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The salty air energized the entire crew. One could practically feel the power in the air, throughout the entire ship as trolls raced about here and there. The spray of the sea, or perhaps ocean it really didn’t matter when all of Alternia was your playground, crashed against the violet hull of the ship. Occasionally drizzles of the water would make it past and through the gold gilded rails and spray the feet and legs of those dashing by. The captain of the ship stood proud and tall, looking over his crew with a wild smirk. He was dressed more regally than the others on the ship, a genuine prince of the sea. He was dressed from head to toe in the regal color of his blood, even his hair was streaked with the hue. His cape and scarf flowed behind him in the wind whenever he stood still. The violet was interrupted with the occasional deep blue, copper, and golden accents that decorated his attire. His prideful aura was well justified, there wasn’t a troll who didn’t know the name of Captain Eridan Ampora. He was still too young to achieve a proper title like his great ancestor Orphaner Dualscar, but that didn’t matter to him. He had long surpassed his ancestor anyway.

“Take to the skies!” He called out to his crew, causing them to scramble even more. He could barely suppress the chuckle in his throat as he watched them skitter about. He really would have preferred having a crew of only the noblest seadweller blood, but some sacrifices were necessary in order to perfect the sailing of his one-of-a-kind vessel. A pleased shudder ran through him as he heard the gears moaning and turning and the loud swoop and snap of the wings and propellers extending from various places on the ship. It was out of the water in mere minutes. The success of the transition from sea to air made him smile madly every time. His ship was the only one that could do it, the only one. Dualscar, among many others, tried until his last breath to make a ship that could transition so fully. It took years of innovation, money, and underhandedness to create such a marvel of science. The most brilliant part, or so Eridan thinks, is the fact you never need to stop to refuel. All one needs to do is simply land into the water and go on your merry way while slowly refueling. Steam power was such a wonder full thing, oh and having a few pyromaniac trolls help a bit too. Eridan Ampora was definitely a name to go down in Alternian history.

He was to meet a good friendly skypirate rival of his later today. The meeting would be held as usual in some randomly generated location over the water. It was some deal made to ensure that there wouldn’t be any shiftiness or something silly like that. It doesn’t apply to him though, for he could fall into the water and survive just fine. Plus he didn’t see why that was necessary anyway if they get into aerial battles over water all the time anyway. It was all just formalities from past years that never left them. But, the familiarity is always a bit comforting regardless.

But not everything works out just as planned. A member of his crew shouted a belated warning, the words barely leaving her mouth when the entire ship shook and the sound of splintering wood and the heavy scent of everything burning penetrated the air. Eridan cursed under his breath and began ordering his crew around with more fervor. He couldn’t tell from his vantage point but if only the wings of the ship were damage then they should be fine when they hit the water, but from what he could hear and smell chances are he probably wasn’t so lucky. In fact, he couldn’t even see who the Hell was even firing at him! It was driving him mad, not knowing what was going on. He stormed through his swarming crew looking all over for what just fired at his ship. He couldn’t see a damned thing anywhere and they were losing altitude and part of his mind was telling him that if the assailant was nowhere to be seen than they had to be below him, but he would correct his thoughts because that would be stupid who would hide under a falling airship? Surely the idiot would get crushed. Unless, that is what they wanted? He carefully walked over to the burning port side of his ship and leaned over the edge as far as he dared. He heard the blast before he felt it, and he blacked out almost instantly.

If Vriska Serket was anything right now it was not worried. Definitely not worried. Eridan has been late before to their little meetings, many times even. But, this seemed a bit excessive. She was pacing around her quarters with the door slightly open for news from her crew and her husktop open for news from Eridan himself, or anyone really. There was no news by the time the moons started to dance on the horizon, the scalding sun threatening to rear its ugly head. Her vessel was losing steam, and it all added up to a need to find a port fast. She gritted her teeth with a scowl, but the anger was just a façade. There was no way that she would let it show that she was actually concerned about that asshole.

Feferi found Eridan only by noticing all the familiar shade of blood swirling in the water. As she swam closer she noticed bits of burnt wood, fabric, and metal thrown about the area. She swallowed hard; this did not look good at all. Half of his face was nothing but charred flesh, and he was missing an arm. It was a wonder that he was still breathing, just barely though. It was an even greater wonder how nothing had snatched him up and devoured him whole yet, but she really tried not to think of that. But, first thing first was to get him to some place safer and also stop the bleeding.

The first thing Eridan felt when he regained consciousness was pain everywhere. His gills, mouth, and nose felt like they were burning, along with just about everything else but it was much more noticeable with every shaky breath. His head also hurt, but in a strange unfamiliar way. It was some strange almost distance pulsing-whirring hybrid that he knew was going to drive him up a wall and back if it didn’t stop. It never really did. His vision was horribly unfocused, more so than usual and he couldn’t figure out why. It was when he noticed how things felt different, how there was nothing, at least to him, but cold metal on one side of his body, that was when he started to piece things together and the memory hit him like a ton of bricks.

“Fuuuck…” Eridan drawled, and sat up squirming into position painfully and awkwardly.

“Oh, so you are awake now seadweller?” Eridan’s blurry gaze shot up and he growled. Of course, of fucking course there was only one person he knew who could fashion up mechanical parts like this it was none other than Equius Zahhak, staring at him through those cracked tinted black goggled of his. “Before you even dare to spew some stupid insults from your mouth I sh001d inform you it was Peixes’ idea.” He cut in before Eridan could form a proper word, his mouth hung open awkwardly. “We saved your life you sh00ld be grateful. Also, I must advise that if you must swim you only do so for a few minutes you may shut down your steam-powered parts if they get too wet...”

“Wwhoa , wwait. Sloww the fuck dowwn.” Eridan cut in with a snarl. “I get it you savved my life la-di-da, but wwhat happened to my ship and my creww?” Equius only offered a shrug in response.

“You were the only one she found, and on that note she and I are the only ones that are aware that you are still alive. I suggest you lie low for a while and during that time we figure out how we are to handle this situation.”

“Wwhat do you mean by handlin’ this situation?” Eridan questioned, he flared his fins in anger but the mechanical one felt weird and unnatural and it just made him more irritable. “Wwhy can’t I just go an’ tell evveryone that I’m fine?”

“Everyone thinks you have been culled. And by everyone I mean you are officially listed as being culled, and we are unsure if we should keep that status given your… Current condition.”

“Fine then. I’ll lie loww or wwhatever wwhile you an’ Fef get this shit sorted out.” Eridan grumbled.
And he did lie low, even after Equius stopped showing up at his hive for routine check-ups to make sure he was adapting to the artificial parts properly and after they decided what they were going to do. In fact, he didn’t speak to anyone or leave his hive for sweeps afterwards, his hubris and self-esteem snuffed out. He was not Eridan Ampora, feared pirate captain of both sky and sea. He didn’t know who he was anymore.