Skies Unbroken

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Kor leaned against the railing of his ship and breathed deep the fresh winds blowing in from the east. Above hung a flawless dome of cerulean, below lay a low cotton-white cloud floor. A perfect morning sky for setting out on a new venture. The Wink and Smile bobbed gently in the winds, engines humming low and idle while the final preparations for departure were made.

Kor walked a final circuit of the top deck, making certain all mooring lines were cast off. His eyes glided over the surrounding freeport without nostalgia or disdain. Their port of call for damn near a year, sure, but never home. He couldn’t complain overmuch about the long stay, all things considered. The Wink was in her best condition since he acquired her. His debts were cleared, more or less. Obligations fulfilled. Missions complete. Battles fought. All that action booked and done with.

And now Kor had a modest pile of hard currency in the hold and no authority but himself to tell him when and how to spend it. He had a crew of like-minded folk, though the Wink was still under crewed for an airship her size. Above all, Kor didn’t have a drop of desperation in him. A strange feeling, that.

Reassured he and his ship were unbound in body and mind, Kor descended into the Wink’s interior and made his way to the bridge.

Nem waited on the bridge, hands dancing over nav and comm devices. Her earphones hung around her neck and sent out tinny strains of music. Kor settled into the captain’s chair, reupholstered in brown leather and still smelling like new. He entered the ignition sequence without a thought, pure muscle memory at this point. The Wink’s engines surged to life without so much as a shudder of complaint, smooth as can be.

“Where to next, Captain?”

Kor stared at the inviting sky through the array of windows at the fore of the bridge. This was what it was all about, right? Ever since folk came up from the Down Below, they’ve looked out across these selfsame endless skies and saw the freedom and potential promised therein. Now Kor had that freedom in his grasp and he held it like a fragile crystalline treasure, not fully convinced it wasn’t another dream.

Better get a move on. Before we all wake up.

“Somewhere else, Nem. Somewhere new.”

“So we set out into those skies unbroken by all this strife, seeking our own particular peace.”

Start reading here with Episode Zero: The Big Empty

Skies Unbroken is a serialized fantasy saga set in a world of endless skies, drifting isles, and continental plateaus rising above an impassable cloud floor. This is a world rebuilding in the wake of a grand empire’s collapse and the successor states’ failures. Airships of all kinds traverse these skies, crewed by all kinds of folk. But in the Northwest Frontier they’re of a wilder variety. Pirates and Prospectors. Explorers and Settlers. Merchants and Thrill Seekers. Dominators and Dreamers.

Kor Icomb has been all of the above in his three decades. He’s followed a cause or three. He’s made his share of mistakes. But he always had enough luck to make it through to the other side, only to have to find something else to chase. Kor figures this time is different. He’s got a fine ship, the Wink and Smile. He’s got a crew, even if they’re just as much of a misfit as Kor is. Most importantly he’s got the cash to be his own man, craft his own missions. For a little while, at least. Kor’s got a first mission in mind, a little unfinished business, a leftover lead from a past he’d rather not discuss.

Should be nice and easy, right? Just something to do while chasing down other jobs.

Skies Unbroken’s DNA has a little bit of many things. There’s a lot of pulp adventure, some Star Wars, some Final Fantasy, and the inevitable echoes of Firefly. It’s something I’ve been kicking around in my head for a long time, always shoving it off for some other priority, some new excuse. Eventually you have to say ‘screw it’, fire up the engines, and head out into the Big Empty. See what turns up.

The story will update weekly. Other pieces of supplemental lore and content will appear on a regular basis. The complete story will be split into a trilogy of seasons, and those seasons will have a variable number of episodes. Episodes will have their chapters posted every week. There will be an ending. This isn’t some unending adventure that finds itself exhausted. The core mysteries will be solved, the character and plot arcs seen to their respective ends. These are scary statements for any writer to make, doubly so since I actually believe myself.

Would you like to come along? The pay’s crap, but you’ll have your own cabin and I can promise we’ll find enough trouble and adventure to satisfy you. The two tend to go hand-in-hand.

Episode Zero: The Big Empty

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Copyright © Michael L. Watson 2015