Chapter 3: Mypos or Bust
Location: Mypos, Elladia
Timeline: Day 4 late afternoon
Captain Daenelia raced through the streets of Myposia hoping to catch a glimpse of the sky ship dock down the myriad streets and alleys. Close behind her was Valmier Blackbar, one of the tallest Elphins the captain had met. He knew Myposia well and was shouting directions at Daenelia, but she was being stubborn and trusting her own judgement. That never went well. It was also dangerous to be acting outside of what was considered normal behaviour in Elladia, but if Herring Finn had been arrested there was no time to lose.
She would never leave somebody behind.
After a few dead ends, U turns, and eventually listening to the Elphin's suggestions, the captain and the engineer reached the Steamhawke. There were a handful of crew members on deck and around the ship, and a couple of them were looking strangely at Valmier. There wasn't time to introduce him to the crew. Instead, Daenelia raced up the gangplank and onto the deck. "Dottie! Where is Sailor O'Toole?" screamed Daenelia, looking for her inexperienced first mate.
Nate Winters was there, rearranging some barrels. The burly man mopped his brow. "Captain! I'm sorry to tell you this but Dottie is off having one of her drinking contests. She's only playing against herself, so I guess there are no winners this time around"
The captain swore loudly and scanned the rest of the faces on the deck. "Help! I need help!"
The door to the below decks slammed open, nearly knocked off its hinges in the process. Carol stormed on deck from the doorway, stretching her neck from side to side as she did. "Oi', what's all this racket? I'm tryin' to sharpen my sword and all I can hear is screechin' from the deck."
Her ranting over, Carol realized that the one calling was the Captain. She quickly gave a dreary, halfhearted, salute and approached her. "What's got you all riled up, then? There some trouble on the docks?" Carol said, assuming the worst. "'Well if somethin' needs bustin' up just point me in the right direction an' Carol will take care of it."
The captain was staring at Carol's good eye. "Sailor Finn has been arrested. We might be leaving here soon and I'm not leaving anybody behind. Somebody needs to rescue him, but I can't risk being identified. I'm already too well known and if they realise I am a pirate captain we will all be arrested. This," said Daenelia while pointing her finger in Valmier's face, "is an old friend of Finn, and he also knows Myposia almost as well as I do.. ahem... He's offered to help out, but I can't send a stranger in to do this alone. Herring Finn is a member of my crew so he's my responsibility."
Carol gave an odd smile when informed that breaking and entering was required, and almost as soon as the details were given she was heading towards the gangplank. She briefly turned, beckoning to Valmier to come with her. "'Oi', you comin', fishman? Be a dear and show me where those nasty guards took yer' friend." she called back to him, somewhat condescendingly.
"First of all, don't call me 'fishman'." Valmier obviously didn't take to this nickname, and standing nearly 7 foot tall, who was going to argue with him? "My name is Valmier, make sure you use it." his tone was level but the intent was clear. Despite the upset she obviously caused him, he said, "we should go."
Stopping in her tracks and turning her head so she could see Valmier out of the corner of her eye Carol responded. "Hows 'bout instead I call you what I feel like?" She clearly wasn't intimidated by the Elphin even if he was well over a foot taller than her. Her hand rested on the hilt of her sword, obvious she was ready to draw it at a moment's notice. "If'n you'd like to dance, 'haps lose a few fins in the process, then that'd be fine by me."
Carol began walking towards the plank once more, hand still on her sword. "But if you'd prefer to save yer' friend, than I suggest you focus on the task at hand." She turned to face Valmier fully, a sinister grin spreading across her face. "We clear, fishman?" Valmier looked sour but he knew now was now the time to agrue, so he followed her.
"Wait for me" called Winters. He was clumsily shoving a rifle down the side of his pants, and reaching for a crowbar. "I've been itching for something interesting to do around here... no offense captain!" He stepped up to Carol who was raising one eyebrow questioningly. Nate folded his arms. "Oh don't worry about me, I can hold my own in a fight. And I'm quite fast for my size. This is all muscle you know!"
Carol shrugged in response and beckoned him to come along. "Long as you ain't expectin' me to yank yer' head off the choppin' block."
The three of them: Carol, Winters and Valmier, stood on the docks wondering which way to approach the dungeons. The building wasn't too far away, near to the High Court tower, but charging in directly would pit them against overwhelming odds. They could try navigating across the rooftops, although one mistake and they'd land in hot water: the surrounding buildings were the guards' quarters. Another option was to travel along the waterfront looking for an entrance to the sewerage system. If they didn't mind crawling through excrement for a while, they could get into the dungeons from underneath, but there was the risk of getting lost down there.
"Maybe we can cause some kind o' distraction" suggested Nate Winters as the trio were observing the guards from afar. "Get enough of the guards out of the way, and maybe we can sneak in. You two got a better idea?"
A small girl then appeared, running, just around the corner of a nearby shop and bumped into Winters.
"I'm sorry! ...Oh, it's you!"
It took a moment for the trio to recognize her, the girl that the Captain had taken in as a shipwright. One of her arms was still in a sling. Carol and Winters hadn't seen her around the ship that much since she had gotten shot during their pursuit of the zepper.
"Oi, what are you doin' out here? You lookin' to get shot again?" Carol growled.
"I wanted to look around for some ship parts. And I heard there was a really good smith around here who could make some stuff for me. But then some of the guards chased me off because they thought I was going to steal something." Kanya said glumly. It was annoying to still have to deal with suspicious guards even when her thieving days were long over. Oh, that's right. My thieving days aren't over after all. I work in a pirate ship, she thought.
"By the way, Valmier, this is Kanya the shipwright on Steamhawke. Kanya, Valmier Blackbar. He's here to help us."
They nodded at each other.
"Is everything alright?" Kanya asked them.
"We're trying to rescue the Elphin deckhand, Herring Finn. You know him? Valmer is an old friend of his" said Winters.
"I think I may have seen him around."
"Well, they've arrested him and they're keeping him somewhere in their quarters."
"Ah!" Kanya suddenly jumped. "Hey, how about we sneak inside?"
"No use. The place is heavily guarded and the windows are barred."
"But if they thought we were guards too, they'd let us in, right?" said Kanya. "They chased me off from the back of that building because they thought I was after the new shipment of armor. Apparently, it's made with some precious Elladian steel. But there seems to have been some misunderstanding between the smith who made them and the guard captain about the price, from what I overheard. So the smith refuses to take the shipment inside, but he's being harassed by a couple of guards at the back. We could easily steal those and sneak inside."
"Took you long enough to get a point." snarled Carol.
Kanya lead them to the back of the quarters. Two guards were stationed near a wagon, some canvas cloth stretching over the shipment which they assumed was the armor delivery. A tall man with a handlebar mustache and gold-trimmed robes was obviously arguing with an old man in plain clothing.
"I think I'll sit this one out." said Kanya. "I'm not exactly in the condition to be stealing stuff."
Carol pointed at Nate, gesturing him towards the cart. "Alright then, Tiny, why don't you take Clam Chowder and sneak inside like rats." She had already began heading back around towards the front of the tower as she spoke. "Meanwhile, I'll be doin' somethin' a little more fun. Don't worry, I'll do the heavy liftin' for you."
She returned to the main outpost in front of the tower, strolling confidently towards the nearest group of guards. The group immediately began eying her suspiciously, no doubt attempting to determine the proper offense to charge a strange woman approaching a barracks.
Before they could make a move, however, Carol pulled her handgun from her belt and fired a round into the sky. Everyone in the yard quickly stood up and took notice as she calmly returned the weapon to her belt. The nearest group began swiftly closing in.
"What's the price on my head up to, boys?!" Carol shouted so everyone in the yard could hear. The nearest men ignored her statement, instead quickly surrounding her. One of them cautiously approached, removing a set of irons from his belt.
"You're under arrest for the unlawful discharge of firearms, I'm afraid you're going to have to come with me." the man started as he attempted to grab Carol's arm with the stump that used to be his hand. He dabbed the bloody wound against her shirt a few times, leaving a large stain on the white of Carol's blouse. A look of confusion came over his face as he looked down, realizing his hand now rested on the ground off to the side and the woman he had approached now held a sword off to her side, a spot of blood dripping off the blade.
A sinister grin spread across Carol's face as the guard began shrieking, falling to his knees and holding what used to be his hand. The other guards, who had previously been idly watching or lost interest, immediately went for there guns and swords. The entire yard was swiftly brought to alert, a multitude of guns and blades brought to face the savage woman from all sides around her.
Carol's smile widened as she brought her sword in front of her, clenching the grip with both hands. She lowered her stance slightly as the contingent of guards began closing in. Hopefully this would be enough to pose some kind of challenge.
Not too far away, a trio of Elladian guardsmen had been knocked out cold, and another three were walking stiffly along the side of the street. Two of the guards were practically bursting out of their armoured uniforms, with one of them being far too tall and the second one being far too burly. The third was very short and the uniform was practically dragging along the ground. What was strange was that none of them were Elladian. What was stranger was that the tallest was an Elphin, and the shortest was a girl, with one of the arms of the uniform hanging loose.
"Is that Carol in the middle of those guardsmen?" asked the burliest guard. "Keep your head down Nate!" snapped Kanya. "This is never going to work.." whispered a bemused Valmier, "We look nothing like guards! Might as well approach them in pink flamingo suits"
The approach of the odd group barely even registered in the minds of the guards in the yard, each one focused on the swordswoman before them. Carol waited for one of the guards to make the first move, forcing a small standoff. Neither wanted to be the first to attack.
Finally one of the younger guards rushed forward, breaking the tension as the clearly inexperienced man shouted and raised his sword high. Carol moved easily to her side as the man made a heavy and ungainly swing downwards, slicing low as she did. The young man fell to the ground, his legs literally cut out from under him.
In the process of moving Carol approached the guards that had gathered to her left. Two of them stepped up, one of them wielding a pike while the other brandished a rifle fitted with a bayonet. The man with the pike thrust it forward, attempting to impale bloodthirsty warrior. Carol spun suddenly to face them, knocking the pike away with the flat of her blade as she did.
Continuing the movement of her sword Carol circled the blade around, bringing the momentum of her swing down on the pikeman's shoulder. The blade sunk deep, lodging itself in the bone of the man's shoulder and forcing Carol to release her grip on her weapon. The rifleman across from her, no longer afraid to fire now that his ally was wounded, began to pull the trigger of his gun.
Carol was already moving as the gun fired, gone from the point aimed at. The guard stabbed his bayonet upwards at the rapidly closing in form before him, desperate to force Carol back. Without her sword Carol's right hand went for one of the knives on her belt, while with her left she slapped the bayonet away with her metal bracer.
Like lightning she jumped forward, forcing the point of her knife deep into the side of the guard's temple. He barely registered a squeak before crumpling to the ground. Carol turned quickly, facing the remaining guards. The man she'd left her sword in had fallen, pointing the hilt of the weapon upwards. Carol grabbed the handle and wrenched the weapon free, pointing it once again towards the group of guards.
From her current position Carol could see the three pirates she'd arrived with, leaving the remaining guards backs facing them as well. She scanned the group in their obviously stolen uniforms, then tilted her head towards the entrance of the tower, signaling them to head inside.
A guard atop one of the buildings started enthusastically turning a handle, and a loud klaxon started blaring. Heads turned into the street and guardsmen all over the city were coming to attention. "Nautikos guard condition one!" echoed a voice across the city. "Shoot all troublemakers on sight!"
Either the klaxon or the voiced alert roused Herring Finn from a fitful sleep. The Elphin had been left armless in his cell to await interrogation. His cell mate was a greasy old pirate who spoke with such a strong accent he'd only been able to understand a few words over the last couple of days. Finn had no idea what was going on outside, but it was about to spill over into the dungeon.
With an almight crash the wall in the corridor caved in and Finn was covered in brick dust. He bent over coughing. "How did you do that?" asked a familiar voice from within the cloud of dust. "I'm a man of many skills" came less familiar voice. But this voice awoke something deep Finn's memories, of a younger happier time. "Blackbar, is that you?" Finn called out from behind the bars of the cell. Valmier stepped up accompanied by Nate Winters and Kanya. "Where are your arms, my old friend? It's time to get out of here along with your new friends here." Finn allowed himself a brief smile, but kept his attention on the situation. "They're in the crate over there. But please get me out of this cell first." Kanya nodded, "I'll handle this, 'lockpick' is my middle name!". "It isn't really" she added as she got the door open.
But the happy reunion was short lived as a pack of prison guards sprang into the corridor and swarmed over the three rescuers. Valmier and Winters were fighting back-to-back and holding their own as best they could. Kanya was dodging about, using the height difference to her advantage and wielding a knife in her good hand. Finn's cell mate suddenly sprang to life and made a made a break for it. He crashed into one of the guards, but the old man stood no chance. He was flung to the ground and then shot. The guard's attention snapped to Finn who was standing alone in the dank cell. He looked quite pitiful standing there without his brass arms, but the guard wasn't taking any chances. The Elladian man raised his pistol but should have pulled the trigger faster. The gun did go off, but only as the guard was knocked into the wall by Finn's roundhouse kick. A second guard approached the Elphin with sword drawn but he had his leg kicked to the side. He fell in front of Finn who then started savagely stomping on him.
Valmier threw the last prison guard in Winters' direction who spun around and elbowed the man in the face. The guardsman's legs went up in front of him and he crashed to the ground unconscious. "Are we done here?" asked Kanya after Finn reattached his arms.
The four of them raced out onto the streets through the hole in the wall. "We should get back to the Steamhawke" said Winters. "But what happened to Carol?"
Carol's pace had quickened, each guard she approached going down faster then the previous. With sirens blaring a large stream of reinforcements had begun vomiting from the tower, intent on stopping the crazed swordswoman. The more guards appeared, and the more gore became spattered around the yard, the wider Carol's already inhumanly wild smile grew. Her red eye appeared to glow, even smolder, though it may have been a trick of the light.
Perhaps realizing the fight was lost many of the remaining guards retreated into the barracks, sealing the doors with locks and whatever heavy items were within reach. The few that were stuck outside launched a final desperate offense, or cowered under benches or around corners in the hopes that they wouldn't be noticed.
Finally Carol came to the final guard, all others having hid or been slain. The man's knees shook as the monster before him strode towards him, her sword off to the side and her back hunched more in the manner of the beast the a woman. The guard backed off slowly until his back his a wall. Shaking his head in disbelief that one woman could cause so much carnage he dropped his sword and began to run, attempting to make a mad dash past Carol to safety.
He had barely passed the demon woman before his leg seemed to shatter, almost on its own. The brief flash of steel was the only signal that Carol and smashed his leg with the flat of her blade. Her boot was pushing down on the wound almost as soon as the man hit the ground, causing him to howl in pain.
The man rolled in an attempt to remove the weight on his leg, and Carol countered by crouched over the man's chest, forcing him to stay in once stop. She glared directly at him, releasing a small chuckle to herself. The man responded by launching a hard punch towards her visage, using the last of his strength.
Carol grabbed the guard's hand right out of the air, bending it backwards and snapping the bones in his fingers. His screech was silenced by her fist smashing into the side of his head, and before he could react he was hit again, then again, then once more for good measure. By the time Carol finished her beating, the man's face had been reduced to a scattering of flesh on the grass.
Rising from her position over her final victim Carol began to march out of the yard, a splitting headache growing in her skull. By the time she reached the gate and entered the street the color in her eye had seemingly drained, gone from bright red to nearly grey. She gripped the side of her head and leaned against the wall, then shook her head and looked back the destruction in the yard.
"It happened again..." she mumbled to herself, quickly regaining her composure and breaking into a sprint down the street and into the nearest ally. She decided to make herself scarce before any of the guards decided to come out of hiding and track her. She headed off towards the Steamhawke, assuming the rest of the crew had made it back on their own. Carol cursed under her breath lightly, then sighed heavily.
"It's gettin' worse..."