In the movie's backstory, human civilizations built flying cities, which were destroyed during an unspecified catastrophe, forcing the survivors to live on the ground as before. Just one city, Laputa, remains in the sky, concealed by a thunderstorm. In the opening scene, an airship travels though the clouds. On board are a girl named Sheeta and Muska, the government agent who abducted her. Without warning, an air pirate gang led by an old but vivacious woman named Dola attack the airship. Like Muska, they want Sheeta and her stone. The pirates invade the ship, and during the ensuing chaos, Sheeta manages to knock Muska unconscious and steals a blue stone. The pirates break into her room, and she tries to hide by escaping out a window and clinging to the outside of the ship. However, she loses her grip and falls into the night sky. As the unconscious Sheeta hurtles toward the ground, the blue stone emits a mysterious light slowing Sheeta's descent. From a small mining town (Slag's Ravine), a young boy named Pazu sees the light of the stone descending from the sky and runs to investigate. Upon reaching the mineshaft, he reaches out to catch the falling girl. To his amazement, she appears weightless (that is, until the stone stops glowing). Pazu decides to take her to his home. He tells Sheeta about the floating city of Laputa and his deceased father, a pilot who had taken a photograph of the city.