The course of young Franceline Drake’s life was plotted for her: after a childhood spent running wild aboard her father’s ships, her mother, a diplomat, sent her to one of the finest finishing schools in Chai, that she might learn “polish and refinement,” and thereafter settle into an appropriate marriage. Although Drake did learn which fork to use and how to serve tea to an earl, she was vastly more interested in the dark eyes and bright smile of the seafarer Random Chance. She left Mrs. Emelie Hartdegen’s Ladies’ Seminary behind for the bright lure of the sea–and of ill-gotten plunder, for Random was no merchant seaman, but a pirate.
Clever and fearless, Drake soon rose to captaining her own pirate ship, loving the freedom of the sea, the rebellion of lawlessness, and the bright gleam of ill-gotten gold. Her exploits, however, soon garnered the attention of the Royal Navy of Camembert, who sent an ambitious young officer to put an end to them for good.
Much later than three bells in the morning watch: the last hardcore party-goers were slumped in doorways and in gutters, and even the stars had gone to sleep. A young woman walked the dark streets with a light but steady tread, the hem of her magnificent red coat swaying as she went. She did not skulk in shadows, but strode down the center of the street, and when she reached the puddle of light thrown by one sad and guttering lantern, she paused and turned.
“If it’s my money you’re after,” she called, “then I suggest you seek an easier mark. And if it’s my honor…” She paused, smiling. In her hand was a slim and deadly length of steel. “Well, that’s long gone, so you might as well save yourself the trouble.”
Rapid footsteps pattered off into the darkness.
“Wise choice,” she called after them, putting the sword away and continuing down the shadowy street. When she came to a certain doorway, down a certain alley, past a certain shop, she paused, knocked thrice, and waited.
Her foot tapped against the paving stones.
A panel in the door slid open, and a pair of eyes peered out at her. “Well?”
“I have goods for sale. Is Dorobo here?”
The eyes narrowed. “What sort of goods?”
“I’d prefer not to discuss it while standing out here in the street. Is he here, or should I find another buyer?”
Eyebrows knitted (and an impressive pair of eyebrows they were, appearing to have been made out of heavy black wire), the person on the other side of the door considered. And then: “No. No, I don’t think so. Dorobo’s not in the market right now.”
The panel slammed shut.
The Voyage to Ruin, volume one of The Sky Sailors, is available in a variety of formats in a variety of places: in Kindle format at Amazon, in other electronic formats at Smashwords, and, for the traditionalist, in dead-tree format at Lulu.com.