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Lost and Found

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I didn’t think I would die young, until I met him. I didn’t think I’d live forever, but at least have some life with him, enjoy my young years. Of course, he wasn’t young. He just appeared that way. Dark matter is a tricky substance, and when you screw with it, you get hit, hard. He learned that through example, upon himself. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I should probably start at the beginning. ----- “What do we stand for?” A man in a thick metal suit demanded, extending a thumb. “Glory!” the cocky young pirate shouted confidently. Metal-head hesitated, before turning his hand, giving the poor soul thumbs down. The metal platform he stood on folded, and the dauntless pirate fell to his demise, screaming. The man moved on, asking the same question to the next man. This one was reluctant to answer, but when the man’s hand waivered, he gave a rapid answer, “Riches!” A few men surrounding us chuckled as Metal-head’s thumb twisted downwards, and this pirate followed the last one. The second to last man was a skinny thing, all shivery and quiet. He backed up, intimidated by the thick, clunky armor and the giant battleax on the man’s back. “What-“ The armored man stepped forward again, and the shivery man took about 50 steps back, wobbling and falling off the platform. The man looked off the edge, shrugged, and stepped towards the last pirate. Me. Trying to join a pirate’s crew was risky, but it was plain suicide to try and join the crew of the Arcadia. But the mysterious Captain Harlock was open for recruits, so a few brave souls tried to join his spaceship, and very few survived. I tried not to let fear show, but after seeing those three take a dive I was a little nervous. But I stood tall, chin up, and stared straight into that big metal man’s face. “What do we stand for?” his voice rattled out. I hesitated slightly, before saying an answer, hopefully the answer he wanted to hear. “Freedom!” My voice was caught against the wind, almost unheard as it picked up. The man raised his arm, and I held my breath, getting ready to plummet. It never came. I was yanked off the tiny platform, and the men surrounding us cheered. Metal-head took off his helmet, showing a pudgy tanned face with a scratchy beard and goggles strapped over his eyes. He rubbed his bandanna covered head, giving my bewildered self a huge grin, “Welcome to the crew, newbie!” He walked a few feet, before turning to beckon me forward. I was about to follow, when the ship suddenly tilted. People scattered to brace themselves on the sides, but I wasn’t in the clear. I had been caught off-guard, and was about to fall overboard. My arms reached forward for anything, and hands reached to grab, but they all fell short. I felt myself tilt backwards, almost in slow motion, and the air started to suck me down. “Be more careful.” A voice rang out, deep but loud. My previously shut eyes flew open, to stare at the arm gripping the front of my armor, a thief style black leather outfit with crossbones across the chest. The hand was clad in gloves, and as I trailed it up I found an entire body attached, dressed in dark garments that screamed regal and death. I looked at the face in disbelief, and found a man staring back at me. He had a mess of dark brown hair, and chiseled face with remote and harsh features. His single golden-brown eye was bearing down on me, the other masked by a worn black eye patch. He could be considered handsome, if he lost the scary look, and the fierce jagged scar running across his face. The scarily handsome pirate pulled me up, and automatically released me when I was safely on the starship’s floor. I nearly fell over again, but the pudgy faced man grabbed my shoulders, steadying me. I whipped my head back to look at the pirate as he stalked past me, but he made a show of flapping his cape around his back, sheltering his face from my curious stares. Pirates surrounding us all went quiet, not a single rustle, until a woman in a skintight pinkish-red armored suit stepped forward, “Captain Harlock, this is our new recruit.” “We’ve met.” He answered curtly, ignoring the woman as he roughly passed her. “You’ll be watching over her, Kei.” The blond opened her mouth to protest, but was silenced VERY quickly by a glare. She bounded down the stairs, walking up to me quickly as the doors sealed behind us, closing off any chance of turning back. Kei was very tall, looming over me, but still Captain Harlock stood over her. She grabbed my arm and pulled me along, quickly explaining how I was now part of the crew, and how I needed to listen to the captain, respect the ship, blah blah blah. I looked at the captain one more time before I was whisked past, but he was too busy looking forward, driving the ship out of my former home planet’s orbit. I sighed as Kei pulled me into a lower room, full of different pots and pans. “We don’t have very much for you to do now, so you can have kitchen duty. Second mate, Yullian, will be down in a few to explain what you need to get done while down here. Don’t fuck anything up, or you’ll find yourself in space very quickly, all alone.” She threatened, getting close to my face. I backed up on reflex, frowning, “Well, since I don’t plan to spend any time in space outside of this ship, I think we’re on the same page.” My brazen attitude was starting to show through, and Kei apparently didn’t appreciate it too much. “Don’t get too comfortable. If you’re not useful or you disrespect the crew, the Captain will get rid of you.” And with that final threat, she left the room, climbing the stairs until I could hear her boots thumping overhead as she returned to the deck. I finally let myself relax, resting my aching head against one of the cupboards, and shut my eyes. My disobedient red locks were starting to escape from the messy braid I had them in, so I released them, deciding to kick back in a chair and wait until this ‘Yullian’ arrives. “Eh, wake up!” the accented words and a swift jab had me up in seconds, holding whatever weapon I could find to defend myself. The owner of the jabbing hand and voice laughed, gripping the table that lay in the middle of the room for support as he hammered the table with his fist. “Newbie, you sure aren’t the smartest around here.” He said in between gasps. I looked at him with distain, a little embarrassed he had caught me dozing off. “Well, I’m up now.” I snapped harshly, flinging the weapon – a large metal spoon- at his face. He ducked away, and smiled widely, “I’m Yullian, second mate, and the person here to instruct you!” He announced, sweeping out his arms. I crossed my own, not in the mood for games. “Yea, I got that already. What do I have to do?” I demanded, rather impatient with the chubby pirate. He frowned, before his face split into a maniacal grin, “Kitchen work.” ---- “I swear to god, if I see another dirty dish I will murder someone.” I spit, furiously scrubbing at a metal plate. Apparently no one taught these stupid space pirates how to do dishes. Yullian chuckled from his seat at the table, “Get used to it. Unless Captain really likes ya, you’ll probably be down here cleaning dishes or upstairs cleaning other things.” I groaned, resting my head against the wall, “Seriously?” I squeeze my eyes together, “This is ridiculous. I came on this damned ship for adventure, and didn’t almost die to do dishes!” I punch a bag of flour sitting up on the counter beside me. It fell over, and spilled a little on the floor. I threw my hands up, “Ugh! I just can’t get a break around here!” I bit my lip, face getting hot. I always managed to get so angry or frustrated that I cried. It was pathetic, but I couldn’t help it. Yullian hopped out of his chair and shambled over, “Eh, I think you’ve done enough newbie. Go explore the ship, why don’t ya?” He pushed me out of the cramped kitchen, and I gleefully spun around, “Oh thank you Yullian! I owe you one.” I grinned and took off, speeding through the halls of the Arcadia. It was a massive ship, made out of some super durable dark metal. I ducked in between the various exposed pipes clinging to the walls, crawling along some of them to get up higher. It was like I had the job of a spy, creeping along to learn everyone’s secrets. I managed to get pretty far, having no trouble as the pipework was pretty close together. I was perched on a low bearing one, scanning my surroundings as I sneaked around. I thought I was a pretty good spy, until it hit me. A bird, a very ugly, stick-necked, dirty turquoise bird, slammed into me. I shouted, waving around to grab a pipe that was jutting out close, but my fingers just missed it as I slid off. “Fuck!” I landed in a heap, my back pounding with drumbeats of pain, “Stupid shitty bird!” I shouted, waving my fist at it angrily. It turned it’s long, stupid head and squawked at me, swooping down until it landed on a shoulder. A very familiar shoulder. Fuck fuckity fuck fuck. It’s probably the same thing you’d be thinking if you were suddenly staring at the face of your very scary new captain. I backed up immediately, stumbling up to stand, “Captain I was just looking around…” My voice stopped as he didn’t say anything, just stared at me with that one eye. It felt like time was frozen, or stretched out in slow motion for these agonizing moments to drift by. Suddenly, a bandanna wearing, beer bellied savior came to my rescue. Yullian ran up, gasping for breath. “Newbie, there you are! Damn, you can run fast.” He huffed, his goggled face all flushed. He looked to Captain Harlock, “She was just showin’ me some tricks on how to drop on an enemy, though I doubt I could get up there like she could.” He grinned. I bit my lip nervously, knowing that the captain wouldn’t fall for the lie, but hoping desperately he wouldn’t yell at me. After a few moments, he nodded, “Go do something more productive with her.” Captain Harlock swept his cape behind him as he walked past. Yullian scurried forward, beckoning for me to follow, but a certain bird decided to reach back and try to bite me. I swatted at it, fuming silently as it smugly sat on Harlock’s shoulder, and there was no way in hell I would ever try to hit a bird while it was with him. So I decided to instead catch up with Yullian, jogging down the hall to find my helpful new friend. “Eh! Newbie, come on in here!” The accented voice was starting to become familiar to me, since only about three people have ‘talked’ to me on this dumb spaceship. I duck into the dimly lit room, squinting to find my short companion, “Yullian? Where are-“ I run right into a pile of hard, pointy objects. “What are these?” I questioned, picking something up out of it. Suddenly bright lights flickered on, and I encounter the armor I saw him wearing earlier, when he was playing life or death with us outside the ship. I looked over the pile of discarded breastplates, boots, and various other parts. Now without my life hanging in the balance, I looked the different pieces over, finding that the entire suit reminded me of an old scuba diver’s outfit. “Why are we in here?” I glanced around until my eyes landed on him, rummaging through a large wooden crate. Cautiously I walk over, my curiosity winning as I popped up behind him, “Why are you looking for new armor?” I tilted my head, confused by the contents. It was armor, but made for a feminine figure, certainly not for small round men like him. “For you, newbie.” He suddenly chucked a suit at me, and I caught it before it whacked me in the stomach, “What is your name, anyway? Can’t call you newbie forever, newbie.” He smirked. I stuck my tongue out at him and undid the various straps of my leather armor, showing I had a thin black jumpsuit on underneath. “Damn, can’t catch a break.” Yullian muttered as he looked at me. I swatted his head, forcing him to turn around, as I pulled on the various parts of protective armor. It covered all my needed spots, and left a tough but flexible covering over the joints. I tried it out, stretching my legs, arms, back, and to my intense surprise, I loved it. The color was a dull blackish gold, in needing of a polish, but it was unique. “We have a few old pieces of armor lying around like that in this room. Next we just need you a gun, and you’ll be ready to fight for us in no time!” He clapped his thick hands together. “Awesome, thank you so much Yullian, this is really great.” I smiled genuinely, looking over my figure. It didn’t feel clunky or restricting. “Now, can we go look around more? Pleeeeaaase?” I asked, and he nodded, “Only if you answer my question before though, newbie. What’s your name?” He smirked. “My name is Kael.” I sighed, exasperated with Yullian and his dwelling mind. “Now can we go?” Arms on my hips, I glared at him until he gives in, “Alright, you can go run around the deck for a while, get to see the ship in action. C’mon.” I trotted after him happily, excited and a bit nervous to see more of the ship. More space meant more people, and that meant more socializing. With a mental groan, I hesitantly followed Yullian onto the deck. “Yullian, where have you been? With her, all this time?” The accusing came from Kei as the Arcadia moved through space smoothly, gliding eerily through the stars. I had just entered the deck, curiously peering at the different machinery set up in stations, each manned by a member of the crew. Yullian, as second mate, had taken his post up at the front, near the left side of the ship. The room had a large space, with a platform in the middle that housed Captain Harlock’s chair and the engine. The engine was amazing, a dark matter model, which ran beautifully with little noise. Miime, the intriguing alien that was the only person in the entire crew who could drive this monster to run, was delighted to explain the way it operates. “The ship has multiple duties that only one with this kind of engine can perform. The Arcadia has self-regeneration powers, so she can close up any holes without needing repair time. Also a rather useful feature, a powerful traveling system that can jump us away in a matter of seconds, while releasing thick smoke to cloud our retreat. The smoke can also be deployed during battles, to confuse enemies and shelter us. We certainly have a few advantages when riding on this crew.” She brushed her long fingers across a smooth pipe, jutting from the heart of the engine. “It’s very useful, and very old.” I explored further parts of the engine before thanking Miime and running off to meet more of the crew. After the excitement of joining wore off, most members of the Arcadia’s large crew didn’t pay you any attention, unless you were needed during a mission. I quickly learned they also had a problem with answering questions. Now, asking them, they could come up with many. I didn’t learn many names as I wandered about, as most of the worn men only answered with barely audible grunts and annoyed hand waves. After this ever so enchanting welcome, I glumly sat on the steps beside Yullian’s post, resting my head against the side of his dashboard. I rubbed –futilely- at the metal of my armor, attempting to shine it up a bit. But to no avail, the stubborn metal stayed dull and speckled with shards of various space rocks. I gave up and sighed, tilting my head back to look at Yullian, who was having the time of his life, flipping seemingly random switches and typing in words too fast for my eyes to track. I found his rhythm of crazy twitching and occasional grunts amusing, so I got up and leaned against the machine, watching him work. It wasn’t all random; it appeared he had a quiet rhythm to his finger work. “What are you doing, Yullian?” I questioned him softly, not wanting to disrupt the flurry of his motions. “Captain is going to visit some planet on out there, so he wants me to route the course. I gotta get all the engines and the system online to connect to the route…”