When one spends their life with their eyes trained on the sky, they tend to miss what’s right in front of them.
Freddie says that a lot, usually when he’s up by the helm of the ship, and has just witnessed Brian, who is running across the deck trying to get the best vantage point of the sky through the clouds, run straight into John, who in fairness, is equally distracted by the impending storm.
“Could you at least warn us next time?” Brian calls over a crack of thunder.
“Being your guide dog isn’t my job.” Freddie’s glaring into the storm, a white-knuckled grip on the wheel as he prepared to whether it. John doesn’t seem too bothered by it, just picks up his scattered tools, straightens his googles, and heads towards the bow of the ship.
“What about you, ya jackal?” Brian levels a glare at where their resident Warlock had taken up residence on the banister of the quarterdeck, laughing as he watches the events unfold from his vantage point by the Captain. Roger sits with his ankles crossed, balancing with an unnatural ease, and for good reason; his favourite thing was using his magic to make it look like himself appear just that little bit better than the humans around him, irritating git.
“You should watch where you’re going.” Is all he offers, eyes shining as he watches a crack of lightning streak across the sky.
“I’m trying to watch where we’re all going.” Brian huffs, rolling up his map and putting it in it’s holder for safekeeping. “Anyways, the storms dead ahead, you don’t need me to guide you. I’ll be down by the barrels until this is all over.” And with that he descends further into the ship to keep an eye on, and switch out the lightning barrels as they’re being filled.
From his vantage point on the gun deck, which had initially been for show, and had now been converted into the main collection point that all the lightning funnelled into, Brian could catch glimpses of the storm raging outside, and feel as it knocked the ship about. He had absolute faith in Deaky’s designs, they’d been through far worse and come out singing before, and for now he just contented himself with making sure that none of the lightning barrels overflowed, and occasionally catching a glimpse of stars through the clouds.
There was no denying he was rather enamoured with them, at least as a concept; spending thousands of years bringing light to the world in it’s darkest hours, holding their constellations for hundred, even thousands of years, watching silently as the universe passes them by, all without complaint. There was something beautiful, artistic about the way they arranged themselves, something that made Brian feel so unbelievably small, and occasionally futile, in comparison. But their constant nature was often the only things that kept him sane aboard this ship, and so he wouldn’t begrudge the stars their shining constance, he’d just be thankful they shone at all, and kept him in a job, and ironically, kept him grounded.
Roger joins him almost immediately after the storm passes. Brian’s carefully distilling a little of the freshest lightning into a little sample size if the buyer’s unconvinced of it’s quality, which is a tricky process involving heat-proof mittens and a weird metal hose, and Roger pulls off the lid of the barrel without a second thought. By now, Brian doesn’t even flinch; Roger’s adept at keeping the lightning contained with his magic and a flick of his wrist, and looks into the crackling metal barrel without any hesitation.
“Seems like we’ve got a good batch on our hands.” Roger tries to sound like he knows what he’s talking about, like he doesn’t say that every time because he’s a little in awe at the sight of what’s essentially bottled lightning. Brian doesn’t comment. “Well I appreciate your candor, I did do an excellent job.” Roger fills in the blanks with exactly what he wants to hear, and he steps back, stretching out his hand, and there’s a panic that rises in Brian’s chest as what appears to be an electrified serpent rises from the barrel.
“Do you have to show off like that?” Brian asks, deadpan, trying his hardest to hide the fear that the loud, electric snaps bring out in him. After a moment, he caps the sample and shuts off the little vent that he distills the lightning from before taking away the piping, while Roger rolls his eyes but obligingly shoves the lightning back into the barrel.
As he’s capping it, his hold on the lightning slips for just a moment, and there’s a sudden burst as the not yet secured cap is torn through from his grip, rocketing faster than the eye can see up through the roof of the deck, and into the sky. Electricity bursts forth, fire blooming where the lighting hits the walls and floor in an instant, the very power of it sending both Roger and Brian to opposite ends of the room; it’s deafening, overwhelming, and it takes all of Roger’s focus to wrangle the electricity back under control.
“Spare lid!” He shouts, which Brian parrots back mockingly, looking around.
“We’ve never needed a spare lid why would we have one?!” He cries, and can hear, in the now still night air outside, Freddie cursing up a blue streak as he and Deaky come over to the newly formed hole in the floor of the deck to investigate.
“Because it’s better to be safe than sorry!” Roger retorts, and suddenly there’s a pair of goggles looking down at them, Deaky, alongside their incredibly annoyed Captain.
“What the blood hell has happened?”
“Roger-” Brian tried to explain as he was putting out fires across the room, but he was cut off.
“We need a spare lid for this batch, okay? I’ll explain after.” Roger insisted, much to both Freddie and Brian’s chagrin.
“We don’t have a spare lid.” Deaky responded, and his face disappeared from the hole where they had been looking in. Freddie’s gaze turns skyward, as if trying to see if the lid was falling back to Earth, though he seemed transfixed.
“Ha! I told you!” Brian cried, and Roger rolled his eyes, as Deaky showed up at the door a few moments later, pulling various items from his tool belt as he set about making a make-shift lid.
“It won’t hold forever.” Deaky explained, “and we can’t sell this batch, I’ve basically just welded a metal plate to the top, and added some insulator. We need to get a new lid.” Roger relaxed, the sudden exertion and overuse of his powers hitting him all at once, though they all jumped when he let go of his hold of the electricity and it crashed threateningly at the new lid.
“How long do we have?” Roger asks, arms crossed as he puts out an on-fire chair with a wave of his hand before collapsing into it. Brian wants to make a snarky remark, but he’s too busy putting out fires of his own, and even at a glance Roger looks like he’s death standing, or sitting as the case may be; either way he’s at his limit.
“A few days, maybe? I did the best I could given,” and he waves his hand around the ashy room and scattered supplies, “but those lids are specially designed.” And after stamping out a fire by the door, he takes off his goggles. “Worst comes to worst, I can crack the lid and we can chuck it overboard; it’ll come loose in the air and won’t be our problem.”
“And waste a perfectly good barrel? I don’t think so, dear; we’re going to get our lid.” Freddie sounds so confident that it’s a little unnerving, and he’s still looking at the sky. Brian peers up through the hole and tries to follow his gaze.
“How do you even know where it is?” He asked, and Freddie turned with a bright smile, pointing at light in the sky growing steadily brighter at an alarming rate.
“Because it hit a star, and we can watch where it falls.”
The thing about you is that you adored humanity, you just never understood them. You’d always been so caught up in their day-to-day intricacies that you’d never been bored watching empires come and go, or see history repeat itself over and over again. Each little era brought something new, something to shake up the routine, and everyone’s personal lives, and sometimes you were even able to catch a glimpse of love. That was your favourite thing to watch, the way people would fall in love time and time again, and there’s little patterns, people drawn to one another, sometimes you feel as if you’re watching the same souls come back to each other over and over again. If you liked to fantasize about being one of those souls, you would never say anything to the others who shine beside you, bored with the ebb and flow with time that seemed to change little with each passing eon.
You knew, objectively, that there were people who looked up at you, who even perhaps loved you, but it wasn’t the same, you couldn’t tell them you loved them in the same way, and after all, you liked it where you were, free from the fear of having your heart eaten like you’d seen happen to your brothers and sisters before, free from the fear of rejection; humans tend to like humans, and you knew if given half a chance you’d want to act out your little fantasy. But it wouldn’t come true; even people who looked up at the stars learned to love something on the ground, you’d seen it happen too many times.
You were secure where you were, one of the brightest shining stars in the sky, glowing as you delighted in the antics of the people below you, and you never thought that would have to change.
Until what seems to be a metal plate smacks you in the chest, winding you and knocking you from your perch in the sky. You weren’t even able to cry for help as you crash through the atmosphere. Fear has a stranglehold on your whole body, all you can do is clutch the metal to your chest as the ground approaches, and part of you, in hindsight, will be glad that you passed out before you hit the ground.