Chapter 2

Letting out a soft sigh, Vyse shifted in his seat. A discomforted grimace crossed his face. Aches and pains from his impromptu bull ride remained, and he refused to waste healing supplies on them. Keeping the Valuan officer alive required more than he did, and there was the girl too. A girl he was sitting beside, as she fitfully rested in a bed aboard the Albatross. As Blue Rogues often did, his father had let the Valuans go- well, without all their valuables -and take the Cygnus back to Valua. Why bother keeping the ship? They couldn't very well sell it! And they weren't Black Pirates, so they wouldn't just kill everyone either.

However, in addition to the biggest haul of gold Vyse had ever seen, Dyne had made the choice to take both the injured officer and the girl aboard his own ship. It wasn't a hard choice. The Valuans couldn't be trusted not to finish the job with the officer. And the girl couldn't be left with her kidnappers. Thus, two occupied beds.

I wonder who they are... Vyse resisted the urge to reach a hand out and pull the covers across the girl. She constantly tossed and turned in her sleep. I've never seen clothes like hers...

"Hey, Vyse," Aika popped her head into the room, knocking his thoughts off course. "She wake up yet?"

Vyse twisted his head, sending a tired smile at his oldest friend. "Nah, still asleep. Looks like nightmares."

His friend grimaced, and shook her head as she stepped fully into the room. Her feet creaked against old wooden planks with each step. The Albatross was well-loved, but she was also a bit long in the tooth. Her plain wooden frames didn't leave much to the imagination, surrounding the two pirates and the girl. Save for a single porthole, allowing natural light into the room.

Not that any of Captain Dyne's crew would give up their ship for anything.

"Can't blame her," Aika sighed, setting down in a seat across from Vyse. She let out a groan of frustration, stretching her lithe body to work out kinks. "Though I could probably sleep for a day, myself!"


Aika nodded, leaning forward to prop her hands against her chin. Tired brown eyes stared over at Vyse, over a crooked smile. "I think that was the first time I ever used Pyres."

Vyse winced. He was utter garbage at any magic that wasn't Red-based, and he knew how tiring Pyres was. Especially in combat. His mother made him promise not to try it until he was much, much older. Desperate times...

"It's not a big deal, though," the redhead continued, sighing again. Her eyes drifted away from Vyse, and over the mysterious girl in the bed. "I wonder where she's from. Don't you?"

"Of course." Vyse snorted a bit, his gaze returning to the girl as well. Her breathing had finally evened out, from...whatever it was she had been dreaming about. In fact, the girl was shifting as if she was waking up.

Something confirmed by her eyes opening. Brilliant, bright green, and completely unlike anything Vyse had ever seen. He couldn't help but stare, because really, he had never seen eyes that shade of green before. If the girl's hair and clothes and pale skin were all odd, he could ignore it. He couldn't ignore her eyes, because he had been taught to always look someone in the eye.

And they're so different!

Shaking his head, Vyse smiled at the girl. And, suddenly beside him, Aika did the same. Though with a bit more 'oohing' and 'ahhing' about how the girl was actually awake now.

"Hi! About time you woke up, sleepyhead." Aika was a self-proclaimed master at cheering someone up. Or so she liked to say, as the strange girl blinked owlishly at her.

"H-hello..." She stuttered a bit, her voice softer than anyone that either Pirate had ever met. There was almost a musical tone to it, underneath her obvious nerves. "Um-where am I?"

"Aboard our pirate ship, the Albatross," Vyse took over, planting a hand on his chest and flashing his signature grin. He thought that the scar on his cheek and the glass on his eye made him look quite roguish when he did it. "We rescued you from the Valuans, when we attacked their ship."

The girl started, her already wide eyes widening further. "Attack?"

Both of the pirates shared a look at that, before Aika- much more gently -continued speaking. "Ah...don't worry, we're not Black Pirates. We're Blue Rogues, so we won't hurt you or anything. We just wanted to make sure you were safe!"

"I-I'm sorry, but I don't know what that means." The girl fidgeted in her bed, her green eyes bouncing between both pirates. Her head tilted to the side, silvery-blonde hair falling over her neck with each movement. "What is a...pirate?"


Vyse blinked, very slowly, while Aika's jaw dropped open. "You don't know what a pirate is? Sailing alone in Mid-Ocean?"

"No...?" The girl's hands clenched in her thin blanket, as she bit her lip. She looked anywhere but at the two teenagers above her. "Is that strange?"

"I..." Aika seemed completely flummoxed by what she was hearing, as she looked at Vyse, then back at the girl. "A bit, yeah. Uh...can you tell us your name, at least?"

As she asked that question, the redhead leaned over to whisper in Vyse's ear. "Where in the moons is she from?"

"How should I know?"

Vyse shot back, eyes narrowed in thought. Strange clothes, even stranger lack of knowledge. He didn't think the girl was lying. "We'll need to ask that, later."

Aika nodded, returning her smile to the girl, as she looked up. "Well?"

"...Fina. My name is Fina." The girl, Fina, smiled shyly at her visitors. A small, barely there, smile. "It's nice to meet you."

"Fina, huh." Vyse tasted the name on his lips. It was as strange as the girl it belonged to. Not Valuan or anything like it, and not really Mid-Ocean either. Huh. "Well, I think it's a nice name. It's so...feminine."

"Um...thank you?" Fina blinked slowly, looking at Vyse as if she were a confused Huskra.

Aika just slapped her face in her palm, and let out a long suffering sigh. "Vyse, if that was supposed to be a compliment, you have a lot of work to do."

The pirate gaped at his friend, before narrowing his eyes into a glare. And raising a finger to point at her. "Hey, Aika! I know how to compliment a girl!"

"Apparently, no, no you don't."

The two pirates glared at each other, though there was no real bite to it. Aika was teasing Vyse, and he knew it as well as anyone. Though it did annoy him a bit. It wasn't like he got to practice compliments much, when the only unattached girls around were Aika and a couple of the other raiders. Besides, he

"You two must be good friends." Fina was giggling, behind her hand. Her wide green eyes sparkled with amusement, behind her lingering confusion.

Vyse let his glare fade away, like dust in the wind. A sheepish smirk replacing it, as he scratched the back of his head. "Heh...yeah, Aika and I have known each other since we were kids."

"And Vyse has always been bad with girls," Aika continued, shooting a smug grin at her friend. Who sputtered at her, while the redhead laughed and turned to Fina. "Anyway, you really don't know what Pirates are?"

Fina nodded shyly, looking a bit uncomfortable to admit that. "No, I'm sorry, I don't. I...didn't know about them, when I left home."

The other two teenagers shared a small sigh at that. Not that either of them let Fina see that, since the girl seemed uncomfortable enough as it was. Instead, they just sat back down beside her bed, and set about explaining things. If the girl was going to be traveling alone, she probably needed to know what pirates actually were. She was very lucky it wasn't Black Pirates who had attacked Alfonso. They would have killed her. Or done worse.

"Right," Vyse started, pointing down at his clothes. Blue fabric that fit what he was. "There are two kinds of Air Pirates. Aika and I are Blue Rogues." He grinned a bit, and hooked a thumb at himself- and the Albatross behind him. "Blue Rogues never, ever attack defenseless ships. We only attack armed ships, and mostly Valuan Armada ships at that. We steal from the rich, and give back to the poor and needy."

Aika nodded along, a distasteful frown crossing her face at what she had to tell Fina. "Black Pirates are the other kind of Air Pirate. They attack anyone, but mostly people who can't fight back. A Black Pirate is a coward, who only wants the gold for themselves."

After what had given Vyse his scar, which everyone assumed was a Black Pirate attack, Aika hated the other type of Air Pirate. Even beyond how much she didn't like that they attacked people who couldn't defend themselves. It was wrong.

Vyse couldn't really disagree with her.

As for Fina? She looked even paler than she had before, as her hands clenched down tightly on the cover she wore. Her green eyes were a bit panicked, like she didn't understand...and didn't want to. This wasn't the confusion, this was her being unable to reconcile what the Black Pirates did.

"These Black Pirates sound very scary," the blonde muttered, so softly it was barely audible over the rush of wind outside the Albatross.

"Don't worry, we won't let them hurt you." Vyse sprung to his feet, crossing his arms over his chest. He even spread his legs a bit, to strike a suitably fitting pose. His grin was at epic proportions now. "After all, we're Rogues. No one hurts anyone that we care about!"

Aika sighed, and laughed a little. "What the musclehead over there is saying, is that as long as you're with us, you're safe."

Fina looked between the two pirates...and relaxed, if only a little. A tiny smile appeared on her thin lips, and she nodded at Aika. "T-thank you."

"No problem!"

Well. There wasn't a problem with keeping Fina safe from other Pirates. There was a problem coming from the voice tube, mounted in the corner of the room. A scratchy, but very recognizable voice. Vyse flinched and dropped his 'heroic pose'. Aika turned pale as a ghost. Fina looked confused, both at the voice tube itself, and the reaction of the pirates to it.

"...that was Dad, wasn't it?" Vyse gulped, looking down at his hands. That were shaking a bit. "I forgot what time it was."

A nod came from his friend, "Yeah, you did. He is not going to be happy."

With the teenage pirates looking so scared, all Fina could do was ask the obvious question. "Was that Vyse's father? Is something the matter?"

Once more scratching his head, Vyse began casually sidling towards the door. "My dad is the Captain of the Albatross. I'm...a bit late for my shift."

While Fina titled her head at the word 'Captain', Aika just sighed. And stepped forward to push Vyse out of the door. While her friend complained about that, the redhead looked over her shoulder and sent a comforting grin Fina's way.

"Don't worry, we'll explain everything later. You should rest for now!"

And just like that, the two pirates left a very confused young woman behind them.

"You're late, Vyse."

The bridge of the Albatross was the second most expansive position on the vessel, after the gun deck. A thick blue carpet, adorned with the logo of the Blue Storm, covered most of the hard wooden planking. Across the walls, various flags and emblems hung. Some from prizes- Vyse saw the flag of the Cygnus hanging over a pair of pistols mounted on the wall -and some from other Blue Rogue groups. The front of the cabin was mostly taken up by the wheel, various consoles controlling the engines, and massive windows. Beyond those windows, the form of Pirate Isle was visible in the distance, floating in the endless sea of clouds that was Mid-Ocean.

Of course, Vyse didn't spare much more than a glance to any of that.

"Sorry, Dad..."

Because, standing by the large chart table, was his father. Dyne was an imposing man under the best of circumstances. Taller than his son, and much more ruggedly built. Where Vyse was lithe, Dyne was muscle. Where Vyse still had the ungainly and bony body of a teenager, Dyne was a man in his prime. He wore a simple tunic and leather pants, nothing ostentatious or even showing off his position as 'Captain'. And his gruff-featured face, mustache and all, was currently frowning at his son too. Which was something Vyse never liked seeing.

I feel like a little kid, whenever he does that.

Dyne's frown deepened, as he raised up a calloused hand to wave a finger at his son. "Remember, when we're aboard ship, it's Captain. Not 'dad'. How many times have I told you that, Vyse?"

"...a lot." The teenager flushed slightly, though in his defense, he knew Dad as...well. Dad. It felt odd to call him 'Captain' all the time! "Sorry, Captain. Aika and I were just talking with Fina."

"Fina?" Dyne's frown faded, replaced by a confused expression. He pursed his lips, and walked over to his son. A meaty hand fell down on Vyse's shoulder, as the elder man looked down into his son's eyes. "Did the girl wake up?"

"Yeah. She seems a bit...strange."

Letting go of his son, Dyne crossed his arms and hummed thoughtfully. "Normally I'd lecture you about how being late on a ship can mean life and death." A smirk crossed his rugged face, at the sputtering from his son. Dyne held his hand up, and continued, "But if the girl, Fina you said, woke up? At least that's a good reason. Did you find out anything about where she's from?"

Vyse shook his head, "Not really. She..."

"Doesn't even know what Air Pirates are!" Aika chirped, brushing past Vyse to look out the expansive windows.

Dyne sent a dry look at the redhead, shaking his head in amusement. It didn't hide the worry in his brown eyes. "Doesn't know what Air Pirates No one who travels in these parts doesn't at least know the name. Unless she's from North Ocean and genuinely doesn't know because Valua keeps things locked down tight over there."

"But, why would..." Vyse began, only to have his eyes widen. "Oh. You don't think she is either, do you?"

"Of course not." The Captain smiled, uncrossing his arms to throw them up in a shrug. "I've been to North Ocean. She isn't dressed like someone who lives there, or Valua. I've never seen clothes like hers anywhere."

"I thought they were strange too," Aika spoke up again, now leaning against the navigation table. Landis, the navigator, was sending the odd glare or two her way, as she disrupted his work. "I mean, I've never seen anyone wear a dress like that!"

Dyne chuckled, "The day anyone gets you into a dress, Aika, is the day I retire."

While the redhead gave a sheepish smile and blushed brighter than her hair, Dyne turned back to his son. His entire bearing conveyed intense curiosity. From the twinkle in his eyes, to the little frown on his face. As well as the way he leaned forward and tapped his foot, the rhythmic beat audible over even the sounds of a ship in movement.

"Hm. As soon as we've docked, I want you to bring Fina to my office, Vyse." Dyne looked his son straight in the eye, and spoke with utmost seriousness. "I don't believe she is any threat to us, or our home. Not intentionally." As he said that, the older sailor's eyes drifted back to the flag of the Cygnus. A deeper frown crossed his lips. "But if the Valuans are after her, I want to know why. I won't send her off on her own, however, if we need to hide her..."

Dyne trailed off, while Vyse nodded his head. "I understand. I think you'll like her, too! She's...nice."

"A bit strange, but nice!" Aika agreed with a vigorous nod, her twintails bobbing with the motion of her head.

Smiling slightly, the Captain nodded. "I'm sure I will. Now, with that mystery out of the way, has the Valuan woken up?"

Both Vyse and Aika winced. They had...completely forgotten about the man they saved. He was in a different room from Fina, and in all the excitement, they hadn't bothered to check up on him. There was a guard posted by the door, to be safe, and he had seemed fine. Though, in all fairness, Luke didn't exactly talk much. Still! Everything had seemed just fine, from what they saw.

Though, if the disapproving look on Dyne's face was any indication, he didn't much agree. Oops?

"I'll let you off the hook, this time." Dyne sighed, shaking his head in fond bemusement. "Honestly, I'm not even surprised. We don't normally take prisoners home with us. Just...keep an eye out, alright? I want you working with Fina, but that Valuan is probably going to want to talk to who saved him."

"Got it, Da-" Vyse cut himself off, when Dyne narrowed his eyes. " it, Captain."

"Good. Now, you two need to get out on deck and help stow the sails. We'll be home soon, and I want the Albatross docked as quickly as possible. The sooner we're all home and I can talk to our guests, the better." Dyne stepped away, muttering something under his breath about having a girl from a strange land and a Valuan Commander on Pirate Isle.

Vyse and Aika shared guilty grins, and set out to do what was asked of them. They wanted to be home as much as anyone, after all!

AN: Need to remember to crosspost this.

Also, to those not on SV or otherwise not reading my fics: this is very much more my average chapter length.