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Politeness is a poor man’s virtue, thought Anders Magruder as he negotiated his way through the gales of the storm. His ship, renamed the Crow, moved through the wind and rain like with a grace and ease that bespoke the beauty of her creation. Magruder had spent the better part of his life studying the greatest sailing ships and the most ingenious sky vessels. He had stolen technology from every fleet on the planet and secrets from every government. He had bound her with magic from every available work of the occult. His ship was built for the wind and the rain and the torrent of solar radiation. She was built for meteors and gravity and temporal shifts. She was masterful.

He tasted bile every time he considered that fool boy Amos attempting to pilot her. Once he had the Apport Sextant she would be fully capable and ready to traverse time and space at his command.  Whole armies and fleets would quake at the mention of her. She would be the harbinger of doom to any nation, any world that did not fall before his feet.

He was close now, he could feel the spell of the Apport Sextant calling to him, as it had always called to him since he was a small boy. Everyone had belittled him, labeled him mad when he would share his knowledge of the device.  He had read every book he could find, no matter how archaic or forbidden. He knew that the object was real, that it’s power was absolute and he had spent his entire life planning for the day when he would make them all pay for their ridicule.

Anders Magruder knew that his destiny was to discover the power of the Apport Sextant and to use that power to bend all of creation to his will. His belief was the force that drove him to smile at the men in fancy coats who called themselves superior and to play their games. He had become adept at smiling and bowing and at climbing their superficial ranks. He used the time to learn their secrets, finding the humanity in all of them, the flaws that rendered them unworthy of his time and understanding. People were tool to be used and animals to command. Every one of them fueled his hunger for power.

Piss on them, he thought. There aint nothing clever about being nice, that’s what you got left when you failed at everything else. You want something, you screw the rules and you reach out and grab it by the throat.

Magruder remembered with a sickening bitterness how he had lived for so many years saying ‘yessir’ to men so basic and beneath him. He remembered how he had stood holding his Apport Sextant, holding it in his hands enjoying the feel of his victory over them all. He had been persistent, he had been patient, and he had held the Apport Sextant in his hands.

And Marcel Ghostraven took it away.

For ten years Anders Magruder had sat rotting in his own body, starved and diseased and alone in the brig. His teeth had rotted in his mouth that burned with the acid of his hatred. His hair had fallen from his scalp in patches. He had written curses on the walls of his cell with his fingernails until his nails were bloody stubs. The guards had grown so weary of his madness and assaults that they left his food to rot and his toilet to fetor. Rats had made nests in his mattress and so he slept upon the floor in their waste.

However, he had become enlightened in those days of filth and abandonment, he understood that life had brought him only as low as he would one day soar. His suffering was the path to becoming a king. A God.

He would rule them all.

And every day of his existence in that pit, Magruder had planned for the moment that he would be free. On that day Marcel, and everyone that he had ever loved, would pay.

The wind howled and raged against the Crow, and Magruder drank it’s power in until he was intoxicated. Lightening flashed revealing the silhouette of the Envoy, battered and beaten against the pillars of soot colored cloud. The Crow was her superior in every way, and it was only a matter of time before he overtook them.

Anders Magruder laughed into the storm, laughed at the clouds and the sky and every God that had ever forsaken him. His guns were loaded, his harpoon prepared and once close enough he would take his revenge.

The girl they called Nym had managed to open the door to Marcel’s hoard. She would be easy enough to capture. Once he had her, he would have the key to the Apport Sextant and other treasures beyond his imagination. Once she had delivered his prize he would leave her bound and locked in the secure room. He enjoyed the vision of her starving, alone and begging for death. She had dared him once to catch her, and he could see her now in the distance, his prey, just waiting to be captured.

The others he would kill with relish, they were worthless to him; though none would die more slowly than Eudora Carton. She had stood in his way too many times, over stepped the rank and privilege of a woman. She thought herself better than him in every way, and she would see him as her superior before she died. She would respect him as a man, plead with him to spare her life, kneel and beg like the dog she was. Her death he would savor, and when he was done, he would deliver her in pieces trussed and roasted to her filthy, gluttonous father.

He imagined the Envoy spiraling in a blaze through the stormy sky to be swallowed by the vicious and hungry waves below. The friends and loved ones of Marcel Ghostraven the first of so many to taste his wrath.

He had waited for so long and  it was all finally in his reach.


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