N is for Nautical Entrepreneur

N is for Nautical Entrepreneur

Vicky kept both eyes the young man dressed all in black. Pants, boots, cape, shirt, fancy hat and tie, all complementary shades of black. In the regulars who came to the Market, he was dressed rather plainly and would have gone unnoticed had it not been the fluid grace of a cat as he maneuvered up and down the aisles and around other customers. He also knew just when to avert eye contact. Every time. She knew that he knew that she was watching him. That made her suspicious.

As of yet, he hadn’t done anything that merited her authority to kick him out of the store, and they both knew it, she was sure. He continued his slow saunter up and down each aisle, inspecting item after item on the shelves as though they were some piece of long lost treasure.

While she rang up another customer, the man made his move and nearly out the door while Vicky offered change to the paying guest, a box of Grade A Titanium Thread Injectors in hand.

“Seriously? Stop!” Vicky jammed the alarm. The cashiers stand armed itself as the store went into lock down mode.

“Why would I do that?” He called back over his shoulder towards her as he dove under the closing security curtain.

“So I can stop you, you thief!” Vicky leaped over the counter running straight towards the metal wall. It parted just enough to allow her through before slamming shut again.

He spun around to run backward, “Well, I admit, being captured by you would not be unwelcome. And you’re sporting a lovely selection of firearms I’m sure we could spend hours disassembling and reassembling,” he gave Vicky a wink.

Vicky felt heat building up in her cheeks, and not from the pursuit. She growled.

“No? Not today?” he frowned in a mock pout, “alright, Ms. Green, another day I’ll allow you to whisk me off my feet. I believe I have an opening in two weeks if you would like to try then. Really, Ms. Green, I have a previous engagement planned with the frigate Slipstream later today that I simply cannot miss.”

“Pirate!” Vicky ran harder.

“My name is Dagon, and it is a pleasure to meet you Ms. Green,” Dagon smiled sweetly, “but I do prefer the term Nautical Entrepreneur, thank you very much.” He spun around and picked up speed just before Vicky could catch him. She saw a base boost pattern flash into existence every time one of his boots hit the floor. Of course, he had just been playing with her. He could have been long gone if had wanted to, she thought to herself.

“I must be off, Ms. Green, but I’ll come back and visit you another time.” Dagon tipped his hat towards her as he dropped into a slide, slipped between the safety railings and sailed out into the atrium to the floors below.

Vicky caught herself against the safety railing. She upholstered her Winters Special, but he was already vanishing into the crowd of guests before she would have been able to fire. Across the atrium and a floor down, she spotted Kyle.

“Kyle!” Vicky waved to get his attention. “Pirate!” She pointed towards Dagon running off two floors below her.

Kyle waved back up to Vicky and then ran off after Dagon.

“Stop, pirate!” Kyle called out.

“Sorry, not my type,” Dagon yelled back, leaping over another safety railing to the next floor below.

Kyle followed him over the railing, landing in a run.

Dagon skipped around a corner and down the hall which turned into a narrow dead end. He stared at the wall thoughtfully as Kyle approached, “Comical, wouldn’t you say? I happen into an impasse as the hero approaches? This wasn’t on the map. Has it been here long?”

“It’s been here long enough,” Kyle said, blocking off the only escape. “Give up.”

Dagon tapped his chin, “No, I don’t believe so.” He dove for the air vent off to his right at the same time blasting a hole through the grate. “Be seeing you,” he cackled as he vanished into the ductwork and down into the bowels of the market.

“You won’t get away that easy!” Kyle yelled into the vent; he wasn’t small enough to want to attempt that.

“You think this is easy?” Dagon called back up the shaft. He came to rest somewhere in the walls or floor or maybe even the ceiling. He never managed to get maps of the ducts. Now he wished he had. He sat up in a rather dark area with spots of light dancing from far off places. He produced a sphere from a pocket and attempted to illuminate it. It refused to charge. “I’m pretty sure I checked this before I left,” he muttered to himself giving it a wack against the wall.

“Here, let me help,” a female voice said from directly behind him. The small metal duct flashed yellow, bright compared to the darkness. The sphere charged and glowed a soft red.

“Thanks,” Dagon turned to the voice, “That was very kind of youuuuu……”

“You’re quite welcome! I’m Avera,” Avera said cheerily. She was sprawled out on her stomach, propped up on an elbow and other hand extended for a handshake as though meeting people in air ducts was the most natural place to meet people. Her legs swung in the air. “You seem to be all kinds of trouble, want to go exploring? It’ll be fun!” she smiled.

Dagon shivered with a cold sweat as he felt his blood draining, “Sorry, but I already have a lovely date this afternoon, so I must decline your invitation with the utmost pleasantries.”

“But you can’t leave, you just got here.”

“Yes, I can.”

“How?”

“Watch.” Dagon pulled out a crystal shell and smashed it into the space between them. The entire shaft instantly filled with hard pack ice. Moments later Dagon shook himself out of it, the remains of a counter crystal fell from his other hand. He set to work assembling an Estervan Emergency Escape Tunneler stored in the folds of his cloak.

“I do hope you understand, Ms. Villi, It’s not you, I just can’t commit, you see. No, I concede, it’s quite alright, I’ve broken your fragile heart. I give you my most sincere apology. But trust me, my dear, it’s for the better of us both that you go on with out me. I’m sure we’ll meet some day again, but until that day happens, hopefully never, please try to forget me.” Dagon finished and climbed into the harness.

“It’s been a lovely chat, Ms. Villi, but I must be off,” he said to the block of ice that was Avera.

With a blast of steam, the Estervan bored a hole straight up through the walls and floor in quick succession until he popped up out through the roof. He clamored out of the harness and bolted towards his ship moored off the edge of the Market. ‘Lighting Rider’ had been painted across its bow. “Cast off, men!” he called out to his ship. Several men jumped into action, cutting the anchor lines to the mooring harpoons.

“Stop right there, Dagon!” Vicky burst out through one of the doorways. Winters Special balanced in both hands and finger just off the trigger.

Vicky fired. The glowing green sphere of light smashed into the protective silk screen around the ship. Her shot dissipated into a wave of green that washed around the entire ship and Dagon who was now in its envelope. Vicky shouted various noises as the ship

“Sorry, love, we can have a nice date another time,” Dagon winked at her as he grabbed a line that sent him swinging far out over the vehicle lot as the ship came about into a running wind.

Avera crawled out of the hole that the Estervan had created, still half covered in ice. “Did we get him?”

“No,” Vicky grumbled checking the levels of the pistol. There wasn’t enough for a second shot.

Kyle appeared and saw the ship retreating into the distance. “Very strange, typically the automated systems would have shot that out of the sky a long time ago.”

THANK YOU. COME AGAIN. THAT WAS MOST ENJOYABLE.

“Well, that explains a lot,” Kyle said as Vicky banged her head against the door.

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