To the Nexus - Part II

5th October - Flying between The Roost and The Nexus - Morning

The captain was happy, drinking another dark ale while steering Ophelia through the sky. Was remarkable how powerful the new set of engines were, how fast and smooth the airship was flying.

He was looking down below, to Dusk. To the walls.

"I can't really believe that someone down there can be really happy. Not even in Highholm. Not fully, at least..." - he said with a sigh.
Thaddeus was at his side, and didn't fully get the meaning of that, saying - "Sir, I believe that they are quite happy in Highholm, and around it through the snob neighborhoods as well... Why do you say that?"
He gave his half-smile as answer, than pointed to the walls - "The walls... the fucking walls... you can live in paradise, but will certainly feel as a prisoner from the moment you notice the walls around you. I'm not saying that they don't have good lives, just can't really be..." - and he stopped his speech, moving his attention to something strange among the crew.

A man, not young as the coal staff, but using the same clothes, was leaving the cargo compartment. He was totally clean, without any of the expected soot covering his face. He was talking with some of the crew, telling some jokes and smiling. A bright, white smile. Something very rare, indeed. And than, he was carefully moving to the entrance of Dr. Crank's chambers.

"... Ok, hold that thought, Thad. Take care of the wheel, I need to see something." - and passing the bottle to Thad, as a symbolic command passage, he left the bridge and moved to where he saw that stranger.

Phineas moved the goggles to his forehead and walked through his crew, aiming for the doctor's chambers, giving one or two commands while passing by - "Keep that rope tight, airdog!".

He entered slowly that crazy laboratory. Books, several vials filled each one with a liquid of a different color, strange apparatus sparking all around. And that strange man, taking notes. He said in his tone of debauchery - "May I help you sir? Maybe you're lost? In the wrong airship, perhaps?".

The man froze in his place, his notes falling to the ground. There was a moment stopped in time, the spy was sweating, nervous. When this scene finally broke, he turned violently to Phineas with a knife in hand, slashing in a wide arc. The captain was ready, and jumped back in order to avoid the strike.
But the spy was determined, he could see that now in his eyes. He finished the arc and immediately tryied to stab the captain in the belly.
Now was the time to react. Phineas dodged to the right and landed a might cross punch in his adversary ribs. The man lost all his air, and the captain's mechanical arm grabbed the wrist that was wielding the knife, followed by one more punch in the same place, but this time with the muffled sound of ribs breaking.
The crackling sound of the arm's gears working was covering the murmur of pain from that stranger. The brass hand closed to the point where the wrist being held broke, the knife falling. Now, a scream of pain was released and in moments muted by a powerful right-handed punch in the mouth, nose and teeth breaking.

He dragged the spy outside, and chaos took place among the staff. Thaddeus and Dr. Crank were there as well.

"An intruder... in my airship... taking notes of everything... how could this happen?" - he said, cleaning the blood from his hands.

Thaddeus was without words, this was his responsibility. He look to his side just to meet the accusing expression in Crank's face - "I.. I don't know, captain. He probably boarded Ophelia during the launch...".

"Right, right, we may discuss that later. Damn. He is awakening."

Spitting blood, the man opened his eyes slowly. Phineas was a mad demon over him - "Tell me sir... why were you spying on my airship? Who sent you?".

The man gave a funny smile as answer, missing a few teeth, drooling blood - "I will never tell you anything... damn you Steelheart..."

Phineas gave a shout - "back to work, dogs!" - and when the crowd around him dissipated, he started - "I will count until ten. That's the time you have to tell me something.".

Now a low laugh could be heard. The guy felt a lot of pain from his broken ribs doing that, it was pretty obvious.

"One... two..." - and in a single, fluid and quick motion, he drew Jenny, his beloved shooter, and shot the spy's right knee. A loud scream and a lot of blood mixed in an image of terror.
Without losing the rhythm of the count - "... three... four" - and a new shot, now to the left knee. More blood, another scream, and now the man was crying.
"Nooooo... please... I tell you what I know... stoooopp".

Holstering Jenny, he approached the man, stepping in his right wounded knee, drawing more tears from that spy - "See...I never reach five.. so boring... Go on... tell me, I'm all ears.".

"I.. I..." - the man was crying deeply - "... I never really saw him... I don't even know his name... I meet him every two days, but he is always using a mask, and never say a word, just give me some new written orders and money to pay for the previous job done... I have here the last note... and should meet him tomorrow, late night in the Centrum..."

The captain now put some pressure in that knee, spilling more blood - "... and why in this fucking world would you be taking notes about my Ophelia?"

Sobering, the man did his best to answer - "I'm doing this for a long time... since Fitzgerald joined your crew... They think that you can be an asset to the revolution... the revolution that will change everything... but you are unpredictable, dangerous...".

Thaddeus was posing a face palm, and Crank was laughing.
"I must tell you..." - Phineas continued - "... if you're telling me the truth, this was the worst recruitment ever. I will be there tomorrow, in the Centrum, in your place. Let's see who is doing all this shit. After all, I don't want notes about my ship or my crew flying out there. Good thing that is at night, because I must kill a noble during the evening. You know... duel stuff."

This last comment drew a long and deep sigh from Thaddeus.

"All right. Thank you from your time. You may leave my airship."
The eyes of the man widened, pure terror filled his face.
"W... Wh... What? I told you everything!!!"

The captain smiled, that charming smile of a underdog, while grabbing the man by the neck with his mechanical arm and dragging him to the border of the ship, that clockwork noise that precedes a burst of strength echoing - "... and for that, kind sir, we thank you.".

And with no more words, he threw the spy overboard. For a few seconds was possible to hear his scream while he spun with the force of the wind, terrified, until the wind took him and he was swallowed by the Maelstrom above.

Phineas than gave his look of disapproval to Thaddeus. He was really mad at the moment. He grabbed the closest swab he found and gave to his old first-mate.
"Here is your first punishment. Clean this deck of all this blood. Than clean Crank's laboratory. And finally, I think you may polish the doctor's bald head. One of them, at least." .

The crew around them cried out in a heavy laugh.

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