"Vyse?" Pinta called from outside Vyse's room. "You there?"
"Go away, Pinta. I think I'm sick and I'm trying to sleep it off." Trying being the operative word, Vyse thought, as he rolled over and started staring at the other wall for a change of pace.
"Mail for you, sir. I'll just... slide it under the door, I guess." Suddenly, the door to Vyse's room swung open, giving Pinta a terrible scare. "Wah!"
"Mail?" Vyse demanded, taking the letter from the stricken delegate. "Is it from Aika?"
"I... I don't think so, Vyse -- a Valuan trade ship dropped it off, and it bears the Imperial Seal."
"So unless Enrique's taken Aika as a second wife, it's not from Aika." Vyse grinned.
Pinta stared at Vyse blankly.
After a few moments of tense silence, Vyse dismissed Pinta. "You know, I'm your captain. Least you could do is laugh at my jokes."
"You really need to get off this island, sir."
"Thank you, delegate, that will be all," Vyse grunted, retreating into his room. He opened the letter and withdrew the parchment inside. "Dear Vyse, Captain of the Blue Storm, Saviours of Valua... Saviours of Valua? Yuck. I'd better skip ahead. Hope things are well... yadda yadda... Moegi's fine... hm, I see we've already settled in to using the royal 'we'... the rest of your crewmen that abandoned you to work for me are happy....
"Whoa. Here we go."
Vyse, our reason for writing this letter is to ask you and your crew a favor. As you know, following the Valuan Civil War and the Battle of Soltis, Admiral Ramirez was banished to the ruins of the Purple Civilization. As you will remember, we thought it would be wise if he and Galcian were kept as far apart as possible. Only now we are concerned. Ramirez is a very resourceful human being, and we believe that it is in the best interests of Valua and the world that he be observed from time to time, in order to ensure that he is not planning escape... or worse. We would like to contract the Blue Storm to make these observations at regular intervals for the foreseeable future. Please advise the Crown as to whether or not you would be interested in accepting this contract.
In Gratitude as Eternal as Arcadia's Skies,
Emperor Enrique I of Valua
Vyse's heart leapt up his throat and displaced a good chunk of his brain. "PINTA!" he shouted, reopening the door to his chambers and watching the poor delegate tumble down the ramp outside to the ground. "Send a message to 'the Crown' telling him 'We're on our way.' And kindly inform the crew that we've got a real mission now, and that I'll be taking my freaking ship to do it, engines be damned."
On his back on the cobblestones, Pinta nodded weakly.
Vyse dashed down the ramp, vaulted the fallen delegate, and headed for Osman's shop. "Osman -- I need that crate of blankets we nabbed from those Ixa'takan slavers loaded onto the Albatross, and load up about an extra month's worth of food for one person. We're going to visit Ramirez, and I want to give him as few reasons as possible to try to kill us on sight."
Osman simply nodded. "And you will be paying for this how...?"
Vyse rolled his eyes. "Just put it on my personal tab. Enrique will have to reimburse me." And with that, he made for the Albatross.
A few days later, Vyse and his crew had moored the Albatross II on the outside of the dome beneath the Purple Civilization, and were preparing to find a way into the city proper.
"Bring the grapnels," Vyse ordered, pointing and waving. "We'll throw them across the empty space and put together a makeshift rope bridge. Then we'll haul the crates over using some kind of pulley system."
"Vyse," Kalifa interrupted, floating peacefully beside the captain, "are you certain this is wise? I sense that Ramirez is still very angry -- and very powerful."
Vyse nodded. "I know. It doesn't take a seer. But Enrique is right -- someone's got to make sure he's not plotting world conquest again with some long-forgotten artifact of the Purple Civilization. Besides, we've brought him supplies. Expecting him to be grateful is probably a little much, but at the very least we can hope for something short of a lethal welcome."