He tried not to be afraid.
The ship flew through the air. Maverick marvelled at the way it sliced through the clouds as if it were still in water. He knew that he was safe, that there was no danger of falling off the ship unless he was pushed off of it. Still, looking at the world below him from the front prow and seeing the sea of stars that the ship swam through never failed to take his breath away and fill him with fear at the same time.
He heard a metallic whirring. Turning, he saw his first mate Giles climbing the stairs to where he was. Some time ago, Giles had experienced an accident below deck when someone had thrown him into the ship’s turbines. They had taken his legs, but Maverick had rebuilt them. Half android and half man, he struck quite the sight with the tails of his greatcoat flapping in the wind and the moon shining off of the metal legs.
“Sir?” Giles said. “You are wanted below. Anastacia would like to see you.”
Maverick nodded. “Did she say what it was regarding?”
“No sir, she only bade you to come.”
“Thank you, Giles.” Maverick said and began to make his way down to the depths of the ship. It was what Anastacia preferred. She did not come above deck for she did not need to see the sun and the stars.
As he made his way through the winding tunnels of the ship, he passed members of his crew and their families. He waved to them and bade well and moved on. There was an elevator, but it didn’t go to the lowest deck where the apothecary was, so he took the stairs, the decks becoming darker and less well travelled. Finally, he found himself in front of the apothecaries. He tried not to be afraid.
“You may enter, Maverick.” A voice said.
The voice was made of night and the stars, of subtle dreams and vivid nightmares. As he walked into the space, he thought that this was an accurate description of the woman as well. She had skin that was darker than night. Her skin was marked with freckles, however they were white in colour. It looked as if she had bathed in the stars.
Anastacia was holding a spider and waited for it to crawl into a vial that stood in a holder on her workspace. She looked up at him. “I’m glad you came.”
“You bade me to.”
“Yes, but that doesn’t mean you will listen.” She gave up waiting on the spider to go into the vial on its own and instead pushed it in. The liquid inside turned from a vibrant green to a soft and dreamlike purple.
Maverick stared at the liquid. “What does that do?” He was almost afraid to hear the answer.
Anastacia looked at the liquid in the vial like a mother would look upon a child. “It will cure most anything…except that it has the unfortunate result of killing everyone who takes it.” She smiled as she put a stopper in the vial and opened up a metal box that was on her worktable. There was a soft bed of fabric inside it and she placed the vial within and closed the box, locking it by pressing her fingertip to a scanner.
“Why would you make such a thing?” He asked her, his voice thick in his mouth.
She looked at him and smiled. “One never knows when one will have to…take care of business.”
“I see. Is this why you asked me here?” He tried to concentrate on the metallic thrum of the ship, the whipping sound of the sails through the wind, instead of looking into her eyes. She saw too much if you let her in.
“No, Captain. We have another matter to discuss.”
She made her way around the workstation and came to stand in front of him. Now, along with the sound of the ships motors and the sails whipping in the wind, there was the slight sound of bells that chimed whenever Anastacia moved. Maverick had tried to ask the woman what kind of lifeform she was, seeing as she was made of the stars themselves. She would merely smile in response.
She was not smiling now. Maverick reminded himself not to be afraid.
“We have a situation.” She said, the words coming out like a soft, salient song. “There are people planning a mutiny.”
“Who?” His retort was quick. “What do they say is the problem?”
“That you are keeping too much of the shipment fee and not sharing enough.” She sighed. “Why must men be so basic all the time? You’d think that gold was the only thing that mattered in the world.”
“You know that I don’t think this way.”
She nodded as if she had anticipated his answer. “I know this and I respect you for it. You value human life over the temporary pleasure that money can bring.” She took another vial out of the pocket of her dress. “We can use this to prevent the mutiny from happening.”
Maverick looked at the liquid within. It was a murky green colour. “What will it do?” He asked.
“It will bend them to your mind and influence calm.” She handed the vial to him. “We can put it in the ships water supply. They will never know what has transpired.”
“Do you really think we have to resort to mind control?”
“Would you have them try to take over the ship and risk a battle while we are in the air?”
“Fair point.” Maverick said. “I’ll take care of it right away.”
Anastacia watched him go. She wondered how long it would take him to realize that it was she who would control them all? Smiling, she went back to her workstation to work on another concoction.
All she had to do now was wait.