Been reading some of the Crimson Skies books of late, and this is the result.
On a wing and a prayer...
Nathan Zachary sat looking across the card table at Faith, the newest member of the Fortune Hunters. He, like and right-minded man, could admire the graceful and pleasing curves of her body, and the way a few strands of hair hung down over her eyes, no matter how many times she batted it away. She had a sly smile that distracted most people from her eyes.
Not that there was anything wrong with her eyes; they just showed that she had been through more than anyone her age should have to. Nathan had seen the scare on her stomach not long after she'd joined the crew, and had asked her where she'd gotten it. She'd suddenly gone all defensive, saying that it wasn't something she wanted to talk about.
There was a lot about her past that Faith wouldn't talk about; she admitted to being from Boston, but she didn't sound like anyone Nathan had met from the Atlantic Coalition. She'd obviously been schooled, although not up to the same level as Nathan. Some of the words and phrases she used were unlike anything the other Fortune Hunters had ever heard.
At times it was like she was from another world.
Faith had joined the Fortune Hunters by chance more than anything: Nathan and Tex had been trying to locate a contact in Cleveland, when a group of local pirates had taken a liking to Tex. The young pilot, normally more than capable of handling herself, had been surrounded in a dockside bar, unarmed due to her cover story.
Nathan had been trying to work out the best way to rescue his pilot when a heavy wooden table had been hurled across the room, knocking three of the pirates flying. The other two had drawn their guns and looked round, only for a ball of brunet hair and rage to cannonball into them. The fight had been almost too fast for Nathan to follow, but it ended with two of the pirates nursing broken bones, a third being carried out by his remaining friends.
Faith, radiating cold fury and armed with nothing more than a broken chair, had stared down a bar full of born killers, making them all turn their faces away.
Nathan had done a little digging and learned that Faith had gained quite the reputation in that corner of the Industrial States of America ever since she'd appeared out of nowhere a month or so before. Nobody seemed to know where she called home; she just drifted into town and stayed all alone. There where a lot of stories about the things she'd done since she'd arrived, most of which Nathan would have dismissed as bar-room bullshit if he hadn't have seen her in action himself.
Finally, having convinced himself that she wasn't a plant, Nathan had approached Faith and offered her a job. She'd seemed uninterested at first, insisting that she wasn't interested in joining a pirate band. Nathan had sensed in her someone who'd done something they where ashamed of, and desperately wanted to make up for it somehow.
So he'd explained to her the Articles of Piracy he insisted the Fortune Hunters work by, regardless of what it cost them. That seemed to impress Faith, and she'd agreed to give it a go, to see how she felt.
Tex had taken to her immediately; still thankful of the rather skilful save back in the bar. Faith soon won over Betty 'Brooklyn' Charles, the units only other female pilot. With two of the team on her side, the others had accepted Faith without question, welcoming her as one of the family.
This had an amazing affect on Faith: she seemed to want to surround herself in the warmth and never let it go.
Nathan took it upon himself to try and teach Faith to fly. Although she was a quick study, and soon mastered the basics, she lacked the flair for flying that could have made her a true ace. Sure, her reflexes were second to none, and she seemed to have an almost superhuman sense for danger, but that could only compensate for so much.
Although she'd be able to handle herself in most situations, Nathan knew that sending Faith into a dogfight with anyone experienced would be tantamount to murder: she just didn't have what it took.
Faith took the news surprisingly well, shrugging it off like it was nothing. But Nathan knew that Faith needed to feel important, so he'd trained her in the subtle art of Zeppelin boarding. Her superb poise and grace made Faith a natural for the dangerous task, and her unmatched skill in hand-to-hand combat meant that there wasn't a guard on the planet that could stop her when she set her mind on the prize.
One thing that Nathan found surprising, but in a good way, was Faith's flat-out refusal to kill if it could be avoided: while the others would never shoot someone out of their parachute like some pirates, Faith had a near pathological fear of going too far, of crossing the line.
In fact, on a mission, Faith was a paragon of self-control. The only time Nathan had seen her lose her temper since she'd joined the Fortune Hunters was during one of their infrequent trips to Alaska: turning down the wrong Anchorage side street, Faith, Nathan and Jack-O had come across a group of Red Russians preparing to execute a young brother and sister who's only crime was to have aristocratic parents.
Nathan and Jack-O had started to back away, knowing that drawing their guns would only get themselves killed. Nathan had every intention of saving the children: he just knew he had to come up with a plan.
Faith had just attacked, taking on the Bolsheviks with no apparent concern for her own safety. Seeing her in action was an education on just what the human body could and couldn't (or rather shouldn't) do. It had taken both Nathan and Jack-O to pull Faith off the last of the Bolsheviks, leaving him a bloody mess on the ground. Nathan was sure that some of the rather surprised Russians were either dead or dying, but he had no sympathy for them.
It hadn't taken much for Faith to convince Nathan to find a way to get the two terrified children to safety: the look in her eye and the sight of what she'd done to four men, all twice her size, spoke louder than any words.
From then on, everyone knew one thing: Faith would never stand by and let an innocent come to harm.
For someone who didn't talk about her past, Faith spent a lot of time and effort trying to find someone in London. Sparks had told Nathan that Faith spent a lot of her cut from each mission trying to find something called the Travers Foundation in London. What ever it was, she was spending a lot of time and money, but finding nothing.
Nathan was brought back to reality with a bump as Faith laid her cards on the table, easily beating anything the others had. Big John and Jack-O shook their heads and left, insisting that they'd had enough for the night.
"Look's like it's just you and me, boss-man." Faith smiled coyly, "Care to raise the stakes a little?"
"Ok." Nathan nodded, re-shuffling the cards, "We each draw one card: highest wins, aces high."
"Sounds interesting: what's the bet?"
"I win; you have to answer one question truthfully."
"And if I win?"
"That's for you to decide."
"I pick the destination next time we have some R&R."
"Ok." Nathan nodded, "Ladies first."
"I'm no lady, but what ever you say." Faith lifted the cards up at random, revealing a nine of diamonds.
Nathan smiled as he looked down at the remaining cards and taped the top one before cutting. He slowly turned the card over, drawing out the suspense as long as he could, until finally the face of the card could be seen: the king of harts.
"Neat little trick." Faith looked at Nathan, "So, what do you want to know?"
"What's your story?" Nathan asked, strait faced, "Where are you from? How can you do the things you do?"
"You don't want the truth."
"Oh, I think I do."
"You can't handle the truth."
"Do you believe in magic?"
"Yes." Nathan nodded after a moment silence, "I'm Romany, remember: I may have left my clan when I was young, but I still remember the stories the others used to tell."
"Yeah, well, I ended up here when a spell went wrong: I was supposed to be teleported from Cleveland to L.A., but Red must have been distracted or something."
"What do you mean, wrong?"
"Well, let's just say things aren't what they used to be: where I came from, it was the year 2004, and the good old US-of-A was still one big, not so happy country. There where no air pirates, but we did have vampires, demons and other assorted things that go bump in the night."
"And how do you fit into this?"
"I'm a Vampire Slayer; a girl chosen to fight against the forces of darkness. There's really long, boring speech that goes with it, but I never bothered learning it. Basically, I'm stronger, faster and more agile than a normal person, with neat enhanced healing ability, and I'm supposed to use this to fight all the vampires, demons, Et cetera."
"That one heck of a story..."
"You wanted the truth."
"Can you go back?"
"I don't know: I've not been able to find any evidence of magic in this reality, so I guess it's up to the others finding a way to bring me back."
"Do you think they'll be able to?"
"I think so: this isn't the first time one of us has had a run in with transdimensional travel. Until then, I've got nothing better to do than hang around with you guys and try and enjoy this unexpected holiday."
"Well, they say that truth is stranger than fiction." Nathan shrugged, "I guess this'll teach me for asking for the truth."
"Ask and you shall receive; presume and I'll make a martyr of you" Faith smiled, reshuffling the cards, "Do you want to play another game?"
As before, if you think you can take this further; then by all means do. I, however, don't have the time.