"Is it my imagination, or has the fun started without us?" Hawke asks, looking through the brass spyglass she'd stolen from Isabela's belt at the ship floating below them. It’s larger than theirs, but also clearly designed for carrying cargo, broad and ponderous in the air with none of the lethal sleekness of Isabela’s craft.
Isabela is also frowning at the commotion on the ship, bodies careening on the snugly fitted wooden planks, then grins as a puff of green smoke blooms from the deck. "You might be right. You know, I thought there was something suspicious about this particular tip. It came from a friend of a friend in the Carta who's never steered me wrong. I assumed the ship belonged to a competitor, but she might have had another motive."
A short, stocky figure bowls through the crowd, clearing a path with deadly swings from a maul almost as large as she is. She raises a hand to her brow, blocking the sun, and looks up, then grins, bright blue tattoos vivid on her warm brown skin. "Ho the ship!" she calls, rich voice carrying clearly over the distance separating the two vessels. "About time you got here!"
"If we'd known it was a rescue, we might have flown faster!" Hawke shouts back and the woman laughs.
"I object to that description. I've never needed rescuing in my life," she retorts, "Help transporting crates of gold and potions however..."
Isabela’s grin widens as she steers the ship closer with an experienced hand, but Hawke raises her eyebrows. “And who are we stealing these from?”
“Orlesians,” the dwarf says, with the same tone of voice most people use when speaking of leeches. “Supplies for one of those endless wars against each other over who has the stinkiest cheese or most gem encrusted chamber pot or whatever it is they fight about.” A man rears up behind her and she casually swats him with the butt end of her maul before Hawke can give warning. He crumples to the ground and the woman winks at her and Isabela. “The Jennies can put the loot to much better use, I promise. After your cut, of course.”
“Stealing from Orlesians doesn’t even count as a crime, really,” Hawke muses.
“Don’t say that!” Isabela pinches her side. “You’ll ruin my reputation as a heartless pirate.”
Hawke laughs. “That ship sailed years ago, love. Now help me with this winch.” Isabela sets the wheel and they carefully lower a rope from the airship to the woman below, who grasps the end of it, then looks around the deck before looking back up.
“There’s only two of us. So might need one of you down here to guard the rope while we ferry supplies up and down.”
Hawke grins, then hops the rail before Isabela can call dibs on the guarantee for action. Besides, there’s nothing more effective at combat than a force mage on an airship. One jab of her staff and she can send people plummeting to the depths below or hovering in the air, life flashing before their eyes as she decides their fate. And as much as she trusts Isabela’s skills, she’s also the most qualified for rescuing any people or objects that decide to fling themselves overboard willy nilly.
She slides down the rope with the skill of an experienced sky sailor, skill she’s learned in the months since Kirkwall, spent almost entirely in the air with the pirate who’d stolen her heart, among other things. Many other things.
Her booted feet land on the deck with a thump and she pulls the staff off her back just in time to crack someone upside the head with it. The man falls back with a groan and Hawke jabs it at him again, this time with magic curling around the bladed end in barely visible currents. He hits the opposite railing so hard she hears a bone crack and she grins, then turns to look for other threats or anyone in need of assistance.
The first person she sees is an elven woman, wearing a combination of red and plaidweave that should be horrifically garish but somehow isn’t. Hawke waves a hand, the other woman’s mischievous grin and arms full of bulging burlap sacks convincing her that this is clearly another new friend.
Another rope whistles down through the air, this one with a large barrel attached. Hawke helps the woman unload her loot into the barrel, then thumps the side, signalling Isabela to pull it back up.
“How many more loads?” she asks, absently admiring the blonde’s rough pixie cut. Much like Hawke’s own hair it looks like it was done by the woman herself with nothing but a mostly sharp dagger. She loves it.
“At least six. These tits are rolling in it.” The woman grins, sharp and swift. “Were rolling in it. Now we are.”
Hawke laughs. “That we are.” One of the men lying on the deck moves as if to get up and she thumps the end of her staff against the fitted planks, sending a ripple of power out that knocks him back down. The elven woman laughs.
“You’re all right,” she tells Hawke with that same sharp smile. “Be right back!”
She runs off before Hawke can respond, crossing paths with the dwarf from earlier and dropping a smacking kiss on her cheek before darting back into the hold. The dwarven woman is grinning, her arms full of loot, which she promptly dumps into the empty barrel that thuds back down onto the deck. “It’s our anniversary,” she confides in Hawke as they watch Isabela reel the barrel back up, “we like to do something special.”
“You are my kind of people,” Hawke declares. “Go get the rest of the goods so we can celebrate a successful anniversary with some of the Antivan Sip-Sip Isabela stole from her favorite ex.”
“Humans with good taste in liquor? We’re definitely in,” the woman responded with a hearty laugh, clapping Hawke on the arm with a powerful hand. “Just keep an eye on Sera; she tries to keep up with me and it never goes well.”
She disappears back into the hold and Hawke keeps the deck clear as the dwarf and Sera bring out the rest of the loot. The chaos caused by the two women before Hawke and Isabela arrived had clearly been very effective, as no coordinated attempt to regain control of the ship has been mounted.
Finally the last of the ship’s hold has been sent up the rope. Sera scales it with ease while the dwarf, who introduced herself as Helle, pulls herself up with brute strength. Hawke follows them up, pausing to survey the plundered ship below them one last time before mounting the railing with a grin and pulling the rope up behind her.
Isabela steers them away from the other ship with a careful hand, guiding them up towards the swifter, more dangerous air currents that a merchant’s ship isn’t built with to withstand.
Although she could happily watch her lover at work all day, Hawke turns toward their guests. “I don’t know about you two, but I’m starving. If you go down the hatch there,” she points further down the deck, “you’ll find a kitchen, among other things. Help yourselves and as soon as Isabela and I are done securing our getaway, we’ll come join you for that celebration I promised.”
Helle and Sera crack nearly identical grins and Helle gives her a sloppy salute before grabbing her wife’s hand and pulling her toward the hatch. “I’ll make us a feast!” she calls over her shoulder, “hope you two scalawags like cookies!”
Hawke chuckles as she moves back to the railing and begins to secure the rigging. She loves Isabela, more than she thought she ever could love someone who wasn’t Bethany or Carver or her parents, and they work very well together. But it’ll be a nice change of pace to have two extra pairs of hands on board, especially ones who can cook. And she very much wants to hear the story of their wedding, if this is how Helle and Sera celebrate their anniversary.
Hawke looks over at Isabela, who’s grinning fiercely into the sun bright sky as the wind ruffles her long black hair, her bandana flapping as she leans into the currents.
Maybe it’s time Hawke figured out how to propose. There’s nothing she’d rather do than spend the rest of her life on this ship with that brilliant, beautiful woman. And she is quite confident they can come up with some amazing anniversary traditions of their own.