sky-pirate. You’re quite a legend.”
“Thanks,” said Zarim, still holding his sword up.
“Although to be honest, I thought you’d be taller.”
“He gets that a lot,” said the woman.
“Ekala, do you mind?” asked Zarim.
Ekala shrugged. “It’s true.”
Zarim turned his gaze back to Jameson. “And who exactly are you?”
Katherine jerked her head to one side. “He’s Jameson Pierce, and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll stand down now!”
Ekala clamped her hand over Katharine’s mouth again with a sigh. “Can we throw her over?”
“She can’t give us her money if she’s at the bottom of the ocean,” said Zarim.
“That’s why we take the money first,” said Ekala.
“If you harm the girl, you’ll have me to contend with,” said Jameson.
“Really?” asked Zarim.
Jameson flinched. Something in the pirate’s eyes. A green flash. But it couldn’t have been real. Just a trick of the light, had to be. “What do you want?” he asked.
“Everything you’ve got,” said Zarim. “And since you’re ‘Jameson Pierce’,” he mocked Katherine’s tone as he said the name, “I imagine you’ve got quite a lot on you.”
“I don’t have much,” said Jameson as he reached inside his coat. He drew out his pocketbook and dropped it on the deck. “Just that.”
Zarim bent down, never breaking eye contact with Jameson as he picked up the wallet. He slipped it beneath the folds of his cloak and it seemed to vanish in there. “Good, then how about we go below deck? See what the other passengers have on them?”
“You’ll find it difficult, there’s a party going on in the ballroom.”
Ekala smiled. “We do love a good party.” She pushed Katherine against Jameson. “Lead the way, rich boy.”
“As you wish,” said Jameson. He and Katherine went into the stairwell first, descending the circular stairs. Once they reached the platform, he led them into the main ballroom. A small band was present and the passengers were dancing and drinking to their heart’s content. Zarim kept his sword ready and, with his free hand, drew the pistol holstered at his side. Ekala held a boomerang in each of her hands. She leaned towards Zarim.
“You sure this is a good idea?” she asked in a low voice.
“You wanted some action, this is action,” said Zarim. He raised his gun and fired a shot. The music came to a stop and the guests were startled, turning to face the source of the loud noise. “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen! I apologize for interrupting your festivities, but I’m afraid I have to ask you for a donation to my favorite charity. Namely...me.
“My name is Zarim. I’m sure some of you have heard my name before. And this is my lovely associate, Ekala. The two of us are here to relieve you of the great burden which you call wealth. If you cooperate and give us what we want, we’ll be out of your hair very shortly. But if you cause us any problems...well...let’s just say our reputations speak for themselves.”
Jameson watched with rapt attention as Zarim and Ekala collected the wallets of the passengers. Something especially caught his eye—a symbol on Zarim’s belt buckle. It bore a rose with a drop of blood at the end. A strange thing for a pirate to wear and he committed the image to his memory.
“We won’t put up with this nonsense from a bloody pirate, “ came a voice from among the crowd of revelers in the ballroom.
Zarim’s ears perked up at the challenger. Jameson himself was curious, craning his neck to spot the fool. He saw an older man, dressed in a tuxedo and with a golden sash indicating his lordship. His right eye was magnified by a monocle and he stood straight, chin up in defiance. The crowd parted for Zarim, who calmly strode over and pressed the tip of his blade against the old man’s wrinkled neck.
“Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that, old timer. Did you just say you wanted to be made an example of?”
“Ruffians, that’s all you are,” spat the lord. “Deserve nothing less than the gallows.”
“Maybe you’d like to try the gallows firsthand, see how much you like them after?” asked Zarim.
“Zee, we don’t have time for this.” A buzzing came from a device hanging from Ekala’s side. She plucked it from her belt and raised it to her ear, listening through it.
Zarim slid his blade beneath the man’s sash and sliced it neatly, letting it fall to the ground. He stuck it with his sword and lifted it up, holding it up to its owner’s gaze. “I’ll enjoy using this as a grease rag.”
“Kill me if you must. At least I’ll have died with dignity.”
“That’s what you think, gramps. There’s no dignity in being thrown from an airship.”
“Zee! Just got radioed, looks like we’ve got company,” said Ekala, holding the transmitter to her ear.
Zarim looked out the bay window and saw another ship in the distance, closing in fast. It was smaller than the Persephone, but far more dangerous—at least in terms of who was aboard. Zarim cursed under his breath.
“That’s a Dreadnought scout ship. You have no hope of escape,” exclaimed the lord.
“Babe, you got the loot?” asked Zarim.
Ekala shook the sack she held in her hands. “Looks like a pretty decent score.”
“Good, then it’s time we take our leave.”
Ekala was first up the steps with Zarim following close behind. But before he ascended, he offered one last look and a grin to his former captives. “Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your generosity. Now I hope you’ll be sure to mention this little encounter to your friends and loved ones.” He bowed and then sprang up the steps.
Jameson ran up the steps as well, moving out to the upper deck. Zarim looked at him and smiled before jumping from the railing and flying through the air. At first glance, it seemed like he wouldn’t make it to his own ship, but then Jameson noticed the rope hanging from it. Zarim grabbed it effortlessly. He turned towards Jameson, one hand gripping the rope, and offered a smug salute.
The entire act couldn’t help but make Jameson grin. The pirates definitely had style, there was no denying that. He went below deck once more and already heard people discussing the events. Jameson rolled his eyes as he walked through the crowd.
“I’ve heard stories, but I never thought I would be a victim!”
“This is absolutely uncalled for! I’ll have words with my representative about this!”
“I thought the Dreadnoughts were cracking down on those awful pirates!”
“Did you hear what he called himself? That was the Zarim, captain of the Excalibur! Legend has it he’s some sort of a demon!”
Preposterous, thought Jameson. A demon, he had never heard something so ridiculous. Zarim and his companion were thieves, nothing more. Extremely skilled, brazen thieves, yes, but thieves no less. As he moved towards the bar, he heard sobs and he found Katherine huddled behind. When she caught sight of Jameson, she practically tackled him, wrapping her arms around his body.
“Oh Jameson, it was horrible! I’ve never feared for my life like that before!”
“They weren’t going to hurt you, Katherine. They just wanted the money,” said Jameson.
“Yes, but you’ve heard stories of this Zarim, haven’t you? How he sails to the forbidden lands! And he even employs hobgoblins and cavorts with the unholy ones!”