The real reason that the Skyfangs had arrived at port was to rest and relax from a long trip. After the duel they had walked over to a nearby “dining establishment”, as the fancy people love to say. Wooden interior with wooden tables, wooden stools, and a fireplace that could burn the whole place down should it decide to rebel. The crew is seated around a particularly long table, each on wooden stools. At the head of the table was Helmer, standing over her surprisingly small crew. Sitting closest to her on her right is Rafale. Next to him was a pink octopus, the manticore that was seen mooring the ship, and a busty black raven. On Helmer’s left, sitting closest was Seal followed by a red salamander, twin white fennec foxes, and then Beat himself. Everyone seemed to be conversing about things that Beat could not follow. As he looks about to try and get his bearings on what was going on, his eyes lock with Rafale’s. He feels a chill run down his spine, Rafale was not happy and he knew it. ‘Maybe it’s best I try to avoid talking to him too much’, he thinks to himself. In front of each crewmate is a wooden mug. For everyone but Beat, the mugs contained cold, frothy beer. The underage porcupine was given (non-alcoholic!) cider so he wouldn’t feel left out.
Helmer stands up. Her mouth moves like she’s speaking but Beat couldn’t hear her over the raucous conversation. It was clear that none of the other could hear her either. She then gets Dyna’s attention and appears to whisper something in his ear. A loud “SHUT UP!” roars from the big cat, causing everyone at the table to clap their hands over their ears, except for the foxes who had to pull their long, straight ears down.
“Thank you, Dyna.” Helmer says to him before looking towards the rest of the crew. “Now, the food’s not going to be ready for a little bit, so I would like to take this time to formally introduce the newest member of the Skyfang crew.” She smiles and looks towards Beat. “Beat, can you stand up for us?” The Porcupine stands up to the applause of the rest of the crew, except for Rafale. Helmer’s gaze wanders to him for a moment, a look of concern on her face. “Now allow me to introduce you to the other members of the crew. My name is Helmer, I’m the Captain , but you’ve probably figured that out already.” She pulls down her hat a moment, drawing Beat’s attention to it. “On my right here is Rafale.” The dragon just looks aways from Beat. “He’s our strongest fighter and your training partner.” Rafale just snarls and turns his body away from the table and that worried look returned to her face for a brief moment. Just as quickly as that expression came, it left and she was moving on down the table. “Next is Wiz, she’s our medic.”
The pink octopus looks like she’s smiling towards Beat, but it’s hard to tell with the green veil over her mouth. “Pleasure to meet you.” She says, holding out her hand for Beat to shake. The boy happily obliges.
“Next, we have Dyna. He’s another one of our fighters and is really great in a pinch.” Helmer says, giving attention to the red manticore. He lets out a hearty laugh full of energy, the gold decorations on his horns glinting off the light of the fireplace.
“I can already tell we’ve found someone special!” The he announces with his booming voice, looking quite happy that Beat is joining them.
Helmer smiles at the welcoming that Wiz and Dyna gave the boy. “And the furthest on my right is Sagitta. She’s a gifted sniper that helps a lot with more… messy work.” A black raven with a white top that was dangerously tight around her rather ample chest gives a sultry smile towards Beat. She tilts her head down to him so that her amber eyes meet his green ones.
“Have you been given a bunk yet? There’s ample room in my quarters if you need it.” She flirts, making Beat blush and look down to the table to avoid her gaze. This catches Helmer’s attention quite quickly, knowing that he was just a boy.
“I think he’s a bit young for you.” The captain responds, scratching her cheek a little and blushing a bit. Sagitta looked a bit disappointed, but backed off. “On my left, there’s Seal. He’s our staff officer.” She says, introducing the goat sitting closest to her, who just silently nods back respectfully. Beat recognized him as the one Helmer was conferring with before he ended up dueling Rafale. “Next is Bravo, he’s another one of our fighters… and I can’t really say much else nice about him.” She motions to a red salamander with amber eyes that had yellow hair running from his head to the tip of his tail.
“Hey, that woundsss me.” Bravo replies, speaking with a heavy lisp with his tongue coming out as he spoke, acting insulted.
Helmer smiles just a little bit before moving onto the two fennec foxes. “Finally, we have our resident twins Recon and Donpa.” Two identical looks foxes smile and wave at Beat. Both had long ears and their long hair was tied up in identical ponytails. Their white fur had identical purple markings and both of them had an overbite. The one further away from him, Recon, appeared to be a girl, judging by the fact she wore a shirt while Donpa had a cape, but no shirt.
“Pleasure to meet you.” Recon said, politefully bowing, her high voice showing that she was a girl.
“Yeah, we’re gonna have a rockin’ time!” Donpa added with his lower voice. He was jumping up and down quite a bit!
Helmer smiles and looks towards Beat. “So, Tell us a little about yourself.”
Beat stands up. “Well… my parents were adventurers but something happened and… well…” He could feel himself start to tear up, he quickly clears his throat and tries again:. “Maybe I should not have started with that.” He says, sitting back down and looking to the floor.
“We can try again when we get back on the Fandora. For now, just relax.” Wiz said in her soft, maternal voice. Beat looks up and silently nods, starting to feel a little bit better. Conversations soon starts up again and in due time, the food finally arrives. Hot soups, cold salads, sandwiches, and a giant, cooked Niwatori which caught the attention of Dyna and Donpa. Helmer stands up and holds out her mug.
“I propose a toast to Beat and new bonds!” She says, everyone except Rafale joining in as their tapped their mugs together. After that, lunch was officially served. Donpa and Dyna both dive for the Niwtori, but Wiz whacks the big cat over the head with her staff while Recon drags her brother back. Helmer just rolls her eyes at the sight. “For that, you two get the scraps.” She says in an annoyed tone. “We don’t need to get kicked out of another restaurant.” Rafale and Seal pass food down their respective ends of the table while Helmer carves up to meat to pass down. Wiz reaches over Dyna with Sagitta’s cut and Recon over Donpa with Beat’s.
Beat looked quite excited. He cannot remember the last time he’s had a hot meal that was purposefully cooked that way! He would eat his meat with his hands, not to be rude but because he was the only way he knew how. Then he would notice that Helmer, Recon, Seal, and Rafale were all eating properly, but Donpa and Dyna? Complete disaster. They were making quite a mess with bits of meat and soup getting everywhere, including their neighbors. This of course upset Beat, who scoots away from Donpa and eats on his own. Something was bothering him, though. Well, a couple of things, actually. First of all Dyna isn’t a manticore. It must’ve been the fog this morning. What really was bothering him was the way Rafale refused to acknowledge the porcupine. Every time he looked to the dragon, the dragon would look away. Since Rafale wasn’t going to talk to Beat, he decides to ask the burning question on everyone’s minds.
“Hey, Dyna? I don’t mean to be impersonal and please don’t take this the wrong way but… What exactly are you? I thought you were a manticore but now I’m not so sure.” He asks Dyna.
“You know? I’m not really sure myself. I think I’m a big cat, but these horns make me question everything.” Dyna responds. “It’s why I choose not to care!” He adds with a hearty laugh.
Beat can’t help but smile at Dyna. “I guess you’re right, it really doesn’t matter!” He responds. The crew soon finishes the meal and they head back to the ship while Helmer deals with the most pressing issue of our generation: The check. Beat follows the crew up the gangway and
waits on the top deck for Helmer to arrive. Once she appears, she heads over to Beat.
“I’ll give you a tour of the ship so you can more easily navigate once we get moving.” Helmer says, leading him down into the lower deck to show him the cabins, including the one he’ll be sharing with Donpa. Each one was a room with a light up top powered by magic so as to not let a very destructive flame out that could burn the ship down. To each side of Beat was a blue and white-striped hammock as well as a pair of wooden chairs and a desk placed across from the entrance. Donpa was already laying in his hammock to rest and digest his meal, but manages to sit up and give a welcoming smile to Beat.
Next up was the training dojo that they used whenever they practiced on the ship. It was a large room with several rings for the pirates to spar in. The far wall had racks for wooden swords used for training and a giant flag with the now familiar Skyfang emblem. There was also calligraphy hanging on the walls. “Dark,” “Light,” “Earth,” “Wind,” “Fire,” and “Water” were the most prominent, and Beat recognized them from the myth that all spirits have an elemental alignment they are born with, regardless of how prominent it may be. The rest were probably just some inspirational words like “strength” and “spirit.”
She then would show him a meeting room that was originally intended for only official meetings, but has become a multipurpose room used for eating and playing games, mostly of the card variety. This also makes it a sort of makeshift training place for duels. A long table rested in the middle with an ornate chair in the center of side to the entrance’s right. Behind it was a map and the Skyfang emblem once again. The table was surrounded by nine more wooden stools to make ten seats. This struck Beat as odd. Why were there ten seats around this table if Beat had only just joined a couple hours ago?
Before he could ask why there was a seat for a crew member they just met, Helmer started to speak again. “You can head back over to your cabin for a bit as we prepare for takeoff. Training will begin soon after.” Beat nods and heads back to his quarters, where he finds Donpa there playing on an acoustic guitar, sitting cross-legged on the floor, his skirt draping over his legs, but he could see the feathers under the left part of it and the athletic tape on his upper legs. The thing most noticeable about him, and his twin as well, is the fact that he has quite an overbite.
“I didn’t know you played the guitar.” Beat asked, going to sit on his hammock.
Donpa doesn’t stop his relaxing melody as he responds. “Yeah, been playing it since I was a little kit.” He replies.
“Where did you learn that song? It’s nice and relaxing.” Beat asked.
“Oh, I wrote it!” Donpa says with a big smile. “I’ve been getting into writing music lately.”
Beat turns to see the desk is filled with staff paper with notes, and other kinds of music-y things written on it. He wasn’t even going to pretend to understand any of it. “So, where does Recon sleep?” Beat asked, assuming that the two twins would share a room.
“Strict rule on disallowing co-ed habitation. Recon can hang out here but she can’t spend the night without a good reason.” Donpa explains, crossing his arms and turning his head away. “I personally disagree with it, but rules are rules.”
Helmer’s voice came through the speaker located on the roof near the entrance. “We are now going to begin our ascent. Soon after we reach cruising altitude we will begin training. Gotta work off that big meal we had.” With a click from the speaker, the sails come down and the wings spread out as the ship begins to lift up from the water. Beat could feel the lift under his feet, and it was a new sensation to him as he had never been in airship before. After a bit of time, the rising feeling stopped as the ship went full speed ahead. “You are now free to move about the ship, and by that, I mean get your tails to training.”
Beat and the rest of the crew, except Helmer, all arrived at the training dojo to spar together. Seal stood over the crew. Seal clears his throat to get everyone’s attention. “Since we have someone new joining us today, we’ll be practicing simple sword strikes. First to five. No hitting above the shoulders or below the belt. Reset after each strike.” He then looks over the crew to pair them up. “Recon, Donpa. You’re in ring 2.” He says to the two foxes, who smile at each other and go to get prepared in the back left part of the room, grabbing wooden swords and getting into a fighting stance with them towards the center of the white ring. “Bravo, Dyna. Ring 3.” The big cat and the salamander head to the back right. “Wiz, Sagitta. Ring 4” The octopus and raven go over the ring at the front left. Beat started to feel his heart race again. He was going to paired up with Rafale, and he could sense that the dragon was still a slight bit pissed at him. “Rafale, Beat. Ring 1. Captain’s orders.” Helmer had put them together, Beat knew it. He didn’t really think they would just kiss and make up, but he didn’t seem to have much of a choice. He heads to the back and grabs a wooden sword before standing in fighting position and facing Rafale in the center of the center ring.
Beat and Rafale both held the swords out in front of them, but the boy was holding his quite tightly. He was trembling with nerves, Rafale was an honorable fighter, right? He would never fight dirty. Seal was standing between them as he looked to the two fighters. “Alright, the goal is to strike your opponent with your sword. No striking above shoulders or below the belt, and arms count. After a blow has been struck, reset to the center of the ring for the next round. First to land five strikes wins. Ready? Begin.” Seal steps out of the way so that two could fight and the dragon was quick to swing his sword to try and land the first strike. Suddenly, everything started to go slowly as the porcupine’s senses were heightened. He manages to duck under the sword and swing his at the dragon, striking his side. “Side strike, Beat” Seal says, giving the point. The dragon snorts and gets back into position. “Ready, begin.” Suddenly Rafale moves to make an overhead strike on Beat, who quickly holds up his sword to block it. Seal quickly intervenes, as it was an attempted head strike. “Hey, watch it!” Seal said, interposing himself between the two fighters. He then turns to Beat, who is now quaking where he stood. “You alright, Beat?”
Beat just gives a nod. “Y-yeah.. Just a bit a bit of a shock is all.” He says as he calms down. Seal turns and gives a stern look at Rafale.
“I’m going to give you a warning for that.” Seal said, clear he wasn’t gonna put up with Rafale’s aggression. “This is not the place to take your frustrations out. Calm down or I’ll have to reprimand you.” The two fighters reset and the battle begins. Rafale swings big again and Beat deftly moves to side to dodge it before counter attacking and hitting the dragon in the chest. “Front strike, Beat.” Rafale was starting to get visibly agitated, and it started to make Beat fear him. Seal calls for the round to begin and all of a sudden the dragon delivers a front kick square in the porcupine’s gut! He clutches his body and drops his sword, starting to feel sick. “That’s enough! I’m ending this!” Seal said, now getting concerned for Beat’s safety as he stumbles a bit in a struggle to stay standing. “Are you okay, Beat?”
“I... really don’t... feel good.” He says, ears ringing and feeling overall sick before everything turned black.